2 Sunday Messages
Emmylou moved the goat pen to a new spot where the underbrush was thick and came back up to the house. The coop people from Felton would come later for yogurt, kefir, and cheese. She never sold the milk straight. Emmylou went to the large living room. It had a fireplace big enough to cook in. All of the furniture in the room was at least 10 years old. The couch and armchair were from the 60’s probably left over from the school.
Emmylou pushed the button on the answering machine: “You have 2 unheard messages, new message number 1, Saturday September 19 at 8:05 pm,”
” Hello my name is Essie and eet ees bery eemportant that I can talk to you about the farm. My number ees 445-7893.”
The beep sounded. Emmylou decided to keep the message. There was something in the woman’s voice that sounded real and desperate. She hoped she wasn’t crazy.
“Next unheard message. Today at 7:58 am”
” Hello I am a former student at The Coop School and I would like to take a tour of the ranch sometime. My name is Random Anderson, and my number is”
the beep sounded before the number. Emmylou shook a little at the mention of the name. She remembered Random and had seen him a few times after he had left the school. He had been a sad little guy when he came to the school at age of 14 and she felt protective of him. During the 3 years he attended they became good friends. She was pretty sure he had a crush on her. Random had been there when her daughter was born at the school. It was his last year at the farm and the last good year of the school. He was still shy and nerdy and a virgin. She was pregnant and scared and constantly neglected and picked on by her partner, Zap, who was sleeping with at least three other students at the time. Random wrote her poems and sat in the kitchen, talking with her when he was supposed to be in classes or doing chores. She had thought of him as a little brother more than a friend. She had been too busy being a new mom to miss him when he left, but through the years he was one of the ones she thought about the most, and always with love.
She cursed the machine. Just then she heard the rumble of the coop truck pulling up. They were early. She walked out on the porch and waved to the woman and man getting out of the cab. “Mornin’ Carla, Max,” she called. They waved as the walked up.
“I’ve got all the stuff you asked for on the phone message yesterday, and more if you want it.”
Carla came up with a big open smile, “You know we’ll take what you got, woman. We can’t keep your stuff on the shelf.”
“I can brew some coffee if you want. I woulda had it made but you’re early today.”
“Coffee sounds good. I guess we did get an early start today,” said Max looking over at Carla. They went in for some coffee and news.
2 Breakfasts and A Message of Love
Essie arrived at Maddie’s around 9:00 and knocked no answer. So she went back to the motel and paid for another night, and went out to a little coffee shop on the highway for breakfast. She ate slowly and thought about her dream.
“I will try today to find the farm,” She thought. “Then I will go back to Random and work things out.”
She wasn’t sure if working it out would be right for him. She debated this as she chewed her toast and eggs and sipped the bitter coffee.
At about 10:30 she went back to Maddie’s and knocked again. A ragged looking Maddie opened the door.
“Come on in, but be quiet or Debbie’ll wake up and give us hell,” Maddie whispered glancing at Debbie’s bedroom door.
“Has anyone called?” Essie whispered a little impatiently.
“Oh, that would not be good until about noon. Lets get outta here. We really don’t want those two up now. Anyway if someone calls they’ll leave a message, right?” Maddie headed for the stairs as she stage whispered, “I’ll jus’ go up and change and be back kick ass fast, and I’ll show you the sights, such as they are here abouts.”
“OK, I weel wait outside,” Essie said in a small voice as she opened the door.
“Okey doke,” Maddie said as she bounded lightly up the stairs.
Maddie came down in 5 minutes dressed in black hoody with a flaming skull on the back, long camo shorts with pockets everywhere, bright green socks and big knobby black boots. Her medium length died black hair was done up in two pig tails that stood up on either side of the back of her head.
“Dat ees quite an outfit you have on,” Essie said looking uncertain.
“Well you know one must make an impression in the world,” replied Maddie in a snooty English accent posing in a very ladylike manner.
Essie laughed easily as Maddie closed the door softly. They moved together down the street toward the highway, Maddie walked backwards so that she could face Essie, and talked a mile a minute about what she was going to show her. Essie never took her eyes off of Maddie’s bobbing face and never stopped smiling and shaking her head in wonder.
Maddie led Essie up to The Burger Spot across the highway from the Stop and Shop Market. They sat out in the bright blue day that was neither warm nor chill. Essie had a milkshake and Maddie had a bacon double slathered with sauce and ketchup.
“I wake up hungry as a horse sometimes,” Maddie burbled around a mouthful of burger and sauce dripping down the edges of her mouth. She wiped her face and plunged in again full force.
“You don’ do nothin’ by halfway do you?” Essie said with a look mixed between awe and horror. “Ojala! Child you are una diablita. I can tell.”
“That means little devil girl. You can’t fool me I’m taking Spanish this year,” Maddie said again through a monstrous hunk of meat, bread and sauce. “My mom would agree whole heartedly.”
As they sat, there came a point where neither of them were talking and no cars passed. Into the silence crept the far off sound of voices high and low intermingling like airy spirits.
“What ees that singing I hear?”
“Oh that’s probly comin’ from the church down the street. Sometimes I go there kinda as a way to spend time on Sundays. But I ain’t been in a while. you wanna go? They’re real nice and friendly. More’n Debbie and Matt on a Sunday.”
“Shouldn’ we go an check the messages?”
“Oh nobody’ll get back to us before noon, I bet.”
“OK. Lez go and see the church. They have a wonderful singing at least.”
They walked up the street to the little white church that looked like an icon for pioneer life. It was a white building with high peaked triangular roof and a stained glass windows on each side. One of Christ on the cross and one of the Virgin Mary seated in the midst of a flock of sheep. “Church of the Living Christ” A sign out front read. And under that a smaller sign that said: “This Sunday’s Message: What is Your Commitment to Love?” Essie thought it was a very fitting question.
They entered the church as the choir of about ten men and woman in silver blue robes sat down in the front pews. The church was dim with deep colored light coming through from the windows on the side. About 50 people sat scattered in groups of twos and threes with some lone people here and there. The usher handed Essie a program and looked sideways at Maddie’s ensemble but obviously recognized her. The preacher was a short, thin, pasty looking white man with short thinning hair and great black glasses that filled the upper half of his face.
“Good Morning! And welcome!” He shouted with sincere joy.
“Good Morning!” the congregation shouted back.
“What brings you here today?” He shouted the question loud and challenging.
“Love!” The congregation shot back strong and sure.
“Are you sure in your heart about that?” the preacher who’s voice was powerful far beyond his thin weedy frame and mild mannered looks. He spoke with fire and conviction.
“Then welcome all, even those who cannot say they come in love for this is a step toward love if you have not reached it yet. If you come in peace, or weary sadness of spirit, if you come in joy and rapturous longing for the spirit of Christ, if you come in boredom or curiosity, welcome for you fill his house with your human spirit, Amen.”
Essie suddenly broke into silent tears at thought that she had not even thought to call Random and let him know she was alright. Suddenly she was filled with grief for his feelings of abandonment. She also wept out of fear that she might lose him because of that.
“You alright?” Maddie asked in a concerned whisper. Essie nodded because she knew it had to be that way.
The service was long and meandering, but filled with hymns and Maddie sang like a banshee loud and high and off key, swaying to the music in ecstasy. Essie peered at her from the side in wonder trying not laugh and mostly succeeding.