Tuesday, February 19, 2013

5, 5, 5 Days in One

Ethyl Johnson was a member in good standing of the First Baptist Church Women's Prayer Circle. In fact, she was an undercover agent for the group. The idea to infiltrate The Rack 'n Roll Pool Hall came to Ethyl in a vision on a night that ominous clouds were dropping twisting funnels and people all over town were running to the safety of storm cellars. When the tornado siren began blaring it's long woeful wail, Ethyl sat straight up in bed, opened her eyes and shouted, "I'm gonna save 'em all."  The next day, while others in the town were clearing their yards of broken tree limbs, twisted pieces of corrugated metal and the occasional bovine body part, the women of the First Baptist Church Prayer Circle were in an emergency meeting called by Ethyl Johnson.

"I want to volunteer for a covert operation for our prayer circle. I want to infiltrate that ungodly pool hall where all those heathens and lost souls hang out to smoke, drink, dance and talk that filthy talk. I am going to go in as one of them. I'm gonna save their souls. I'm gonna go all commando on those sinners. They will never know what hit them."

Thus Operation Repent Or Else was Born.


Ethyl was surprised to find out how quickly the folks at The Rack 'n Roll Pool Hall accepted her. If she hadn't known better, she would have thought they were just nice people, but she knew that the devil had the power to show himself in different forms. She wasn't going to be fooled  by their friendliness. After all, she was on a mission and she was willing to lower her lofty standards for the cause.

The first day that Ethyl walked into the pool hall was almost the last day on Earth for the owner, Buck. Buck had gone to school with Ethyl and he was well acquainted with Ethyl's holier-than-thou attitude. She was the very last person he ever expected to walk into his place of business. He almost dropped dead when he saw her.

"Hey, Ethyl. You lost?"

"Hey, Buck. Long time no see. I was just passing by."

"Ethyl, you have been passing by this pool hall four or five times a day for the last thirty years and you have never bothered to walk in."

"Well, it took me awhile, Buck, but I'm here now."

Ethyl had forgotten how cute Buck was. He was always a looker in high school, but she had never given him the time of day. She knew Buck smoked cigarettes and she simply did not approve. Nor would her mother. So Buck was never on her list of possible suitors.  

"You're lookin' damn fine, Ethyl."

Ethyl had the urge to rip that cigarette right out of his mouth and make him apologize for cursing in front of her, but she resisted because she was on a mission. And because his blue eyes were mesmerizing her.

"Well, you don't look too bad yourself, Buck."

"Pull up a stool, Ethyl. Let me buy you a cold beer."

Ethyl almost bolted out the door at the mention of beer, but she was determined to do the Lord's work.

"Well, okay, I guess. But make it one of those light beers. A girl has got to watch her figure, you know." 

"I'm watching your figure right now, woman."

 "And bring me a glass. I am not putting my mouth on the neck of a bottle. No telling where that bottle has been."

"If I remember correctly, you never liked to put anything  in your mouth."

"You've got that right, Buck. That's just plain nasty."

In her righteous attempt to infiltrate this den of iniquity, Ethyl dutifully drank her beer. She was surprised to find it refreshing. She certainly was not a beer drinker nor did she partake of any alcoholic beverages. The last time she had tasted a beer was in high school and she had spit the beer out on the ground. 

"That beer just hit the spot, Buck. You got another one back there with my name on it?"

"Darlin', I've got a couple of  things back here with your name on them."

Ethyl was feeling mighty good.  She couldn't remember feeling this good in a long time. She decided that working undercover for religious purposes must be her calling.  After a couple  more beers, she found herself singing along with music coming from the jukebox.

"Ethyl, if I didn't know you were a Baptist, I would ask you to dance."

"Buck, get your cute ass over here and turn up the music.


By the time Ethyl was named campaign manager for Cooter's campaign for mayor, Ethyl was well entrenched with the gang at The Rack 'n Roll Pool Hall.  They had accepted her as one of them. In fact, Ethyl had noticed that they had accepted her a lot quicker than some of her prayer circle members had accepted some newcomers to the prayer group. 

When the fiasco with the campaign signs happened, Ethyl's mind went into overdrive. Surely she could turn the sign debacle into something positive. She spotted the last sign  to tear down.  It was hung front of the Tan A Bit and Throw A Fit tanning salon and child care center.


As Ethyl ripped down the sign , the idea hit her. It was time to move Cooter's campaign headquarters to the prayer circle's meeting room at the First Baptist Church. Ethyl loved it when a good plan came together.

The preacher was invited to attend the strategic conversion planning meeting with the prayer circle.  Ethyl was feeling a little emotional during the meeting. She knew that converting Cooter was part of a divine plan, but she really liked Cooter and she was feeling a little guilty about being so sneaky. She was explaining to the prayer circle about how Cooter might actually make a good mayor if only he was a saved soul when Brother Bob interrupted her.

"If Cooter is going to get the support of this church, he will have to be baptized."

The ladies of the prayer circle liked this idea and broke into applause. As they were nodding their heads in approval, Ethyl was trying to fight down the fear which was having a smackdown in the pit of her stomach. 

"Brother Bob, I think we may be pushing it a bit. We need to show Cooter the light by accepting him first and then showing him how to have a better life."

"Absolutely not. If he wants to use this office for his campaign headquarters, he must be one of us."

"But Brother Bob..."

"Whatever. Dude wants our support, we need to gather at the river. Shall we?"


 The meeting with the prayer circle and Brother Bob had been very upsetting for Ethyl. She was torn between her allegiance to her life-long friends in the prayer circle and her  feelings for her new friends down at The Rack 'n Roll Pool Hall.  In fact, Ethyl was so upset that she decided to stop by the pool hall for a beer on her way home from the meeting.

"I need a cold one, Buck, and make it fast."

"I'm running a special on Lone Star Light tonight."

"Then make it two."

"Whatever you say, darlin'."

"And how about a shot of that bird whiskey everybody drinks around here?"

"Bird whiskey? Are you talking about Wild Turkey?"

"Yeah. Wild Turkey. Two shots. Two shots and two beers and make it fast."

"Can I join you, darlin'?"

"Yeah, you can and make it fast."

When the night of being with old friends and new friends was finally over, Ethyl was happy to be home at last. She needed to think about the things that had happened at the meeting and at the pool hall. She needed to think about her life and where it was headed. She needed to think about her friends old and new....especially the new.


As was her nightly ritual, the last thing Ethyl did each night was to get down on her knees and pray. Praying wasn't as easy as it used to be. She didn't have trouble finding the words, but she did have trouble being on her knees. She hoped the Good Lord didn't mind the pillows she placed on the floor to pad the shock to her worn knees.

Following her eventful night at the prayer circle meeting and the pool hall, Ethyl knelt by her bed, closed her eyes and laid her head on the mattress as she knew it was going to be a long prayer. 

Ethyl listened to her heart and that little voice in her head and chose her words carefully.

She thanked the Lord for her family members who were still alive. She gave thanks for her health, for the roof over her head and for the food that was on her table each day. 

Then Ethyl had a long conversation with God about finding the goodness in men. She told God her concerns with some of the thoughts she was having about her old friends. She apologized to God about the feelings she was having for some of her new friends. 

Ethyl ended her prayers by praising the Lord for giving her pleasure with all the little things in her life.

His voice rose from the darkness of Ethyl's bedroom. "Are you saying I have a little thing, Ethyl Johnson?"

Ethyl reached across the bed and swatted him on the behind. "Hush, Buck! You know I am serious about my prayers."


You thought I was gone, didn't you, Nicky and Mike? Ha! I fooled you. Not only am I back, I did all my make-up work and I dare you to take off 20 points for late work! 

For those of you who don't know what is going on, welcome to 30-2 Days of Writing sponsored by Nicky and Mike of We Work for Cheese. Join the rest of the participants who don't know what is going on either. Go read their stories HERE.

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