Dry ice swirled around Reverend Terrance as he gave an old fashioned, heart pounding sermon under multi-colored lights crisscrossing the stage. The squat, cinder block building belied its revival tent facade with its chilling a/c. The Reverend must expend an outrageous amount of heated energy in such a performance. My childhood friend felt far removed from our childhood in this atmosphere. However, I was not surprised. He’d always been dramatic and insistent on being right. What better way to be the center of attention and lord it over people than religion.
He beckoned to me from the stage at the end of the show, and so I met him backstage, where he was removing makeup while chatting with his crew. Shelley—he boomed at me as I approached. A shiver ran up my spine ending with a slight spasm as it hit my neck, the reverberation chilling me. I smiled and nodded. Reverend Terrance … Terry waved his hand at me as though announcing me to an audience anticipating me. Then he informed the paid sycophants—Shelley’s after my little brother; again. Any response would go badly for me, so I stood silent until he finished with me, giving me leave to walk away, wondering why I’d come, wishing that I’d ignored his little brother Dennis’ admonition that I had to see him in action. I had seen Dennis on this visit home, as I’d seen other childhood friends. It was an innocuous meeting, lunch at Darby’s on the river, reminiscing, as we’d not seen each other in a decade.
It was a challenge to continually force the man from my mind as I went about my remaining days in my hometown, vowing to avoid him and his brother. The icky feeling lingered no matter what, and I wasn’t sure which brother was attached to it. The process resulted in a headache, sending me to the local drugstore, McCarty’s. I hadn’t gone in this visit since the soda fountain was gone. As I perused the headache relief meds, a booming voice resonated throughout the store. Unfortunately, the good reverend was between the door and me. Feeling trapped, I grabbed something off the shelf and crept toward the back of the store intending to circumvent the man by passing through the feminine hygiene product aisle. He turned into the other end of the aisle, spotting me immediately. Shelley—he cried in mock surprise. Enough—I thought and dragged my wilting courage back up to reasonable height. Holding it firmly, I announced with no greeting—You should not have insinuated that your brother and I are an item, because we aren’t now and have never been. Under the surprise, a flicker of anger alarmed me, but I felt comforted by the presence of other shoppers. He apologized loudly enough to draw attention from them and then bowed, saying—And now I shall take my leave of you. He walked around me, head held high, chest out, toward the back of the store. I scurried to the front, feeling violated. While standing in line, Dennis came up to me in his pharmacist’s tech uniform and asked me out on a date. I shook my head. Terry never changed.