Sunday, July 26, 2009


By Jim Parks

Sister did it for the attention, according to certain of the brothers and their wives who were strict adherents in the beliefs and practices of The Church.

They said she had never been stable and would never be, that she was touched by evil, that the Lord could not walk with her on any continual basis. They made excuses for her. They looked away embarrassed when she would show up barefoot on Sunday mornings with her purse in one hand and her heels in another, having stripped her voluptuous bare legs of her stockings, her hair askew and her dress wrinkled and dirty.

She wiped her eyes with cocktail napkins she had stuffed away in her purse, gaudy things printed with logos that said "Kit Kat Klub" or "Primrose Room." She would stroll into the churchyard with her head down, casting glances at the faces of the disapproving matrons and the knowing gazes of the old boys.

She was just that kind of girl - a woman full blown and mature at an impossibly young age only too willing to play with men full grown and just passing through. They would drop her off and cruise away in their old cars and pickups and she would walk down the old cut bank dirt road and up the holler, her finely arched, fabulously sculpted woman's feet carrying her to the door of the little whitewashed chapel through the collection of aging cars and the gaggle of gawking worshippers.

On a Wednesday night it happened in the middle of Prayer Meeting. The terrifying spectacle held the congregation spellbound. The door burst open and Sister fought a half dozen of the men of the Church as they forced her down the aisle. Two of the brethren brought her struggling and cursing to the altar. A half-dozen people held her down and laid on hands while the preacher spoke in tongues and beseeched the unclean spirits to "come out of this woman."

He shouted and railed at them, crying out in a rich baritone, "Let this sister be. Let her alone, I say."

Sister struggled and fought. The muscles in her neck and her torso sprang into full relief, her abdomen writhing and her legs thrashing out as she caught them off guard with kicks of her heels and the slashing attacks of her pretty blood red lacquered nails.

Her face, twisted and hateful, looked as evil as they said she was under its layer of makeup and lipstick. She was a female human being under the most extreme of circumstances. When it was over and she had succumbed, she cried and cried and cursed them at the top of her lungs.

A trip to the mental health center and thirty days observation on a locked ward didn't really change her behavior.

She still loved men, couldn't keep her hands off them, preened, undulated, warbled and flirted with them any time she got the chance.

A woman in her group therapy class got her in touch with a lawyer from the city. He came up from the mill town and had her sign papers that got her a settlement of several hundred thousand dollars against the church and the insurance policies of those who had abducted her at her home and brought her to the church to be exorcised of the demons they were so sure they could expel from her finely proportioned, well-muscled and symmetrical being.

On appeal, the state supreme court ruled against the judgment. The justices said it was the religious right of those people to worship as they might see fit. They called it a landmark case in the newspapers nationwide.

Sister moved away.

She sent one old boy a postcard from a beach town in California.

It said, "I'm sure enough glad you ain't here. And I damn sure am glad you don't even hardly know how to get here, fool."

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