American Chimera – 7.2

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May the Lord help us all, us tiny sinners! I have done too little to combat the effects of Satan and sin upon this old, broken world. I didn’t listen to His demands to stop the beast when I could, and now it is far too late! I love poor Janie and Brett, but I should have done more fifteen years ago when their souls were not so black. At this stage, their rescue will require one more powerful than I to bring them from the brink of Hell. Listen and assuage my broken heart.

I was a young preacher, but I was on fire for the Lord. I had been an associate pastor at Cornerstone Southern Baptist for five years before moving on to Sword of the Lord Church as the head pastor where I’ve been ever since.

The Huffmans are a…distinctive family, and not just the demon-lovers you’re interested in. Half are kind, loyal followers of Christ, and half are deep, deep backwoods people, the kind you’d wish would come to worship with you but tend to just milk a little bit of money and effort out of you when they feel like it. Like the rest of the Huffmans, Brett and Janie’s names are written in our church’s books out of respect for their saintly cousins who attend regularly. Are their names written in the Lamb’s Book of Life? Well…I can’t claim to know the mind and ways of God perfectly, but I know how I’d judge it.

At one point I began to hear chatter amongst the old ladies of the church. It was whispered that Janie and Brett had a child, a child they’d kept hidden away in their little hovel of a trailer for three years. I was surprised, at the time, that something so wonderful had happened and yet was being spoken of as gossip rather than celebration.

I poked around into the rumors, but the most I could determine was that the child was malformed. I expected it to be a side effect of the drugs, and perhaps the child was another reminder that we shouldn’t let the poor continue breeding like they had. I didn’t imagine anything like the truth.

One old lady, a Mrs. Wilcox who is sadly no longer with us, trundled up to me with her walker on Easter morning before service. I could hear by the way she huffed her oxygen lines that she was upset, not to mention her shaking hands and angry eyes. Her tone accusatory despite her weak voice, Mrs. Wilcox pointed her finger at me and said, “Shame, shame on you, Preacher Hinkley!”

My face and voice calmed, likely only due to influence from the Lord, and I answered, “Blessings, Mrs. Wilcox. What seems to be the problem?”

“It’s them Huffmans, them backwoods, meth-cookin’ ones. They’s comin’ down from the parkin’ lot, monster ‘child’ in tow, ’spectin handouts n’ salvation.” I raised an eye at the peculiar stress she put on child when she poked me in the chest with a bony finger.

“Our Lord demands we treat everyone with love and kindness, Mrs. Wilcox! Even if we are taken advantage of by the Huffmans, we must bring the gospel to their poor baby.” I took her arm and rubbed it gently, noting the jeweled rings sitting loosely on her thin, sick fingers. “What happened to make you so mad at-”

“We don’t have time to sit around n’ chat, Preacher,” she said. Frantic, her hair sliding out of her bun, she tried to pull me to the exit. “You’ve got to stop them from defilin’ this land! It’s your job to keep God’s house clean and pure!”

I must have tarried too long, because I failed to heed Mrs. Wilcox’s warnings. I heard the rare sound of a squeaking child asking a nonsense question, the door to the foyer opening while the Huffmans entered. I heard gasps, screams, fainting of the weak-hearted as soon as the beast clawed its way the room.

I held back from screaming. Never before or since had I truly felt the raw and magnificent power of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ coursing through my veins, but God showed up prepared for battle on that day. I did as He asked and refrained from using any of that power for myself, but instead I pointed at the beast – like a big, black spider from the depths of Hell – and cried out, “What dare you bring to sully the house of God?!”

They stopped in their tracks, Janie holding the beast’s long, black claw as if it were a small child’s hand. Her mind muddled by the devil, she pointed to me and chanted in some foreign language. The spell fizzled in the sight of God, but everyone saw, everyone can confirm what happened…

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