“I’m hot.” I have the window down because Remi’s smoking. I glance in the side mirror, disheartened. My hair looks like I styled it with an eggbeater.
“Quit nagging, Evangeline. And if you’d roll up the window, the air conditioner would work better.”
“Well quit smoking.”
“I’ll quit when you stop griping. Since I know that isn’t going to
happen, I probably need to pick up a carton when we get gas.”
“Maybe you should pray about it,” I snipe back. “Can we please stop and stretch our legs? If I don’t get out of this car for a few minutes I’m going to go to jail for murder.”
“Orange isn’t your color, Crazy Girl.”
“Well at least get back on the interstate, I’m sick of small towns, Father.”
“Fine, if it’ll shut you up.”
He does a U-turn and immediately blue lights flicker behind us. Dumbass. He’s done an illegal turn in front of on an unmarked police car.
“Leave me the keys when they haul your ass to jail. You’ll probably look great in orange,” I quip with a smug smile.
“No one’s going to jail. It might help if you’d start crying.”
“Cry,” he hisses. “You know, sob, wail, blubber or weep. You should be a pro at it by now.”
“I know what the word means, asshole.” Although I’ve cried way too many times in front of this priest, for the life of me, I can’t summon the tears. I find the entire situation hysterically funny.
He runs a finger around his collar and sweat beads his brow. Hiding my laughter in my hands, I peek through my fingers, not wanting to miss this for anything. Let’s see how the glib Father talks his way out of this one.
The officer peers in the car, and his eyebrows lift at the sight of Remi’s collar. “Uh, sorry, Father. You just did an illegal U-turn.”
“I did, didn’t I? I’m sorry. I wasn’t paying attention because I was comforting this distraught young lady.”
Lady? My shoulders shake with my repressed laughter. He pats me on the back more forcefully than I think necessary.
“There, there, Evie. Don’t worry. The officer is just doing his job.” He hands his license through the window. I snort and hiccup trying to contain my giggles. Reaching for the registration and proof of insurance, Remi pinches my leg, making me yelp.
“Everything all right, miss?”
Keeping my face covered, I shake my head. If he sees my face, I’ll be busted for lying. I suck at poker.
“This poor child has led a sinful life and is full of repentance. I, uh, saw the sign over there and thought we’d give it a try. My way doesn’t seem to be working, bless her heart.”
Oh no, he didn’t. Every Southerner knows the phrase bless her heart is always offered with a healthy side of sarcasm.
The officer glances behind him. “It’s a non-denominational church, not Catholic, Father. You need to go about thirty miles up the road to find your kind.”
“My kind? Would you like to discuss the theology of forgiveness, son?”
Remi’s condescending tone sends me over the edge. Real tears now streak down my face as I bite my lip to the point of pain trying to control my laughter.
“No, sir, but—”
“You’re concerned about a U-turn. I’m concerned about the direction this poor unfortunate’s soul is taking.” Remi leans out the window and stage whispers, “If we don’t get her some help now, she may very well spend all of eternity at a permanent barbeque, if you know what I mean. Do you want that on your conscience?”
I hunch over and scream with laughter.
The poor cop jumps back at least six feet. “Dear Lord above, does she need an exorcism?”
“She might, you volunteering to help?”
“No sir, I’m Baptist. Y’all go on now.”
“Thank you. I’ll say an extra novena for you.” He rolls up the window and waves as the cop drives past.
I’m laughing so hard my side hurts. “You’re going to hell.”
“Nah, I’m not leaving without you.”
He takes my hand in his and gives it a gentle squeeze. At this moment I’d follow him to hell gladly. I can’t imagine my life without him. To my surprise he pulls into the parking lot of the non-denominational church.
“What are you doing?”
He points at the sign. Drive thru prayer.
“You’re joking, right?”
“You wouldn’t want me to bear the sin of lying would you?”
“You just said that stuff to get out of a ticket.”
“Tell me something. Where will you spend eternity?”
I roll my eyes. “In the dirt, rotting. Or hell.”
He sighs and taps the steering wheel with his thumbs. “Maybe this will convince you otherwise. It appears open and no waiting. Let’s go. Besides, they offer a free carwash with every prayer, too.”
He drives up to a window that looks like a bank teller. A young man looks up from his Bible and smiles.
“Well hello, uh, Father, sir.”
“Just Remi is fine. We’re all in this together, right?”
“I guess so?” The guy looks to be my age or younger. “My name is John. What can I do for y’all? Do you have a specific prayer request?”
“Well John, you look like you have a good head on your shoulders.” Remi snickers at his own joke while poor guy’s eyes practically bug out of his head. “I’d like to order a prayer for salvation, to go.”
“A prayer for salvation to go?”
“That’s what I said. Can we get super fast delivery? She’s on the fast track to hell. Just ask her.”
I punch him in the arm.
“Ow. She’s violent, too. Did you see that? Better make it a double, John.” He grins. “I’d ask for a side of fries, but that’s what we’re trying to avoid. She thinks she’s gonna be a crispy critter.”
John leans forward, hands on the glass and looks all around us. “Am I being punked?”
An older gentleman steps into the booth. I have to wonder if John pressed some sort of emergency prayer button or something for back up.
“Punked?” Remi turns to me. “What’s that mean?” he whispers.
“He thinks you’re playing a trick on him,” I gasp between giggles.
“Father.” The gray haired man greets him. “I’m Brother Forsythe, the pastor here, can I help you?”
I laugh and motion Remi to drive off. “Just go, we need to get out of here.”
“No, we came for prayer, so prayer we’re gonna get,” Remi insists.
The minister frowns, and his white bushy brows knit together. “Sir, is this some sort of hazing prank? If it is, you need to just move along. We take the Lord very seriously here.”
“Oh I’m sure you do.” Remi nods with a smug smirk. “But trust me, Bubba; no one has a better sense of humor than The Boss.”
The younger guy smirks as the pastor gasps his outrage.
Remi leans toward the window. “I mean think about it. Look at the poor platypus and aardvark. What’s up with them?”
“Son, I think you two need to move on.”
“Let me get this straight, I’ve gone from Father, to sir, to son. Are you refusing to serve us?”
“I don’t appreciate mockery of my religion or foolishness,” the pastor huffs.
“Words from the mouth of the wise are gracious, but fools are consumed by their own lips. See? We’re on the same page, Brother. Except I don’t think you’re being very gracious. We’ll leave, but I want my free carwash.”
The poor man looks ready to stroke. John grins and the drawer opens with a token, which Remi palms. He offers a quick blessing and makes the sign of the cross. By the time we pull away, John is fanning Brother Forsythe.
I finally let loose laughing. “I don’t think I’m the one going to hell.”
He grins. “Me either. Luc wouldn’t put up with your woe-is-me bullshit and he certainly doesn’t want that sanctimonious poop. Let’s get this free car wash. We earned it listening to that pompous guy. Besides, they’re fun.”
“You’re so silly.” I can’t stop grinning. I realize I’m enjoying myself. Life has certainly been less gloomy since I met the sexy priest.
A few blocks away we find Carl’s Christian Carwash: Where Cleanliness is Next to Godliness.
“Look at that!” Remi points to the colored suds on the windshield, but I’m looking at him. He stares at me, and I’m mesmerized by the flickering flames in his pupils. The air in the car sizzles with a sexual awareness that’s undeniable.
“Evangeline…” His breathing sounds harsh and the longing I feel is mirrored in his face.
“I want to consume your foolish lips, Father,” I whisper, tracing the outline of his mouth with my thumb.
He smiles and leans toward me. “I graciously accept.” My breath catches. It’s finally happening, what I’ve daydreamed about since meeting this man. His lips tentatively explore mine and then take what I freely give.
It’s the kiss to end all kisses, a toe curling, breath stealing, soul consuming kiss. I’ve wanted this and anticipated it more then a five-year-old waiting on Santa to visit. It’s even better than my dreams, a deep connection that rocks me to the center of my being. He’s my missing heart.
He sighs. I pull away as the enormity of what we’ve done crashes around us. Reality sucks. I can’t have him. “Damn you,” I whisper.
I look into his eyes and see pain mixed with desire. “Probably so.” He brushes my cheek with the back of his fingers. “But worth it.” He kisses me again, softer, gentler and whispers, “This is why you have to stick around, Crazy Girl. You’re mine for eternity, no matter what happens. Trust me.”
The car jolts and sunshine pours through the now sparkling windshield. The mood dissipates, but my happiness remains. For in this one stolen moment of happiness, I’ve found hope for the future. Just like a kid on Christmas Eve…
© 2016 Nancee Cain
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