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  • Writer's pictureKatie

One of "Those": Part 3

Jimmy sat beside his mother, thinking silently and staring at her hands knitting with practiced agility.

The neighbors on the next floor made dull thumps as they moved from room to room. The ceaseless noises from upstairs and downstairs made the second floor seem more like a giant drum than a house, but Jimmy didn’t care. He’d become accustomed to those noises.

“Well, you’re going to have to say something eventually, Jimmy,” his mother said, breaking the conversational silence. “If you don’t, you’ll never get it out.”

She was a patient woman, but she knew Jimmy well enough to realize that he would only say what he thought made sense. So, when he couldn’t find the words, he would not speak.

“I think--,“ He knew he would stumble all over his thoughts. “I wanted to know why Reverend Mark tests all the boys.”

“What do you mean?”

“He said that he gives all the boys a test by having the pretty lady act like a homeless person. But– Well, I think it is more than just a lesson, isn’t it?”

“What makes you think that?” she asked, glancing up from her knitting, her hands never pausing.

Jimmy shifted in his chair, thinking deeply. “They said it’s my job to use what I learned. But what must I use it for?”

Jimmy’s mother laughed. “I think you’re overthinking things. If you’re wondering what the Reverend meant, why don’t you go and ask him?”

“Do you think he’ll be fine with that?”

Jimmy’s mother stopped knitting momentarily to look Jimmy in the eyes.

“Why else would he leave you hanging without a sermon but make you ask questions?”

For a moment, he stared at her, wondering if she was trying to make a joke about the Reverend or give him serious advice. She stared back with sparkling eyes.

Finally, Jimmy said, “I think you’re messing with me.”

Again, his mother laughed. “Of course I am!” Then, she stopped laughing. “But I was being serious when I told you to ask him your questions. I can’t tell you his thoughts exactly.”


Jimmy walked up the church’s steps, hugging a sack close to his chest. It contained a book that he picked up from one of the Reverend’s borrowers. Knowing that a knock on the church’s heavy wooden doors would be difficult to hear, he opened the latch and pushed his body against the right side door, swinging it open slowly.

“Good morning!” the Reverend called from his study as he heard the door creak. “Is that you, Jimmy?”

“Yes, Reverend,” Jimmy called back, hurrying out of the foyer and into the Reverend’s study.

“Ah, good,” said the Reverend, rubbing his hands together and standing up from his chair. “Which book did you bring back this time?”

Jimmy took the book out of the sack and handed it to the Reverend.

“Mm, yes, this is one of my favorites,” he glanced at his bookshelves, then back to Jimmy with a mock worried look on his face. “The problem is,” he said with a sigh. “They’re all my favorites.”

“I have a question, Reverend,” Jimmy began, not knowing how to answer the Reverend’s statement.

Reverend Mark raised an eyebrow in expectation before turning to find the book’s proper space on his shelves.

“Besides teaching me a lesson, why did you give me that test?”

The Reverend placed the book in an empty spot on the shelf before turning a discerning eye on Jimmy. “Did it have to be more than a lesson? Aren’t those important too?”

Jimmy resisted the urge to rub his face. “Yes, Reverend, but…” He frowned in concentration. “Well, since it’s just a lesson, how do I use it in my life, as you said?”

“Aha! Now there’s the right question. Come for a walk with me, will you?” The Reverend turned and looked at Jimmy. “Don’t worry. Your parents are not expecting you until supper.”

“We’re gonna be gone that long?”

“You asked to see a way to apply this lesson.” The Reverend opened his hands wide as if to say Jimmy asked for it. “I’m showing you how to do that.”

Jimmy nodded, hoping he would eventually understand. He followed the Reverend out of the church and down the road outside.

“Now, you know that the church runs a Soup Saturday for the homeless people in the city, correct?”

“Yes, Reverend,” Jimmy said. He had heard it announced at some of the church services.

“Well, that’s where we’re going. What were you thinking about when you gave Jane the cake?”

“Her name is Ms. Jane?”

“I figured you'd know her from church.” The Reverend chuckled as he turned down a different street. Jimmy followed.

“I don’t think I paid enough attention to her at church. I mostly play with my friends.”

“I see.” The Reverend nodded, smiling. “Back to the question, though. What were you thinking?”

“I thought the alley didn’t have any treasures except the one I had in my pocket, so I gave it to her so her home could have a treasure.”

“Very good! And do you think that people like that get the treasure of a warm, homemade meal very often?”

“No, Reverend…” Jimmy began. “But I do.”

“Exactly! I like how you’re thinking, my boy. And because we have a treasure—a blessing to share, should we not do so?”

“Yes, Reverend. And what about my lying? How do I use that lesson?”

“Mm–I think you’ll see that soon. Aha! Here we are.”

They turned around a building and nearly stumbled over a man sitting on the ground. He sat at the back of a long line of people. They were all waiting to get inside a shop on the bottom floor of a three-story building. The stench of unwashed bodies and hungry breath nearly caused Jimmy to choke. Homeless people in layers of ragged clothes gazed curiously at him and the Reverend as they waded through the line and into the shop.

“Thank goodness you’re here, Reverend!” Shouted Jane above the hubbub of homeless people and those trying to serve them. She began to walk toward the Reverend, but a young man, not much older than Jimmy, passed in front of her holding a tray full of steaming soup bowls. After dodging several other people doing their various tasks, she worked her way out from behind the store counter and stood near the Reverend so they could hear each other.

“Good thing you brought Jimmy,” she said. “We can’t fit everyone in the store, so we’ll have to start serving them outside.”

“Well, here he is, Jane. Don’t forget that he doesn’t know his way around yet. Also, what can I do?”

“You were always better at the cooking,” she said, “And my cook is feeling a little frazzled. She could use some help.” She turned to Jimmy. “Follow me.”

On the store counter, deeper into the shop, a stack of trays sat next to rows of steaming soup bowls. Jimmy assumed that there hadn’t been enough spoons to go around, so they had to have the homeless people drink from the bowls.

Jane took a tray, filled it with six bowls, and handed it to Jimmy.

“Take it outside and start passing it out.” She spoke. Jimmy nodded, staring at the soup and hoping he wouldn’t spill it. He hadn’t received a straight answer to his question, or so he thought. But, now that he was in the thick of things, all he could do was take the soup outside and serve it.

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