Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Deliver Us from Evelyn

Deliver Us From Evelyn

(Harvest House Publishers)

Chris Well

Everyone from the Feds to the mob is scrambling to find the husband of heartless media mogul Evelyn Blake. But no one can decide which is worse—that he is missing, or that she is not ...


Sunday night. April 23.

On his last day of this life, the Right Fair Reverend Missionary Bob Mullins checked the party dip. Just stuck his finger right in there, pulled some glop free, stuck it in his mouth and sucked.

Hmm, good dip.

He wiped his saliva’d finger on his jacket, popped the top off a can of Pringles, shuffled a neat row of curved chips onto a Dixie brand paper platter.


Setting the can down, he stepped back from the secondhand coffee table in the middle of the shag-carpeted office, looked at what his party planning skills had wrought. And he saw that it was good.

He went to the stereo system across the room, selected a CD. Personally, he would have preferred something by the Rolling Stones, maybe Exile on Main Street or Beggars Banquet -- muscular, honky-tonk rock ’n’ roll you can get drunk or stoned to, depending on your mood. He could really go for the bluesy wail of “Tumbling Dice” right now.

But the music library here offered none of that. Besides, his marks -- that is, the members of his “flock” -- held certain expectations regarding what music was appropriate for a prayer meeting. Especially in a small armpit of a town like Belt Falls, Illinois.

(Who names a town “Belt Falls,” anyway?)

The ladies would be here soon. Then Missionary Bob could use his people skills, honed from his years of "ministry," to good effect. Would lead the group in a spontaneous (but carefully planned) evening following “the Lord’s leading” -- some Bible, some hymns, some ministry time. A carefully rehearsed prayer, a combination of wails and pleas, which experience had shown to be a very effective prelude to the passing of the offering plate.

Swept up by the rush of maudlin and spiritual emotion, the ladies would cough up plenty.

“Yea, but there are those who do not have it as comfortably as we do,” he found himself practicing, fiddling with chair placement in the circle, maneuvering pillows on the couch. “Poor children who do not have the food or clothing or shelter such as we take for granted.”

He double-checked the handy photos on the table. The orphanage in Mexico went by a lot of names. It would not do for the Right Fair Reverend Missionary Bob Mullins to get all weepy-eyed over JESUS AMA A LOS NINOS PEQUENOS and then whip out a photo showing a bunch of tiny brown faces smiling under a banner that said CHILDREN OF HER MERCY ORPHANAGE.

Following the fiasco in the last town, he’d played it cool once he got to Belt Falls. (Really, who brings a wagon train across the frontier, breaks ground on a settlement and says, “From henceforth, this shall be known as ‘Belt Falls’”?)

Ever since Andrea -- his partner, his companion, his ray of light -- had got Jesus, she'd stopped helping with the scams. Stopped helping him fleece the flock, so to speak. She laid it on thick enough, It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment, and all that.

He tried to smirk it off, tried that face that always brought her around, but it didn’t seem to work anymore. Whatever had got hold of her wasn’t letting go.

Missionary Bob would never admit it to anyone, least of all himself, that the dividing line between success and failure began and ended with Andrea. When she was working with him, the scams worked like butter.

But then she got religion and the whole machine went up in flames.

Not that Missionary Bob got the clue. He kept working his games, town to town, each new gambit failing, each new town harder to crack than the last.

Once he set up shop here in Belt Falls (don’t even get him started about the name of the town), he took his time getting to know the people. He found them to be a small, close-knit community, smugly going to their church services.

Smug, but not that pious -- it did not take much effort to plant sufficient evidence that the only pastor in town was a raving drug user, maybe even a dealer. Not enough evidence to get the man convicted -- even the hick sheriff saw it was a weak case -- but the hapless pastor had to make only one phone call to the wrong deacon asking for bail money before word of his unholy lifestyle rushed through the congregation like wildfire.

In the eyes of God and the law, he was probably an okay guy. But once a congregation chooses to believe the worst, a preacher may as well pack his bags and move on.

Missionary Bob had even heard tell of one particular church, somewhere in the Midwest, where the members had booted the pastor because he'd had the temerity to wear short pants to a church potluck.

Yep, hell -- if it existed -- would be packed to the lips with smug, busybody churchgoers who ran their preacher out of town because he had worn shorts to a church potluck. Or, as in this case, was the victim of circumstantial evidence planted on him by a traveling huckster.

He stood and straightened his dress jacket. Felt a bulge in his left pocket, was surprised to discover a coaster with the face of Jesus on it.

He looked around the office, befuddled. When had he picked this up?

You don’t have to lift anything here, he reminded himself. You’ve pretty much lifted the whole office already.

Missionary Bob, in what used to be the hapless pastor’s office, heard steps echoing from the foyer, somebody clomping up the stairs. My, my, thought the Right Fair Reverend Missionary Bob Mullins, these ladies do need to lose some weight, don’t they? Whoever this was, she was pounding the stairs to wake the devil.

He stopped fidgeting with pillows and stood up straight, getting into character. Thinking of his plan, his mission, remembering the correct accent and speech patterns of a Right Fair Reverend Missionary, an accent as specific and undeniable as the drawl of New Orleans or the wicked blue-blood of Boston.

There was an insistent pounding on the door, a battering, really, if he had stopped to think about it. But he was too wrapped up in the character of a Right Fair Reverend Missionary. He slapped on a toothy grin and opened the door. “Welcome, child, to -- ”

It was a man. A. Large. Man. A grizzled bear towering over him, bloated flannel shirt cascading out of pants where they were almost tucked, tractor cap on his head declaring EAT ROADKILL. The grizzly bear pressed his flannelled beer belly against the Right Fair Reverend Missionary, leaned down from on high and belched, “I’m Darla Mae’s husband.”

The Right Fair Reverent Missionary Bob Mullins broke character and cursed.

The rest of the confrontation was like a dream, a nightmare of slow motion, the bear smacking him, a freight train to the skull, tossing Missionary Bob across the room. Hitting the coffee table as he went down, elbow in the dip. The grizzly roaring, storming in, Missionary Bob on the floor, scrambling backward, away, fleeing in the only direction he could, farther into the room. The angry husband kicking the table over, party snacks flying, dip spattering across the bookcase.

As Missionary Bob kicked to his feet, always moving backward, until the wall stopped his escape, one question kept flashing through his mind: Is this about the fake antique Cross of James or is this about the adultery?

Either way, his back against the wall, this grizzly man bearing down on him, Missionary Bob was out of options. The giant man, his eyes red, had barrel fists clenched and ready to swing, like jackhammers.

There was a noise behind the grizzly, at the open door. “Missionary Bob?”

One of the ladies.

The enraged husband turned at the voice. Missionary Bob took his one and only chance, grabbed the stone head of Moliere, clubbed the grizzly across the side of the head. The man stumbled backward and fell.

Missionary Bob, fueled by anger and fear and blind, stupid adrenalin, kept clubbing, again and again. The man on the floor now, blood streaming from his head. Missionary Bob clubbing him with the bust again and again. On his knees, on top of the man, clubbing him again and again and again.

Finally, adrenalin loosening its grip, Missionary Bob became aware that the man was not moving. Clutching air in hot, painful gasps, he dropped the bust to the carpet.

Felt something wet on the side of his face, wiped it with his sleeve, saw blood smeared on fabric. Not his own blood.

Gasping, wheezing, he looked up and saw the witnesses, ladies pooling in the doorway, staring agape at the Goliath on the floor, downed by the David with his stone.

© 2006 Chris Well

Buy now at Amazon.com



"hold out" (1) 1question (4) 1questionMay (2) 1questionspring (3) 1questionsummer (2) 1questionwinter (7) 2011 (2) 30 Days to Build a Better Blog (5) 30 Days to Build a Better Book Blog (17) 9/11 (2) a good man blog watch (2) aaliyah (2) about me (1) Academy award (2) acfw-vip (2) Africa (1) african america (3) african american christian fiction (19) african american history (8) altartainment (1) amazon (9) american heart (1) american idol (1) amish (4) amy grant (1) Amy wallace (1) andrew carroll (1) angela bassett (1) Arts (2) atlanta (3) atlanta journal (1) atlanta tornado (1) audition (1) authentic creation (1) author (1) author interview (12) author read-in (3) authors (6) authors read in (2) authors read-in (1) awards (11) barbie (1) Basketball (1) bath luxe (2) bational wear red day (1) bbaw (1) bea (2) best of (8) bestsellers (2) bethany house (4) bible (3) bible study (3) bill gates (1) billie jean (1) birthday (3) black authors (2) black authors network (1) black christian novel (1) black christmas plays (4) black hawk down (1) black history (1) black in america (2) black men in america (1) black spiritualism (4) blacklitchat (2) blog alliances (1) blog talk radio (22) blog tour (14) blogalicious (2) blogcatalog (1) bloggers unite (9) blogging (7) bloglight (1) blogtalkradio (6) blythe (1) book (3) book arts (1) book awards (12) book blogging (5) book chat (3) book club (6) book cover (4) book deals (1) book events (9) book fun (2) book marketing (51) book pick (1) book pr (1) book preview (9) book promotion (7) book proposal (2) book release party (2) book review (52) book review submission form (5) book signing (4) book tour (4) book trailer (21) bookbyte (3) bookclub (2) books (3) brook promotion (1) bubble bath (1) bynum (1) c.s. lewis (1) camy tang (2) career (1) carl weber (1) carleen brice (1) casting call (9) cba (2) cfba (4) children books (7) chip macgregor (2) choir (1) chris well (2) christian (2) christian comedy (1) christian detective novel (1) christian ethics (7) christian fiction (13) christian fiction blog alliance (2) christian fiction news (28) christian fiction online magazine (26) christian living (2) christian movie (1) christian novel (4) christian publisher (2) christian retailing (2) christian romance (4) christian summer book (9) christian writer's carnival (1) christian writer's guide (1) Christianity (4) christmas (14) christmas story (14) Christy Award (4) christy awards (3) chronicles of narnia (2) chuck holton (1) chuck palahniuk (1) church news (1) cindy (1) cindy woodsmall (9) civil rights (1) claudia burney (10) clown girl (1) cnn (2) coco brother (2) contest (20) contests (6) controversy (1) convention (3) copyright (1) craft (1) creston mapes (1) cupcakes (2) cyndy salzmann (1) darfur (2) dargur (1) david c. cook (4) David Talbert (1) deanne gist (2) deborah raney (1) decaturbookfestival (1) dee and marina (4) dee stewart (19) dee stewart hezekiah walker (1) dee stewart linda beed (1) deegospelpr (11) dekker (5) denzel washington (1) denzel washington. (1) Derek Fisher (1) designer shoes (1) devotions (1) DiAnn Mills (1) digital publishing (2) disney (2) domestic violence (1) don hoesel (1) doodle (1) dwan abrams (2) e-reader (4) e. lynn harris (1) Earth day (2) eartha kitt (1) easter (4) ecpa (1) editing (2) ella curry (2) England (1) eric wilson (1) essence magazine (3) ethics (3) excerpts (9) facebook (3) faith and fiction retreat (11) Faith anf fiction retreat (1) faith*in*fiction (3) fashion show (1) father's day (1) fictin in rather short takes (1) Fiction (1) fiction in rather short takes (33) flag of our fathers (1) followthereader (1) fox faith (1) frank peretti (1) friday afternoon club myster (1) friday afternoon club mystery (1) friday fest (8) fuge recipes (1) genesis awards (1) George Jackson (1) giveaway (8) Golden State Warriors (1) good reads (4) gospel dream (1) gospel fiction (3) gospel music (19) gospel play (13) Grace (1) guestblog (9) haiti (1) haley kilpatrick (1) hank stewart (1) harper collins (1) Harriet Beecher Stowe (1) harry potter (2) Hawaiian Islands (1) heart disease (2) help wanted (1) historical (9) hope for women (1) horror (3) house of faith (1) human trafficking (1) I Dream of Jeannie (1) ibook (2) imprints (1) inciting incident (1) infuze magazine (1) inspirational monday (2) inspys (1) interviews (12) iThink (1) itw (3) jeanee damoff (2) jeff gerke (1) jena 6 (3) jill elizabeth nelson (1) job announcement (1) juanita bynum (3) juanita bynumemkm (1) juneteenth (4) karen kingsbury (3) kathy herman (1) kim brooks (1) kim cash tate (1) kimani press (1) kimberla lawson roby (2) Kindle (1) kristy dykes (2) laura bush (1) lent (11) leny (1) librarything book reviews (2) lifetime tv (1) lifeway (2) linda hargrove (2) links (1) lisa samson (3) literacy (1) literary agent (3) Literature (2) love (1) M M (1) madea girl talk (1) marcher lord press (1) marilynne robinson (1) marilynnn griffith (5) marina woods (2) marines (2) marketing (5) marketing christian fiction blog (1) marriage (1) mary demuth (1) mary hart (1) media candy (10) medical fiction (2) melody carlson (2) meme (1) Memorial day (3) michael jackson (1) mike duran (1) ministry (3) miranda parker (26) mochareaders (1) mombloggers (2) mommyfest (5) monday mention (3) monika drake (1) morgan freeman (1) mothers (3) motivationmonday (6) movie (14) mtv awards (1) myspace (1) nanowrimo (7) Nat Turner (1) National Basketball Association (1) national book month (1) NBA (1) networking (1) New York Times (1) Newsletters (1) nicole seitz (5) non-fiction (2) novel (2) novel writing (10) ny times bestseller (1) obama (14) off-topic Thursday (3) offf-topic Thursday (2) olympia vernon (1) online bookstore (5) oprah (2) ott (2) Pacific War (1) pam perry (1) parenting (2) party (1) pat simmons (1) pay it forward (2) Pearl Harbor (1) people magazine (1) Philippines (1) play (2) plug and play (1) po bronson (1) politics of the mass media (1) poll (1) prayer cell (4) prayer request (3) preorder pick (2) prince caspian (1) princess dominique (1) publishing (14) race and religion (3) radio (1) radio talk show (4) rawsistaz (4) reading series (4) rebeca seitz (1) reflections (1) relief journal (1) Relief Journal christian writing (3) Religion and Spirituality (3) renovating becky miller (1) reshonda tate billingsley (5) retreat (1) rhonda bowen (5) rhonda mcknight (9) richmond (1) romance (6) romantic times (2) romantic times magazine (8) rt convention (2) saint patrick's day (1) sally e.stuart (1) saturday christian carnival (3) Science fiction (3) secret life of bees (2) selah (3) self-publish (2) shana burton (8) sharon ewell foster (6) sharon hink (3) shawneda marks (1) shelfari (1) sher (1) sherri lewis (12) shine in 09 (5) shoes (1) Shopping (1) short story (2) Sidney Sheldon (1) single women (1) sistahfaith (1) skype (2) Slave ship (1) social media (7) social network (2) social network problogger (7) social networking (2) social networkingh (1) sormag (1) South Carolina (1) specfiction (3) speedlink (8) spiritual autobiography (3) Sports (1) spotlight (2) stacy hawkins adams (6) star wars (1) steeple hill (1) storytellers (3) stranger than fiction (1) sudan (1) summer (8) sunrise (1) survey (2) sxsw (1) t.l. hines angela hunt (1) tavis smiley (2) tavis smley (2) teen (4) the first lady (3) the master's artis (2) the master's artist (56) the masters artist (6) the shack (2) the spirit of your story (1) the stones cry out (1) the trouble with publishing (2) theology (2) thomas nelson (7) thriller thursday (7) tia mccollors (1) tiffany warren (7) titletrakk (1) to (1) tolkien (1) top ten (25) tosca lee (1) tours (1) trailer park tuesday (61) trailer park tuesdaycngdkvb (1) travis Hunter (1) tribute (12) tricia goyer (4) tuesday (2) tv (1) twitter (22) ty moody (3) tyler perry (55) tyler pery (1) tyler play (1) United States (3) urban christian book (5) Utah Jazz (1) utterz (10) valentine (2) vanessa davis griggs (1) vanessa miller (2) veteran's day (2) video (2) wachooreading (2) walmart (1) wanza leftwich (1) warren buffet (1) WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group (1) weakend read (2) wedding (1) wednesday wrap (11) weekend chat (29) weekend chatter (17) weekend read (11) westbow (1) what i'm reading (3) what's done in the dark (1) why fiction matters (9) widcard (1) wiki (1) wild card (12) wildcard (32) Wings of Glory (1) womanist thought (1) women (1) women of faith (2) women's ministry (1) workshops (4) world aids day (1) World War II (1) write-or-die chick (3) writer's call (3) writer's conference (8) writer's prompt (2) writing (4) writing conference (8) writing contest (8) writing journey (2) writing life (38) writing opportunities (2) writing project (5) writing tip (3) writing workshop (2) x-files (1) yolanda king (1) young adult (5) youtube (4) zondervan (5)