Sunday, April 13, 2014

197. Prayer Lists

C.W. has always been intrigued by our obsession with religion. This time it went too far, as you will see.

The first to call was the oldest Thorton girl, the nosey one.

“It’s Carlota,” she said though it wasn’t necessary. She has this snorting sound that she makes when she breathes. I would have recognized it anywhere. I told her my wife wasn’t home.

“It’s you I wanted,” she said. “I called to talk to you.”

I didn’t say anything.

“Did you hear me?” she said.

“Sure I heard you. What’s up?”

“You tell me,” she said, just like that. “You tell me.”

“Tell you what?”

“Why I need to pray for you.”

“I don’t you to pray for me.”

“Then why, tell me, is your name on a prayer list? I need to know what kind of troubles you got.”

“I don’t have any troubles.”

“Are you two having problems?” She snorted again.


“Trouble. Are you two having, you know, marital problems?”

“Goddamn it, who told you that?”

“If you are going to blaspheme the Savior, I shall refuse to pray for you.”

“Well don’t then.” I hung up.

“C.W.! I instinctively knew he was behind this. Before I could think, the phone rang again. It was Ida Covington.

“Is it cancer?”

“Is what cancer?” Then I remembered.

“My cousin had it and he didn’t live but six months. And he had two churches praying for him.”

“Your cousin?”

“Uncle Fred’s oldest son, Chester—the one that was in prison for killing his wife. But it was the most wonderful thing. He surrendered his soul to Jesus right before he died and he’s in Heaven right now. Not a doubt in my mind but what he is praying for you.”

“Ida,” I explained, “Get off this damn telephone.” She did but it rang again.


“If you need money, our bank ..., a voice said. After that a neighborhood kid called to ask if he could have my woodworking tools when I was gone.

I went outside to find C.W. He was sitting peacefully watching the geese play around the pond at our farm.

“Do you know anything about a prayer list?”

He turned. “A what?”

“A prayer list. Don’t lie to me?”

“Oh,” he said. “Now I remember. Yours was the only name I knew.” This is his idea of an explanation.

“Knew for what?”

He fidgeted. “Remember when I wanted to visit some churches for research and you wouldn’t go with me?”

“I remember it well.”

“There is this small church not far from here and they insisted that I give them a name for their prayer list.”

I exhaled a long breath and looked at the sky. “And you gave them ..”

“Your name. I figured that, even if it didn’t help, it couldn’t hurt.” He stopped and thought. “They seemed to place a lot of importance on that sort of thing.”

“I suppose so,” I said, and sat beside him.

“Anyway,” he said. “I was afraid if I didn’t give them a name, they would start praying for me.”

“Perhaps they would.” My thoughts drifted.

“Does it work?”

I snapped back to the present. “Does what work?”

Big Dope has a long list and my name is on every line. - C.W.

“I’m thinking of trying it,” I said. “We will find out.”

“How will we find out?”

“You will be called home.”

Inside, the phone was ringing.

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