Harriet decided it might be a good time to call her friend Kathy, the television had been nothing but static on every channel for over an hour now, and only about ten minutes ago four of the forty channels she normally received had come back on the air. It was Saturday night and she did not want to miss her new program where her favorite movie stars would dance with each other, but on all four of the channels that were coming in at the moment there were newscasters talking about things she couldn’t quite understand, and besides, the only people that she liked to hear the news from were on channel 10, she knew she could trust them, they were likeable, trustworthy and the young woman on that channel even attended her church.
She thought about Kathy as she waited for her to pick up the phone, they had been the best of friends since grade school, but up until five or six years ago they had not spoken, in fact, after Harriet had found out that Kathy and her husband Walter had been having an affair, she had hated her, spending much of time telling anyone that would listen about her vile, back-stabbing ex friend, and what a terrible person she was. Walter had passed almost fifteen years ago, and though she knew that he had more than a few extramarital affairs during their marriage, it was the one with her then best friend that hurt the most.
Walter had been a salesman who had been on the road a lot, and it was expected that he would get lonely out there some nights, and though the first time she had found out about his ‘motel adventures’ hurt terribly, she had come to expect his infidelity as just part of their marriage. He had been a good provider, rarely had he struck her in moments of anger, and he had even been a long time youth leader in their church, and Harriet had tossed aside long ago as ridiculous the hushed talk of her husband’s inappropriate behavior towards some of the young girls in the youth group.
She put the phone back into its cradle after the twentieth ring, thinking perhaps that her friend was indisposed at the moment, after all, they were both in their late seventies now and not everything worked as well as it had in their younger years, but that was to be expected. As she walked to the kitchen to make a cup of tea, she pushed back the thoughts of her own body and how she had started to despise it, it was failing also and she wanted more often than not the vitality and looks she had in her younger years. “It isn’t fair,” she said as she put the kettle on the stove, “God just isn’t fair.” She immediately had a twinge that maybe she shouldn’t have said that, but shrugged it off just as quickly, it was true and when she saw Him, she would tell Him so.
Harriet held what she considered a high position of authority in the church that she had been attending regularly since her youth, she was on the finance committee and nearly all the final decisions were placed in her lap. She was considered a matriarch within the church and a small sneering smile crossed her lips as she poured her tea and thought on how even the so-called powerful men of the church rarely questioned her demands, and those that had in the past had learned to back away after one of ‘her talks’ with them. She thought briefly on three of the thirteen pastors that had “led” their congregation over the last sixty years, how she had made it a point to let them know just how far they could go, and no further, in their sermons. She and others that agreed with her, or that had in one way or another been made to agree with her decisions, had let all of these men who stood behind the podium knew that these foolish ideas of submission and conviction were to be kept in check.
Those who had tried to force the ridiculous notions of continued obedience and loving everyone had either been asked politely to move on, but those three who had tried to stand their ground, to “preach the truth of the Word of God,” as they had called it, had found themselves forced out. The small sneer returned to her face as she thought of the rumors that she had spread about one of them, and how he had finally been forced to leave when the “news” of his inappropriate actions with some of the boys on a church camping trip had been spread around. Harriet actually let out a little giggle when she recalled the flowing tears of this pastor’s wife as she tried to inform those in the congregation that would listen of her husband’s devotion not only to her but to all those who called Christ Lord. “You showed him who was the lord of the church that day, didn’t you Harriet.” She did not even hear the words come out of her mouth as she went back into the living room to sit and try to call Kathy again.
As she listened to the phone begin to ring on the other end of the line, she began to think about her friend and how she had changed over the past few years. Kathy’s husband died just after Walter did, four months to the day in fact, a major heart attack. Kathy had informed her husband just days before he had died of the affair that she had with Walter, and it was rumored that this was the reason for his heart attack, but Harriet neither knew or cared, “Serves her right” she had said to some of the other women in the church when the event occurred. Kathy had stopped then attending the church of her youth and had begun going to a much smaller, less known “Bible” church in town, a stupid move on her part, Harriet had thought, and still did.
Those people down there were always to happy, to full of the “joy of the Lord” as they like to call it to be trusted. It just seemed fake to Harriet, all this talk of love and forgiveness, always pretending to be loving and caring. Harriet saw it for what it was, fake, nobody could be that happy all the time, nobody could love everybody, there were just too many mean and evil people on this planet, “taking up good air” she heard herself say. And besides, everyone knew that there are some things that you just don’t forgive, so when she had inadvertently met Kathy uptown one day handing out Bible tracts of all things, and Kathy had walked up to her and hugged her, told her she loved her and wanted to start spending time with her again, Harriet knew that all she wanted was something from her. Kathy and her husband had never been well off financially, while she and Walter had amassed a small fortune over the years, so Harriet knew what Kathy wanted.
But it had not turned out that way, and as a frown came upon Harriet’s face for the thousandth time as she thought of this fact, she saw her ‘friend’ as she truly was, happy, a do-gooder who never had a harsh word for anyone, who was always looking for a way to lift other people up and help them however she could, the Kathy that always seemed to be talking about Jesus and how He had changed her life.
Harriet hung up the phone when she realized that Kathy was not going to answer her call. As she looked at the television, she noticed all the people running around in the background, the buildings burning and the people looting. She heard the man with the microphone in his hand say something about thousands, perhaps millions of people had just disappeared into thin air. Then the screen showed a man standing behind a podium, he started talking about the events that had occurred, how he understood our confusion and fear in these trying moments, and that he was here to help.
Harriet felt a smile come to her face as she leaned closer to the television, and she thought “What a handsome man.”