My interest in becoming a writer started around my twelfth birthday. My mother gave me a book, “Little Men,” by Louisa May Alcott.
The morning rush hour found the coffee shop in Houston, Texas, busy with customers. Bill Harrison ignored the jostling of patrons at the sales counter. He scanned the political section of the Austin Journal to see what his rivals were up to. The server who worked the floor seemed to always be just outside the paper's edge. He was not reading. He watched as she served guests at the other end of the shop, praying desperately that she leans over the table away from him. His cellphone buzzed, and he answered just as the woman leaned just enough that he could admire the back of her legs for a moment.
An annoyed expression swept away the admiration. “Of course, I heard. I’m trying to take care of that problem with a little p-r this morning.”
Harrison’s attention drifted away from the server to the door of the coffee shop as it opened. James Canton stepped inside and scanned the clientele for the senator. Harrison told his client to telephone back later and ended the conversation. He stood to motion to his former pastor of where he was. James Canton acknowledged the senator and began to make his way through the crowded shop.
“It’s good to meet with you this morning, Mr. Canton.” Harrison thrust out his right hand.
“Bill, call me Brother Jamie.” The pastor shook the offered hand and then took a seat opposite the senator.
“Alright, Brother Jamie,” Harrison checked the appearance of his suit, making sure that no wrinkles would stand out. “Can I buy you a coffee?”
“I would appreciate a good cup of joe!”
Brother Jamie was a reserved man who preferred to listen to what most others had to say. The pastor exhibited a genuine interest in the man in front of him, mindful of his political ambitions. Senator Harrison was an animated speaker who generally took over conversations and presented a danger to striking innocent bystanders with his descriptive hands.
“How is the new legislature this time around?”
“I heard rumors that some of them might try to sneak off to other states again.” Harrison finished with a jovial laugh.
Brother Jamie shook his head with his disapproval. “That isn’t acceptable to the voters who put them in office in the first place. I hear you are the governor’s pick for the top seat. You are pretty much a shoo-in, considering the contender.”
Harrison dismissed the significance of the pastor’s assumption. “I’m not breaking out the champagne yet. Maybe one of these days, with God’s help, I’ll be spending my nights in the governor’s mansion.”
“Take small steps, my friend.” Brother Jamie mentioned with caution.
“Those steps may need to be limited, but each of them is an important one.” Harrison slid his coffee cup to the table’s edge to have it refilled when the server returned for the order. “I have the check, by the way.”
Brother Jamie leaned back in his seat and watched the server grab the coffee with one hand and two plates with the other. “That is so generous of you, Bill.”
“It’s really my tithe for the years I attended First Baptist Pine Springs. Will you please mention it to the committee?” Harrison asked with hope.
“I’m just visiting a couple of close friends this afternoon, but I’ll make sure you get credit for it.” Brother Jamie added with fondness, “One of them is helping to restore the historic church on Main Street to get it registered as a historic site. My church is donating to help out as well.”
“That’s right! I remember now!” Harrison exclaimed with dawning surprise and nearly backhanded the server as she approached. “That was the first church you began preaching at.”
Brother Jamie smiled as the server arrived, bearing the two food plates for another table and the glass coffee pot. “Yes, sir. There are a lot of warm memories in that church. One that is meaningful to me was a pair of young boys who came to know Christ during my tenure.” He watched as she poured up both of their cups without spilling a drop. “I am anxious to meet up with a young man who returned to town sometime last week. I want to appreciate how he has turned out.”
Harrison pried a little deeper. “Do I know him?”
Brother Jamie seemed reluctant to answer. “I don’t know. His name is Kevin Fletcher.”
Harrison blinked as if he had a vague recognition of the name. “The only Kevin Fletcher I know killed a teenage boy in a terrible car wreck almost ten years or so ago.”
Brother Jamie nodded with a grim expression. “That’s him. The boy killed was his best friend, Robbie Murchison.”
Harrison shook his head. “Kids, drinking, and driving just don’t mix well together.”
“Drinking and driving don’t mix well at any age. I hope that his prison term hadn’t destroyed the Kevin I knew and loved when he was a boy.” Brother Jamie added a wistful thought, “I had high hopes for that boy as he was growing up.” He took a sip of his coffee.
“Don’t get your hopes up too high,” Harrison said matter-of-factly. “The penal system is not the best way to reform a wayward soul.” He glanced at his watch and then stood up in alarm. “Oh, look at the time! I am sorry, my friend, but I cannot miss this meeting.”
Brother Jamie felt glad for a change of topic. “Take care.” He stood to shake hands with the senator. “I will keep your nomination on our prayer list. God knows we need more good men like you in office.”
Harrison returned the handshake, fished out a couple of dollars from his wallet to put on the table, then turned to walk away. Brother Jamie sat back down and turned his attention to the window he was seated by, but his thoughts were farther away. He reached into the pocket of his jacket and pulled out an old photograph he kept next to his heart. He looked away from the busy city street outside down to the picture of Kevin Fletcher at age eight. The boy proudly displayed a childish rendition of a church created from pop sickle sticks.
Brother Jamie smiled as he traced the child’s face with a finger. A car horn honked, and he looked up to see the cab waiting at the curb. He replaced the picture with its location and gulped down the last of his coffee before hurrying to leave.
Continue reading Kevin's Homecoming - Chapter 9
- Kevin's Homecoming - Chapter 9
As Kevin continues to seek work in the church, Joseph Stevens, once the deputy who arrested the boy on the scene of the DWI wreck and now sheriff, confronts him. He wants the same thing Mark wants - Kevin must leave Pine Springs forever and not look