“I don’t know. Maybe his wife usually does it and, since she is out-of-town this weekend, maybe he just wants the company? Or, maybe he needs the help because he has a bad heart or something. I really want to help him, Mom.” I could really turn on those puppy-dog eyes when pleading with her. My dark brown globes were nearly barking at my mother by this time.
“If you can take someone else with you, you can go; but you may not go alone.” Yes! I mentally pumped the air while profusely thanking my mother.
“This is my friend, Jill*. She is here to help us wash the car.” Pastor Sanders* did not seem to mind Jill being with me and greeted her warmly.
“Nice to meet you, Jill. Thanks for coming to help with the car. I’ll fetch the soap and wax, along with some clean cloths.” Once Jill and I had filled a bucket with water, we dragged the hose over to the waiting car. Pastor Sanders was soon back with the supplies.
“If you have something else you need to do, we can do this job ourselves. We’ll let you know when we are finished.” Pastor Sanders protested only a little before agreeing and heading back into the house.
Jill and I really scrubbed the car, pleased with the results as the sun glistened on the shiny, waxed surface. Pastor Sanders stepped out to check on the progress.
“You girls have done a great job on the car! I would like to make you some lunch. Sojourner, would you help me in the kitchen, please?” I followed Pastor Sanders into the kitchen.
“Thanks, but I can’t stay for lunch. My mother will expect me to be home but I will help you before we go.” Pastor Sanders was smiling at me as he moved to the cupboard next to the sink.
“I just appreciate you girls washing the car and letting me work on my sermon notes.” Opening the cupboard door, he pointed to the top shelf. “I can’t reach the tuna fish. Let me lift you up so you can grab it for me.” I protested that he was an old guy and I was too heavy for him to lift up there but by then he had his hands around my waist. “Nonsense. You jump while I lift.”
“Why don’t you use one of the chairs over there? I’ll get it for you.” I started to pull away from his grasp as tension tightened my stomach into one huge knot. I didn’t want to jump up and I didn’t want him to hold me around the waist. Nevertheless, with a grunt, Pastor Sanders hoisted me up and choked out that I should grab a can. I was so shocked that I didn’t grab anything.
“Put me down. I’m not a little girl that you can just lift me up like that. I’m thirteen.” I was nearly whispering, but he heard me and, gently, set my feet back on the floor. Quickly I moved a chair to the counter and, in a flash, retrieved one can of tuna. “Here you are! A can of tuna.” I was smiling but the knot was still in my stomach.
“Are you sure you girls can’t join me?” Walking to the kitchen door, I shook my head at the same time as I grasped the knob. “Does your mother come home for lunch every day?” Without thinking of anything except getting on my bike for home, I answered him.
“Every day but Thursday. She has a meeting on Thursdays so takes her own lunch.”
Finally, turning the last corner for home, my stomach relaxed. I wondered why Pastor Sanders was acting so weird. Maybe that was normal for him? I would see Pastor Sanders just one more time in my life but it would remain in my memory forever.
*Names have been changed.
****Authority Figures: Pastors, Conclusion… Coming Tomorrow