“Why would you tell me some shit like that?” Sampson asks me.
Was he serious? I raise my eyebrow. Sampson is dripping wet with the rain. All I’m seeing his broad chests and his six pack as his shirt is soaked. Just moments ago he admitted he was still in love with me and not only that. He also admitted he wanted me back. Honestly that didn’t come as a surprise. The chemistry between Sampson and I was undeniable. What was a surprise was the fact that he seems shocked about his wife Dahlia.
“You think I’m lying?” I ask Sampson.
I’m beyond shocked. Since when was I a liar? Sampson knew me well enough to know that I had no reason to lie about something so petty.
“So Dahlia is cheating on me with Wesley?” he asks me, “You expect me to believe that? Dahlia is a good wholesome Christian woman.”
“Aren’t you a pastor. You just fucked me raw in your driver’s seat.”
“You’ve always been my weakness,” Sampson admits with some turned down eyebrows, “I’ve always admitted that. I’m telling you I love you and I made a mistake leaving the way I did. That still doesn’t make it right to smear Dahlia.”
“I’m not smearing her. I’m just letting you know we all have our devils.”
“You should know.”
“Oh please Syn. How many times did I catch you flirting with T-Boy in front of my face.”
“Flirting and fucking are two different things,” I state, “You know I would never cheat on you when we were together. Your wife on the other hand is a different story. If I’m your weakness then Deacon Wesley is her weakness.”
“Where’s your proof?”
“I don’t fucking need proof. What is this? Law and order. Take it or leave it. I don’t know why I have to prove you married a slut,” I respond shaking my head.
It blew my mind that Sampson really was feeling so bad about what we did. Dahlia was bent over in CHURCH getting banged out by a Deacon. Where the fuck did he get off coming at me about my relationship with T-Boy. If I wanted to cheat on Sampson T-Boy would have handed me his dick on a platter regardless if they were brothers or not. I would have never crossed that line. But I guess maybe Dahlia put a little blush on, spoke proper and had that Southern charm so she was given the benefit of the doubt.
“I’m not calling you a liar. I’m just saying you can’t just throw accussations out like that without proof,” Sampson responds.
“Yeah I can and I just did.”
“For god sakes Wesley is my best friend.”
“I’m sure. You guys share a lot,”I respond crossing my arms, “Including the love of Dahlia’s pussy.”
Sampson is getting his feelings hurt. I know I’m being a little sharp but he deserves it right now for being so stupid. He was a smarter guy before. He’s been living in Briarswood too long. It’s made him soft and stupid. The fact that he was doing this blew my mind.
“I’ll deal with this my way,” Sampson states, “Get in. We’re going home.”
“I’m not going anywhere with you.”
“Wow? So now you want to be difficult?”
“Just because you wanted to be stupid,” I snap back.
He looks annoyed. The rain is beating hard and I know he doesn’t want to leave me out here. I don’t care though. I’d rather be in the rain then in a car with his dumb ass. This guy really had the nerve to say I was lying about his “Perfect wife”.
What the fuck was Dahlia feeding him that he believed her bullshit?
I cross my arms in the most stubborn way that I can, “Sampson.”
“Syn…I’m going to leave at the count of 5 if you don’t get in this car and stop being a fucking brat.”
“Do you believe she cheated on you?”
“I need proof of something like that.”
“Syn I’m leaving in 5 seconds. I swear to god. 1…2…”
“3-4-5,” I speed up his countdown.
I’m walking away at that moment as fast as I can.
Sampson calls me a few more times but I walk away and after about 20 minutes of following me he decides to give up and drive away. I know it is stupid for me to be walking in the rain but my pride won’t let me go in the car with Sampson. I’m over him and his bullshit.
I don’t know why he left me in the first place and I don’t know if he deserves me back regardless.
I loved Sampson but right now I hated him too.
As I’m walking a car pulls up. It beeps at me a few times. I swear I think it’s Sampson but when I turn I notice that it’s a different car.
The guy rolls down his window.
“Do I know you?” I ask the stranger.
“No…I don’t think so,” he responds, “But I’m a fan of yours. You headed towards Marigolds?”
“How do you know that?”
“Marigold’s a friend of mine. You can ride with me. That’s the direction I’m going in.”
I think for a moment that it’s weird he just so happens to be riding in the same direction as me.
I guess some people say don’t get in the car with strangers but right now it’s raining like shit and my ass hurt. I could barely walk after the sex with Big Dick Sampson. I didn’t have enough pride in the world not to hop in the car with the stranger.
When I get in the car I take a look at the guy. He is a very unattractive, skinny looking nerdy guy with a business suit on. He smiles as I walk into the car.
“Thanks for uh…stopping,” I tell the guy.
I’m kind of nervous. This guy could be some sort of maniac. I mean he looked harmless but you never know. I just found it weird how he knew my name. I also found it weird that he was smiling so hard. You would think this guy just met a black Jesus or something. His smile was so wide that I swear he looked like he was going to rip his face in half.
“I can’t believe you’re in my car right now,” he tells me.
“I’m sorry. Who are you?”
“My name is Joshua Carnes. I’m actually running for mayor against Edwin Reading.”
I found this interesting. Looking at the guy I didn’t know who would vote for such a geek but he didn’t seem at least as corrupt as Edwin Reading.
I sigh, “Hope you win. That guys a dick.”
“I heard what you did. Everyone in town did. You stood up to the Readings. Do you know what kind of balls that takes.”
“You people acting like I’m going against the mafia,” I respond shaking my head, “I’m going up against a cocky politician and his deacon brother who doesn’t know how to keep his dick in his pants.”
Joshua Carnes starts laughing like a little schoolgirl.
“There it is. That fire. That’s amazing. I wish there were more people here that think like you. Everyone’s afraid to go up against them.”
“Why aren’t you?” I ask.
“I know your glasses are kind of thick but do you see anyone else in this car with us? I ask.
He smiles and laughs again as though I’m making a joke---which I’m not.
“The brothers are as corrupt as they come,” he explains, “A few years ago my friend wrote an article about how corrupt Edwin Reading is. You want to know what happened to my friend, Mr. Syn?”
“What happened to him?” I ask.
“I want to know too,” Joshua Carnes says, “This town is so small. My friend just disappeared. Right before he disappeared he was worried he was being followed. He thought it was some guys who hung around the Readings.”
“You think they did something to him?” I ask.
Joshua Carnes looks me dead in my eyes. His eyes make this deep connection.
“I’m sure they did,” Joshua states.
I shake my head.
“Fuck. You need to go to the cops…”
I know Joshua isn’t used to me cursing because every time I do he giggles like he isn’t used to it.
“I went to the cops. I told them what I knew. You know what they told me? They asked me what my relationship was with my friend. I guess they were trying to insinuate I was gay because I was interested in the disappearance of my friend.”
It sounded familiar.
“They are probably bought by the Readings,” I respond.
Joshua Carnes nods in agreement. Hell I kept acting like the Readings weren’t a threat but they clearly were and after what I did to their computers I was pretty sure I was on their shit list. If they were capable of really hurting people or maybe even killing them then I needed to tread these waters more carefully.
The last thing I wanted was to end up on the back of some old country milk carton.
“People are sick of the Readings,” Joshua Carnes says, “There’s people who want change. There are people like me. People who know how fucking corrupt the Readings are.”
“So why don’t you guys stand up to them?”
“We’re just afraid. I guess. But there are people who are tired of being afraid. People who see this punk from out of state standing up to them and they want to be more like that. They want to be more like you. You know. I’m one of those people.”
Joshua Carnes smiles at me. It’s a sincere smile. He’s sick and tired of being sick and tired. For some reason I think maybe he is gay. Maybe that was his lover that was taken away from him. I wouldn’t put it past the Readings at that moment. All I know is that there is a passion behind his eyes that I can see and I fucking loved every moment of it.
“You want to take back your city Joshua Carnes?”
He pauses and then lets out a soft, “Yes. It’s just the Readings…”
“I didn’t ask about the Readings. I asked about you,” I respond, “Don’t waste my time with excuses. Do you want to take back your town or not Joshua.”
“Yes. I do,” he states.
He sounds a little bit more confident. He sounds a little bit more sure.
“How far are you willing to go?” I ask him.
“To hell and back.”
“Good. You can ride with me,” I tell him, “Because that’s the direction I was going in.”
I wake up to the sounds of a knock on my door. I’m surprised the next day. Knowing that there were people out there like Joshua Carnes made me feel good but just how many people in this town were actually like that? The majority of the people in this town seemed like they lacked backbone. It made me uneasy as I wake up and go to the door. I’m a little bit anxious when I open the door.
I’m surprised when I see Dahlia standing at my door.
Sampson’s wife has a bow in her hair. She looks like the perfect Christian woman. You couldn’t tell her nothing. She stands there with a bag in her hand and I wonder if she’s brought a gun.
“Good morning…cousin!” Dahlia says.
“I’m not your cousin,” I say looking at her from the screen door.
“I figured that much,” she laughs and then continues with her deep southern accent, “You might want to come out here. Think someone left a message for you.”
I’m confused but I’m not scared. I open the door and walk outside. As I get outside I realize that red words are painted in front of the house. They are painted in huge letters. It just rained last night so this had to be fresh. Someone had done this not to long ago.
“Oh my god,” I state.
She reads the words, “Go home faggot or die. Now that isn’t very nice? Is it?”
Dahlia has this fake smile on her face almost like she is laughing at the fact that this was left. I wonder if she has something to do with it. Even if she didn’t she’s amused by it. She’s gloating. She’s staring at me as though hoping to get some sort of reaction out of me. Maybe she thinks I’ll throw some sort of crying fit. Maybe she thinks I’ll pack my bags and go running in fear.
“Actually I do think it’s kind of nice,” I state, “I mean I guess they could have added an exclamation mark. You know? For emphasis. Go home faggot or die! Doesn’t that sound much better. The art of the threat is lost to some people.”
Her smile fades.
“Not lost to everyone. You seem to…have a big mouth…” Dahlia says out of no where, “My husband says that he spoke with you.”
“Yes. Very intense conversation,” I state.
“I doubt it,” she says in a smug way.
“I wouldn’t doubt it so much. Make up sex leads to some really deep conversation,” I respond.
Dahlia squirms a little bit.
“My husband let me know what happened last night,” she stated, “He told me he was thinking about leaving me. He said he was confused about his feelings for you.”
I’m shocked. I’m shocked Sampson was man enough to actually let her know everything. I guess this was Sampson we were talking about. He was such a good person it kind of made me sick. It’s like he felt so bad that he had to tell Dahlia everything. I’m kind of annoyed because this cheap show she is putting on seems prepared and rehearsed. She knew what she was going to come say to me before she came and said it.
“So what is this? What exactly are you doing here?” I ask, “Was he not clear enough?”
“Oh he was clear but I want to be clear as well,” Dahlia replies, “Sampson isn’t going anywhere. No matter how many lies you tell about who I am sleeping with.”
She’s lying straight to my face.
“So you didn’t sleep with Deacon Wesley?” I ask.
“Nope,” she answers quickly, “And even if I did…where’s your proof.”
“Sampson’s going to leave you anyway. Your kids will have two daddies in a few weeks. Don’t worry. I’ll treat them just like my own.”
I’m kind of impressed honestly. Any other woman would have broken out into tears or rage by now. Dahlia has this cool calm like a Southern wind. She seems overly confident. She seems overly cocky. None of this is phasing her not even one bit. You would think we were talking about gardening or something.
“I heard Sampson talk. He was so sure he wanted to leave. And I took out my bible. You know what I did? I read him 1 Corinthians. No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with temptation you will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”
“Is that supposed to mean anything to me?”
“You’re temptation. No better than the snake in the garden of Eden. You are Judas---“
“I’m the devil. Yada yada yada. Is there a point to any of this?”
“Stay away from Sampson,” Dahlia finally summarizes, “I’m a Christian woman who believes dearly in God. But some people don’t handle…scum…well.”
“Like your boyfriend Wesley huh?” I ask.
Dahlia’s face is dead serious.
“Don’t push me. God strikes down the wicked.”
With that Dahlia walks away from me dramatically.
“Have a good day bitch,” I tellher.
“It’s cow’s blood. You might need to scrub really hard,” she says pointing at the message left in front of my house.
A part of me knows they are trying to get under my skin. I’ve pissed some people off and I recognize that.
I get on my hands and knees with a bucket a brush and some water.
This is going to take all day to get out.
That’s when I hear people walking up to the pool house.
“Need help?” a voice says.
Wade isn’t alone. Marigold and a bunch of other people are there as well. I recognize just a few but I’m confused as to why almost ten people are standing outside of the pool house right now. These people don’t wait for me to invite them to help. They’ve brought their own stuff to clean up. Maybe they noticed it earlier or something. I’m not sure how they knew.
All I know is that all these people are here helping me clean up the threat in cow’s blood.
“How are you feeling?” I ask Wade.
I can’t help but to walk up to him and hug him.
“For a guy who is half blind I guess I’m doing OK,” Wade smiles at me.
I feel like shit. Even though he is smiling I remember Marigold telling me that Wade would probably never be able to see out of his messed up eye again.
Wade didn’t deserve this. It was my idea to fuck up Wesley’s car. Wade was just defending his mother when Wesley looked like he was going after her. Wade was just being a good son. Now his eye was completely dead because of it.
I watch as Marigold tries to be strong for her son but she’s not doing a good job at it. Any part of me that wants to feel bad for Wade goes away. He needs strong people in his corner.
“You still look good, eye patch and all?” I say.
“You like it?” he laughs, “I figure it gives me character.”
“It looks good,” I laugh, “Who are all these people though?”
“Friends,” Marigold tells me, “They came to support you.”
“Because you’re the only one fighting back,” Marigold tells me.
“We’re with you,” Wade says.
At that moment all of these people stop cleaning and are looking up at me. I don’t know what they want me to say. Why the fuck are they looking at me like I’m Mother Theresa. They got me all the way fucked up.
“If you guys think I know what I’m doing I’m sorry to disappoint,” I explain to these people, “I’m crazy as fuck. I don’t mean that in a’oh, he’s so crazy way’. No. I mean literally. I’m crazy. I’m clinically a sociopath. At least that’s what the doctor say.”
“Are the doctor’s right?” someone asks from the crowd.
I wonder the same thing from time to time. When there is someone who has something people don’t understand they want to call you a sociopath. That is the easy way out. I felt like that was a lie. I didn’t feel like a sociopath.
“They’re full of shit,” I respond.
Wade smiles, “Good. Because I’ve got a plan. It’s time we get Wesley back. It’s time we let this town know exactly the time of scumbag Wesley Redding is. My plan is a little uh… I don’t know. Crazy…”
That was a first. I’m so taken back that I almost gasp.
“What do you have?”
“I have been working on getting something,” Wade explains.
He hands me an envelope, “It’s best if you see for yourself…”
I grab the envelope at that moment and read through the lines.
The week passes with more of the same bullshit that happened before. Rocks are mysteriously being thrown at my window. People avoid me in the streets. I get threats everywhere I go. I guess it’s all worth it though because for as much hate as I get there is always that one person who will whisper “I’m with you” in an empty aisle or give me a reassuring nod as they walk their dogs in the park.
I spend a lot of time with Wade and sure enough Dahlia is keeping her husband on a leash. Sampson doesn’t even come near me anymore.
“They are going to counseling,” Wade tells me sitting right next to me, “Spiritual counseling, I hear. To get rid of his ‘devils’. It was Sampson’s mothers idea.”
We are in the very back of the church. Dahlia is sitting right next to Ms. Nicole. I figured two bitches got a long. Ms. Nicole was probably loving everything about Dahlia. They were two of a kind. The kids are dressed up as well. They are all sitting at the front of the church. I guess Dahlia is big shit in Briarswood being the pastor’s wife or what not. She has on this big hat. You can’t tell her anything. They call her the first lady as though Sampson was the president.
Maybe that’s why she is so pressed to save their marriage. Being married to a pastor makes her feel important. She holds her head up so high. She is so poised. She is so polished. She is so elegant. I bet the other women in the church are green with envy.
“Beautiful family,” I state, “I guess.”
Wade laughs at me sitting next to me, “Cheer up. It’s a good day. You should sing the glory of God.”
“I don’t know the words.”
“Syn they are right on the screen.”
There is a screen at the front of the church showing all the words to the songs. The music is starting and Sampson comes out soon.
The choir comes out as well and they are singing the opening hymns. To the back of the room I watch Marigold hand something to an older lady. I recently met the old lady. Her name is Mrs. Agnes. She is the church community organizer. Mayor Edwin Reading forced her to sell her house to expand the highway system. She got a fraction of what her house was worth.
Wade taps me on the shoulder.
“Look who just walked in,” he tells me.
It’s Wesley Reading. Edwin Reading isn’t with him but Wesley has an entire entourage with him. When he walks past I notice he is with a younger woman probably half the age of Marigold. Marigold avoids eye contact with him. She’s the only one who manages to do it though. Wade is staring at Wesley and I’ve never seen such pure hatred in Wade’s eye as when he looks at Wesley.
Honestly it’s a little shocking. Wade’s one good eye glares at Wesley with so much hate and discontent. Wade is scarily mad.
Wesley seems to like it. He smiles at Wade. He teases him with a short laughter and winks at him with the same eye that he took at Wade.
Wade is about to get up. I can see he is. Luckily I’m fast enough to grab him and pull him back down.
“Wade…” I state and touch his shoulder, “Wade…”
“I’m fine,” Wade says.
“Are you sure?” I ask him.
He’s making me kind of nervous.
Wade nods, “Yeah. I’m fine.”
Sampson delivers his sermon at his pew. The sermon is about temptation. I’m not surprised. He doesn’t seem to notice me sitting in his church. I guess it’s impossible. This place was like a goddam club. Everyone in the entire fucking town seemed to be in attendance. Church was these people’s favorite pastime.
After his long sermon he smiles to the crowd. They are nodding with him in agreement.
Temptation is wrong…or whatever.
I wonder if it has anything to do with me. I wouldn’t be surprised if it did. Sampson has been ignoring me since I told him about his wife. He didn’t believe a word I said anyway. I guess I did walk away from him. I guess I did tell him to leave me alone. I just didn’t think he would actually listen.
“I’d like to welcome Sister Agnes up to the stage for community announcements,” Sampson says.
He steps aside on his podium. I watch as the ushers walk Sister Agnes to the stage. The woman is old. I’m not talking 60s. I’m not sure how she is. She’s one of those people who you has probably seen it all and been through it all. She can barely walk on her own. I’m worried she won’t make it up there. She is shaking so badly. Luckily they help her up there though and she leans on the podium so not to fall.
Her announcements are slow and boring as hell for the most part, “I wanted to invite everyone to spiritual couples retreat in a few weeks. See Deacon Wesley for more details. It is 400 dollars a ticket. Also the junior ministry is hosting a car wash. We’d love if you all can come out and support. Also please send your love and support to all the members of the congregation who are having a hard time. I’d like us to pray for Maggie Peters, Annie Roberts, Adrienne Johnson and her cousin Anita Johnson, the Mitchells who are relocating, Maddie Michaels who is going through surgery this evening. Also wanted to pray for…”
Sampson has his hand patting the old lady’s back, “Ok, Sister Agnes. How about we just do a group prayer for everyone. How’s that sound?”
He says it in a joking manner noticing everyone is a little annoyed by how slow the old lady is. A lot of people in the congregation let out a polite and courteous snicker as though not to really hurt the old lady’s feelings.
“One more?” the old lady says.
Sampson smiles at that moment, “Of course Sister Agnes.”
Agnes smiles with a toothy grin, “I’d like to pray for Deacon Wesley.”
Sampson seems confused.
“Excuse me, sister?” Sampson says, “I just spoke to Deacon Wesley an hour ago. I think he is doing more than fine.”
He gives her another polite laugh as though she’s just a confused old lady.
Sister Agnes gives him a toothy grin, “Not when Syn is done with him.”
Sampson looks confused and so do a lot of other people. By this time I’m in the middle of the aisle. I am walking up to the podium. It’s funny when I see all these people who don’t really know much about me but have heard whispers here and there turn. Eyes are focused on me. You would have thought the devil himself walked into this church.
I make my way up to the stage and as I do I see Deacon Wesley say something to the Ushers. I’m not sure what it is but I can guess when I see some of them walking towards me to stop me.
The big church doors spring open!
Just at that moment men dressed in black walk into the church. It’s all very dramatic. They have on white masks with the words SYN painted on the forehead. That last touch was Wade’s. I think he wanted to scare people and I think he’s getting his point across.
These uppity ass southern belles are clutching their pearls and the men seem to lean forward as though ready to do something.
They don’t make a move though. Maybe they are scared that almost a dozen people walk in. The masked people who are with me stop the ushers from touching me. They push the ushers aside. Wade did a good job getting these people here.
I didn’t know what was more shocking. Me or the fact that there were actually people now who were supporting the crazy shit coming out of my mouth. Well if they wanted craziness, then have no fear. That I was very good at delivering.
I make my way to the podium.
Sampson grabs my hand, “What are you doing?”
I don’t reply.
“Let go of him, pastor,” Wade states... “Now.”
Wade means business. He’s so different from the boy he was before they beat him. He is angry now. He is aggressive. I don’t think Sampson is afraid but I think the last thing Sampson wants is for a fight to break out in the middle of his church. For some reason I don’t think Wade was scared about that right now.
Wade got all of these people here. Wade made sure he was going to give me the podium.
I walk up to the podium.
These people are looking at me like I’m some sort of terrorist or something. There have to be several hundred people in this megachurch. I can’t even see all the people who are up top. I stare into the crowd and attempt to smile.
I look down at Deacon Wesley’s face. There is panic all over it.
He thought I was a joke. He thought I was a game. He’s not laughing now…huh?
I’m going to give these people the shock of a lifetime.
“Good evening, ladies and gentleman,” I state, “My name is Syn…”
To read the next chapter please go to www.crushecrown.com