I haven't written any fiction since I was in college. We'll see if I'm able to finish this, but here goes:
As he closed the heavy, almost medieval, door to the stone Presbyterian church Mike asked, “Is Kenny in?” Beatrice, Elm Avenue Presbyterian Church’s secretary since the 1960’s, watched the front desk of the church since the Kennedy Administration, and she planned on staying there until death transferred her to the job at the front desk of heaven.
“Do you have an appointment?” Beatrice asked.
“Well, no,” Mike said, “I never do.”
“I’ll call Rev. Long to ask if he’ll see you, “ she said.
As Beatrice picked up the phone on the desk Mike yelled down the hall, “Kenny!”
“Mike! Come on up!” Kenny shouted. Mike rushed past Beatrice before the power of her frown could sour his mood.
Kenny and Mike’s churches were almost neighbors, with a few blocks between them; they were close enough that the two pastors couldn’t help but become friends. Bethany Christian Church was toward the end of Elm Avenue, three blocks down the street from Elm Avenue Presbyterian Church, but Elm Avenue Presbyterian got to the avenue about four decades before Bethany and claimed the Elm Avenue name and the extra social prominence with it. The churches were three blocks apart, close enough that Rev. Michael Norris from Bethany could regularly walk down the street to see his friend, Rev. Kenneth Long, at Elm Avenue Presbyterian. Mike left his car in Bethany’s parking lot so those from his church passing by thought he was putting in time at the office when he was really down the street wasting time with his friend.
“Hey Kenny,” Mike said, coming through the office door and falling into the leather couch like he was plopping down on the dorm bed of a buddy in college. Rev. Long’s office, filled with mahogany and brass, told the story of a time when churches like theirs mattered, when mayors and business leaders came to court the pastor’s favor.
“What’s up?” Kenny asked, looking from a laptop computer that looked like it had been dropped from the future into this church office from the past.
“You doing some serious church work?” Mike asked.
“Oh, you know. Working for Jesus,” Kenny said.
“Every time I come here I get this not so subtle sense that Beatrice doesn’t approve.”
“I don’t think she approves of me either,” Kenny said. “Everyday I remind her of my failure to be my grandpa.”
Rev. Robert Long’s portrait in the hall could be seen from Kenny’s office, a reminder of his grandfather’s glory-days tenure at Elm Avenue Presbyterian, from 1952 until his retirement in 1983. Church members regularly said to Kenny, “When your grandfather was pastor,” to remind him of his failure to bring back the golden age of his grandpa’s time. Robert Long’s ashes were interred above the cornerstone of the church as though the memory of him still held the church together.
“So the long awaited second-coming of the beloved Rev. Long still hasn't been realized in his grandson?”
“Well, they may be waking up to that,” Kenny said, “But I think Beatrice was on to me from the first week. When I said to her, ‘Just call me Kenny,’ after she referred to me as Rev. Long, she said, ‘Your grandfather was always Rev. Long here.’ I guess I shouldn’t be too hard on her. When we went through the budget cuts last year she said she’d keep working full time even though we could only pay her 20 hours a week.”
“So she’s frowning at me for free.”
“Something like that,” said Kenny. “So what’s going on? Is this a confidential pastoral visit?” Rev. Long kept a bottle of bourbon in a locked file cabinet labeled “Pastoral Files.” Behind files with notes from counseling visits and forms stating parishioners’ wishes for future funerals Kenny kept a bourbon bottle. He had the only key to the file cabinet, and Mike’s late afternoon visits to Kenny’s office were known between them as “Confidential Pastoral Visits,” where Kenny would unlock the file and they’d sip bourbon from coffee cups.
“No. Not today,” Mike said, “I’m here on an errand. New information has come to light.”
“Ok. I’m curious.”
“It’s the Thomasville Monster. I think I’ve got something on the treasure.”
Kenny said, “That b.s. You’re still on that?”
"In drawing up its regulations, we hope to set down nothing harsh, nothing burdensome." - Rule of St. Benedict