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Summer, 2003
24-Hour Short Story Contest
2nd Place Winner!

TOPIC OF THIS CONTEST WAS:

It always looked so easy on television! But she had been teasing the door lock with a bobby pin for almost 10 minutes and it didn't show any signs of opening. The ocean surf pounding in the background drowned out any clicks that she thought she was supposed to be hearing. Suddenly, the door flew open, she fell forward with grunt, and there stood...


All God's Children
By Laurie O'Hare, Charlotte, NC

The heavy-set woman in floral chiffon slammed the paper down on the lace-covered table, sending teacup and saucer clattering. "What's this nonsense with Pastor Davis, Betty? I can't read without my glasses."

"Why, Gracie Yancy. I haven't seen you in ages." Betty smiled from underneath her Carolina-blue straw hat. "Where've you been?"

"I've been in Mobile, helping my Jessie with the baby."

"Do have a seat." She patted the chair beside her.

"What's the story?"

"Well," Betty leaned in, "you know the pastor and Wiley Jenkins been fighting over that beach front property for years."

Gracie nodded.

"Just last week, they found Wiley underneath one of his old junkers." Betty reached for a pastry. "He was dead, Gracie. As dead as my mother and daddy---God rest their souls."

"And they think the pastor did it?"

Betty swallowed her scone hard, shaking her head. "No. Accident. Sheriff said the jack musta give out. But listen to this. Wiley's widow asked Pastor Davis to do the ceremony." Betty turned and motioned to the waitress. "What'll you have, Gracie?"

Gracie addressed the waitress who appeared at their table. "I'll have the raspberry-ginseng tea, dear." She waved a dismissing hand. "Go on. Whadda you think possessed Jewel to do that?"

"That's what the rest of us wondered. I mean, there wasn't no love loss between 'em. But the pastor said 'We are all God's children.'"

The waitress set Gracie's cup down. "I'd expect the pastor to be the bigger man. He is, after all, one of God's messengers. Wiley was just being stubborn about that house."

"The funeral was last Friday. Oh Gracie, I wish you could've been there. Why, the whole town showed up."

"What? Didn't anybody much like Wiley Jenkins. Why go to his funeral?"

Betty giggled. "Well it wasn't for him. We went 'cause we wanted to hear what the pastor had to say. I mean, Wiley's terrorized him for years."

"Yes, I know. Poor man. The gutted fishes on the back porch would've been enough for me." Gracie took a sip of tea then delicately dabbed her linen napkin at the corners of her mouth. "So, what'd he say?"

"That's just it." She placed her hand on Gracie's. "Pastor Davis went off on poor ole Wiley. He stood up and screamed like Bessie Smith's daughter did when she started hearing those voices. Screaming how Wiley was the Devil himself." Betty sat back in her chair and shook her hat-clad head. "'May Wiley Jenkins burn in hell for eternity.' That's what he said."

Gracie's double chin dropped. "No!"

"Yes, I tell you. It was so quiet when he was done, not even Racine's colicky baby made a peep. And oh, you should've seen Jewel's face. Red as my prize winning tomatoes, I tell you."

"I can imagine."

Betty stirred her tepid tea. "Lord, it divided the whole town. Some people thought Pastor Davis deserved his final say for all that Wiley put him through. But others said his behavior wasn't very Christian-like for a man of God."

"Both good points."

"Jewel Jenkins started talking about suing. She had a whole bunch of people picketing the church."

"She just might have a case." Gracie pointed to the paper. "But what about this blurb on the front page?"

Betty leaned in. "Well, just yesterday, the pastor's daughter came home for a visit from her fancy all-girl college in Virginia. She'd forgot her key."

"Yes, go on."

"She was digging at the lock with a bobby pin, trying to get in. She thought she heard something from inside, but she couldn't be sure, 'cause it was high tide and lord, you know what a racket those sea gulls make. The pastor told her he'd be gone to the Revival in Birmingham."

Gracie sipped. "Don't draw it out."

"Well, she just managed to get the door open, when what do you think she stumbled in on?"

"I don't know." Gracie's lips thinned. "Just tell me, woman!"

"Her daddy was making all nicey-nicey with the Widow Jenkins. I'm talking in the biblical sense here, Gracie." She narrowed her eyes. "He had her up against the wall."

"No!"

"Yes! And that's not all. Pastor Davis was so distraught at his little girl catching him in his sinful indiscretion that he ran faster than a greyhound over to the Sheriff's. Spilled the whole ugly story." She sat back, pleased with herself.

Gracie's face contorted with confusion. "What story?"

"It appears Pastor Davis has been 'witnessing' to Jewel for some time now. He says it was all the Widow's idea to kill Wiley and fake their funeral feud. Jewel says it was the pastor's. So right now, both of 'em are sitting in jail.." Betty took her last sip. "Either way, Wiley Jenkins is dead, and they sure pulled a good one over on the town. That won't be easily forgotten. 'Round here, adultery's worse than murder. 'Specially from a man of God."

Gracie stood, frantic. "I've got to run now. I've got lots of work to do, Betty. Been good seeing you."

"You're not gonna try to save that scoundrel, are you?"

Gracie placed a hand to her chest, gasping. "Well good lordy, no. But Sunday's four days away, Betty. I've got to mobilize the deacons." She clutched her purse to her side. "What a crisis. God's flock is without a shepherd."


The 2nd Place Winner got:

$250 Cash Prize
Publication of winning story on the WritersWeekly.com website
1 - Freelance Income Kit Includes:
-- 1-year subscription to the Write Markets Report
-- How to Write, Publish and $ell Ebooks
-- How to Publish a Profitable Emag
-- How to Be a Syndicated Newspaper Columnist Special (includes the book; database of 6000+ newspapers; and database of 100+ syndicates)


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