"Sister Jameson," Chambliss said, "you've stepped out in faith,
and we're all witness to that belief you have in the love of Jesus
Christ to protect you and keep you safe, whether it's here with us
on this sinful earth or at home with him in glory." Whispered
"amens" rose up out of the congregation, and people
waved their arms over their heads in hallelujah. "I'm going to ask the rest of the deacons to come up here with me and lay their hands on you, Sister, and maybe the good Lord will let us pray you through
this." The sound of folding chairs being pushed across the linoleum
rang out, and groups of men went up on the stage and
kneeled around Molly and laid their hands on her and prayed
different prayers, some of them in tongues, some of them calling
on God and asking him to save her. Chambliss stayed knelt down
beside her and kept his eyes closed, his good hand on her head,
the burned one still holding on to the microphone.
"God's sent his angels," he whispered. "I can hear their footfalls up on the roof above us; I can hear their wings just a-fluttering,
Molly. God's sent his angels to be with you this very morning,
and we don't know if they're here to watch over you and keep you
with us, or if he's sent them to carry you home to glory, but we
feel them here with us, don't we, and we feel Jesus's love washing
over us this very minute." He looked up at the congregation.
"And all God's people said, 'Amen.'"
"Amen!" the people hollered back. Chambliss stood up and
looked out at us, and then he looked back down at Molly where
she was laid out and surrounded by all those men who were still
busy praying over her.
"But the world ain't made up of God's people," he said. "The
world ain't given to know what we know. The world ain't going
to understand this woman's faith; it ain't going to understand her
wanting to take up that serpent to conquer the Devil. And I can
tell you that the world ain't ever going to understand the will of
God in allowing her to come home to him."
"But we know," Chambliss said. "We know what's at work
here. We know God has a plan for his people.
We know God lets only the righteous into Heaven. We know God brings only the
"Amen!" another voice said.
"And I tell you," Chambliss said, "it's a good day when one
of us goes home. It's a beautiful Sunday morning when one of
us is called back to Jesus. Hallelujah!" He dropped his hands to
his sides and shuffled across the front of the church like he was
dancing. "It gives me joy to see it! No tears. No sadness. Hallelujah!
Just joy. Joy that this woman's going home. We got that
good Holy Ghost power up in our church today, praise God!"
He looked over to where Mrs. Crowder sat behind the piano, and
he nodded toward her and she took up playing and pounding
away at the keys. The drums and the guitar picked up after that,
and before I knew it the congregation had started in on "Holy
Ghost Power" and everyone had took to dancing and singing like
nothing had ever happened, like they'd all done forgot that Miss
Molly Jameson was dying from a snakebite right there in front of
us, the music so loud and pulsing you could feel it in your chest.
A couple of deacons picked Molly up and carried her out of the
church, right down the middle aisle, right past everyone there,
but not a single one of them people even seemed to notice.
A few days later I was down at the post office in Marshall
when I heard a woman at the counter telling the postman about
how Molly's sister-in-law came over to the house and found Molly
dead in the garden on Wednesday evening. Said she was out there
laying facedown in a row of tomatoes, a spade still in her hand.
"What took her?" the postman asked. He wet his finger with
his tongue and counted out dollar bills for the woman's change,
and he laid them out on the counter like a fan.
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