Percy looked sober for a moment, then suddenly brightened. "Fifteen gizzards, two bucks. What d'you think?"
"I think Velma's going to D.C.," said Father Tim.
A brief silence was filled with the sound of the dishwasher running full throttle behind the rear booth. Accustomed to its gyrations, the occupants of the booth no longer noticed that the wash cycle occasioned a rhythmic tremor in the floorboards.
"So how do you think your jewel thief will go over?" asked J.C.
"He's not my jewel thief," snapped Father Tim.
"It was your church attic he hid out in," said Percy.
"I think he'll go over just fine. He's paid his debt to society in full, but better than that, he's a redeemed man with a strong faith."
"I hope," said Father Tim, "that you'll extend the hand of fellowship to him." There. That's all he had to say about it.
Mule nodded. "No problem. It's th' right thing to do."
"So how come you're not goin' to Rwanda or someplace like that?" asked Percy.
"Hoppy wouldn't allow it." Hoppy would never have considered such a thing. Father Tim knew his limitations and they were nu- merous.
"What about th' kids in your own backyard? You ever thought of doin' somethin' for them?"
The fact that he'd supported the Children's Hospital in Wesley for twenty years was his own business; he never talked about it. "Tennessee is our own backyard." How he ever ended up with this bunch of turkeys was more than he could fathom.
"We'll miss you," said Mule, clapping him on the shoulder. "I won't hardly know what to order around here."
Father Tim laughed, suddenly forgiving. He thought he might miss them, too, though the possibility seemed a tad on the remote side.
"Here comes Hamp Floyd," said J.C. "Hide your wallet."
"Th' town needs a new fire truck."
"Seems like a good cause," said Father Tim. He took out his billfold and removed a ten.
"Th' town's got th' money for a standard truck, but Hamp wants a few bells an' whistles."
"Plus, he won't have anything to do with a red truck," said J.C.
"Seems like a fire chief would like red. Besides, what other color is there?"
"Yellow. He's holdin' out for yellow."
A yellow fire truck? Father Tim put the ten back in his billfold and pulled out a five.
From In This Mountain by Jan Karon, Copyright © June 2002, Viking Press, a member of Penguin Putnam, Inc., used by permission.
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