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The Final Suit: Devil's Favorite Game
Hell's fire kindled, the Devil laughed. Again, like so many times before, he used the Bible as his snare. He covered the path of truth and righteousness with lies and deceit; used bliss to hide blisters, and then lay in wait, waiting to ambush and devour. For him, this is a trick, merely a game in which the rules are never the same. This time, he set his trap and watched Ma and Pa Pierson as he writhed his hands in delightful pain.
"If he don't", Pa Pierson said loud enough so that his voice would echo into the kitchen. "then we'll do it."
Ma responded weakly to satisfy his demanding statement. "Yes, Pa, you're right. If he don;t go to church on Sunday, then we'll do it. "May the Lord's will be done."
His outburst only stopped her focus briefly. The soap bubbles continued to fizzle as she started out the window bringing her minds heart into the gardens. She floated back to the time where she and Joey spent every available minute tilling, planting, and growing. She could see him on his hands and knees caressing the soil, pruning, and even talking to every plant-both flower and vegetable.
"Mommy, can I plant some more seeds over there?" Joey said, first looking at her and then pointing to an oddly blank rectangular plot where nothing grew. "Mommy, can Ies grow there?
Ma hesitated with a slight scowl that showed where the wrinkles would appear many years later. "Well, well I guess you can try," she said pausing. "Nothing would every grow there, not even grass. Pa dug it up once and after that, nothing grew", she said with forced laugh.
After that, that little plot of gound became Joey's primary focus. He dug, he separated soil, he added all kinds of oranic compost and then a handful of red worms. Ma was shocked when the dry gray patch started to grow. She was even more surprised when she looked out the kitchen window one morning only to catch Joey and Pa planting a beautful statuette in the middle of it.
That thought snapped her out of her trance. That and Pa's hammering voice along with the dinging of the timer on the oven.
"Ma, Ma, Ma, get the oven, GET THE OVEN! Your goin ta burn da cake! Watcha doin anways in there?"
Ma quickly stopped the timer. It wasn't done yet, she knew that, she always set the timer short so she could poke it. Just like Joey had developed a green thumb in the garden, Ma knew her way around the kitchen and knew how to plan and time everything in it. She didn't respond. She went back to her dishes and finished the last few, trying not to look out at the garden and the Joey's plot, which she did anyway. She just loved the beautiful bed of flowers surrounding the now weathered angel. It was just about time for Pa's Bible study.. She looked at the clock; just enough time to make a cup of tea.
Ma sat back in her chair as pa thumbed through the bible. He was quiet except for a couple of barely audible grunts; he was trying to find the right verses to help the situation. And then, he abruptly stopped.
"Ma, do you have all the gifts ready?
"Yes, Pa, everything is wrapped, but I still don't think he'll go. He doesn't like to go there you know." I mean, not on Sunday--but remember, he was just there about a month ago, remember?"
"That don't count," he said thumping hard on the Bible, " That was that sissy thing for your flower people, but remember what I did for them? Remember what I did for the church? Remember that roto-tiller I gave for their giveaway, huh? The only reason Joe went there was to try to win, that's what I think."
"Yes Pa, I do remember, but I don't think that's why. He came there to speak about growing organically. besides, you know he already has one, a big one."
Pa ended the subject with a "hmph!", and then opened the bible randomly. He began to read,
Pa arched his back in his chair and put his bible under the light of the lamp. "Here Ma, listen to this, this is exactly what I'm talking about. Its why we must do it if he says he won't go, he said clearing his throat and then he began.
"This is from the good book of Hebrews, now listen".
"And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some," he read in more of a deeper voice than normal.
See Ma, their talking about Joe, their talking about him not going to church."
Pa went back to reading after skipping some of the words in between.
"For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth" And we told him the truth we did",,. There no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries."
Ma remained silent and knitted, took a sip of tea, and nodded. She didn't hear a word he said, her mind drifted back to a time when Pa was much younger and much, much more of a sinner.
Jess stopped in front of the door before going out to the greenhouse and looked into the full length mirror purveying her form. She wanted to make sure she didn't look too attractive. She didn't like the lustful looks Pa Pierson seemed to give. It felt like no matter what she wore, he was undressing her. Joe just laughed when she mentioned it but it still always felt weird. She took one more look from the side and then reached for the door handle, opened the door and then strode graceful down the flower lined walk to the greenhouse.
Joe straightened up from the worm bed he was working. "Well hello uh, gorgeous", he said as he almost laughed at what Jess was wearing. Jess squinted and tried to give Joe a mean look.
"I'm trying to dress down on purpose, you know," she paused not wanting to get into it again. "Anyways, don't you think you should get cleaned up a bit?"
Now Joe did laugh but knew only because he thought she was especially cute when she got into her sensitive self. He walked over, got down on one knee, and held her hands. He pulled her down and asked, "Princess, may I kiss you?"
Jess smiled, "Yes my princess", she cleared her throat, "but no tongue". They kissed long.
Joe stood back up and then said,"Okay, you've convinced me, I'll go get a quick shower, grab some flowers for my mom, and then, we'll go." Jess stayed behind and walked down the corridor of the greenhouse. And, she thought to herself, it certainly is green.
Jess loved all of Joe's gardening especially the cannabis greenhouses. Joe could take a seed and in just three months he would be trimming a tree. Joe loved everything he touched, especially her.
The ride down was slow as usual as it had to be. Especially, if there was any rain, then it would be next to impossible. Today however, it was dry and the deep ruts tortured the undercarriage.Jess and Joe didn't mind though, the view was spectacular and the privacy it afforded made the drive adventurous, even at night. Jess loved to hang out the window and take videos and capture the change of shadows. The trip down to Ma and Pa's usaully took about one hour for the seventeen mile trip.
"Ma, the cake was perfect", Joe exclaimed licking the last bit of green icing from his fork. Jess stood up and picked up everybody's plates and took them into the kitchen. She could feel Pa Piersons eyes following her.
"Joey, did you like the green flowers I put on top", Ma teased. She knew all about the pot he was growing and had no problem with it. Pa didn't get the connection, he just figured it was more of the mommies boy pansy flower gibberish. That's not what a biblical man would appreciate, he thought.
Joe laughed, "Yes, Ma, I loved it." He settled back in his chair, knowing that Pa was going to start his normal speech about going to church.
Out in the kitchen, Jess put the dishes in the sink and rinsed them off. She saw the cake and a tin of cupcakes sitting on top of the oven. She swiped a little bit of the icing off the top of one of the cupcakes and then used her finger to hide the evidence by re swirling it. She figured it would end up going back with them anyways. Ma always sent them back with something. She went back to the living room for the "birthday gifts surprise" And sat next to Joe on the couch.
Ma had already brought the gifts out. "Okay, Joey, dear, dig in!", she said as she handed him the biggest box first.
The first was a full heavy three piece suit. She explained that Pa had tried it on in the store to make sure it fit. "After all, Joey, your Pa and you are pretty much the same size."
Joey opened the rest of the gifts, he knew it was a set-up and he knew what was coming next. Regardless, he opened each and showed delight as did Jess.
New Suit, new shirt, new socks, new shoes, and even a pack of tighty-whitey underwear which he never wore. Jess couldn't help but laugh when he held up the underwear.
Pa spoke, "Now Joey, we expect to see you Sunday, there's no excuse. And there's a special speaker too, you'll like him. He used to be a big in the government, I think."
"Aw Pa, thanks for all this stuff, but you know how I feel, besides that, I can't make it this Sunday, but maybe in a couple of weeks, especially at Christmas I will."
Pa didn't rebut Joe which surprised both him and Jess. Instead he changed the subject.
"Okay, well, I'd thought I ask. Meanwhile, I'm going to double check on your jeep. I know it gets pretty banged up on that mountain road you drive all the time. I'll go check it out, you just sit here and keep the women folk entertained for a bit." Pa left through the kitchen swiping a couple of cupcakes on the way.
Joe did as told. Besides that he noticed that Jess was looking tired and figured she could nap a little before the drive back. He sank deeper in to the couch as Jess laid her head against his shoulder. Joe could hear the sound of his Jeep rev up as Pa moved it into the garage. Pa was very good at fixing things.
Jess was wearing the dress that was Joe's favorite. It was more comfortable with the leg cast and with her arm in a sling. Ma Pierson sat next to her on the front church pew holding her hand.
"The casket is beautiful, my dear, its made of mahogany, you know," Ma whispered
"Yes, Ma, it is beautiful,"Jess said as she gently squeeze Ma's hand. "And, the suit you bought fits perfectly, he is very handsome."
The pastor approached and motioned them both to come up for the closing of the casket. He helped Jess up the short set of stairs. They both took one last look as Joe closed the casket.
Ma's plan worked, Pa's didn't.
Hell's fire kindled, the Devil laughed.