Sharon was written in 1996 by my wife and I. We’d just gotten our first PC, and it came with a word processor. We began to pen a short story about a revivalist minister on his last stop of the season when he meets a girl, Sharon. Over the next five days they engage in a theological debate that encompasses all faiths. Each night my wife and I would talk about Sharon and the next day I’d write down the notes. The book was never edited.
In this scene John Woodward meets Sharon in the parking lot after the first night of the revival. You will note the instant involvement as the young minister tried his “preacher” methods on what he considers to be an airhead teen. As the book evolves you find she is much more.
“Tell me something, preacher-boy. Is this the parking lot of Heaven?”
He turned to see the small form step out from behind a live oak.
Sharon stepped forward into the light.
He recognized her instantly, like an old friend, “Oh, yes. You are the lady in the second row.”
“Yes. You did very well tonight. I was really taken away by your homily.”
“Oh, forgive me. Your sermon. You know, your speech.”
He was completely captivated by her. He searched her left hand for a ring, but none was there, and he was amazed that such a lovely creature was not married. Her voice was light, and he could not place the accent. Definitely not a southern one, but not quite a northern clip either. She had a slight nasal twang to her voice that lent emphasis to what she said, and seemed to make her words “penetrate” the mind.
“I just speak as the spirit moves me” John responded.
“I do that,” she said as they walked along. “I relax, and the spirit just comes into me. Is yours like that?”
“Uh, no. It’s more organized, but I do improvise. I have to stay on a subject. You are under time constraints in a revival, you know.”
She stopped walking and looked at him. He stared back. Her eyes were the deepest blue he’d ever seen. Mirrors to her soul. Her hair was brown, and he could smell the most wonderful tea rose smell of her perfume. “I think we’re compatible,” she suddenly said, “Do you think we’re compatible?”
John was blown away! He liked to think he was a grown, worldly man, but this lady was a little more forward than he’d run across in church! She watched his eyes, like a cat playing with a mouse, actually leaning forward, and looking first into his right eye, and then his left, and then added, “Spiritually compatible, of course.”
“I don’t know, yet. I’ve only known you for a few moments. We are all brothers and sisters in Christ.”
She leaned back, and smiled. He had fielded the question, and not given a straight answer.
“Yeah,” she answered, nodding her head. “You know I always get something out of people getting together for God. I love the rush of seeing people together, all praying, all loving.”
“Are you a member of one of the local churches?”
“Yes. I go to the Church of the Immaculate Conception, over on Westend,” she pointed her finger in the direction of town.
John thought he should have known. There had to be a flaw somewhere. He fought hard not to let his face show his feelings. He kept smiling and walking, “You’re Catholic?”
“Well. . . yeah, I guess that’s what you’d call me. I prefer to think that I belong to the Universal Church, but the word ‘Catholic’ does just about cover it. Oh, I’m sorry. You’re a Protestant aren’t you? Now we can’t be compatible anymore.” She lowered her head slightly and peered at him as if she’d been caught with her hand in a cookie jar.
Baptists fight hard against the word “Protestant.” The Baptists insist that they are among the original group of Christians, and thereby not part of the so-called “Protestant reformation.” The idea of independent churches, according to them, goes all the way back to the time of the apostles.
“Uh, no. I mean, no that’s not true. I’m not a Protestant. No, I mean people are beginning to come together more and more. Look, what I’m trying to say is, what are you doing at a revival? Good little Catholic girls don’t usually go to these things. Is there something missing in your life? Is there an emptiness?”
They had reached his car by now. “No, I’m not empty. I just saw the tent, and I’ve never been to one of these things.” She flared her eyes mockingly, “I was compelled by the spirit to come in,” she said, waving her hands as if she were casting a spell over him.
He didn’t get the joke, and it showed by his blank stare. “Oh, c’mon, lighten up. Don’t be such a ‘preacher-boy.’ I just wanted to see a real live revival. You don’t look like Elmer Gantry, though. I’m disappointed.”
He relaxed a little. “God save me from that movie. They measure us all by that thing, you know.”
“Are you coming back tomorrow night?” John asked
“Maybe. Maybe not. I’ve gotta lead a Rosary over at my church tomorrow at eight in the morning, right after Mass. Why don’t you drop in and watch, or maybe. . . even participate.”
By now, he was picking up on her humor. She was smiling, and he knew she was ribbing him. “Now, you know I can’t be going to a Rosary. Look at all these people, what would they think?”
“Yeah. But you ought to at least drop by. I mean , we are a local church. I won’t convert you.” She crossed her heart, “honest.”
He wanted to say yes so bad he could taste it, but he had to be reserved. “I’ll see. Maybe it’ll give me some insight.”
“Yeah,” she responded as she nodded her head in mock seriousness, “insight.”
“Do you have a ride?”
“My motorcycle over there,” she pointed to a small, yellow Honda.
He unlocked his car, but he didn’t open the door. Sharon smiled, and turned to walk away. He felt compelled to say good- bye, but all that came out was, “Have you found Jesus?” The line seemed so dry when he said it to her.
She just looked over her shoulder as she got on her bike, and yelled back, “I didn’t know He was lost!”
John watched as the little Honda sputtered away in the darkness.
The Butcher Shop