Brother Love 9 — A Hallelujah

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Collage featuring hymnal by Dan Antion. Tomfoolery by Teagan
Collage featuring hymnal by Dan Antion. Tomfoolery by Teagan

Welcome back to the crossroads.    

I think this is an upbeat chapter.  You could say it has a good gospel beat.  (Winks.)  However, the characters experience some uncertainty.  Hence the melody in this introduction.

In Chapter 7 — A Lament,  Birdie Devovo was reluctant to go to the revival service, even though Dough Armstrong asked her to be there for moral support.  When they arrived, we saw Birdie had good reason for not wanting to go.  This time Doug has to struggle with something. 

Those struggles put me in mind of one of my favorite songs, Hallelujah, written by Leonard Cohen.  The song is not about religion, and neither is this story.  Even though the song is from a later era, it felt like a perfect fit.  I love hearing Cohen sing it himself here.  However, my favorite version, the one that cuts to the core of my soul, was sung by Jeff Buckley.

Those of you who know the lyrics to Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show will see that in this chapter I had a lot of fun with the words to the song.  If you want to play (or sing) along, here’s a link to the lyrics

Also, because some of you asked so nicely, I made another narrated snippet. It’s rough, done on the fly, and I make no pretense that it’s professional.  Keep an eye out for it during the revival service.

Photos & Things.  Of course, Dan Antion, let me use his photographs to illustrate Brother Love.  Remember I started naming the businesses in Parliament, Mississippi after readers?  This week you’ll find Ginger’s Galley, a seafood restaurant, named in honor of Ginger, aka Murphy’s Law

This time all the random “things” that drove the episode were from readers.  JoAnne Macco sent Bow TieRob Goldstein gave us Speaking in Tongues.  I haven’t gotten a comment from her since, but Maggie McLeod left a terrific thing for this setting, Cardboard Fan.  Now what the Sam Hill am I going to do with those things?  Read on to see!

Chapter 8 — A Confession.  Ruth Leiber admitted she is not Tammy’s mother.  Then she tried to blackmail Doug Armstrong about his stent in prison. Unluckily for her, Doug’s an open book. However, Ruth wasn’t ready to give up so easily.  She insinuated that Tammy isn’t really a “free bleeder” and that the child’s father wasn’t the man who was married to her mother.  Can we believe Ruth’s inference? After all, she’s a con artist and skilled at innuendo.  Although, even if we can believe her, what does it mean?

Chapter 6 — A Ring.  Then there’s that infernal telephone ring.  Every time we turn around, somewhere there’s a telephone that rings just once.   Jinx had noticed the tone of the ring matched the note of the guitar when the mysterious musician played Crossroad Blues.  It also seems to ring when someone makes a decision… 

Vintage rotary phone, photo by Dan Antion
Vintage rotary phone, photo by Dan Antion

Here’s where we left the story.  Abruptly the heat of the August night was broken by a gust of wind that blew through the tent.  The pages of hymnals and Bibles rustled.

Then to Birdie’s astonishment, Jinx glided down the center aisle.  The magpie swooped down to alight on the pew in front of her. 

Jinx imitated the sound of a single telephone ring. 

Jinx is waiting for us at the crossroads. 

Brother Love

9 — A Hallelujah 

Bow Tie, Speaking in Tongues, Cardboard Fan

Church pews from back with hymnals, by Dan Antion
Church pews from back with hymnals, by Dan Antion

The magpie looked right at me.  Jinx shifted foot-to-foot where he alighted on the pew in front of me.  He whistled and bobbed his head to make sure I was paying attention.  Then he imitated the sound of a ringing phone.

That single ring happened at the payphone the day Tammy fell on the sidewalk.  Doug was there.  He said he had been undecided, but that was when he decided he would preach at the revival.

Then I remembered the pay phone had done the single ring a few minutes earlier that day.  It was right after Tammy ran out in front of that car, and tripped.  I was sure she would have skinned her knees.  With her being a free bleeder that could have been a disaster.

However, the phone rang once and when I turned back to the child, that strange man was there, helping Tammy up and drying her tears.  All I could think about was how dark his eyes were.  They were black as coal.  Then he seemed to disappear the moment I looked away.

Birdie Devovo, photo by Martinlee at Dreamstime
Birdie Devovo, photo by Martinlee at Dreamstime

Next, my own telephone rang just once, when I was getting dressed earlier that evening.  I had almost backed out of coming, but made myself go through with it.

If the single ring indicated a decision, then what about that first instance.  Had someone besides Doug and me made a decision ― insignificant though the choices seemed to be?

I had the kind of strange feeling you get when you glimpse movement at the edge of your vision, but you don’t see anything when you turn.  Or you hear a song that you’re sure you know, but you can’t put a name to the tune.

The magpie gave low whistle and bobbed his head.  Jinx made a single ring sound, and then flew high up into the tent trusses where he settled.

Tent trusses by Dan Antion
Tent Trusses, by Dan Antion

I looked from Jinx to Doug, to Tammy and the woman.

Everything became suddenly still.  It was so quiet I could almost hear myself sweat.  The expression on Doug’s face changed.

“Now that’s nervous,” I thought.  “No maybe about it this time.”

I turned to follow Doug’s gaze.

He walked in ― the man I had briefly seen on the sidewalk.  The man who helped Tammy up and dried her tears.

As he swaggered closer, I could see his eyes, black as coal.  I noticed a guitar was slung across his back.

A name ran through the congregation like wild fire.

“Brother Love!” the murmur cascaded down the pews.

Guitar head stock BW_Simone Pixaby
Simone at Pixaby

Other than the tide of his name, the people were silent.  It was as if they waited for permission to breathe.  That included Doug.  The preacher looked like he knew that feeling well.

“But you don’t have to invite them to dinner,” Doug’s words seemed to hang in the humid air.

However, every ear in the place was on the newcomer.

Abruptly the man spoke in a rousing voice.

“Come and dine, my children!  Come and dine!  ‘Jesus saith unto them, Come and dine.  And none of the disciples durst ask him, Who art thou?’  Come and dine!” his voice boomed across the tent.

I wasn’t sure if his words were meant to contradict or complement the puzzling statement Doug had just made.  Either way both his words and presence clearly pleased the audience.

The pianist began playing the old hymn, Come and Dine.  The choir hurried back onto the stage.  They hummed to the music.  However, the choir director motioned them to quiet when the man started to speak.

“Would you come and dine, dear sister?” he asked in a respectful tone as he paused his strut and bent over an elderly woman.

Feebly she raised her hand heavenward.  Filled with the Spirit, she waved a handkerchief with crochet trim she surely made herself and shouted something that may have been “Praise Jesus!”

Old lady hands gingham cristian-newman-unsplash
Cristian Newman, Unsplash

Doug stepped back as the man with the guitar lithely hopped up to the pulpit.

“Hallelujah,” came a ripple of shouts from the congregation.  “Hallelujah!”

“Brothers,” he started soft and slow.

The choir swayed in perfect rhythm to unheard music.

“I said brothers,” he emphasized as if there was anyone in the tent who wasn’t listening.

The choir began to softly clap their hands in time to the song only they could hear.  The congregation started to clap along.  Brother Love smiled and held out his hands, palms up, toward the people.

“You got yourself two hands.  They’re both good hands.  Now I want everybody to shake the hand of the person on their right,” he said.

As the congregation turned and began shaking hands and hugging one another, I was relieved that there was no one on my right.  It would have been too awkward if the person who was supposed to shake my hand refused.

I looked across the aisle.  A man wearing a short-sleeved shirt and a bow tie awkwardly met my gaze.  The man next to him whispered something with a sidelong glance at me.  The bow tie bobbed as the first guy gulped and quickly turned his back to shake the hand of the person next to him.

Revival_meeting_George R. Brunk II in Goshen IN 1950s_Theron F Schlabach Photos at Wikimedia Commons
Revival_meeting_George R. Brunk II in Goshen IN 1950s_Theron F Schlabach Photos at Wikimedia Commons

I didn’t realize that Doug had stepped back down to his seat in front of me where the other preachers sat until he tapped my shoulder.  His gaze fell briefly on the man who had just turned his back.  Doug looked like he forced himself to smile as he shook my hand.  I wondered what had him so upset.

“Now when your brother ― or your sister is troubled,” Brother Love went on just as Doug took my hand.  “You got to reach out your one hand to give him.  Cause that’s what your hand’s there for,” the soft slow voice continued.

“Bless Jesus!” an old lady shouted, as tears streamed down her face.

Brother Love jumped down from the stage and took the woman’s hand.  He helped her sit as he knelt down beside the pew to pray with her.

However, she was determined to go to the altar a few feet away.  Two of the preachers helped her to kneel.  Half a dozen people hurried to the front to pray alongside her.

In a flash Brother Love was at the pulpit again.

“Yes, my children, and when your own heart is troubled, you got to reach out your other hand,” he proclaimed with the building intensity of a small earthquake.

“Reach it out to the man up there!  Cause that’s what He’s there for!” he instructed amid more shouts of hallelujah.

The congregation erupted in chaos.  There was singing and shouting, people jumping up to testify.  There was everything short of speaking in tongues.

The passion of it all was overwhelming.  I felt the vibration of all the sounds.  I thought half the valley would shake.

Then Brother Love abruptly down-shifted his pace.  He picked up his guitar and started to sing.

Take my hand in yours
Walk with me this day
In my heart I know
I will never stray

***

A completely on the fly, narrated snippet.

***

Swaying and clapping, the choir joined in for a hallelujah-filled chorus.

I saw Tammy in her shining white dress move toward the center of the stage.

Doug’s transfixed gaze was on the child.  Then he turned around to me as if he would speak.  An expression of epiphany came to his face.  He stood and moved toward the pulpit.

Cardboard fans fluttered throughout the tent.  They bore a picture of large fishing boat.  The fans were advertisements for a local seafood restaurant called Ginger’s Galley.

There’s definitely something fishy going on with Ruth Leiber,” I thought.

Ruth and Tammy both held fans.  Ruth was saying something to the other preachers who still stood nearby.  The woman seemed impatient.  I heard several voices whisper the word healing.

The little group of preachers began to talk among themselves.  They first looked at Doug and then at Brother Love.  It looked like they expected Brother Love to do something, presumably the healing.

Meanwhile Ruth drew Tammy away from the men.  The woman’s face was fierce as she whispered to the girl.  Tammy shook her head “No” in a stubborn looking way.  Ruth’s eyes flashed and she put her mouth very close to the child’s ear.

I don’t know what Ruth said, but Tammy’s face bore a frightened expression.  She gave a stiff nod.  Ruth put her hands on the girl’s shoulders and pointed her toward the pulpit.  Then she gave her a gentle, barely noticeable push.

Tammy quietly climbed the few steps to the stage.  Her eyes were fixed on Doug.  She used the fan she still held to wave at him.  Then she turned to Brother Love, who apparently had not noticed her come onto the stage.

Girl white dress road trees timothy-eberly unsplash
Timothy Eberly, Unsplash

The child gasped and stretched her hand toward Brother Love.  Suddenly a dark red stain seeped across the bodice of her pure white dress.

Her hand went to the rapidly spreading stain.  Tammy sank to her knees.

The end.

***

Real World Notes — Bow Ties

Jinx models a bow tie while perched on Dan's birdcage
Jinx, on Dan’s birdcage, models a bow tie

Bow ties have an unexpected origin.  We can thank Croatian mercenaries of the 17th century for them.  The Croat mercenaries basically tied a scarf around their necks to hold together the opening of their shirts.  Anyhow, they’ve gone up and down in popularity ever since.

Bow ties resurged as a neck-wear choice in 1957.  They were often formal.  However, they were also fun, especially since they were available in textured fabrics and modern prints.  Those artistic patterns were inspired by the atomic age and by Art Deco styles.  Square ends ties, two tone, and butterfly bow ties were all fashionable.

.

***

I’m glad you could make it to the crossroads for Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show!  I hope you’ll say hello in a comment.   

I’ll meet you at the crossroads again next Saturday!  Hugs on the wing.

***

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This is a work of fiction.  Characters, names, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, locales, or events is entirely coincidental.

Copyright ©  2019 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

Photos Copyright ©  2019 by Dan Antion

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109 thoughts on “Brother Love 9 — A Hallelujah

      1. Google Tim Buckley ‘Song to the Siren” on YouTube. Very early on he appeared on The Monkees TV show as a guest artist. Seemingly uncomfortable in his own skin, he delivered one of the most poignant performances of his own song I have ever seen.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Suzanne. It would depend on the denomination of Christianity, and to an extent on the geographic area. That kind of service (even without the tent) was common where I grew up. I’ve since gone on my own, different path. But Neil Diamond’s song along with those experiences inspired the story. So I decided… why not? 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Wow, Teagan!! This is another episode that ends with a nail-biting situation with the child. I’m still playing catch-up from being gone for a few days, but I couldn’t wait to get to this story. I am loving it! The new character, Brother Love, is intriguing. I can’t tell yet if he’s a bad guy or good guy. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Glad you enjoyed it Jan. Thanks for trying to catch up here. I know how busy the summer is for everyone. Keeping up with serials is especially hard. The “Brother Love” character has been in the story since the prologue. I’m glad I’m able to keep everyone guessing about whether he is good or bad, because that’s my intention with each of these characters. 😀 Hugs on the wing.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Well, bouncin’ bow ties, that was interesting. I don’t know how I came up with such a random thing, except that now I remember my dad had several bow ties. One had hair instead of fabric. I don’t know what kind of hair and don’t want to know being an animal lover, but it was light in color and more bristly than soft. The awkward moments in this story are so relatable. Oh, and I loved hearing your voice. It was perfect.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi JoAnna. The hair bow tie you mention may have been angora mohair, which was popular at the time. So, that would probably have come from an angora goat. Hopefully the goat was well cared for and enjoyed his haircut. 🙂
      You might find this link interesting: https://vintagedancer.com/vintage/mens-tie-history-1920s-to-1970s/
      You are so kind about the narration. ^^’ Thanks so much for leaving a “thing” and reading. Hugs on the wing.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. You certainly have a way of gripping your audience, Teagan – are you sure you aren’t the revival leader? 🙂 I loved the line, “It was so quiet I could almost hear myself sweat” haha, believe me – I’ve been there!!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That’s my favorite line from the song’s lyrics too, GP.
      Tee-hee! No, I’m not Brother Love. I’m no preacher, not by any means. Although my she-ro was Julia Sugarbaker. Nobody can get on a fine rant as good as Dixie Carter. 😀 Hugs on the wing.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. Ha! That sounds about like the stuff I grew up having to listen to. There’s nothing like threatening small children with an eternity of burning alive. Or describing (to those children) grandmothers dying and screaming about their feet burning from hell’s flames as they die. (rolls eyes.)

          Liked by 1 person

  4. Great job of putting your reader right in the middle of that tent, Teagan. An excellent episode with a startling ending. And would you believe the first time I heard “Hallelujah” Jon Bon Jovi sang it with just a guitar for backing. I fell in love with the song at that moment, and have since dug up multiple versions, all of which I love!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow, Mae — thank you so very much. That is high praise from someone who writes as well as you. Thank you.
      I have not heard Bon Jovi’s version, but there are so many terrific covers of that song that it’s amazing. It speaks to what a marvelous song Cohen wrote.
      I appreciate you visiting the crossroads. Hugs on the wing!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad to hear that, Teri — else I’d have to remove Cliffhanger Maven as a title from my resume. 😀 You are so very kind about the narration. I’d really like to get professional equipment set up and start it seriously — beginning with Atonement, Tennessee. Hugs on the wing!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s wonderful to see you, David. I’m delighted you enjoyed this chapter. It was fun to finally be able to work the lyrics of the song that inspired the story (Neil Diamond’s Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show) into the text.
      Have a wonderful new week. Hugs.

      Like

  5. Poor Tammy! Why do I think Ruth planned the whole (fake) blood thing, and that’s why Tammy didn’t want to go up to the pulpit? And Tammy really wanted Doug, not Brother Love. And then there’s Jinx and the telephone ring. Terrific episode, Teagan!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Another great chapter, Teagan! I really hope it was a con and she wasn’t bleeding. Love the bow tie history. I’ve always found them unique. Have a fantastic week:)

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Okay, she’s got a tomato ketchup patch under her dress which she didn’t want to use but the horrible woman made her do it by playing on her fears. Oh I hope that woman gets her come uppance soon. Love this story Teagan, xxx

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Oh no! Poor Tammy. Hope it’s a con and she’s okay. This is edge of your seat stuff. Loved how you interwove Neil Diamond’s lyrics into the story. I felt the earth quake and wanted to shout Hallelujah myself or at least yell an amen! Narration and pictures were the perfect accompaniment. Looking forward to next week!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yay! I’m glad you liked (and mentioned) the lyrics, Jill. I was hoping I gave that part a touch of camp — or anything besides something that would get me an eye-roll. 😀 I appreciate that feedback. Keep on “winning” with the song lyric posts! Hugs on the wing.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I’m so glad you continued this story. I have to admit, I was more pulled in by the Hallelujah song. Had never heard Buckley’s version… Love that guitar! I first heard it when Alexandra Burke sang it. It’s one of my favourite songs. I have copied the lyrics to it so I can learn to play it. Loved your reading again, Teagan. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s fine, Kev — my only goal is for you the reader to enjoy your visit. Some people come for the illustrations, some for the music. And happily some for the stories. 😉
      The Buckley version stuck in my head for a couple of months when I first heard it. I wish he had lived longer.
      I’m happy you could make it to the crossroads. Hugs on the wing!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I’m constantly amazed by your talent and energy, dear Teagan, this is another brilliant installation that just makes us want more! This was a great way to start the weekend. Thank you, thank you!
    “Bow ties are cool!” ~The Doctor https://tenor.com/search/bow-ties-are-cool-gifs
    Hope this week is a relaxing one filled with inspiration, hope, and peace.
    Massive need some of those cardboard fans this weekend for sure hugs xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxox

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Donna, if I could make you smile, then my day is made. 🙂
      Thanks for the link — Nobody rocks a bow tie like Matt Smith as the Doctor.

      I hear you about the fans! I know I’m (finally) in the desert now, and I know it’s summer in the desert, but horsefeathers! It’s hot. But it’s a dry heat. Haha! (Laughs with hysteria.)
      Thanks for visiting, my friend. Hugs on the wing!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Excellent episode!
    Love the Hallelujah song, one of my favorites!
    Nice to add your own reading of a few lines of the story!
    Now, I’ll be worrying about the little girl, and what will happen next! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I loved this episode, and, as usual, your ending has me on the edge of my seat.

    “Hallelujah” is one of my all-time favorite songs. I’ll probably always love Cohen’s version best, but the one you included here is positively soul-stirring.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Mary J. Your comment means a lot to me. It was a fun episode to write, finally playing on the lyrics to Diamond’s song.
      Yes, that Ruth… what will become of her? It all depends on where the “things” lead. 😉 Thanks for coming out to the crossroads. Hugs on magpie wings!

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Yikes! I’m still catching my breath from this episode. I just think Ruth is a con artist through and through. And I don’t believe that’s blood, or at least not Tammy’s blood, appearing on the bodice of her dress. I don’t know how you keep packing more and more intrigue into this story Teagan, but you do. Jinx is a treasure. If there’s an afterlife, I’m coming back as Jinx!

    Imagine my surprise seeing Ginger’s Galley, a local seafood restaurant, mentioned in your story. I serve up the best fried fish in Mississippi! Leave it to me to use the cardboard fans to advertise! Lol. Thanks for setting me up in business Teagan. (((❤️))) Hmmmm, that’s strange…..my head seems to be getting bigger! I can’t fit through the doorway now! 😳 I wonder why!! Hahahah!

    Love your narration and the music. And Dan’s photos can’t be beat.

    Have a relaxing and fun weekend.
    🐾Ginger 🐾

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Tee-hee! I’m so glad you got a kick out of the restaurant, Ginger. 😀 It sure tickled me for you to want to come back as a magpie. I must be doing something right.
      Huge thanks for reading and commenting. A wonderful weekend to you as well. Hugs on magpie wings!

      Like

  14. I love how (seemingly) effortlessly you’ve brought us to the edge of another cliff, Teagan. I can feel the energy, the suspense and the concern all building. I wish I had Jinx’s intuition (or his ability to escape Inyo the trusses). Great job! I hope you have an easy weekend.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much, Dan. And your photos are a huge hit again this week.
      An easy weekend to you too, my friend. The desert summer is heating up, so I’m not pushing my luck. The air conditioner, however, I’m totally pushing that! Hugs on the wing!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I believe she is, Robbie. Yet, just how bad is she? Ethics vs. morality… to what lengths will Ruth go to get money, and now that she (accidentally?) committed grand theft (back when she took the Fabergé egg), to get out of the country?
      I agree about Dan’s photos. He will be happy to see your comment. Thanks so very much for reading. Hugs on the wing!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha! Suddenly I can see where that could be a scary line, Priscilla. 😀 But then, a lot of those evangelists scared me when I was a kid.
      This is good feedback. It lets me know that I’m keeping everyone guessing about the characters, which is my intent. 😀 Thanks for coming to the crossroads. Hugs on the wing!

      Like

    1. I really love Cohen singing Hallelujah. Maybe I’m even more drawn to Buckley’s version because I heard it before Cohen’s… but Buckley seems to have found that secret chord for me.
      You’re so kind about the narration. ^^’ I appreciate your encouragement. Thanks for reading and commenting. Oh, and kudos on the iceberg hunting! 😀 Hugs on the wing.

      Like

  15. Another great episode. I love your voice on the recording. You really need to see “True Stories”. There are so many elements in it that seem to crossover like the preacher and choir doing “Puzzling Evidence”. Do you remember Flip Wilson? My mom bought most of his albums in the 60’s and 70’s so I was raised on Flip Wilson. I love his humor. I remember he had a joke about a preacher that went something like this:

    The preacher said “When the church starts out it’s like and baby and it has to crawl.” The congregation said “Make it crawl, Rev. Make it crawl.” The reverend said “Then as it grows, it stands up and starts to walk.” The congregation yelled “Make it walk, Rev. Make it walk!” The preacher said “Then it starts to run.” The congregation yelled “Make it run, Rev. Make it run!” The reverend said “But it order to keep the church running, it needs money!” The congregation yelled “Let it crawl, Rev. Let it crawl!”

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Ha! Thanks for the laugh, Tim. That’s fabulous.
      Yes, I remember Flip Wilson! He always slayed me as Geraldine. However, I had forgotten about Reverend Leroy and the Church of What’s Happening Now.
      https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=flip+wilson+as+reverend+leroy&view=detail&mid=95583EE99FB676D658D195583EE99FB676D658D1&FORM=VIRE
      As a kid, I remember thinking he wasn’t much different from things at our church.

      You are so kind about the narration — thank you. ^^’
      No, I don’t remember “True Stories”, but my imagination was influenced by the Twilight Zone growing up. I’ve tried to give this story a similar vibe of wondering which way is up, and things not being as they are generally assumed.
      I see you’ve also entertained Joanne, so double thanks. Hugs on the wing!

      Liked by 1 person

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