The week couldn’t have gone by fast enough. The tension in the air was so thick it was almost suffocating. Etta felt like she was watching a train wreck and was powerless to turn her head. The only thing was, she was not watching in horror, she was looking on wishing that she had popped a bag of buttered popcorn before getting so immersed in the show of chaos.
The mall stayed packed. Not because people had a need to shop, even though many did, but because everyone had a need for some religious healing, even those who had not stepped foot in the chapel in years.
Etta didn’t understand why none of them could see that Clive Meeks was a fraud, but that Pastor Wesley Ambrose…that man could preach the horns off a Billie goat and mean every single word while doing. It was no wonder the TOWES had rejected him. Wesley kept to the Word and never once mentioned an ascension. Etta would have become a member of his congregation, but the man just didn’t seem to like her. She remembered how he would follow her from a distance when she was younger, always watching and staring at her curiously. Etta figured it must have been a crush. He practically slinked into the darkness once Baldwin came into the picture, and then completely disappeared shortly after Baldwin’s accident.
But he definitely didn’t like her. Etta could tell that by how he looked at her whenever their paths crossed as adults. He was never rude but the atmosphere around him said she wasn’t welcome. She never bothered trying to figure out why.
The madness continued. Doris, Clive’s secretary, had stopped in the shop several times during the last few days just to get away from all the chaos in the chapel. It was amazing how one minute a person was screaming “hallelujah,” and within the same breath, they could curse out the chapel secretary with enough fire and brimstone in their tongue to make the devil himself sweat.
If Etta had any remorse for what was happening, Doris getting chewed up and spit out was one of them. Doris was one of the few people in Greenwich Pass who seemed to have amnesia toward Etta. She never brought up Baldwin, and never looked at Etta with judgment filled eyes. In fact, Doris had spent the last several years nurturing a void in Etta that Francise had left wide open. They’d even spent the last couple of Thanksgivings and other holidays together.
Looking at Doris with her eyes all pink from crying was just too much. It was like watching a person kick a puppy.
Etta invited her to hide out in her office at the shop, which Doris did without second guessing the offer. Pastor Meeks was livid over the whole thing. He wanted Doris to play some form of defensive end for him. That Friday afternoon she sat eating an egg salad sandwich during Etta’s lunch break, telling her all about it.