Scene 6

Melody stared up at the curvilinear gables and arched ceiling in wonderment. To her knowledge it was the first time she had set foot in church, leastwise one as fancy as this one.

“So what kind of people go to this church?” Melody whispered to her father.

“Normal people, Melody,” he whispered back, and shushed her.

“No,” she said. “I mean, what...I don’t know...flavor of religion?”

“Nondenominational,” he returned. And I really don’t think people like their brand of religion referred to as a flavor. Make a note about that before speaking out loud today.”

Melody squinted. “I really doubt if I’ll be talking to anyone here.” She sat for a bit. The church seemed no different than those she had read about in books: Hard, uncomfortable wooden pews, bright atmosphere, stain-glass windows with religious motifs, as well as anachronistic, large black speakers affixed to the walls. Shouldn’t preachers orate, and project their voices from the diaphragm rather than relying on electronic means. It seemed like a lazy way to go. “So, any type of religious person then? Skeptics, Satanists...?”

Bernie cleared his throat and thought about it for a bit. “This place is progressive, but those might be a little too flavorful. I think they expect you to be Christian, at the very least.” He then gave her a goggle-eyed look. “But I’m sure heathens won’t be kicked out on occasions such as this, if that’s what you’re worried about.”

Melody grimaced. “That’s a shame,” she said. She turned to her Mother, who was on the opposite side of her. “What was this church called again?”

“I don't know,” Lonnie said. “The Old Laurelhurst church, I think.”

Melody grimaced again. That couldn't possibly be correct. It had become apparent that her mother was just telling her things in an effort to keep her quiet.

“This is just called the OLD LAURELHURST CHURCH? How very descriptive and general. Maybe after this we can go to The Store on the Corner, and pick up some Jim’s Dad’s Chocolate Covered Sweets, or maybe go to lunch at my new favorite restaurant, That New Place That Serves Breakfast All Day.”

Bernie tapped his daughter on the shoulder in an effort to gain her attention, and once he had it violently stuck his finger up to his own lips. Then he used the forefinger of his other hand to point to that finger.

Melody got the hint. Churches, like libraries, should apparently be noise-free environments. “I'll just look it up later,” she said, pulling a small pad from her purse and jotting down some notes.

Melody silently observed the rest of the proceedings. A few people got up to speak on Mrs. Rogers behalf. They told some sweet stories and some funny stories. Although Melody would have to take their word for it because, as she didn't know the woman, these tales were essentially unverifiable.

Once there was a lull in the speakers, a priest, whom Melody identified as such by his clichéd long, white flowing robe, came up to speak. He proceeded to rattle on about faith, and apparently some pertinent stories from the bible opened up in front of him. The appearance of the large book seemed to be there just for show, however, as the man, a one Father Belasarius, referred to it not one single time.

Melody recognized how the allegorical stories he told might hold an appeal for some but were of little interest to her. Just the same, she wrote down some more notes on her pad on the off-chance that there would be a test at the end of the service. If nothing else, the task kept her mind active and from drifting off.

She leaned over to her mother’s ear. “This is tedious and boring.”

Rather matronly, Lonnie’s response was to smile and give her daughter a shoulder hug.

“Seriously,” Melody said. “I don’t know how I’m not passing out.”

Finally, Father Belasarius told everyone to, “Please rise,” and like cattle everyone stood up.

“Thank goodness,” she told her mother. “My legs were cramping up.”

“These hard seats'll do that to you,” Lonnie returned.

“Let’s get out of here”

“Not yet,” said her father. “This is just the seventh inning stretch.”

Melody groaned. She liked sports references almost as much as she liked spending the day in church.

Suddenly, Melody saw the man who had been sitting in front of her had turned around and was sticking out his hand. The man looked to be in his fifties. His hair was all white, but he was clean cut and appeared normal otherwise.

“Um, how are you doing there,” Melody said to him, unsure how to react at this moment. She was unaccustomed to people simply appearing in front of her wanting to “shake.” She hoped that this wasn't a sum up of some business transaction she was unaware of. And now to seal the deal on this Catholic thing...

“Peace be with you,” he said to her, his hand stiffening and relaxing as if to emphasize its presence in her personal space.

Melody eyed the hand suspiciously. Yes, she thought to herself, her head cocked to one side. I see you there, random hand. Out loud, she said to the white-haired man, “Yep, that thing with you as well.”

“Is she shy,” the man said, smiling, looking over to Lonnie.

Lonnie smiled back, and looked over to her daughter who by this time had a horrified expression on her face. “Melody is just not the 'touchy' type. I think bowing might be more her speed.

The man laughed, slightly incredulously, and said, “Alright.” He then said the same phrase, “Peace be with you,” to both Lonnie and Bernie, who both reciprocated with handshakes.

Melody's eyes narrowed. She was now extra thankful that her family was not members, for she was certain that her handshake refusal would soon be the talk of the church motor pool. It’s that girl who doesn’t shake hands. She’s not one of us! TIE HER TO THE STAKE...I’LL GET THE MATCHES AND THE MARSHMALLOWS!

Finally, Belesarius announced the one thing the Jackson's all wanted to hear: “Refreshments will be served in the reception hall. Thank you all for coming and honoring Mrs. Dondra Rogers today.”

Bernie shook his head. “Dondra? Did you guys know that was her name?”

Melody shook her head back at him. Why was her father such an idiot?

“Now where are we going?” she asked her parents. They began to merge with the rest of the throng as they departed the church like a creek clogged with debris.

“Now we get our prize for toughing it out in those horrible seats,” Bernie said. “Now we eat cake.”

It Happened on Lafayette Street

Season One: Episode One

Melody Jackson

vs. The Message from Space

by BMB Johnson

Scene 6

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