Authors: Carl Weber
Torn Between Two Lovers
Big Girls Do Cry
Up to No Good
Something on the Side
The First Lady
So You Call Yourself a Man
The Preacher’s Son
Lookin’ for Luv
Baby Momma Drama
She Ain’t the One
(with Mary B. Morrison)
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Copyright © 2011 by Carl Weber
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This book is dedicated to my readers: Rebecca Reed, Simone Young, Lynette Robinson, Latonya Townes, Ms. Ruth, Renee Warner, Maxine Thompson, and Joylynn, the people who gave me feedback during the writing process and quite possibly have made this the best book I’ve ever written.
It was Father’s Day at First Jamaica Ministries, the largest church in Queens, New York, and the pews were filled to capacity with those honoring the men in their lives. Bishop T. K. Wilson, the pastor of the church, was in top form as he pranced around the pulpit, preaching on what it truly means to be a father and a man in this upside-down world of ours. His sermon was so powerful and his words so inspiring that he brought grown men to tears and had some of the more animated women jumping out of their seats and fainting in the aisles. He touched on the responsibilities of being a husband and a father. What made his sermon so special was that he tied it all into the word of God so well that even the children had no problem understanding it.
When he finished his sermon, everyone in the building felt enlightened, but the celebration was far from over because when the bishop sat down, the choir stood up and the collection plate went around. Halfway through the first song, everyone in the church was on their feet, singing, clapping, and paying tithes.
“Hallelujah!” the bishop said as the choir finished their third selection and sat down. “Wasn’t that wonderful? Praise God! Thank you, Jesus. There is nothing like having a good song with the Word. Can the church say amen?”
“Amen!” the congregation shouted back in unison.
“Now, as most of you know from my sermon, today is Father’s Day, the day we’re supposed to honor our fathers and husbands.” He held on to the microphone as he paced from one end of the pulpit to the other. “I know some of you are ready to go
home and barbecue with Dad, maybe go to the beach with him, maybe even just sit in front of the TV and watch the game with him, but before you leave, there is one order of business that we have to take care of.”
Bishop Wilson returned to the center of the pulpit and placed the microphone back in its holder, then reached under the podium and removed a large plaque. “You see, every year on Father’s Day, we give out a Man of the Year Award and a scholarship in the recipient’s name. This year, though, I think the committee’s outdone themselves with their choice of Man of the Year, and in my opinion, this year’s award is way overdue. Not just because I consider the recipient a personal friend, and not just because he’s an outstanding father and husband, but also because of all the hours he’s spent on making your choir one of the best in the entire country.”
As the bishop turned to the choir, the entire congregation rose to their feet in anticipation of his announcement. “Now, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, it is my absolute honor to announce that the winner of the First Jamaica Ministries Man of the Year Award is our choir director, Mr. Jackie Robinson Moss!”
The crowd erupted in cheers and applause when Jackie, a tall, handsome, olive-skinned man with green eyes, stepped from in front of the choir and approached the pulpit, where the bishop awaited him with the plaque.
Bishop Wilson shook Jackie’s hand, then gave him the award. He was about to relinquish the podium to the Man of the Year when he heard a woman shout, “Bishop! Bishop! I’d like to say a few words, if you don’t mind.”
The bishop smiled his approval when he saw the woman. “Sure. We’d be glad to hear a few words from you, Deaconess Moss. I mean, after all, who knows Jackie better than his wife?”
There was another round of applause as she got up from her seat in the deacon’s row and slowly made her way to the pulpit. She was a good-looking, brown-skinned woman in her mid-forties and had been married to Jackie, her college sweetheart, for almost twenty years. Approaching the pulpit, she shook the bishop’s hand before stepping up to the podium and adjusting the microphone.
“Hello. As you know, my name is Deaconess Eleanor Moss, and you’ve bestowed the honor of Man of the Year on my husband.” She turned to give Jackie a look of contempt, then turned back to the crowd to deliver totally unexpected words. “I’m sorry to say it, but you have made a grave mistake in giving him this award. Unfortunately, my husband is not the man you think he is. And he is definitely not the man I thought he was. Not anywhere close to it.”
Members of the congregation started squirming in their seats. Some were reacting to the uncomfortable awkwardness of the situation, while others were eagerly anticipating some juicy drama getting ready to take place.
Realizing that things weren’t going exactly as planned, Bishop Wilson turned to Jackie and mouthed, “What is she talking about?”
Jackie shrugged his shoulders, looking dumbfounded. It was obvious he was as clueless as everyone else about his wife’s strange behavior. The two men stood by helplessly as she continued the speech that would destroy all the good feelings Bishop Wilson had created with his Father’s Day sermon.
“I know this is going to be hard for many of you to believe, but trust me, it was even harder for me. I’ve been married to this man for twenty years.” She took a breath and straightened her back, as if what she was about to say required all of her strength. Then she delivered the final blow. “But I think you should all know my husband is a homosexual.”
It was as if her words sucked all the air out of the room. The entire church went silent, except for one woman who shouted, “Shut up!” sarcastically.
At this time, Eleanor’s two best friends, Lisa Mae and Kathy, began handing out quarter-inch–thick xeroxed pamphlets down each row, beginning in the back of the church.
“If you look at the pamphlets the sisters are handing out,” Eleanor continued, “you will see copies of my husband’s journal, which I found hidden in the ceiling panels of our basement, along with some pretty filthy Polaroids. I’m sorry I could not furnish originals, but I need them for my divorce. The highlighted entries show affairs Jackie has had with different male members of our choir and congregation. You will see names,
dates, times, personal comments in some cases, and even preferred activities. I know some of you will be upset by this, but I honestly believe it’s better to know now rather than later. I myself am about to get an AIDS test.”
Her business complete, she turned around, walked up to her husband, and slapped him across the face as hard as she could before she walked out of the church.
The congregants, who had now all received copies of the pamphlet, were furiously paging through them. As the sound of rustling pages and confused whispers filled the sanctuary, Bishop Wilson stood, slack-jawed, staring at the man who had been his choir director for seven years. He’d heard rumors over the years about Jackie but he figured those spreading the gossip were just jealous and catering to the stereotype of a gay choir director. Never once did he think the rumors might actually be accurate.
Now he had to ask the question: “My God, man, is this true?”
Jackie didn’t answer. He simply turned toward the door by the side of the pulpit. Bishop Wilson followed his gaze and watched four male choir members sneaking out of their seats, headed toward an exit. Two of them were active members of the church, proud family men. If someone had told the bishop that these men were involved in homosexual affairs, he would have placed wagers against it; yet, here they were, their escape practically an admission of guilt.
An abrupt scream startled him, and he turned to the pews to see a physical altercation erupt between a deacon and his wife. He ran to break things up, wondering just how much chaos this incident had introduced into his church.