The Welcome Committee of Butternut Creek
- Wednesday, April 11, 2012
He put the leftovers away in the refrigerator provided by the church. Inside were a carton of milk, another of orange juice, butter, and a dozen eggs, all left by some helpful person. If he could find a frying pan, he could fix breakfast in the morning.
Over the next few hours, more members of the congregation stopped by. They smiled and welcomed Adam and brought cakes and bread and vegetables and fried chicken and a brisket.
Once that slowed down, Adam considered unpacking, but he had no hangers and none had been left in the tiny coat closet. Probably some hung in the huge number of closets upstairs, but he didn’t feel the call to explore tonight. All those large empty rooms would probably depress him. He left everything in the suitcases, boxes, and plastic bags. Surely everyone— except Miss Birdie—would understand.
Next he called his parents, who’d retired to London after his father sold his company for gazillions of dollars. It was very early morning there, but his mother was glad to hear he’d arrived safely and promised they’d visit soon. His father expressed amazement that Butternut Creek had telephone service.
Tomorrow he’d email his sister in Kenya. Not that she’d worry. Traveling between refugee camps as she did was a lot more dangerous than the trip through Tennessee and Arkansas he’d just made.
Having completed everything he needed to take care of right away, at nine thirty he rolled out the sleeping bag, plugged in the television, and searched for a baseball game. Unfortunately, only one station came in, a feed from Austin transmitted from Llano. The picture was snowy, and the sound faded in and out. The problem constituted another introduction to the difference between city and rural life, but he didn’t mind. He listened to the local news and watched the blurry rerun of a sitcom before deciding to go to bed. Or, to be more exact, to go to sleeping bag.
Filled with gratitude to be here, he said his prayers and dozed off as soon as he finished.
After the long, exhausting trip, he slept well.
The insistent ringing of the doorbell started at nine o’clock. Adam shook his head in a futile effort to clear it, slipped into jeans and pulled on a T-shirt. When he opened the door, two muscular men stood there, carrying a sofa between them. Adam stepped back and watched as they brought it in without a word. They settled it against the wall of the room where he’d slept, then headed back out to a large truck with hilton furniture painted on the side.
“What are you doing?” he asked as the furniture came inside. “This isn’t mine. I didn’t order it and I can’t pay for this,” Adam attempted to explain as they carried in a large dining room table. They didn’t stop.
Like a yappy little dog, he ran after them asking where all this had come from.
“You’re in the wrong house,” he said but the men continued to ignore him. Taciturn and focused, they kept unloading and placing the furniture where they thought it appropriate: a recliner, a coffee table, that dining room table with six hefty chairs, a queen-size bed—well, almost everything a bachelor minister needed to set up housekeeping except, of course, that big bed they’d taken upstairs, which suggested marriage at some time down the road.
During this entire time, the men didn’t pay the slightest bit of attention to him. When they had finished, Rodolfo— the name embroidered on his shirt—handed Adam a clipboard and pen. “Please sign, Pastor.”
He took the invoice and read it, attempting to find out the source of the furniture and where it should have been delivered. There was nothing on that page except the word widows and his address. Well, not the real address because, as he later learned, no one knew one another’s numerical addresses. This house was described as “the parsonage next to the Christian Church.”
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