This work of short fiction deals with the preacher’s brush with the law. Even though the story is set in the fictional city of Tecumseh, Indiana, a part of this story happened to a certain preacher I know. #preacher #Tecumseh #Indiana
The Preacher’s Brush with the Law
The Rescue Me Bail Bonds office phone rang at 4 a.m. on Thursday morning. Chopper let the answering machine pick up the call. The only person desperate enough to phone at that hour needed to be bailed out of jail. They could cool their heels in the hoosegow until he finished his beauty sleep. He rolled out of bed when Colleen O’Brien’s voice reverberated from the blasted machine. “Get your sorry ass out of bed. The Preacher’s been picked up for aiding and abating. You need to post his bond right away. Besides, the preacher’s brush with the law will reflect poorly on every biker in Tecumseh, ” her frantic voice said.
Chopper swung his legs over the side of the fold-out bed and reached for his jeans. He slipped his pants over his feet and pulled them up around his waist. He lowered the t-shirt with the Indian motorcycle logo over his head and wiggled it over his torso until he managed to tuck it in at the belt at his waist. When Colleen O’Brien called in a favor in the middle of the night, he had to respond to her request.
Chopper’s opinion about the situation.
Chopper knew the particular preacher she was talking about, and the guy wasn’t in the habit of getting himself into trouble. What he was known for was ministering to a group of rowdy bikers. The church where he pastored was an old converted redneck bar. Two guys from the congregation got together and made a pulpit out of the old bar countertop. The Preacher’s habit was to delivered the word of God to the group of bad boy bikers who gathered under the converted bars sagging roof every Sunday morning. The preacher owned a black 2006 model Fat Boy he rode to motorcycle events all over the state. Colleen and her husband, Ray, were members of Bill Bradley’s congregation. Still, the Preacher’s brush with the law could wait until morning if It wasn’t for Colleen putting pressure on him.
There had to be a good story behind the preacher’s arrest, and Chopper was going to be the first person to hear the details of what led up to the man’s incarceration. His palms were sweaty by the time the jailer brought Bradley from the holding cell to the interview room. He had a bad feeling the interview he was about to have with the good pastor was going to cost him a pretty penny.
The Preacher probably couldn’t make bail.
The one thing he knew about Bill Bradley was he didn’t make a dime for his preaching. The sound of the metal chair scraping the tile when the preacher pulled it away from the table sounded like chalk on a blackboard. The racket grated on Chopper’s nerves. “Colleen called. She said you were in trouble. Sit down, Bill. Tell me what happened,” Chopper said as if he was a priest hiding behind the curtain of a confessional. The preacher didn’t need to give him his story. It wasn’t a requirement for posting the bond that would spring Bill Bradley from jail. Chopper wasn’t a lawyer with attorney-client privileges, but his curiosity got the best of him. He had to ask.
Meet the Preacher.
The Preacher didn’t hold much resemblance to your typical man of the cloth. His usual attire was jeans and a button-up shirt even when he was in the pulpit. A long white beard hung down the front of his chest. His silver hair glowed underneath the overhead fluorescent light, highlighting the bald spot starting to form on the back of his head.
He was tall and had put on some significant poundage as he moved into middle age. The orange jail jumpsuit made him look like the rest of Chopper’s regular customers. The only difference was the peaceful expression the preacher wore on his face like he was confident a higher power than the Tecumseh legal system was going to intervene on his behalf.
The Preacher tells his story.
“You know I work for a janitorial service to pay my bills. I always park my car at the church, so it doesn’t get hit on the street. We start cleaning offices at three in the morning so everything will be fresh when people start showing up for work. It was about 2:30 when I walked down to get into my car. There was rain pouring down as if it did not intend to stop shortly.
A flash of lightning lit up a skinny fellow who was standing in the church parking lot. I could see right off he didn’t have on rain gear. He wasn’t carrying an umbrella. I couldn’t help but feel sorry for him standing there looking like a wet dog who wanted to come inside to get warm.”
The rain fell from the sky.
“I had my key in my hand and was about to unlock my driver’s side door when the guy stepped into the light. A forlorn look spread across his face when he glanced in my direction. Water dripped off the bill of the NASCAR hat he was wearing.
The kid wasn’t a big guy, but he looked kind of rough standing there in the dark. He was carrying a rolled-up newspaper tucked under his left arm. I could hear his tennis shoes squeak above the sound of the rain when he walked in my direction. He said, “Hey, man, do you think you could give me a ride? My car broke down up the street. I got to get home, and it’s pouring down rain out here.”
Why the Preacher decided to help the kid.
“I thought the kid stated the obvious. It was raining hard. Lightning bolts flashed in the sky. I asked myself what Jesus would do? That’s when I did a dumb thing and offered him a ride. A block from the church, I started to wonder what the kid had rolled up in the newspaper. He reached into the crease, removed a roll of bills, plopped it on my lap, and said it was for my trouble. I handed the money back to him. That’s when I saw the handle of a gun buried deep in the waterlogged folds of the Tecumseh Times.”
The police pull them over.
“I knew I was in trouble. When I noticed a swarm of police cars outside the Quickie Mart over on Grant Street. I’m not a smart man, but I can put two plus two together. A patrol car pulled around the corner and traveled down Elm Street in front of us. I tried to get as close to it as I could. I figured my passenger wouldn’t hurt me with the cop so close. The cop turned onto Monroe Street.
We traveled up Grant Street minding our own business. Then red lights flashed behind me. I asked the kid if the commotion behind us had something to do with him. He admitted it might. Police cars started showing up from all angles. In a matter of seconds, the police surrounded my car. I pulled to the curb and stopped the car.” And so, the Preacher’s brush with the law started.
The Preacher’s charges.
“They charged me with aiding and abetting which makes me an accessory to my passenger’s armed robbery. I wish Colleen hadn’t wasted your time. I don’t have any money for bail.”
Chopper had a dilemma on his hands. If he didn’t leave the Tecumseh city jail with Colleen’s preacher, she’d be mad as a Texas rattlesnake disturbed in the middle of its afternoon nap. A wise man didn’t risk poking that snake with a stick. He could loan the man the money to post the bond. The Preacher wasn’t much of a flight risk, but that was a lousy way to run a bail bonds business. Word would get out he was a soft touch. “Sit tight. I’ll see what I can do. I happen to be in good standing with the arresting officer.”
What Chopper decides to do.
Chopper stood to his feet and moved to the door. Three loud knocks summoned the jailer. He stepped down the hallway to the room where officers used computers to log in their reports. Chopper found officer Randy Russell at a desk in the far corner of the room. After a little small talk, Chopper asked if he’d filed the paperwork which would bring formal charges against the preacher. To tell the truth, Chopper didn’t if he had enough clout to mediate in the Preacher’s brush with the law.
As a result, it took fifteen minutes of persuasive reasoning before Chopper persuaded Officer Russell to believe the preacher gullible enough to give a perfect stranger a ride to where he needed to go. Bill Bradley left the jailhouse with Chopper.
The bail bondsman gave him a lift to the location where the police towed The Preacher’s car. Chopper’s cringed when he paid the tow fee out of his own pocket. He said it was a donation to the church. The preacher was on his way to his job in less than an hour after his arrest. The preacher would be a little late, but at least he was a free man. Chopper was asleep on the pull-out bed at the bail bonds office almost as soon as he walked through the door.
The next morning at the Cup & Spoon.
Chopper was under the impression his late-night visit to the jail was a vivid dream until he sat down to breakfast at the Cup & Spoon. The crew at the Liar’s Table were proclaiming him as a local hero for rescuing the preacher from jail. Andy Dumont said the preacher was too trusting. Someone was going to have to explain the ways of the modern world to him. Chopper experienced a certain amount of joy as an emissary on the mission of mercy. Indeed, he planned to inform the preacher about the facts of living in Tecumseh in this day and age. He wasn’t sure he was up to the task.
If Colleen’s happy, everyone is happy.
Colleen O’Brien sang a happy tune when she strutted into The Hen House an hour late. She ignored her alarm clock and overslept because she waited up to hear if the preacher was released from jail. The emotion Colleen experienced when she heard Chopper managed to get the Tecumseh PD to drop all the charges mirrored a religious experience.
Elba Mae’s reaction.
Elba Mae was ecstatic about Colleen being late. Whenever she caught the redheaded woman making a mistake, she was a happy woman. She spent most of the day not allowing her to forget about her error in judgment.
Naomi had to come out of the office twice to stop the teasing. In her opinion, Elba Mae should know better than to poke a bear with a stick. She might not like the consequences since Colleen was an expert at Karate. To Naomi’s amazement, Colleen didn’t let Elba Mae’s harassment bother her. She went about her daily routine and ignored the full-figured woman’s taunts.
The smile she wore on her face made Naomi question why she arrived at the flower shop late. “Oversleep my ass,” Naomi muttered under her breath. Colleen probably paid an early morning visit to her husband in the makeshift repair business he set up in the O’Brien’s garage. Ray closed the doors to his motorcycle shop, Freedom to Ride, because of the disastrous economic climate in Tecumseh.
Sometimes Naomi thought they went at it like a couple of rabbits. It was none of her business, but she didn’t like the idea of Colleen showing up late.
Who is Molly Shea?
Molly Shea is an accomplished fictional short story writer from Indiana, who writes short stories and novels about a fictional town called Tecumseh. To read more of her short stories and adventures click here.
Be sure to follow Molly on Twitter!