On the first Saturday of November Pastor Alex Jenkins and Larry Mitchell sat together in a back booth of Simpson’s Diner for their weekly prayer and planning breakfast. What had begun as a one-time affair at the Stone House with David Scartes, Zac Downs, and Scott Kingscote besides the two of them had quickly become a ritual for Alex and Larry. Until Elijah’s arrival they’d met at the Mitchells’, then for a while had met at the Jenkins’ house until Aurora decided that she didn’t want two men lounging about in the kitchen at ten in the morning, talking. She ran a tight ship and wanted to have the kitchen to herself at that time. So they’d migrated to Simpson’s Diner, where breakfast was cheap and very good.
“So how’s youth group going?” Alex asked, cradling his freshly-refilled cup of coffee.
“Quite well actually,” Larry replied. “I’m very much enjoying having Michelle Hayes helping out. She’s really good with the girls.”
“Yeah, she certainly has changed,” the black man laughed. “She even screwed my Jonathan’s head on straight when she caught him making snide remarks about his sisters. He still talks about it.” He chucked again. “Almost think the boy’s in love with her.”
“Along with half the other boys in youth group.” The teacher sighed. “I know Michelle doesn’t mean to be so attractive to the boys and she dresses quite conservatively, but when she walks in, it’s all I can do to keep them focused on the lesson.”
“Does she make that much noise?” Larry shook his brown head.
“No, and she’s not wild either – except when we do outdoor stuff. I don’t think it’s really her fault. Maybe if she got married....”
“That wouldn’t necessarily help with the boys,” the pastor pointed out. “They’ll go on ogling her.”
“Yeah.” Larry sighed and took out his handkerchief to polish his already spotless glasses. “It’s something we need to pray about, Alex. I want her to continue to help out. I want her there, because I know she’s got something to offer. She’s been where the girls are now. She knows what they’re going through, perhaps better than anyone. And I can see Jesus shining in her. I just wonder how we could get her to be less – hm – attractive?”
“That would be very difficult to do. She is such a shiny person, after all.” Alex pondered that for a while. “Is she still going with Ken Olivier?” Larry replaced his glasses.
“I wouldn’t exactly call it ‘going with him,’” he explained. “They like each other, yes, and I think they may eventually get married, but,” he shook his head in frustration, “there’s a dynamic there I can’t understand. They are and yet they aren’t. It’s like the old Ken and Mike two-step.”
“I’m glad to see that Ken is back and growing again,” Alex changed the subject. “Joyce Oblander has been telling me how much she enjoys having him in her fifth grade class. And lately I’ve had the feeling that he’s been able to read people more again.” He hesitated, glancing at Larry as he said it. “Do you think this is just a passing thing?”
“With Ken? Because of Michelle?” Larry shrugged his shoulders. “I’d like to say ‘no.’ As a matter of fact, I can pretty certainly say ‘no,’ but only God knows for sure.” He looked at Alex. “What is this leading up to?”
“Well, I thought we might be able to diffuse the situation in the youth group a bit by bringing Ken in.”
“And turn the boys green with envy so they don’t focus on anything at all?” The teacher shook his head. “Anyone who sees them together knows that they click. It’s just a matter of time, if you ask me.”
“So you’re just going to ride it out?”
“Whether or not Michelle ends up marrying Ken, I don’t think it’s going to make much difference to the boys in the youth group. All they’ve got their heads full of is girls and guns and coolness anyway. And Michelle is cool. She’s very cool. She’s beautiful, shiny and outgoing. I can’t see any single man who wouldn’t be attracted by that.”
“Besides having become extremely spiritual.” Alex nodded thoughtfully. “We really need to pray about this Larry. Maybe something will move soon. Maybe they’ll get used to her.” Larry thought for a long moment.
“Maybe we have to have a guys-and-girls-session again. I think Michelle can lead the girls’ session. Maybe we guys can talk about keeping thought life clean and treating women with respect.”
“Sounds good to me.” The black man nodded his head and sipped his coffee. “I don’t think those boys’ dads treat women with respect, either. Maybe if they had better role models....”
“There are a lot of maybes. But there is only one certainty, and that’s prayer.”
“Amen. Preach it, Brother Larry!” Alex chuckled. “Then let’s pray.” And so they did.