Pastor MacDonald stopped mid-flow. Sister Ogilvies body swivelled around instinctively, her head following. Sister Davies, who always kept an eye on Sister Ogilvie, copied her and then nudged Mother MacDonald. The rest of the congregation waited for the split second that the door banged against the wall then, as one, turned to see who had entered.
It was Sovereign.
He didnt mean to open the door so rough but it had swung back the whole way. Hed practically run in, his breath heavy, his forehead itching with sweat and his hands shaking. His entrance must have been loud because a whole sea of eyes turned to greet him. He almost backtracked. Maybe he should have gone into the Methodist church opposite.
There was a host of women in shoulder pads, men in dark suits, walls covered with blue curtain. Hed seen it all before hed been dragged into holes like this as a child by his grandma but this time was different. He was a big boy now.
He realised his head hurt.
A woman with a doily on her head pointed to a spare seat near the back, up on the raised bit. She walked him towards it. She had a badge that said Usher, which hed always thought was a guys name. He clocked a pair of eyes staring back at him. Marsha, from school. She turned away in what looked like wide-eyed horror and folded into the chair. He left Usher pointing, went to the other side and sat down at the end of a row just in front. The pinstripe-suit guy sitting beside him almost seemed not to have noticed he was there. Hed picked up the large Bible on the seat next to him and put it on the floor, allowing Sovereign to sit down, and that was that. Didnt even look at him.
The preacher seemed to be waiting. Hed removed his big round glasses carefully to wipe the sweat from his shiny head, which reflected the bright light from above. He replaced the glasses, putting them as far down the end of his nose as he could, and the sweat poured down to his beard, yea, even Aarons beard: that went down to the skirt of his garments. Resting his left arm on the pulpit and leaning over, leaning right up close to the microphone, his slightly crossed eyes rested on his audience and then he began to speak.
I have,¸ he started, in a low echoing voice, a revelation right now-ah.¸ He paused again and there were a few mumbles in the background: Speak, Laawd. Yes!¸
Dis is-ah,¸ he continued, the time-ah to repent-ah. Dis may be your last opportunity right now-ah.¸
The eyes that had stared at Sovereign began darting about. Several old women, in assorted large hats that swallowed their faces, looked round and stared past him to his left, where Marsha and her friends were. The lethal, half-squint accusations coming from those watery, yellow eyes were enough to freak anyone. He tutted and smiled to himself. Looks like everyone knew what she was like.