TITLE: The Lord's Work
SUMMARY: I never went to some heathen land on a mission like some faiths hold to; what I did in every town I visited, every hamlet, was my mission, and my converts still keep to the way I taught them, arms folded as they rest beneath dirt and bushes and the trash drifting down the roadside, amen.
DISCLAIMER: I don't own Caleb, and I'm really kind of relieved about that.
NOTE: I can't stand attempts to write dialects by dropping letters or otherwise changing spelling, but when I used correct spelling and grammar, it just didn't seem right. My apologies.
I suppose you're wonderin' how we met. It's not a long story, but I like to think on it. If you don't think on your stories you'll forget them, and that is a terrible thing indeed.
When I met her I was travelin' through the Carolinas, doing the Lord's work. By which I mean I was preachin' the gospel to those what needed it, spreadin' the word, doing everythin' I could to make the world a better place. I'd stand at the front of revival tents and they'd come to hear themselves a true charismatic preacher, line up three deep and afterward they'd be waiting sure as yellowjackets in October, wearing more paint than a decent girl should, with their dresses fallin' off their shoulders in a way that would horrify their daddies. It was easy to be with them, and it was easy to finish with them, because they never told anyone where they were goin'; they didn't want to be a foul girl tryin' to seduce a respectable man of the cloth. See, they was lyin', lyin' about who they were and what they were doin'. I don't blame them; they couldn't help themselves, they were women. I gave them what they wanted and then set them free. It was a mercy to them and to the world. I never went to some heathen land on a mission like some faiths hold to; what I did in every town I visited, every hamlet, was my mission, and my converts still keep to the way I taught them, arms folded as they rest beneath dirt and bushes and the trash drifting down the roadside, amen.
Nobody made them come to me. I never forced them, those girls what couldn't keep their tongues in their mouths when they saw a virtuous man who strove to be above sin. Comin' up to me after services, lookin' for services of a different kind. Tellin' lies with their pretty whore's lips, sayin' they wanted guidance. I really liked your sermon, Father. I've been having some problems at home, Father. Father, I'm real worried about my little brother—can you help him?
Yeah, I like them to call me Father the whole way through.
She doesn't, but she's the only one. She came to me in some backwoods I don't even remember the name of, and she looked like the one I'd just planted out beneath the jasmine, a better burial than she deserved. For a moment I couldn't breathe, and then she laughed and asked if I'd like to do it again. When I tried to grab her arm my hand slipped right through, and I thought she was a devil come to haunt me.
She was, of course. When she was done with me I lay on the floor of the motel, exhausted, and then I realized I felt stronger than I ever had, stronger even than I did the first time a girl struggled beneath me and finally lay still. The world made sense, suddenly, and I could see my future, with the unnamed thing before me, and I realized that this was my callin', a duty more sacred than purifyin' the sinful girls what brought themselves to me. I would see to her needs, and she would see to my mine.
At first I thought she didn't want me to keep on with my work, but she just wanted a little help, like they all do.
She started appearin' to me with the face of the Slayer soon after that. I didn't know it was the Slayer, thought it was just some girl. Maybe one I'd forgot about, maybe one I hadn't saved yet. Once she appeared as my mama, but even she didn't like that one. And she likes most everythin'.
Didn't Freud teach us that it's all Mother's fault? I don't hold with Freud, he's a dirty-minded foreigner. But sometimes the man was right. A woman can do no more than her nature will allow, and she should not be despised for it. Only recognized and treated accordingly, and set free, so she can go to a better place. I could tell you about my mama, but that's neither here nor there. The here is: I could save all the girls I wanted to, without hidin'. Even more than that, I could save girls what believed they was better than everybody else. If there's one thing I can't stand, it's an uppity woman.
Well, I've met her now, The-One-and-Only-Slayer, and she's the most uppity of all. And that's gonna be her downfall. Everyone has one.
I've got one too, and it's her. She doesn't tell me everythin'; hell, she hardly tells me anythin'. Just what she thinks I need to know, and no more.
I'm still doing the Lord's work, just a little bit different approach. I was savin' one person at a time before; now I'm bringin' glory to the world. An almighty being came to me one night, wearing a dead girl's dress and askin' me to help.
And I have always believed in helpin' a woman in need.