Enter, Father Moses
He allowed himself to forget his work for the moment, after all, how important is transcribing the minutes from the last elder meeting? His head slipped back against the chair as he focused on the warmth emanating from his forearm in the narrow beam from the window and allowed the feeling to travel throughout his body.
“Father Moses!” a voice yelled from the door as he startled back to sitting position.
“Yes, what is it, Joshua?” Father Moses asked the painting man in the doorway.
“There is another priest walking through town. At least, I think he’s a priest. He looks like he might be…” Joshua Paused.
“Might be what?” Father Moses asked.
“Um… Homeless father.”
“You are telling me there is a homeless priest walking through downtown at seven in the morning?” Father Moses continued, trying to subdue his irritation. Father Moses was not an irritable man, being quick to anger is not exactly a quality that helps one in the calling of the priesthood, but every flock has one of those parishioners that think it is their Godly duty to involve themselves in everybody’s business but their own. In Father Moses’s flock, it was Joshua.
“Yes, father,” Joshua told him with the obvious expectation that the information would rattle Father Moses as well.
“Well, Vestments and clerical clothing are not exactly a uniform, Joshua. It is not illegal to impersonate a priest… even at seven AM.” The priest’s calm answer deflated Joshua’s expectations.
“But Father, he is walking alongside Buddy James-Randal.”
“I see. Okay, give me a moment.” Father Moses started positioning the papers on the desk in a manner that they would be easy to return to.
Joshua stayed in the doorway waiting for Father Moses.
“A moment alone, Joshua.”
“Oh, of course, Father,” Joshua stuttered as he closed the door.
Father Moses let out a deep exhale and gave himself one more minute to enjoy the heat and the morning. He then stood up and grabbed his jacket and made his way to the door to meet this stranger walking through town with Buddy.
Normally, Father Moses would leave this alone. There is no shortage of people that do things that he does not agree with in the world. Of course, he would like to help them all, but the priest knew that one quality of a truly effective social servant and servant of the church was picking one’s battles. Running around town preaching hellfire for every offense never helped grow a flock. But this situation was different.
A few weeks ago, Buddy, the man walking with this supposed homeless priest, had come to him wanting him to exorcise goblins from his property. Father Moses thought the man was probably insane, but he did promise him that there was nothing to worry about and that he would help him in whatever way he could. At the time he had no idea that helping him might mean having to leave his coffee around seven in the morning and confront him with a derelict in the streets, but, in all likelihood, this priest imposter was somehow taking advantage of this poor man and Father Moses felt it was now his charge to help.
He stepped from the front of the small church to see Joshua standing on the sidewalk with a panicked look on his face pointing east down the street. Father Moses put up both his palms in a calming manner, hoping the young man would relax.
“Joshua, this is not your concern. Please get back to work while I deal with this.”
Joshua stared at him, mouth gaping, not knowing what to do.
“Joshua, ‘put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander.’”
“Yes, Father,” Joshua responded. Joshua wasn’t quite sure what the priest meant, but he knew it was a bible verse that meant something about not being nosey. The man sheepishly walked back into the church.
Father Moses walked through the streets of Billington with little concern about the costumed duo he was about to meet. There were many positive aspects to living in a small town like Billington. There was always a smile to greet on the streets, always fresh produce, never any traffic, the air was fresh and clean, as was the water, but there were downsides to small-town life; downsides like rampant drug addiction, alcoholism, and poverty. Running into two drugged up hillfolk early in the morning was not as uncommon as one might think.
As he rounded The Five and Dime, that due to inflation was more like the five dollar and ten dollar, he thought he saw someone he recognized. Removing his glasses he wiped his eyes. As he put them back he saw one man he had expected and one he had not. Across the street was Buddy, the old man that had come to him before when asking for help with space goblins or something like that. Buddy looked haggard, more so than usual, and he looked dirty… very dirty. Next to the old man was the last thing he expected to see on that bright shining morning, next to Buddy was Father Cotton Pleasant.