91 Magical Miracle Tour

Kitty skipped the dolefully and communally consumed breakfast oatmeal; she showed up at eight still hungry and thirsty, while Herbie explained that any food, clothing, or personal grooming expenses associated with her public appearances would be covered, although she would of course be told what to eat, what to wear, and how to look on those occasions. For their daily training sessions, a casual dress code sufficed. He leered at her breasts momentarily, then from a box in the corner handed her a church logo t-shirt, adult size small, and excused her to change into it.Chapter 91 Magical Miracle Tour

Now they were closeted alone, out of the view of passers-by, seated side by side at the far end of the table in the dark room, with the door barely ajar. Herbie was purposefully stifling her remarks as he laid out her assignment. Kitty listened, freely interpreting his lecture for her own amusement.

“You’ve been chosen for a specific job, for a specific reason. I’ve recognized in you certain preferred characteristics and recommended you on that basis.” Herbie patted her arm. His previous compunctions about propriety apparently held no sway by the poor light of day. “The new mission boasts a proud scope. National attention begins to focus on our state as one where notably conservative and demonstrably spiritual values are re-taking their rightful hold.”

They can make a pile, thought Kitty. Amen to that. Sign me up.

“A tour is planned to feature the bright lights of the evangelical stage and a full range of talents. You, because of your experience in speaking, may be considered for inclusion in some of these events.” Herbie rested his hand on her shoulder. “This will be an opportunity for you to hone your delivery of the message you will be told to give, to demonstrate your ability. If you excel, you may be considered for a wider range of presentations, live and recorded.”

I’ll have to sell their medicine, instead of mine. It would be all about how much money, not the number of souls collected while she was on stage. If they said she bombed, it would be because of poor receipts. Last night, she’d had a nightmare. She’d finally located a dependable and regular supplier of paper butterflies but the site was down, and the butterflies flown. She’d had to alter her presentation and she’d woken up in a cold sweat, in a strange room.

“The mission will be Biblically based, focused on a series of events designed to replicate miracles. Using your local knowledge of people and places, you will seek out appropriate venues for their re-enactment. You’ll research and liaise through me.” Herbie reached down and pressed her knee. “Your input will be critical but each setting you recommend will be thoroughly field tested before a production phase is scheduled. You will not in any way be involved in determining the nature of any of these events. Your superiors will make the final decisions.”

Water into wine. Kitty remembered that one. At least they weren’t going to sideline her into wedding planning.

“You and I will do the first part of your training here. You’ll learn these miracles by heart, so that you can be instantly responsive to the many venues you will be reviewing. Any expenses you incur while researching you will present to my son, Timothy, who works here in this house, and you will be reimbursed according to our judgement in the matter. Any meals or other food expenses accrued away from the house will not be covered.”

It’ll be a miracle if I ever eat here. I’d rather pay then be stuck and carbo-loaded in this shack. Kitty loathed oatmeal.

“You must be prepared to respond to any situation where you will be representing us – without disclosing our mission in any way – while appearing confident and assertive. Of course, you will never assert yourself with me.” Herbie cautioned Kitty, tapping her on the nose with a bony forefinger.

Assertive? Moi? Kitty figured there was more than one way to skin this cat.

“At no time will you speak directly with anyone in the national organization nor about this work with anyone else in our church family. You will work hand in glove with me to speedily achieve these goals and report to me alone. You are a field agent only, until I say otherwise.”

Your job is on the line. Without me and my information, they’ll be looking for somebody else and some other church to do the groundwork. But Hallelujah! They’re going to let me outside of this room!

“Any questions, Kathy?”

“These venues. Indoor? Outdoor?”

“Both. Scripture reveals a variety of settings for the miraculous.”

She wondered what would happen when it rained.

“What happens when it rains?”

“There will be some reliance on longer range forecasts. That is not your concern.”

Wait. Didn’t Jesus calm some waves? Guess she was about to find out.

“If you have no further questions, we will begin.”

“When and how will I be paid?”

“Weekly. Timothy will be handling your paycheck. You can see him about that. I had hoped your questions would focus on our mission.”

I leap to do your bidding. Kitty determined to play the game.

“I’m ready for miracles now, Herbie. Herb. Mr. Minosa.”

“Pastor, to you.” Herbie reached for her hands, enfolding them between his, raising them in a lengthy and breathy prayer.

Juneau Park, McKinley Beach and Marina, flanked by Linclon Memorial Drive through Milwaukee's lakefront.

Lakeshore State Park, McKinley Beach and Marina, flanked by Lincoln Memorial Drive along Milwaukee’s lakefront.

*   *   *   *   *

Gina phoned Greg to remind him about the concert at Poppy and Pansy’s school on Friday afternoon.

“Concert?” Greg drew a blank.

“Greg, you’re supposed to be finding out about this stuff, now. Look on the school website, or get on the mailing list, or ask them, or something. I said I’d help but you have to get with the program here.”

“Sure. Thanks, Gina, I will but in the meantime what’s about tomorrow, now?”

“It’s the last one of the year. Parents and family go to hear their darlings. Georgia wants to know if you’ll be showing up.”

“Are you both going?”

“Wouldn’t miss it! Kids out of tune, proud, tone-deaf parents bawling, what could be better?” Gina outlined the details, reminded him that if he came he shouldn’t sit with them, and that he was unlikely to actually speak to the girls, nor with either of them, not in public. Oh, and there would be no place to park close-by.

“Sounds great! Thanks, Gina. I’ll see if I can make it.”

On Friday, Greg dutifully arranged his schedule to fit. He felt as though he should be wearing a disguise, going incognito, but then his daughters wouldn’t see that he was there, and that would defeat the object. He arrived a bit late, after parking blocks away, uncertain what entrance to use. He followed the stragglers, and hoped. He ended up in standing room only, in company with a demographic of presumably other spurned ex-spouses, all miserably exposed as not belonging, clinging like so many barnacles to the framework of the opened, gym double doors.

Some kids were lined up and chirping their irresistible way through some classic numbers; he recognized Mairzy Doats. The girls had been doing it in the car of late, terrifically amused. They must be in this group but the children all looked the same, kind of little. He was such a bad father, didn’t know his own kids when he heard them.