The Old Church Steps




            Tim and Aldie found themselves all alone on the Old Church steps one Wednesday in the late fall of the year and those rare opportunities were used by the young man to learn what he could from the older man about things that might not be proper for discussion with everyone there.  Tim said, “Aldie, tell me about that preacher buried out there in the cemetery.”


            “Omie?  Fine man.  Had some troubles, though, elbow trouble, if you know what I mean.  But he was a fine man.”


            “How could a drunken preacher be a fine man?”


            “Well, it wasn’t that simple.  You see his old man never cared much for preachers – preaching either, as I recall.  When old Omie (actually spelled  ‘Oma’) went into the ministry his old man did everything he could to mess him up.”


            “Like what?”


            “Well, he lied on him and tried to fix his old lady up with other men and spread rumors on her and just tried to ruin his name.”


            “Did he succeed?”


            “Not at first, but it got to Omie all the same and so in a sense it did succeed.  He did a bit of preaching for us here in this old church building and things were going along pretty well when, all of a sudden, Omie just didn’t show up one Sunday.  We were worried and surprised and all, as he’d never done that before.”


            “Where was he?”


            “Stone drunk.  Seems his old man fixed his wife up with his brother and Omie came in on them.  Just drove him right out of his mind.  Hit the bottle and hit it hard.”


            “Didn’t he die drunk?”


            “Don’t get the cart in front of the horse – that’s one of the problems with your generation, always skipping to the end before the beginning’s quite fixed.”


            “All right, tell me about it.”


            “In my good time, boy, all things in their places.  Omie stayed on the bottle for quite some few years.  He became plumb worthless – no account.  Got him a job at the factory, but spent most of the time in trouble there – they don’t cotton much to drunks anymore than a church does, and Omie was a drunk.”


            “Is that all?”


            “All of what?”


            “All of Omie’s story.”


            “No, not by a long shot.  Seems after a few years Omie’s old lady died and he dried out and actually did some preaching again.  Never here, ruined himself here; but lots of other places.  Things went along pretty well for him.  He kept his factory job and preached where he could and never missed a church service.  Ideal member.  Taught classes, sang, prayed – everything what needed doing he done.”


            “I thought I heard he died a drunk?”


            “You probably did, and that’s just how he died.”




            “Well, we ain’t sure just what happened.  Old Omie was preaching and doing just fine so far as we could tell, but one Sunday morning I read in the newspaper that he died in a car crash.  The paper said he was drunk – and not just a little, either.”




            “Mighty bewildering, too.”


            “Did he have any kids?”


            “Yeah, one of ‘em’s a preacher too.”



            “Not as I know.”


            “Hey, here comes Aunt Minnie.”


            “That old lady don’t need to drive – she’s gonna end up like Omie.”


            “Maybe, but I ain’t gonna tell her not to.”


            “Wouldn’t do you no good.”


            “We better go see if she needs help getting in.”


            “I’ll leave you see to that.”


            As always, she didn’t need any help and even if she did she wouldn’t take it.  After all, she wasn’t old – only 85…


H. L. Gradowith


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