The Second Coming Pt.2

Photo Taken By Mensa Dilligard in New York City Circa 2019

After service, I help Khyle and the other church band members break down the instruments and place them in storage.

“Man, what got into you earlier? Were you trying to get Pastor Carr to have us stay behind for emergency Bible study?” Khyle looks annoyed as he snaps at me.

“Of course not, I…”. My thoughts seem less than interesting to Khlye as he interrupts me.

“Then save that showing off for your private time. Bro it’s Sunday, and I’ve got a huge paper due for class tomorrow. I don’t have time to stay behind for your showboating.”

I didn’t even do it on purpose. I guess I understand where he’s coming from though.

“Sorry. Sometimes I just feel like I can’t help it. My hands feel led and I end up in the middle of a jam session.”

It seems like my words missed the exit leading to Khyle’s ears. Maybe switching gears will make him understand me better.

“Pastor Carr is wrong by the way. I’m not showing off. That’s God working through me and I know it.”

Khyle softens his expression and I can see a smirk building in the corner of his mouth. We’ve had our bumps in the road, but he’s always been my biggest supporter. Every step of the way he’s had my back. I take my chance to course correct.

“Who am I to try and dampen his brilliance? Plus, it’s not my fault you procrastinate on all of your work Khyle.”

I watch the crinkles of annoyance in his forehead disappear, as the smile he withheld now blankets his face.

“What can I say? I do my best work under pressure” Khyle retorts, zipping up the symbols from his drum kit.

Amy lets out a chuckle from the corner. Our eyes meet and she sneaks me a wave. Amy’s had a crush on me since we first met in preteen Sunday school all those years ago. She followed me around for years trying to shoot her shot, while I went forward obliviously nose-deep in anime and comics. Honestly, I had to grow into myself, I was a pretty awkward 11-year-old. My metrics for measuring relationships were less than well defined, so I decided to focus my attention on other things. Amy was patient and understanding. Around the time I was deciding on colleges, I started to realize how dope she was, and how lucky I was that she was interested in me. The more I grew and found myself, the more I realized that I wanted to make a place for her with me. She was a godsend.

Digital Artwork Created By Mensa Dilligard Circa 2021

“See! Even Amy knows that you’re full of bull…”, I manage to get half the word out before I’m interrupted by a familiar voice entering the room.

“Full of bull what?”

As I close the door to the closet housing the drum kit, the door pane becomes visible, revealing Pastor Carr blocking its frame.

“Ask and you shall receive huh?” Khyle whispers sarcastically, placing his hand on my shoulder.

Like the angel she is, Amy springs into action to rescue me from persecution.

“Good afternoon Pastor Carr. Today’s service was wonderful!” Amy lays it on thick to dispel the tension from his swift unexpected appearance.

“Thank you, Amy. I felt the lord’s guiding hand with me today”, he says stepping aside and freeing the doorway. The choir members take the opportunity to exit as if they have a sixth sense that trouble is brewing.

“You have a wonderful voice. Tell me, would you consider doing a solo for the upcoming Easter service?”

I watch as Amy’s taken aback, and her dark chocolate cheeks turn plum.

“Wow, umm Pastor Carr, well sure. I’d be honored. Genuinely, thank you! Excuse me, I’m just really surprised.”

I find that hard to believe. I couldn’t count the number of conversations we’ve had about Sister Mallory’s less than stellar performances, which we’re treated to all too often. She is well aware that the only reason we haven’t had new soloists is because Pastor Carr doesn’t like confrontation and Sister Mallory’s picture has been printed next to it in the dictionary since the day of her birth. Not to mention it will look like he’s playing favorites having both Amy and Me in such highly visible positions. I wonder what scheme Amy’s running while her eyes light up with a telling glint. She’s always had this visible spark in her eyes when she’s focused. I often wonder if I’m the only one who sees it.

“Wonderful! Let me know at Wednesday’s Bible study what selection you’ve decided to sing for the congregation.”

“Actually I already know. I’ve been dreaming of being given the opportunity to minister with my voice. Practicing at home, just praying while waiting for an opportunity from God. I believe “Thank You” by Bebe Winans best relays my journey with God and so I’d like to sing that if it’s ok with you?”

I can’t believe it. Amy’s making her move for Mallory’s spot. Good job! He’ll be defenseless after he hears her sing alone a couple times. He did ask her, so who knows, maybe he is actually toughening up. That or Mallory is not available.

“One of my personal favorites. I can’t wait to hear it.” Pastor Carr beams.

Photo Taken By Mensa Dilligard in New York City Circa 2019

I attempt to sneak out trailing the choir members, hoping that Pastor Carr will be too preoccupied with the Easter service performance to notice.

“Patrick, can we speak for a moment?”

Welp, my stealth mission is a bust. Better prepare myself for this awkward conversation.

“Amy, I’m sorry, but do you mind if we continue this later?”

“Of course not, God bless you. I’ll see you soon. Patrick, enjoy the rest of your day.” She walks close and hugs me tight whispering, “Sorry I tried, Good Luck. I love you.”

“Love you too”

I wait for Amy to exit and close the door before I attempt to swiftly mount my defense.

“Look, before you start let me just say…”

Pastor Carr immediately raises hand, halting me in my tracks.

“Listen, Patrick, you’re incredibly talented. Both on the keyboard and in your other endeavors. But this hubris, this unwillingness to yield to the will of the Lord, it will spell disaster for you. Isn’t it enough to be acknowledged by me and the church? Getting placed as the lead keyboard player? Do you have to make everyone else feel small by upstaging them during service?”

His question lay on me like a lead coat. Is this really how they feel or is he just exaggerating?

“Nobody ever said anything to me about that. Besides, I’m only trying to use what God gave me. I’m not trying to make anyone feel a type of way. Maybe you should be ministering to THEM about jealousy instead of lecturing me about modesty.”

The words struck out from my mouth like a coiled viper stabbing at Pastor Carr. I know he means well, but at this point between Khyle and now him, I am upset.

Digital Art Created By Mensa Dilligard Circa 2022

“Watch your tone, Patrick. You have no station from which to judge. Listen, I came here to seek peace for you on behalf of your fellow band. Believe it or not Khyle is included in that statement! Anymore advice from the caster of the stone? Please, continue. I’d love to hear your lecture on humility. But tell me, will that be before or after your third solo Patrick? Yet here you stand, instead fully convinced it’s the band and I who need to be taught a lesson?

My face tightens at the revelation. I try to shield my building emotions by placing my hand over my face. Pastor Carr is perceptive, and determined to reach me. I watch him loosen up a bit before coming back in with a new approach.

“If everyone in the world is wrong Pat, sometimes you need to look in the mirror and see if it’s actually you who’s wrong. If you want to continue playing on Sunday’s, you have to keep it in check. I know you miss your mom. I also know that music was a happy place for both of you. Most importantly, I know that it’s what makes you feel closest to her now that she’s gone.”

I hear the trumpet blaring from its long boisterous trunk as it stomps around behind me. Hello there mr elephant, why is it you so often find yourself in human rooms?

“We all miss her. That’s right, all of us. The entire congregation. Maybe me most of all. I don’t want to argue with you, Pat. Try and think about how she would feel knowing you’re being this selfish.”

The comment finds me unresponsive to its intended purpose, and only appealing to my understanding of its implication.

“Oh, and you know what she wanted for me? Do you know what she wanted me to be? How SHE wanted me to be? Do you think you can take her place? I’m sorry dad, but you and her are nothing alike. I love you, but mom would have never asked me to shrink. You want me to dim my light so that other people can be comfortable. Keeping true to the legacy of mom, I’ll be doing nothing of the sort. I’ve got to go, it was nice catching up.” I say it quickly while I gather my belongings to go.

“I only want what’s best for you Patrick.”

“Then let me decide what that is, dad.”

He nods looking slightly discouraged before walking me to the door. His normal goodbye hug was replaced with the one I felt when leaving to attend Howard University in the fall of 06’. Like I was about to be so far away from him that he could no longer see or reach me.

“I love you too Patrick. Sorry if I upset you. Will I see you next week for service?”

I can tell I’ve rattled him a little. I haven’t missed more than 5 Sunday services since I’ve started attending church. Even while I was away I attended service at Andrew Rankin Memorial Chapel every week.

“I’m sorry too dad. Of course, you will.”

I reply in all honesty, but something is making me feel like a liar. Murphy seems to be up to his old machinations behind the scenes. I try to shun my irrational anxieties and push on to my next stop for the day. That’s proving difficult. Maybe I can go see Amy if she’s not too busy. Then I can go home relaxed enough to focus on my sheet music i’ve been working on lately.

Photo Taken By Mensa Dilligard in New York City Circa 2018

Thank you so much for reading! Part 3 will be posted in a few days.

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Dweller In Between

Dweller In Between

Here you’ll find a collection of tales personally curated from across the multiverse. Ranging from heartfelt to ghastly and gory. Welcome to The Nothingspace.