INT. UNITED METHODIST CHURCH — NIGHT, SEPT 23
Shelly and Leo, both balancing whip-cream covered slices of persimmon pudding on styrofoam plates, stand awkwardly near an exit in the reception hall of the United Methodist Church at the corner of 8th and Warren Street. The whole of the hall is filled with meandering festival-goers who have been drawn a few blocks from the whirling neon lights on Main Street by the promise of persimmon pudding, which is arranged arround the room in disposable pans placed on foldable plastic tables.
Shelly takes a bite of her persimmon pudding and looks at Leo, who finishes his pudding and starts to scrape the whipped cream off his plate with the side of his fork. Leo licks his fork and laughs.
Don’t laugh at me.
I’m not — it’s just that this
is all so weird, you know?
Shelly puts her fork on her plate next to her half-eaten slice of pudding.
Are you done?
You said you wanted
to take a little break — but we’ve been here
for twenty minutes, and you’ve ate more pudding
than I’ve had all week.
(futilely scraping the
last of the whipped cream
from his plate)
I’m almost done.
when I get back.
Shelly throws her plate of pudding in a nearby trashcan and heads towards a restroom across the way, leaving Leo all by his lonesome in the room of people tasting pudding and unfamiliar churchgoers. One of the middle aged men in the room, Mr. Brannaham, the preacher, spots Leo standing by himself and walks over to strike a conversation.
At first, Mr. Brannaham looks like he might move to shake Leo’s hand. But then he thinks better of it.
What brings you here?
Leo doesn’t notice at first, and the Preacher tries again.
MR. BRANNAHAM (CONT’D)
Which one’s your favorite?
Leo stops scraping his plate and looks over. Mr. Brannaham smiles. The way he is dressed —worn but well maintained pastel golf shirt, cream khakis, and cheap black sneakers — instantly tips Leo off to who he is. Of course, the big badge with “Hi! I’m the Preacher,” written on it doesn’t help the attempt at small talk.
You mean the pudding?
(slightly sarcastic in a
way you might not expect a
preacher to be)
That’s what we’re here for.
them all about the same.
But is that good
Mr. Brannaham laughs in a deflated sort of way, as if he is inviting Leo to pick up the slack.
It’s good, I guess.
It’s not the best
there is, though — I can guarantee you that.
Mrs. Chapman makes the best pudding in town
every Sunday for our after service
lunches. I don’t know why she never enters
the pudding contest, but she’d win for sure.
(eyeing the door of the
(maybe emboldened by the
You should come by and try it soon,
if you don’t believe me.
(playing it well)
I don’t think I could. My family’s Baptist,
see, and they’d disown me if they saw me
here right now. I only came with a friend
to see if we could find someone we know.
She’s in your church —
So I might know her.
It’s Hannah Holland?
Her father died last year.
That’s her. Has she been by?
I haven’t seen her
(looking for Shelly again)
Mr. Brannaham, perhaps taken aback at the informality of Leo’s language, lets a pause settle like a cobweb on the conversation. After a moment, when it looks like Leo might leave, Mr. Brannaham dusts the silence off.
You know, we’re not that kind
of church…it was Hannah’s mom who changed my mind
about Hereafter, for Hannah’s sake. And now
it seems silly to think that any harm
could come from such a helpful app.
Well, I’ve guess I always thought it was trash.
Not the church — Hereafter. I’ve always been
a Baptist first, is all.
(confused into believing a
comedian is an ally, and leaning in
closely to confer)
After what happened with that boy last week,
it might be worth considering how good
Hereafter is again. The thought of a kid
putting their mind inside the app on purpose…
but I think that God will see to it that the app
does his people more good than harm.
Shelly walks out of the bathroom, looking flustered and ready to leave. She glances at Leo from across the room and walks over.
(shocked at his own
unfinished self as Shelly
is walking over)
I had your type of faith.
(to Mr. Brannaham)
Have you seen Hannah?
We thought that maybe she might be here tonight —
we’ve been looking everywhere.
I can’t say
that I have.
That’s fine. Will you let me know
if she shows up?
Before the Mr. Brannaham can say anything, Shelly turns to leave and exits out the nearby door.
Don’t worry — she’ll find her.
Leo follows Shelly out the exit.