“Oh, they know”, she thought. She continued her steady shuffle and as she got close enough to be heard she raised her chin and held forth in a mighty voice.
“Hear the word”! she proclaimed. “Jeebus loves you all”!
She stopped and looked about. A few ducked into shops, but she was undeterred.
“He can save you”!
She twisted as she heard footsteps. They could not harm her. No, indeed, she was protected by the grace of Jeebus.
“Now Clara, you know you mustn’t shout.” Officer Flannery kept his voice even and tried to smile encouragingly. “How are you doing today”?
Clara eyed him warily and sniffed.
“How am I doing. Well, you just don’t need to be worrying about that, Mike. I’m surrounded by the cleansing love of Jeebus”. She cocked her good eye at him defiantly. Officer Flannery permitted himself a small sigh.
“Yes Clara, I know. You have some business in town today”?
It was more a pointed comment than a question, and Clara knew full well. She thrust her hands in the pockets of her trenchcoat and planted her feet.
“My business”, she said squarely, “is my appointed mission. I bring the message to the good people of this town. They need to open their hearts to the love of …”
Officer Flannery glanced at his partner sitting in the patrol car, grinning for all she was worth. Across the street at the Get Your Buns In Here bakery the staff had come out on the street for the theatrics they secretly hoped would ensue. Others in the cafe a few doors down put aside their reading and gave up their conversations to take in the scene.
“Yes, Clara, I know, open their hearts to the eternal love of Jeebus.” He turned to the patrol car and rolled his eyes.
“Look, Clara, you can’t go around shouting all the time. You know this. You don’t want to have to go to the station again. Who would take care of…”
Clara turned bright red and set her mouth in a scowl.
“Don’t you threaten me, Mike. Jeebus wouldn’t like that”!
Mike’s partner stepped out of the car and approached the pair. She put on her best smile and beamed at Clara.
“Hi Clara. You know, i’ll bet it’s time you should be getting back home. Do you know what time it is”?
Clara looked about, a little confused and then glanced at the setting sun.
“I have to go now”, she declared. “It’s time for me to go to him. Jeebus needs me”!
Officer Flannery heaved a sigh of relief and gave his partner a look of gratitude. They watched Clara shuffle away.
“She’s been like this ever since her husband died”, he said. His partner nodded her head. She hadn’t been around but a couple of years, but she had heard the stories of the crazy old lady since day one. It was not the first time she’d had to sort this out.
“She’s alright”, she said. “She just needs understanding.”
Mike nodded his head and they got back in the patrol car and continued their rounds.
Clara climbed the stairs to her ramshackle A-frame and went to the kitchen and got out a can opener and a bowl.
“You know Jeebus, I try my best. I really do. They just don’t know you yet, but they will. I promise you, i’ll make them understand. All of them”!
She placed the bowl on the floor and the surly Siamese sunning himself on the window sill jumped down and sniffed at his food. He meowed in gratitude and began to eat.