Narrator: Sean Penningway
I was glad to hear his fist knocking on the door. By now I knew, we needed an arbitrator. And I knew that my dear wife wasn't going to be getting exactly what she thought by asking our minister to visit.
We were all seated at the dining room table, all eyes locked on someone, across a nearly empty bowl of chip crumbs. I was watching Eleanor. She was watching Greg. Greg was watching Kieth. Kieth was watching me. And since nobody was staring Joshua down intently, he had managed to hear the car park on the curb, and was up from his seat before that first knock.
Reverend Cameron Senior Archvale followed Joshua to the dinner table. Joshua gave up his seat at the foot of the table to the Reverend, and then went to get a chair from the kitchen for himself, taking the empty bowl with him.
He was a slightly rotund man, but I'd known him when he wasn't as healthy. A diabetes diagnosis had struck a hard blow to him a couple years ago, and he started going to the gym. We ran into each other there, every so often. However, he no seemed concerned with burning off fat now so much as building strength. It didn't quite make sense. Without a doubt, he was tired. And his blood sugar was probably low, and who knows when he last ate. The last thing I wanted was yet another angry person in my house.
"Joshua," I said.
He looked up at me.
"Can you please get the Brie, the block of Swiss with cumin in it, a cutting board, a knife... and a bottle of Rosé from the wine rack downstairs?"
"Darling, no -- wine?" Eleanor objected. "We don't have wine in this house!"
Joshua was already on his feet, but stayed in earshot incase his instructions changed.
"Eleanor, please, be civil. Cam's not like the Catholic priests your mother invited over for tea," I told her, instantly regretting that I'd revealed that I was on a casual first-name basis with the minister.
"Very well," she said. "I could use a drink."
"Yes," I emphasized. "We could all use a drink." And as I said that, I couldn't help but notice Kieth and Greg exchanging an awkward glance at each other. Have they been drinking?
Reverend Archvale smiled, "Thank you. That is most hospitable." He wore a white shirt with a maroon tie, with his hospital pass still clipped to his breast pocket. "And if you're getting out the cheese with cumin, we might as well call my son upstairs."
"No," said Kieth, quite abruptly. "He'd best be left to sleep, or think, at best. He's had a rough night. He's been jilted."
Reverend Archvale reacted with a somber expression, "Penny..." And then he shook his head in dismay. "I suppose it is foolish to wake him if he might be sleeping. He finds it hard to sleep enough as it is." The Reverend paused, "Now, what did you call me over for? On the phone, it sounded like quite the emergency. For a moment, I thought you wanted me to perform an exorcism, Eleanor."
"Not exactly," she said, as Joshua returned with the tray of cheeses, and then left again.
Immediately, Kieth let out a noise that resembled a cough, and his face turned red. Greg fumbled with the knife, and cut the skin of his index finger, which he immediately put in his mouth so that his saliva would help bond the cut flesh.
I glared at Eleanor. She was getting on my nerves.
"I'm missing something," Cameron observed. He pursed his lips, causing his whitening brown beard and mustache to bristle. Then he looked at Greg, and then at Kieth.
Greg and Kieth, seated side by side, moved the hands between them to meet.
"I think I understand the situation now," he said, sounding happier. Then, he passed his Bible from in front of him towards me.
My intuition seemed to be proven correct. Clearly, my wife didn't know enough about the United Church of Canada. She might come to regret joining Reverend Archvale's congregation if this didn't pan out right.
I inspected the Bible. King James version. A rather new copy.
"First Book of Samuel, chapter eighteen. Please read it aloud."
Immediately, Kieth began to chuckle softly to himself, causing Greg to frown in confusion.
My wife's eyes widened in curiosity.
At the head of the table, across from our minister, every eye was on me. How fittingly poetic, it was, that my wife was on my right and my son was on my left.
Even Joshua, who was at that moment setting out the last of the wine glasses, at every place but his own, was watching me intently.
I flipped through the Bible, trying to remember precisely where the Books of Samuel were in the Old Testament. I found it after a while, relying mostly on luck.
Kieth smiled politely, a peculiar look in his eyes. Something about his expression told me that he knew exactly what I was about to read, unlike me.
Joshua uncorked the bottle of blush wine, nervously, and began to pour it into the Reverend's glass.
And then, I began to read.