Everyone at Connor Street Baptist loved Billy. He was a short, round man with a forgettable, round face framed by large round glasses. His sparse hair looked to be Vaselined to his head, creating the effect of long, thin, gray-black rows. He smiled. All the time.
“What do ya know good?” He’d say as a form of greeting. His big, meaty hands gripped firm in a handshake. When asked how he was, he’d smile and say “better than I deserve.”
Billy still worked at Crouch’s, the local, independent grocery store. He’d been there since high school. Part-time now, just two or three days a week. Never on the Lord’s Day. Before he’d retired, he managed the Produce Department. And did anything else Mr. Crouch needed done.
Billy’s wife died just a week before their 40th wedding anniversary. They’d been high school sweethearts. For the last seven years, he’s been dating Sandra. She heads up the Prayer Warriors at church. She knows everything about everyone. Perhaps too outgoing for Billy’s taste. But she was someone to share a meal with. Plus, she helped him pick out ties. Oh, and her little daschund, Max. Billy loved to tease Max.
Billy loved supper club Saturdays. Sandra always made something interesting, and Billy got to listen to Ronald talk football and admire Dean’s spiritual devotion. Plus, he got to eat. Billy loved to eat. Sharing a meal made life worth living, Billy thought.
Frankly, Billy never understood what the big deal was about salvation. He’d hear people pipe up to testify during Sunday service and wonder what all the tears were about. Of course, Wanda always said a lot. Most people, though, just cried their way through saying, “I’d like to thank the Lord for saving my soul.” Billy didn’t know why all the crying.
Sure, he’d been saved. Of course, he had. That one Sunday when he was thirteen. His mom had been telling him all about the fiery grave of hell that waited for him if he refused God’s gift of salvation.
This didn’t make any sense to Billy. But he knew if he got saved, he’d get baptized. Then, the whole extended family would descend on Connor Street and after service, there’d be dinner on the grounds.
So, he walked down the aisle to the altar on that Sunday.