Church Stories II: Part 6, Party In Back
Written by Myron J. Clifton
“There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment…this is also from the hand of God”
Church was banging. It was hopping. It was the place to be tonight. Better than all the clubs, bars, and gatherings. This is Black church at its best, most festive display of humans praising God. Perhaps only surpassed by older traditional churches in African countries that melded traditional celebrations with Christian and, mostly, Black American celebrations.
But in the States, this was the pinnacle and Jamaal took it all in.
It was Saturday night and all the area church memberships were in attendance. It was a happening place to be and even though the Cathedral held thousands, it wasn’t big enough to hold the crowd. There were discussions about renting one of the local sports venues but those were ultimately shot down because “The main night needs to be in God’s house, not in the ‘world’ – in this case “world’ was a euphemism for sin, sinners, and sinful places that were patently ungodly.
Jamaal was glad a parking space was reserved for his grandfather since parking was full all around the neighborhood, parking lots, and on the streets up to a mile away.
Jamaal sat in an auxiliary space off to the side of the main church area. He liked being out of the main sanctuary and near the kitchen and restrooms. And away from all the young men who found time to shake his hand with their not so secret handshake, and the few who propositioned him. Jamaal had prepared himself for the attention because this church more than any other was called a gay hub. The rumors, which Jamaal knew were true, was that the area Bishop was gay and the young men – preachers, singers, ushers, cooks, deacons, and others, were gay men from all walks of life, all ages, and varying levels of being open about being gay.
No one in the church seemed to care or pay much attention to them and even the preachers who routinely preached about “praying the gay away” and the sin of homosexuality remained mute while in this one church.
The area-wide combined choir was singing now and the sounds, the music, the voices were out of this world. Americans who love Black singers and entertainers are seeing a small piece of Black talent. Most of the talent remains within the walls of Black churches and tonight, Jamaal knew, was one of those nights that Black Americans were familiar with, but all other Americans simply had no idea.
The beauty, colors, hats, sharp suits, and stylish dresses, jewelry and make-up put most red carpets to shame. And then there was the hair of the women. Every style, length, color of the rainbow, wigs, braids, twists, Afros, perms, and styles that there were so new they weren’t even named yet. From this scene of Black women and gay men much of American culture flowed.
It would be a year or two or even three, but the styles, slang, mannerisms, and so forth started in these scenes before making their way to the general Black population, then to white people, then to TV and movies and social platforms. By then, Black women and gay black men had long moved on to new soon-to-be cultural shifts.
Jamaal was enjoying service and thinking of Felicia and how she smelled and how her hair smelled. Her family was out-of-town and so she wasn’t at church and he missed seeing her sing in the choir – she would be in the area-wide choir but there’s no way he would or would want to be anywhere near all that talent.
Jamaal was watching the choir when he caught his grandfather’s eye. His grandfather motioned for Jamaal to go to him, so Jamaal walked around to the back of the church, went through the kitchen and a stairwell behind the dining area which led to a long hallway that ended with a door. Jamaal opened the door and he was now behind the pulpit where all the preachers were sitting. He had used the preacher entrance and he waited at the stairs that led up to the pulpit. The stairs were guarded by one of the big goons from Pastor Carter’s church and Jamaal wanted nothing to do with those strong goons. Just then, his grandfather saw him and asked that he come to him. Jamaal asked one of the goons, motioning to his grandfather behind the good on the other side of the pulpit.
“Go head -” The goon said in a voice that Jamaal thought was too high-pitched for such a large man.
“Jamaal, I need you to go pick up Sis Julie; her car broke down and she needs a ride. I need her to be one of the money counters tonight, take the car and pick her up. Hurry because we’ll start raising money within the hour.”
Jamaal’s grandfather handed him his car keys and Jamaal walked quickly out of the pulpit, down the long hallway, through the kitchen, and out a side door to the parking lot where his grandfather’s car was parked in the reserved parking.
Jamaal was all of fourteen and a half years old and had been driving his grandfather for over a year. He was annoyed but he knew part of his duties of driving his grandfather around involved errands such as this one.
“Come in, the door is open.” Jamaal heard sis Julie yell through the door. He entered the apartment and closed the door behind him.
Her apartment was small and neat.
“Jamaal, is that you?” Sis Julie’s voice came from the hall that was to the right of the kitchen Jamaal saw.
“Yeah. It’s me.”
“Okay, good. Come here, please. I’m in the bathroom getting ready. Come talk to me.”
“Okay.” Jamaal walked slowly toward the hallway, turned left, and walked down the hall until he saw the bathroom on the right side. He did not see sis Julie initially and for an instant he thought she had gone to her bedroom which looked to be the next door. Jamaal was relieved until he stepped into the bathroom and saw sis Julie sitting in the bathtub that was full of bubbles.
“Don’t just stand there, get in.”
“I’m dressed for church.” Jamaal’s felt his voice crack.
“I can see that. Don’t you want to get in my tub? The water is hot.” Sis Julie was slowly moving her arms around the bubbles.
“That’s cute. You’re nervous. I heard you like baseball.”
“Huh? Oh, yeah, I do. I like most sports.” Jamaal answered, not certain what they were talking about.
“I guess so, seeing as how you made it deep into third base with your little girlfriend.”
“Oh, I know it all, Mr. man. Come over here and wash my back.”
“Okay.” Was all Jamaal could think to say. He didn’t know why, but he was embarrassed about sis Julie knowing what had happened between with Felicia.
“Wash it all. There you go. How does it feel? I know it doesn’t feel like third base with Felicia but, it’s a nice back, don’t you think?” Sis Julie was leaning forward exposing her entire back.
Jamaal made circles with her sponge and he tried to not smell how good the bubble bath smelled. It smelled good though and he liked the aroma.
Just then sis Julie leaned backwards, exposing her breasts.
“Wash my front too young man. I need to be clean and fresh for church.”
Jamaal looked at her breasts and froze.
“You like them, huh? They seem to like you, too. You didn’t see your girlfriend’s, did you?”
“How you like mine? Do you want to touch them?”
“They’re nice. We have to go to church.” Jamaal said as he stood up and backed away from the bathtub.
“Looks like you really enjoyed that.” Sis Julie said teasingly as she motioned to Jamaal’s pants.
“We have to go, sis Julie.”
“I thought I’d get you ready for your girlfriend, but I guess not. When you grow up, you’re going to look back on this moment and regret it. Trust me. You will.” Sister Julie stood up and stepped out of the bathtub, grabbing a towel that was hanging next to her sink as she did so.
Jamaal watched her dry herself. She was pretty, and she still had a few bubbles on her legs and behind, which Jamaal could see since her towel was loosely draped around her waist, keeping her breasts exposed.
“I know you’ve never had full sex before – homerun sex – so, if you want to learn from an experienced woman, not a girl, then you come back to me. I’ll show you what you need to know.”
“Boy, you gotta learn to talk with game. Okay okay okay won’t get you girls and it sure won’t get you women.” Sis Julie said half-laughing while she put her panties and then bra on.
“Okay. Uh, yea, I do.”
Jamaal drove to the reserved parking and parked again in his grandfather’s space. Sis Julie was mostly quiet on the drive and Jamaal was grateful because he had no idea what to say to her.
Jamaal turned the car off and looked at sis Julie, who was looking back at him.
“Sis Julie. You’re nice to me. Even when you yell at me when we’re counting money. I think you’re pretty, too. And when I saw you naked tonight, I was intimidated but I was also. Uhm. I was, I like you. I just think that even though you’re young, you’re a little too much older than me and I don’t think. I don’t know. I just. Well, I guess I’m trying to say I like you, but I think that is all we should do. If that is okay with you.
Sis Julie placed her hand on Jamaal’s face and smiled.
“Jamaal. Jamaal, Jamaal, Jamaal. You’re sweet. I know what you mean, and I respect it. Felicia and you can be good together. You’re both sweet and honest. And you both want to have sex, so, when you do it, get and use protection. She plans to go to college, and she won’t do that if you’re dropping babies in her belly. She may be on contraception or may not; it doesn’t matter because if you are using that “thing” – Sis Julie poked Jamaal’s pants in crotch – then it is up to you to use condoms and stop your sperm. All these men running around with babies and blaming the girls are wrong. You won’t hear this in church or hell, even in school or tv, where they all blame the girls.
It’s your sperm, keep it to yourself. Catch and release, I call it. Now, you’ve received sex education; go forth and live your life.”
Jamaal would always consider these few minutes as the best sex education he’d ever received. In fact, it was the only sex education he’d ever received.
Sis Julie leaned over and kissed Jamaal on the mouth and lingered there.
Jamaal kissed her back and when she pulled away, he started the year’s long thoughts of how she had been right earlier in the evening: he would regret turning her down.
Jamaal took his seat in the auxiliary area and watched the services for the rest of the night alternately thinking about Felicia and sis Julie and how they were so different but similar in some ways.
And both smelled good enough for Jamaal to have internalized their scents.
The pastors were now in locked arms celebrating the end of anniversary season and the money raised tonight for the regional church – over fifty-thousand dollars.
Once the amount was announced the assembled congregation’s celebration went up to an even higher level then it even had reached with the choir singing and the preachers preaching.
The congregation was shouting and dancing, while the preachers, still arm in arm, paraded around the pulpit celebrating the tremendous amount of money raised tonight and over the past month.
Jamaal knew that most of the money raised was going straight to the pastors, with much smaller amounts going to the pastor’s top lieutenants, a few choir directors and organists, and a still smaller amount to a few local politicians. Almost all the money though, Jamaal thought, went to men while most of the money was given by women.
Jamaal pushed those thoughts away and tried to focus on Felicia’s soft front and sis Julie’s soft back.
© 2019 by Myron J. Clifton, Dear Dean Publishing. All Rights Reserved.