I've backed the story up just a little. It might be helpful to refresh your memory in order to remember the flow of the story. Thanks for reading. I'm curious to hear your thoughts...
As they were talking, a large furniture truck, with PERRY’S written in large black letters on the side, slowed down on the highway. A red faced driver stuck his head out the window, “Excuse me, where can I find the Johnson’s?”
“What did the Johnson’s buy?”
“Ma’am, if you please? I’m already late.”
Blanche glared at him, “You can see it from here; it’s that white house.”
“The one with the big pine tree?”
“Yes, that’s the one. In fact, that is Mrs. Johnson in that white Dodge just in front of you.”
“Thank you, Ma’am. Much obliged.” The truck roared off.
“Can you believe it?”
“No I can’t”
“That Millicent sat there so uppity. Now they are getting new furniture.”
“I wish that my husband was a black war hero turned pastor.”
They fumed as the truck backed into the driveway of the Johnson’s home. “Come on, Margie; let’s leave the Johnson’s to their gloating. We have better things to do.” But Margie wasn’t moving. “Margie, are you listening to me?”
She slowly shook her head. “My goodness, I should have put the pieces
together, but I completely missed it.”
“Missed what, Margie?” Blanche was suddenly concerned.
“Remember when I mentioned the train? Well, I was delayed in leaving town for my having to pay tribute to King Jamal that I was caught by the train as I was driving out. Well, you know how you can see into Perry’s Furniture Store when you are stopped on the street like that? Well, I saw Perry moving that living room set out of the store front…”
“Oh no you didn’t,” Blanche bellowed. “You better be lying, Margie. So help me, if you are lying…”
“Oh don’t I know.”
Blanche was settling into a rage. “Why those blasted Johnson’s, they stole my furniture!”
“Yes they did. I thought she looked smug when we were talking to her. She knew that you had been wanting that living room set. Everyone knows that you had been wanting that set.”
“And that little…HUSSY! She bought that furniture out from under me. She did it just to spite me. She deserves to marry a black man.”
“Yes, it’s a fitting punishment.”
“I never did like her. She was always so religious when she was growing up. Always going to town and working at the mission. Like I never worked at the mission either.”
“You worked there Christmas, two years ago.”
“And then her going off on those mission trips to Haiti. She wasted our churches money on those heathens over there.”
“Don’t I know? I gave her ten dollars, out of my own money. She manipulated me right out of my coke money.”
“Every year she would go down to Mardi Gras in New Orleans with that blasted air horn and preach repentance down at those poor people.”
“I remember how she came back last year. She had a layer of beads on her shirt. She said that it was a strand of beads for every soul that was saved. She said that she wanted to start a new tradition. Well, I have been to Mardi gras, and I know how you come back with beads. It ain’t for salvation, that’s for sure.”
Blanche looked at her with contempt, “I seem to remember that you came back with a set of beads yourself.”
Margie changed the subject. “Then that Millicent took the Church’s money and drove down to Dallas where she did street ministry. That’s how she introduced Jamal into our lives. I told her not to go, but she knew better. ‘The inner-city gangs need to know about Jesus also, Margie’” she mimicked.
“I can’t believe that our pastor let her bring back that Jamal to stay at the parsonage. That house is funded with our tithes and offerings to the Lord. It’s not to pay for a free ride for gangsters.”
“All the while our pastor was claiming that it was for ‘discipleship.’ Well, now we know better. Jamal was just using our generosity to his own advantage.”
“We all opened up our hearts and lives to that—boy, and what did he do? He stole our Millicent.”
“And now they have betrayed us and started their own church.”
“And our own pastor supports it. He says that we all need to help them as they plant our ‘sister church’. Like the minorities need God anyway.”
“And now, Blanche, they stole your furniture. They knew that you were wanting to buy that set. You have been talking about it for almost 3 years.”
“Yes, Margie, it was all for spite.” She paused a moment in thought. “You don’t suppose…”
“It is possible that they know.”
“They might know that it was me that put the burning cross in their driveway.”
“YOU?” Margie’s face was pale white. “That was you?” She smiled, “you should be ashamed of yourself.”
“Well, I did feel bad for a while, but now… I may have to do it again.”
“Where are you going, Blanche?”
“I’m going to give them a piece of my mind.” She climbed into her suburban and started the engine.
“You go, girl!” Margie, not willing to miss the show, ran for her pickup.
The dust trail left from the screaming vehicles could be seen for several miles as they barged into the Johnson’s driveway. As furniture was being removed from the house, it was being stacked in the yard to await loading on the truck. Jamal and the delivery man were engulfed in a white cloud of dust as Blanche bailed from her vehicle and strutted across the grass.
“Mrs. Hudson! How good to see you. Are you okay?” Jamal extended his hand toward her.
She waved him off. “What in the name of God’s saints are you doing here?”
“We are loading our old furniture into the truck, why? Are you okay?” As he was speaking, Margie arrived in a dust cloud. “Margie? What’s going on?”
“I’ll tell you what’s going on. You owe me an explanation.”
Millicent and May, hearing the commotion in the yard, appeared from the house and walked out to meet their guests. Jamal graciously lowered his welcoming hand shake and stood awkwardly. “An explanation for what?”
“For why you stole that furniture from me.”
“Everyone knows that I intended to buy that living room set.”
“What about it?”
“I’ll tell you what about it. That was my furniture.”
“Oh, Mrs. Hudson! Pastor Lee said that somebody bought our old furniture, I had no idea it was you.”
“You have to be kidding me. I wouldn’t buy that junk for any amount of money.”
“Then what are you talking about, Mrs. Hudson?”
“You bought my furniture from Perry’s. Everyone knew that it was mine.”
“We didn’t buy anything.”
“Really? Then why is a furniture truck parked in front of your house?”
“Because we sold our furniture. Perry offered to haul it off for us.”
“Mrs. Hudson, there has been a misunderstanding. We sold our furniture to buy some Bibles for our new ministry. It also paid for our sound system. Jack here is only helping me move furniture out, not in.”
“Oh?” Blanche was beginning to understand. A long moment of silence surrounded them. Baby Jamal started crying in the house and somewhere a quail called into the morning.
Jamal continued. “Remember how we have been raising money for the new Church? Millicent and I decided to sell our furniture to fulfill our pledge. Mrs. Hudson, are you okay?”
“Well, what are you doing for furniture?” Blanche’s tone had softened tremendously and Margie was fading into the background.
“We don’t really need that much furniture. We’ll just do without.”
“Well, I came by to tell you, that…” Her voice trailed off.
“I wanted you to know that when I buy that new furniture at Perry’s today that I would like to donate my old furniture to you and Millicent. After all, that baby needs something to sit on.”
“Thank you, Mrs. Hudson. What a blessing.” He turned to the house. “Honey, Mrs. Hudson came by to tell us that she wanted to give us her old furniture to replace ours.”
Millicent ran out to meet them. “Oh, thank you Blanche. You have such nice furniture, too. Won’t you come in a have a glass of lemonade?”