Reverend Green is coming to supper tomorrow [a character sketch]

[14 May 2019]

Reverend Green is coming to supper tomorrow, Mrs. Dannison said to her visitor, Mr. Anderson.

Mrs. Dannison and Mr. Anderson sat in her nice parlour. She called it her nice parlour because she had a separate parlour – the blue room – that she used daily. The nice parlour was reserved only for the best occasions. It was Saturday night and they had just finished a supper of fried chicken and collard greens. He was the owner of the butchery on the corner. He made a pretty penny during the county fair season and passed the rest of the year spending it. She was an attractive young widow with one child, young Arnie, aged 9, and no means.

The grandfather clock in the corner tick tock tick tocked and the sound of Granny Dannison’s knitting needles click clicked from the other room.

Reverend Green is coming to supper tomorrow, Mrs. Dannison said again, a bit more loudly.

Is that right? Mr. Anderson said, half listening. The reverend and Mr. Anderson had reached a kind of understanding. Mr. Anderson wasn’t a church-going man but he tried to be a good man, as far as all that was concerned. He stuck by the general rules and regulations as he saw in the Good Book and kept most of the Ten Commandments on a regular basis. Plus, the reverend had a nice bit of property and paid handsomely for the best cuts of lamb.

It’s June, and the smell of humid summer air and sweat mingle together and condense on the side of their half-empty glasses of homemade iced tea.

Indeed it is, Mr. Anderson. Mrs. Dannison said. Only…

Only what, Mrs. Dannison? He puffed once on his pipe. Tobacco filled the room like a cloud, seeping from his pores and soaking into the gently-worn couch cushion.

Silence. Tick tock. Click click.

As I was saying, Mr. Anderson. Reverend Green is coming to supper tomorrow and if there’s anything the good reverend loves it’s lamb.

Quite right, Mrs. Dannison, quite right.

Well it seems that I’ve misplaced my pocketbook again this month and I hate to disappoint the reverend so. You know how he loves his lamb.

Just then, young Arnie comes running in from the kitchen. Mama, mama may I go outside? Granny says I may. May I may I? Oh please say I may.

Didn’t granny already help you wash up?


Do you want Baby Jesus to smite you? You know how dirty you get when you play outside, Arnie! You can’t go into church looking like you would go send yourself straight to bed young man sorry Mr. Anderson what was it you were saying? She absently pulls Arnie to her side and gives him a peck on the cheek.

No that’s quite all right, Mrs. Dannison. Times is hard and if you don’t raise up them kids right, Lord knows what they’ll do. Besides, the church is better than the streets, as I always says. He scratched his face seriously. There was blood from the reverend’s lamb under his fingers. If God and Reverend Green can’t knock sense into ‘em, ain’t nobody can. Now out with you, kid, your mother and I are talking here. He tousles Arnie’s hair and gives him a playful push on the behind. Arnie sullenly looks at his mother before walking out of the room.

And close the door behind you she says. He does not. She sighs with shock and exasperation and goes up from the green felt armchair to close the door herself. Mr. Anderson puts out a hand to stop her. Let boys be boys, Mrs. Dannison and his hand finds her knees through blue silk taffeta dress. She looks at him and sits back down, slowly.

Anyhow, as I was saying, I says to myself Johnny I says what’s a fella gotta do to get some respect in this here town? He straightens himself, shoulders square, chest out, adjusts his collar. I practically own half this town, and built the other half by hand. If they can’t see that they’ll get what’s comin’ to ‘em.

And to think they would treat a gentleman such as yourself with this regard. Disdainful.

They sit there in silence. Tick tock. Click click.

That’s the way of the world, Mrs. Dannison. I sure am glad you don’t have to experience it first-hand. He slides his hand further up her leg till her knee is bare.

As am I, Mr. Anderson. As am I.

They sit there a long while. His hand on her bare thigh. Her eyes locked with his.

Arnie comes running back into the room. Mama, mama can I go outside please? He stops and looks at the two of them, Mr. Anderson’s hand on his mother’s thigh.

Arnie she snaps. Arnie she continues more gently. Why don’t you go play outside for a little while? It is such a lovely evening. Granny can wash you up when you and see what you both can’t do to get that stain out of your trousers.

He looks at her very solemnly. Ok mama. And turns and leaves the room quietly.

Silence, broken only by the tick tock of the clock and the absent puff puff of the pipe.

She clears her throat. Mr. Anderson, if I may trouble you, there is a piece of furniture I need moved in the bedroom and try as I may I cannot seem to get it on my own.

Of course, Mrs. Dannison, after all that’s surely why I’m here. Let’s see what we can do for you.

And yet neither one of them moves for a long while. Then, as if by unspoken agreement, they stand up, finish off their iced tea, and head down the hallway.

I think I may have a couple’a lamb shoulders in the cellar of the shop. Let me see if I can’t grab you a few before tomorrow night. Wouldn’t do to disappoint the reverend.

Thank you, Mr. Anderson. You really are most kind. And you are of course invited to come to sup as well.

I would like that, Mrs. Dannison. I would like that.

Through it all, Granny Dannison sits by the hearth in the blue room, clock going tick tock and knitting needles going click click click in the rising heat and the dimming firelight.

4 responses to “Reverend Green is coming to supper tomorrow [a character sketch]”

  1. orkidedatter avatar

    One day I hope your words will become a movie🦋

    1. Nathan AM Smith avatar

      You are so sweet! Maybe we can make a movie together! 🙂

      1. orkidedatter avatar

        Awe, You are too kind🦋you really melt my heart. Just tell me I’m in, it had become the movie of all time, we rock🦋

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