The Cheesy Religion
The Cheesy Religion
(A short story by Steven R. Harrel)
Suddenly, as Tom’s fingers brush the old timepiece, Tom swoons and falls back into his chair. In his head, at what seemed something akin to a great distance, Tom hears a liquid voice, “You must be filled before she can be healed!” The voice echoed several times and then faded into his soul…
Nancy catches Tom before he falls out of the chair, “What’s the matter Thomas! Are you all right?”
Clutching the watch, Tom’s mind clears as he finds himself looking down at the old timepiece in a trembling hand. As if bitten Tom drops the watch on the table and backs away. “You didn’t hear that” Tom’s exclaims?
Nancy can see Tom’s eyes are wide with shock and confusion, “Hear what, Tom?” Concern is coloring Nancy’s voice?
Tom whispers, ” I heard a voice ‑‑‑ No! I still hear that voice echoing in my mind!”
Nancy smirks, “You’re just tired Tom. Either that, or you’re playing with me”.
“No Nancy. I heard a voice as clear as I’m hearing you now”.
Tom’s voice held such a fervency she knew he wasn’t toying with her, “Well what did it say?”
Tom paused for several moments.
“What did it say, Tom!”
“It’s not so much what it said as what it meant”.
“Tom, you’re kind of scaring me. Stop it!”
“No Nance, I’m serious. When I touched your great-grands watch,” Tom felt awe looking down at the timepiece, “I heard this voice echoing in my head saying, ‘You must be filled before she can be healed,’ and at that moment I knew, I just knew that if I could somehow find that little town you could be healed! Think about it, Nancy, there’s a chance you might be able to be healed! What’s the name of that town again?”
“I’m not sure, Tom, but you can’t be serious.”
“What’s the name of that town, Nancy?” Tom snapped!
“I think my grandmother called it Shire or Sire or… yeah, Shire; that was it, Shire Alabama”.
“Well, I’m going to find Shire, Alabama and then I’m going to find a way to cure you. I’m not exactly sure how… but I know it’s going to happen! That’s right, it is going to happen!” Having made that declaration Tom embraced Nancy ardently.
“Oh, come on Tom. That’s just silly.”
“I know it, but” Tom reels – and again hears the same strange echoing voice in his mind, “You must be filled before she can be healed! You must be filled before she can be healed! Come to Shire. There’s healing in Shire!”
Nancy clutches Tom’s shoulders and draws him near. “Tom, I’m scared!”
Tom sits down, smiles and pulls Nancy onto his lap and begins kissing her, “Don’t be worried my love, we’re going to be just fine now. Be glad because God is making a way for you to be healed”.
“How do you know it’s,” Nancy pauses, “from God, Tom?”
“I don’t know how I know, but I know and I believe it is a God-send. Whether it’s from God or not… it may be the only way to save my children’s mamma and for that reason alone I have to try.”
The next morning Tom packed their Chevy and headed for Shire, Alabama – wherever that might be. Nancy and Tom also decided the kids should stay home so Nancy could spend time with her babies.
Though not surprising, neither Tom nor Nancy could find Shire on any Alabama State map. Nancy did remember her grandmother saying Shire was in the back hills of Southern Alabama, somewhere near or south of Montgomery where her great‑grandmother’s daddy was buried after the Civil War. So, Montgomery Alabama would be Tom’s starting destination.
(End Part 3)