The church was a hick church. I breathed a sigh of relief. Cass was waiting for me at the door. She looked good. She had the sense to wear a dress. She was anxious, but it was a good anxious. Cass wanted to please her father—all good signs. I wasn’t sure about her, and I was interested to see what kind of sermon would be preached. It’s important to know the prevailing influences that mold a girl. Some women can never stay in one place—a sign of instability—not always bad—but instability, just the same. She spotted me in my one good outfit. I could tell she approved. Cass never saw me at work; it was my go-to-outfit. You can’t wear the same pair of clothes every day and remain in society. People want variety, as long as it’s superficial. They prefer conversations to be constant—football, bad news, and office gossip.

“I want you to meet my father,” Cass said.

“Okay.” Ordinarily, I would’ve avoided this meeting at all costs. Meeting a paternal protector is like meeting God. You’re always unworthy, have fallen short, and require his approval, which is always more work than its worth. Along the way, one false word, and you are the wolf, to be put down, by the watchful farmer. He has no mercy. Killing a predator is a moral action.

“Dad, this is Henry,” Cass said.

“I’m Bill. So, you’re the boy Cass has told me about.”

I had to earn his respect. Without family, without women, without society, a man can live in peace. Inside society, hidden rules decide your fate. They are never fair. With women, insurmountable pressure begins to build.

“You’ve talked about me?” I asked. Cass became even more nervous.

“My daughter and I talk about a lot of things. I hear you don’t believe in superstitions?”

“That’s right.”

“Our pastor may make you a believer.” He said this as if I were testing his faith. The pastor wore a Seahawks Jersey. I didn’t follow sports, so I couldn’t tell which player. However, it looked well-worn. Perhaps, two decades old.

“I want to speak on the subject of marriage, today. Some of you, young people, may be contemplating marriage…” I looked around the congregation— Cass and I were the only young people there. Suddenly, I felt extremely awkward. I knew the pastor was talking about us, indirectly, and the whole congregation knew.

“In these latter days, perversion has fallen on the youth…”

I had to get out of there. I walked into the bathroom. It was painted red, so that it felt like you were in hell. I read somewhere, psychologists have discovered red is the most uncomfortable color. If you want people to spend the least amount of time in the bathroom, paint it red. As I was washing my hands, I adjusted the swivel mirror to get a look at myself. It broke. It shattered, like the glass was primed to break. You could hear it in the sanctuary. And a football fan ran in.

“MIRROR BREAKER! THAT’S 7 YEARS BAD LUCK!!!”

“Oh, you don’t believe that silly superstition, do you?”

“We don’t want mirror breakers here. Get out!”

I thought the football fan was joking, but he was serious.

I left in a hurry. Cass followed me out the door. “I’m sorry Henry, but I need a lucky man. Your luck has run out.”

 I watched the other congregants file out. They wore pink polo shirts, football jerseys, and they had kids, running around in miniature clothes. They looked exactly the same. It was all too perfect. Apparently, I didn’t have to worry about that. I was going to have bad luck.

But I didn’t envy them. Superficial perfection, is like a Washington Red Delicious Apple. There are always a few worms on the inside.

“See yah, Cass!”

She waved, and I waved back. The pressure lifted. I walked out of the church parking lot, and found salvation.

The End

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