Mrs. Bannister bustled in a couple minutes after Obi and Clive arrived. "Thank goodness you're here," she said to Clive. "One of the urinals went berserk yesterday, and wouldn't stop flushing. Your father shut off the water to it, but it needs repair."
"I'll have a look. Thanks, Lorna." Clive gave her a kiss on the cheek.
She turned to Obi. "I have messages for you."
"Don't worry. Mostly positive. Only that woman who's married to Edward Lancaster."
"His wife, Denise?"
"That's the very one. She's threatening to pull their membership."
"What did you tell her?" He took the stack of messages, pleased that most of them were positive.
Mrs. Bannister sniffed loudly. "I told her if that was what she wanted, she was certainly entitled to do so. She demanded an apology for irritating her husband."
Obi wanted to laugh, but felt that the situation was a little too serious for that. "And what was your reply?" he asked, choking somewhat.
"I told her that would definitively not happen, since it was her husband who started the fracas."
"Did you say it exactly like that?"
Lorna cut her eyes at him, looking like a coy owl. "Not entirely. I might have gotten—slightly vernacular with her."
"Lorna Bannister, you never cease to amaze me!" Giving her a kiss on the cheek, he went into his office.
Clive came out of the men's bathroom, soaked. Patting himself dry with paper towels, he wandered to Obi's office. Dripping in the doorway, he wiped his face.
"Do you have a plumber you like?"
"Because Abner must have jury rigged the handle. I can't get it apart. When I tried, something broke, and I got a face full of water. I managed to get the water shut off to the bathroom, but it's beyond my ability to fix."
"I've got a number. One second."
He flipped through a calendar. Scrawled in the back was the name of the plumber he liked. The family had been parishioners for six generations, and gave him a discount. Fortunately, they did good work, as well as doing it inexpensively. Fortunately, this was an expense that the board wouldn't have to decide on, they would simply accept the bill.
"Give me the number, I'll call. I can describe it better."
"I've still got my overnight bag. I ran a load of laundry last night, so I'm good."
"Thanks. I'll let you field that. I've got some calls to make, and I just remembered the liturgical committee is meeting at noon. Mrs. Bannister!" he called.
"Yes, Father?" she called back.
"What's for lunch today?"
"I got a variety of salads. Is that all right?"
"Yes, perfect. Thank you!"
Clive stood there, laughing. "Do you always do that?"
"Yes. I've tried the phone, but she won't answer. If I go to the door, she thinks I'm spying on her. So we holler back and forth." He shrugged. "It works for us."
"Frankie's starting her job at St. Blaise today."
"Her mom is there, talking her through."
"How did they get there? I know Wynter didn't want to drive."
"Father Charlie got them. I said we'd pick them up at lunch time. If you're here for the meeting, I'll get them and come back."
"Sounds good. Where are Emily and Wynter?"
"Wynter didn't tell you?"
"No...." He frowned.
"Emily is interviewing with Cisco's mom today."
"It's a surprise."
"She said she would tell you." Backing up, he held his hands up. "I have to call the plumber," he rushed outside, his phone in hand.
Puzzled and frustrated, Obi called Wynter. She didn't answer. Leaving her a message, he fussed and muttered for a good thirty minutes. When it became apparent that she wasn't calling back anytime soon, he took his annoyance into the sanctuary. He told himself it was to check and make sure the cleaners had done a good job, but it wasn't. He needed something to do, and it was the only thing he could manufacture.
Just before noon, the liturgical committee members gathered in the fellowship hall. Mrs. Bannister's salads arrived by Uber Eats. They members served themselves, complimenting the meal—which seemed silly, since Obi had nothing to do with it. He accepted their comments politely, planning to share them with Lorna.
"That was some service on Sunday," Max Horton, the committee chair said.
"In a good way, or a bad way?" Obi asked, eyes narrowing.
"Good. Very good. We should do that more often."
"I'm all for it," Mrs. Crist said. "I had such fun. Who chose the songs?"
"Dad and I did," Obi lied. He wasn't about to tell these people that he'd had nothing to do with it. Had they complained, he'd have gladly cast his father under the bus.
"We should do that old Doobie Brothers song," Mrs. Crist said, humming a few bars.
"That's Jesus is Just All Right," the music director said, making a note.
"Great song. I always liked that one—by the Jewish fella—only it's about Jesus," Mr. Horton hummed the distinctive beginning to Spirit in the Sky by Norman Greenbaum.
"Excellent choice," Mrs. Crist agreed.
"How often do we want to do this?" Obi said. "I feel if we do it too often, it will get boring."
©Dellani Oakes 2023