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Sister Betty hasn't been the same since God called her on the phone back in '84. A devoted member of Ain't Nobody Right But Us—All Others Goin' to Hell Church, she's always looking after the welfare of her fellow congregants. It's a big job, considering they're none too good at looking after themselves—or each other. With an ATM and a Blessing Dispenser in the church vestibule, and Sister Ima Hellraiser in her path, Betty's got her work cut out. Still, doing His will is what it's all about for Sister Betty and seven of her most hilarious and inspirational adventures are gathered in Sister Betty! God’s Calling You, Again! a soulful treat from Pat G’Orge Walker for fans of God, gospel, and good times.
As the Bible thumpin', don't-you-dare-sass-me Sister Betty, Pat G'Orge Walker performs at churches, universities, writers' conferences, and on Chicago's WYCA radio. Now, she brings Sister Betty and her adventures to a wider audience with this uplifting collection of tales and spiritual teachings, straight from Pelzer, South Carolina and the Ain’t Nobody Else Right But Us—All Others Going to Hell Church.
"No, she didn't."
"She did so!"
"No, she did not!"
"Lil Bit, June Bug!" Ma Cile yelled from the flower-covered front porch. "If y'all two young'uns don't shut ya mouths out there, I'm gonna whup ya like you stole sumpthin'. Y'all hears me? Me and Sister Betty tryin' to talk about de Lawd, and even He can't hear us over all the ruckuses y'all two makin'. Now shut up before I knock ya out and pray ya back!"
June Bug was ten years old. He was caramel-candy-colored but not as sweet. He was also kind of short and skinny, with a lot of attitude compared to his ten-year-old cousin, Lil Bit. Lil Bit, on the other hand, looked more like she was fifteen than ten. She wasn't chubby, but what the old folks called "thick." Her complexion was lighter than June Bug. Lil Bit was often called "high yella" or "mixed." Separately, the two cousins were little angels, but together, they could turn old Satan into a punk and make him hang a "Closed for Today" sign on hell's door and hide.
June Bug and Lil Bit always attempted not to get on the wrong side of their grandma, Ma Cile. Working Ma Cile's last good sixty-five-year-old nerve was never a good move, especially in front of company, and definitely not in front of her lifelong friend, Sister Betty.
The startled children scrambled toward the safety of the wild honeysuckle bushes on the side of the house and started arguing again.
"Yes, she did, too!" June Bug whispered. He pointed his skinny index finger in Lil Bit's direction for emphasis while using his free hand to toss dirt at her.
Lil Bit ducked the flying dirt. She quickly raised her head and peeped through a gap in the wild honeysuckle bush. She didn't see Ma Cile, so they must have been out of her earshot. "No, she ain't. I just know she ain't!" She was so mad, she felt like chewing on a rock, but instead she tossed a fistful of dirt back at June Bug.
Being skinny had its advantages as June Bug fell flat, like a brown praying mantis, and ducked the flying dirt. He rolled over onto the grassy lawn and yelled, "I said, yeah, she did!" He thought he might have yelled just a little too loud, so he, too, jumped up. He carefully parted the slender branches of a full-blossomed rosebush and looked toward the house surrounded by colorful beds of jasmine, impatiens, and orange jack-in-the-boxes.
Not one to let a good argument go to waste, Lil Bit crouched down and then slid next to June Bug. "No, she didn't!" Lil Bit snapped. "June Bug, you are one of the biggest liars the devil ever gave birth to. You know Ma Cile told you the next time she catches you lying, she was gonna drop-kick your lips and make them look like you wearing a turtleneck sweater!"
For the next two minutes, they argued back and forth. Suddenly, the fragrance of sweet flowers was gone. A dangerous shift in the warm weather took its place. A storm was about to hit, and its alarming outline hovered over them. There was no time to build an ark or run.
"Lil Bit! June Bug! You two must think I'm deaf and blind. Y'all ain't up north with your mamas no more; you down south, where ya gonna be raised right! Now, go git me a switch-make it two switches, so I can twist 'em. Better be ripe ones, 'cause if I gotta go find 'em myself, that's two lickin's ya be gittin'," Ma Cile said.
Lil Bit and June Bug never saw or heard her coming, but there she stood. Ma Cile was honey-colored and tall with wide hips, and she was standing over them with one hand on each hip, looking every bit like that Jolly Green Giant on the television commercial. She leaned over to get a better look-see at her two shivering grandchildren and soon-to-be victims. It was hard to do, since she only had one good eye. A blue store-bought false one replaced the brown eye kicked out, in childhood, by an uppity mule. Ma Cile wasted no time. She jerked her head around and then casually spit a glob of Railroad brand snuff from her mouth.
To the children, her head seemed to make a 360-degree turn. That action made them feel as if Ma Cile would cancel their birth certificates without a second thought.
"How many times have I told you young'uns that Sister Betty done heard from the Lawd? I said, when she comes around to visit, that y'all two keep yo' mouths buttoned! How many times, heh? Heh?" Ma Cile snarled.
"We sorry, Ma Cile; we knows-"
"Shut up! Did I tell ya to talk? Well, did I? Did I?" Ma Cile loomed over the children, breathing so hard you could almost see the snuff powder coming out of her mouth and nostrils. "Oh, now, ya li'l heathens ain't gonna answer Ma Cile, heh? Well, is ya?" she fumed.
"Yes, ma'am, we gonna ans-" June Bug and Lil Bit said at the same time.
"I done tole y'all two to shut up fo' the last time." Ma Cile plunged her hand into her white starched apron pocket as if she were searching for a weapon while she continued her tirade. "Y'all gonna burn in hell for interrupting Sister Betty and me." She pulled out a soggy tissue and wiped her lined and glistening forehead. "Git in that house, right now, whilst I go and find me them switches. Gonna whup yo' tails fo' sassin' me, too."
The children rose and started to back away. To Ma Cile with her bad eye, they looked like they were plaited together, like two cornrows on Lil Bit's head that were done so tight, they looked like crocheted stitches.
The children picked up speed as they wobbled up the creaky steps and into Ma Cile's spotless house. They started running down the foyer, but Lil Bit was so much bigger than June Bug that as he hung on, he looked like one big brown tube sock on her leg.
They stopped running when they reached the foyer. "This here is all your fault, June Bug," Lil Bit barked. "I told you not to tell that lie on Sister Betty. Now we gonna lose some more black off our behinds." She was so angry, she could almost taste her irritation.
"I don't care what you say; I know what I heard, and I ain't lying. If you hadn't stuck that big head of yours out the bushes, Ma Cile wouldn't have heard us. It's your fault, Miss Big Butt!" June Bug hissed. He clamped his fingers against his ears because that was all he could do.
The children looked out of the foyer window just in time to see Ma Cile lumbering toward the maple and oak trees near the vegetable garden. "Oh, Lord, help us, she's gonna get one of those giant Joshua tree branches to whip us with!" they whimpered. Just when they thought they couldn't get any more frightened, June Bug and Lil Bit each felt a hand on one of their shoulders. "Oh, be Jesus!" they shrieked. "Now the Lord is mad and He's touched us!" They tried to bolt, but the omnipotent power of the hands gently pulled them back.
"Not the Lawd, but someone real close to 'em." Sister Betty whispered. The hands felt powerful, but the voice seemed tiny, almost dwarfish, by comparison. The children turned around, and there she was, the object of their argument and the reason for the whipping they were about to receive. She was pecan-brown-colored, elderly, and real short, like one of those little people in The Wizard of Oz, and she wore white from head to toe.
Sister Betty always wore a big cross hung around her tiny, wrinkled neck, carried a much-too-big Bible, and constantly smiled for no apparent reason. The children had heard that no matter what the situation was, she would just clasp her petite hands together, look up toward heaven, and give you a smile. Sometimes while laying her hands on your head and praying, her false teeth would fall forward. Before they hit the floor, she would snatch the teeth by their metal hook. She'd put them in her pocket and keep right on smiling, showing her pink, rubbery gums. Every so often, she mumbled some words that she claimed only she and God understood, but which would benefit whomever she prayed for.
The children willed their feet to move, but nothing happened. Sister Betty held both their chins in her small hands and proceeded to smile as she whispered again, "Sister Betty has to leave now, 'cause I must be about the Lawd's business. There be so many people that the Lawd must have Sister Betty see about." She stepped back and looked up at the children. "Y'all two young'uns look like ya been crying. Ya wanna tell ole Sister Betty what's wrong? 'Cause all things are possible for them that love the Lawd, ya know. Come on, tell Sister Betty yo' troubles."
It seemed to Lil Bit that Sister Betty put a tattling spell on her, because before she knew it, she told everything June Bug said. "... And, Sister Betty, I didn't believe a word that lying June Bug was saying about you. I know Jesus ain't gonna call nobody up on no telephone and tell them nothing. I don't know why June Bug would say sumpthin' so stupid, and especially about you, Sister Betty." She leaned down to Sister Betty and whispered, "I think he's gone and got himself possessed." Rising back up again, Lil Bit ranted, "Now Ma Cile has gone to get some braided switches or tree limbs, and she gonna whip us because June Bug is possessed. I don't know why I got to get a whipping, too; June Bug the one with the lying demon!"
Lil Bit was talking so fast while pleading her case that she didn't realize that she had twisted the hem of her dress into a knot. Poor child wore panties that read Tuesday, exposed to everyone who knew today was Friday.
Sister Betty stood there with her eternal smile etched on her wrinkled face and chuckled, which caused her false teeth to slip. She shoved the teeth back into place and laughed, "Hush, chile, ya done gone and got ya'self all hypered." She backed a few steps away from the children, turned, and pointed one tiny brown finger toward the living room. "Y'all go on in there and sit down on that sofa."
The children looked at one another in disbelief as their voices went up several notches. They shrieked in unison, "Oh, no, ma'am, we can't do that, Sister Betty. Ma Cile said that sofa just came out of layaway and she put plastic covers on it just for her company. We ain't company. She catches us sitting on her good sofa and we'll be dead for real!" Each child kept inhaling air on every syllable. They sounded like they had just swallowed nitrous oxide without the laughter effect.
Sister Betty stopped laughing and spoke in a hushed voice that suddenly sounded like a command, from God Himself, breaking through the sky. "I said for y'all young'uns to sit down on that there sofa, and that's what me and the Lawd mean!"
June Bug and Lil Bit didn't doubt her. The soles of their floppy shoes scattered the multicolored throw rugs that lay from the foyer to the living room. They stopped just in time to push aside the strings of colored beads that served as a partition. Entering the living room, they picked up speed and dove for the sofa, thought about it, and screeched to a complete stop. Lil Bit wiped a bead of perspiration from her cheek and firmly grabbed the still-terrified June Bug by his shoulder for support. Together they slowly turned around and sat down on the good sofa, giving it all the respect it deserved. Sister Betty followed with her eternal smile still etched on her face.
From the outside and through the large picture window in the living room, they heard Ma Cile holler like she'd stumped her big toe, the one with the Band-Aid-covered corn. "June Bug, Lil Bit, I got my switches for yo' butt training, and I'm fixing to stomp some sense into y'all heathens. Where ya be? Y'all best have off dem good clothes I bought ya. I ain't whuppin' no clothes, 'cause dem clothes didn't do nothin' wrong. Now, where in the house y'all be at? Don't make me come lookin' fo' ya!"
Ma Cile's voice was getting closer and stronger. The children knew they had crossed the line that time. They would rather have woken a bear from his hibernation than to have embarrassed Ma Cile. Of all the people to embarrass her in front of, they thought, why did it have to be the most holy and God's best friend, Sister Betty!
June Bug and Lil Bit stood up and started to run for the stairs up to the attic to hide. In their panic, they tripped each other several times. They looked like two brown toy Slinkys as each one kept pulling the other down. When they did recover, they got up so fast that they almost knocked over Ma Cile's snuff-spitting can. Again they panicked. All they needed was to be caught sitting on her good sofa and knocking the snuff spit and ashes out of the spittin' can onto the good rug. They stopped in front of the multicolored beads and stood completely still because they didn't know where or how they should move. They looked sad. June Bug's usual big-mouthed attitude had vanished long ago back into the jasmine bushes, and Lil Bit wished she weren't so big, so that she could hide under the good sofa.
Sister Betty's softened voice coaxed them back to reality. "Y'all young'uns, please, jist sit down. Don't worry about ya ole Ma Cile. I'll tell her the Lawd had sumpthin' fo' me to say to ya and everythang will be all right." She waited to see if her words had any effect on the children, who stood as stiff as statues. They didn't. She tried again, this time adding a little more sweetness in her voice. "Y'all do believe me, don't ya?" she implored, smiling that smile again. If June Bug and Lil Bit did not believe her, they did not show it; instead they moved backward toward the good sofa and again, with deference, sat down.
Sister Betty had them right where she wanted. The children continued to act as if they were hypnotized. If she told them to go and hitch a wagon to a flea's butt so it could tote the wood to town, they would do it.
Sister Betty and the children heard Ma Cile wheezing as she entered the house, seconds before they saw her. "Whew, them steps is gettin' harder ta climb every day, especially when I got ta go and git the whuppin' switches myself. I might have ta sit a spell befo' I whup them heathens' behinds." She stopped and smoothed a wrinkle on her apron and then used that same hand to fan her face flushed with perspiration. The trip to get the switches had taken its toll. She needed an excuse to rest, but she had promised her grandchildren a whipping and she did not want to appear to soften. She said aloud, "Maybe if I don't whup 'em right away they be extra good, 'cause they don't know when I'm gonna do it." She threw in the last part to keep them on their toes.
Ma Cile stood still long enough to catch her breath and then continued down the hallway. As she waddled her wide hips past the living room, she remarked, "Be right back, Sister Betty; excuse me a minute whilst I go and find them young'uns-" Quicker than two rabbits meeting for the first or fifteenth time, Ma Cile backtracked and looked in disbelief at the two children sitting on her good sofa.
Excerpted from Sister Betty! God's Calling You, Again! by PAT G'ORGE-WALKER Copyright © 2003 by Pat G'Orge-Walker
Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
|Sister Betty! God's Calling You!||1|
|Sister Connie Fuse Makes a Grave Mistake||27|
|It's Only a Hat||79|
|The Y2K Christmas Pageant||99|
|The Church's Singles Auction, A.K.A. Love for Sale||113|
|Shoutin' for Appearance' Sake||137|
|A Hellraiser at the Fund-Raiser||149|
Posted April 8, 2013
I love this book by pat g'orege-walker I have read this book about five times already. It keep me interest till the point that I didn't want to put the book down. This is truly a good book I recommend this book to any one to readWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.