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Pastor EvilMy Calling: Conquer Evil at All Costs
By Robert McCabe
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2011 Robert McCabe
All right reserved.
Chapter OneIrmo, South Carolina. 1983.
The self-proclaimed chitterlings and okra capital of the world, that's Irmo, South Carolina. It's a beautiful small town that's considered a suburb of Columbia, the capital. For those not familiar with Southern cooking, chitterlings are oil-fried pig intestines, sometimes breaded, sometimes not, and okra is a slimy, oil-fried vegetable. These are just two of the delicacies of the Deep South. I tried them both at the Okra Strut Festival, an annual event in Irmo. It was kind of a farmers' market, flea market, and crafts fair all rolled into one big celebration.
Irmo is also located next to Lake Murray, a man-made lake from the 1920s with 649 miles of shoreline and 78 square miles large. The lake was great for striped bass fishing when you could pull one in without an alligator garfish chewing it in half before you could land the bass. South Carolina is also famous for their poisonous snakes, most notably the water moccasins. These snakes are very aggressive and love to jump in your fishing boats either from overhead trees or right up the side of the boat from the water. I always carried a six-shooter with a fast-draw holster when I fished because of the moccasins. You might think, What good is a six-shooter in a boat with a water moccasin on the deck? There is a solution. They are called Teflon pellet bullets. You can shoot the snake and not sink the boat!
Anyway, my mind is digressing from the more serious things. I moved with my family to South Carolina from California to work for a life insurance company. It was my job to convert an outsourced data-processing solution to an in-house solution. Electronic Data Systems (Ross Perot's old company) had been the outsourced solution for the past ten years. I was supposed to construct a new data-center building and then move all the processing to the new center. How did I get the job? A senior project manager that used to work for me at another company landed the VP job of information processing at this insurance company. He was originally from the South, and he called me one day and asked if I wanted to build a brand new data center from scratch and work for him. He offered me more money. They would purchase my house in California and provide full relocation expenses. This insurance company must have been loaded with money, and it turned out it was. The insurance company provided airline tickets for me and my wife for three days of interviewing and scouting out possible places to live if I got the job and relocated. I got the job. My title was data center manager.
They let us go back for another house-hunting trip, and we found a nice home on two acres and put money down on it. It was located in a little town of Irmo, South Carolina.
The fun parts of the job were building a new center from scratch, using the company's private jet to travel back and forth to Dallas (EDS) and Columbia, and best of all, bringing Coors beer back to the South on the jet for personal consumption and barbeques.
Bad parts of the relocation included the following: You were always a "Damn Yankee" and would never really fit in to the Southern culture. Also, whenever you ate fast food, you had to request french fries, as the default was hush puppies (deep-fried cornbread balls). Damn, there I go digressing again. I must stay focused!
Chapter TwoReverend John's Ford dealership was the only car dealership in Irmo. As with most car dealerships, they had a service center that preformed all necessary maintenance for repairs and warranties. The dealership maintenance buildings were metal pre-fab units, except the showroom. The showroom was beautiful, with dark wood flooring, red carpets in the offices, real wood desks, drop-down ceilings, wood paneling on the walls, and a waiting room with free refreshments and a television. All the salespeople wore three-piece suits. (There were no women salespersons.) In those days, you rarely saw a foreign car on the streets in South Carolina. It was considered un-American. To digress a little more, people in the South did not know how to merge onto freeway traffic. (Southerners called them interstates, not freeways) They would stop on the on-ramps and see if there was any traffic coming! Car drivers also had to carry at least twenty dollars in cash on their person at all times when they were driving. That was the standard ticket, paid in cash, to the state police if you were stopped!
Reverend John's other job was pastor for the Southern Baptist Church of Irmo, South Carolina. My wife, Sherry, and I decided it would be good to give our two girls an exposure to organized religion so they could choose later in life if that was going to be part of their lives. So, after the third week in the South, we took the kids to services at the church.
Wow, what an education! As said earlier, I was raised Catholic—strict Catholic. I was an altar boy for three years, and my mother taught catechism (Catholic Sunday school) in our garage. I had priests for uncles and nuns for aunts. We were devout Catholics. That meant no birth control, and my mother had eight children, with five miscarriages in between. With having all those children, my mother passed away from a myocardial infarction at age forty-two. I heard every fire-and-brimstone preaching and tithing technique there was to hear at the Catholic masses. My only relief was that three quarters of the mass was in Latin! But Reverend John Caldarell made the Catholic religion feel like kindergarten or a walk in the park! He chastised parishioners, said everyone was going to hell, named people who were behind in their mandatory 10 percent tithing requirements, and threw in racial slurs. After a while, I just tuned him out and paid attention to the wonderful choir, organ, and piano music. I worried about my children being here. I couldn't figure out how this guy ever sold a car!
After the church service, I met the reverend at the exit door of the church. He was jovial and shaking hands with everyone. He was about fifty years old, five-foot-ten, and 190 pounds, with a fine three-piece suit and a full head of dark hair. He also had green eyes and a scar on his upper lip. (I wondered where that had come from!) That was when I met Michael Damond for the first time. Michael was right behind us leaving the service. Reverend John shook his hand, with no smile on his face, and told Michael that they needed to talk tomorrow at 8:00 a.m. in the service lobby of the car dealership. The reverend introduced me and my wife to Michael, who was one of John's lead deacons at the church and a service manager/mechanic at the car dealership, and we shook hands. Michael's hands were discolored and rough, what you would expect from a mechanic. His eyes were dark blue, and he had a hawk's nose, thin lips, and a full chin. His skin was weather-beaten (probably from fishing), and he had a full head of dark black hair that he had slicked back with grease. He wore a sports coat and slacks, and he had unshined shoes. He had a very strong handshake, but he did not try to crush my hand. Michael was around my height (six-foot-two) and weighed around two hundred pounds, and I guessed he was thirty-five years of age. I said, "Nice to meet you, Michael. I am always looking for a good car mechanic." I met Michael several more times after this initial meeting. As we continued to the parking lot, the reverend had already moved on to other exiting parishioners.
At this time, I had not realized the extent of real evil in the world, and I had no knowledge of any future gifts to do battle with evil. I just wanted to complete my project at work for the insurance company and have a fully operational data center.
Chapter ThreeThere were several benefits that relocating to South Carolina brought, including many of the following:
much more reasonable home prices
fewer taxes (sales and property)
people waving to you on the streets
strict academic rules in the grammar schools
There are also several annoying things that really irritated me about the South:
extremely high temperatures and humidity
mosquitoes (as big as small airplanes)
snakes, three of which were poisonous
"Damn Yankee" syndrome
the Confederate flag waving at the capital
the accepted knowledge that blacks knew their place
nonpublished blue laws (no liquor purchases on Sundays; no car oil purchases, but you could buy an oil filter)
But all in all, I was happy with my decision to relocate, and the job was very enjoyable and satisfying. My brother and his family even joined us after the first six months, and he went to work for the Pepsi bottling factory.
We were still attending the church ninety days after my arrival to Irmo when the reverend made an announcement to the parish that Michael was no longer employed as the service manager/mechanic at the dealership and that Michael had resigned his deaconship at the church. I was shocked by these announcements. I had developed a friendship with Michael over the past few months, and we had tipped a few beers together and gone fishing. He helped me purchase two used cars with air-conditioning, which was required in all southern climates. I decided to give Michael a call and see what was up.
"Hey, Michael, what's going on with the job and the deaconship?" I said. "I heard the pastor say you were no longer with the dealership and church about a month ago."
"I really am not prepared to discuss this right now," Michael said.
"Come on, Michael. We are friends. Let's talk over a couple of beers."
"I don't have any beer," he said, "and it is Sunday."
"Me neither. Guess we are stuck then."
"We can go to Augusta and have a few beers if you don't mind a sixty-mile drive. It's in Georgia, and they don't have the strict blue laws."
"Hey, I love Sunday afternoon drives. Let's go for it! I'll pick you up."
Michael lived in a small, well-kempt, brick home about five miles from my house in another housing development. They had very talented masonries all over the South, and all-brick homes were extremely common. I lived in a rich neighborhood (homes that cost more than $70,000) for damn Yankees and doctors and lawyers. When I relocated here, I even spent less for my house than the one in California and had to pay additional capital gains taxes. We purchased a 2,600-square-foot, modern, cedar-sided home on two acres with a creek running through the backyard. I paid $72,000! I had sold my old home, which was located in Half Moon Bay, California, for $86,000. My old home contained 1,200 square feet and was located on a four- thousand-square-foot lot. Needless to say, my wife was ecstatic about our new living arrangements. This euphoria soon evaporated after we discovered the heat, humidity, bugs, termites, and dry rot. We had beautiful French doors that led out to a large wooden deck. What I didn't know was the French doors leaked whenever the rain blew against them. Two months after I had bought the home, I put my right foot through the floor of the dining room. I had to replace a considerable portion of flooring, and I also added a screen-roofed porch to the deck to keep the rain off the doors.
After requesting permission from Sherry to go visit Michael, she said, "be careful driving and to have a good time". I headed over to Michael's. He always wanted to be called Michael, not Mike or Mickey or any other nickname. Most people had this proper name preference in the South. As I pulled up to his home, I saw him on the front porch, rocking in a rocking chair, drinking a glass of iced tea. He didn't acknowledge my arrival and just seemed to rock and stare at his iced tea. Michael lived alone. He was an only child. He had been married once in his early twenties. He had freshly returned from Vietnam back then, and he had been a decorated captain in the US Army. At age twenty-six, he had had a baby girl with his wife. He had been the happiest man alive. Then at eighteen months of age, the child passed away from a rare blood disease caused by incompatible blood types between Michael and his wife. In those days, they did not perform the sophisticated blood testing they do now before marriages. The child's death caused too much grief in his marriage, and they divorced shortly after the tragedy. I parked in his driveway and exited my pickup truck.
"Hey, Michael, ready to go get some real refreshments?"
"Yep, let's go. Let me close the front door. Let's find some beer," he said. "I've been thinking it would probably be better to buy the beer and bring it back with us so the mounties don't stop us and give us a hassle. Let me get a cooler from the garage and some ice."
In South Carolina, you could actually drink beer while you were driving as long as you did not appear intoxicated.
"Sounds good, Michael, but I thought you could wave a beer at a cop here while driving, and as long as you didn't appear drunk, there is no problem."
"That's mostly right, Robert, but in my mood, I don't trust myself not to get drunk before we get back here."
"Okay with me, Michael, but we can kick at least one or two back before we leave Augusta and be fine."
"Good enough," said Michael.
Michael headed for the garage and returned with the ice chest, a rifle, and a fishing pole. I was really confused now and asked, "Are we going hunting and fishing on the way back, Michael?"
"You know the law in South Carolina about loaded weapons, don't you, Robert?"
"Nope, guess I don't. Must be another one of those damn blue laws!"
"It is not a blue law, but as long as you are going fishing, it is legal to carry a loaded weapon in the car because of the snakes."
"But we are not going fishing, Michael, so why the gun?"
"Never know when you might need it, Robert."
"If you say so, Michael. Let's get the hell out of here!"
He tossed the ice chest in the back of the truck and the rifle behind his seat in a rack. I was not an expert about rifles and bullet clips, but I'd bet that clip held at least twenty rounds. And he brought a canvas bag back with him, too.
"How is your gas, Robert? Can I chip in?"
"No, I have a full tank. We should be fine, but you can buy the first six-pack."
"Deal," he said.
Chapter FourWe started the hour drive to Augusta, Georgia, on a Sunday beer run. I was still a little nervous because of the rifle, but I let it pass. I finally worked up enough courage to ask Michael what was going on with the car dealership and the church. It had been almost two weeks since he had left both positions.
"Do you want to talk about what happened to you a couple of weeks ago or just keep it to yourself for a while?" I asked.
"I am still very fucking pissed off about the whole fucking deal, but I really appreciate venting if you think you can handle it?"
"Go for it!" I said. "That's why I am here. I am your friend, and I know it helps to get it all out sometimes."
Michael began, "Okay, I will start at the beginning so you will fully understand the whole fucking mess. When I got back from Nam, I was on top of the world, even though they spat on us when we returned. I spent two years in that armpit of the world, but I survived. My sweetie actually waited for me all that time, and she was the real reason I got through the whole damn thing. You know, I actually enlisted to serve my country after college. They didn't draft me. My sweetie and I had the full army wedding with the dress uniforms, drawn swords, the whole works. We were extremely happy. I am from here and graduated from the University of South Carolina with a BA in business in 1968. I guess that makes me a couple of years older than you. I was raised as a Southern Baptist. I had a very strict religious upbringing. My dad and mom are from Columbia. They knew Reverend John's family and recommended him highly for a possible job opening they had heard of and a good church to join right after I returned from the army."
I said, "I was raised with a very strict Catholic upbringing, so I know where you are coming from."
Excerpted from Pastor Evil by Robert McCabe Copyright © 2011 by Robert McCabe. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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