Rumors

13 03 2010

That night a rumor was born out of a back bedroom of my home in San Diego County, which traveled the full length of the Pacific coast of the continental United States, all the way to Washington, where it turned around and met me again halfway up California in a town called Sonora.  I was sitting in the fellowship hall of a local church, playing Mancala with a fellow student from Washington.  We had been canvassing the Sierra Nevadas for a field trip in search of flowers to classify.  I was just telling her of a certain troublesome individual who had caused our home much grief, when my classmate jumped up and announced excitedly that she had heard of this crazy woman.  We traced the rumor back to her home state, and, from there, back to San Diego.  Surprisingly, the story had not lost an ounce of truth in the telling.

 Lori is one of those people I can name by her first name, and if you know her, then you will likely know about exactly whom I’m talking.  She’s a former witch, who claims to have special knowledge of the spiritual world through her past dealings with the devil.  At the time that I knew her, she waved the banner of Christianity, and she proclaimed herself to be one of God’s own prophets.  She was a bane of families and churches.  Every thought she conceived, every dream, was a gift of the divine, straight to her.  She had plans for a mountain in southern California to become the hiding place for the elect in the final days.  Initially, that land was in drought, but she predicted rain.  She told that a dry lake would one day be filled, and she was right.  Later that year it did rain, the lake did fill, and the mountaintop turned from brown to a luxurious green.  She had actually predicted climate change, and the climate obeyed.

 The next summer, the lake dried, the grass turned brown, and everything returned to the way it had been at first.

 Lori was one of those people who are never wrong.  Anything she wanted, she got.  Many women strive for beauty and high esteem.  She strove for power over angels and men.  Every little thing she did, she praised.  Every decent thing that anyone else did, she disregarded.  If given the chance, she would have started her own little cult community.  I can only thank God that she did not muster that kind of influence.  In retrospect, I can see why she was involved in the female part of the Masons.  She craved the perceived power in that secret pagan ritualism.  Through her, I was able to glimpse some of the lesser rites.  Nothing Biblical comes out of that organization.  The Masons are a collection of would-be sorcerers in a quest for spiritual power, not a club of good fellows.

 As an adolescent, I was stuck in the unfortunate position of being old enough to realize that my parents were being taken for fools, yet I was too young to have any say in my own fate.  Lori convinced them to sell our home and buy a place out in the great tinderbox of rural San Diego County.  Together, her family and ours lived in the same home, mostly at my parents’ expense.  They had visions of a blossoming ministry, which, although it was not on the aforementioned mountain, was destined to move there one day.  That day never came.  I cannot say that no good came of that move.  In fact, my parents were able to make a positive impact on some less fortunate individuals.

 The really irksome problems began when a rumor started in the church.  People were beginning to tell my mother and Lori that they seemed to have an unnaturally close relationship.  The most brazen of them hinted at lesbianism.  Oh, yeah, that feels like a punch in the gut to have people call my mom a dyke.  Lori called it a nasty rumor, and she found someone to blame as the originator of that rumor.  Looking at the situation honestly, I realized that this was not a rumor at all.  People were merely making conclusions based on what they saw.  One person had the guts to say it like it was, but she was not the cause of my mother’s ill repute.  The fact was that Lori looked very much like a lesbian in pursuit of my mom.  So I had this woman getting a little too friendly with my mom, and our families moved in together.  The kids on both sides were starting to confer with each other and wonder what the heck was going on.

 I didn’t think I was affected too much by it, until one day at school while waiting in line for class.  A friend and I were having a little fun inventing funny insults.  Then he landed the line, “your mother is a lesbian.”  The next thing I knew, I turned around and he was rubbing his jaw, eyes wet, saying, “You hit me.  I can’t believe you just hit me!”  I couldn’t believe it, either.  I wasn’t even conscious of it.  I was amazed and horrified that I had just hit a friend.  I still don’t really remember doing it.  I must have turned around, slugged him, and then returned to standing in line as though nothing had happened.  What a way to lose a friend!

 Lori brought some interesting times to my life, most of which I could have done quite well without.  Fortunately, these things could not last.  Due to the “rumors,” the church stripped both of the ladies, my dad and Lori’s husband of their involvement in youth functions.  From there, they retreated to a poor little country church.  During this time, Lori found a new best friend, named Laura, which caused a great deal of chaos in our home, especially since Laura was living on the property by my parents’ benevolence. 

 Then events really got crazy.  My dad and Lori got into a fight, in which they both went for their guns.  He was tired of letting her push everyone around, and she was tired of having him stand in the way of her dreams.  I don’t know how we ever survived.  I cannot fathom how my parents’ marriage lasted. 

 Lori’s marriage did not last.  Her son became enamored with the preacher’s daughter, and Lori saw it as an opportunity to exact revenge not only on her estranged husband, but also strike a blow to the preacher.  The timing couldn’t have been worse.  The church was splitting, and the board was trying to oust the preacher.  His daughter was eighteen and entitled to make her own marital choices, which she did against her father’s will.  Lori’s son was just sixteen, which meant that she could emancipate him against his father’s will.  Add to that the fact that her friend, Laura, had received a mail-order minister’s license, and what we got was two kids getting married in a back bedroom against the will of three parents, thanks to one clever and especially vindictive mother.  My parents and I huddled in the common area of the house, grumbling helplessly against it.  It was entirely legal, and it was all incredibly stupid.

 News of the odd marriage traveled from there to Washington through an unlikely channel of people who did not know us.  From there, it found its way back to Sonora, to a surprised and energetic classmate.

 Lori, Laura and the newlyweds moved to Arizona shortly after that.  The kids had a couple of their own kids immediately, and then the preacher’s daughter took those kids and went to live with her parents again.

 At least that disaster was out of my life.  My parents’ stormy marriage healed to near perfection within a year.  I married my own bride in that very church, just after the pastor lost his own daughter to a back room wedding.  We’re still happily married after all of these years.  I put Lori out of my mind.  She continued to make her way east.  She left her friend, Laura, and, as far as I know, made her way to the other side of the continent.

 I don’t know why I was surprised, recently, when yet another Lori rumor found its way all the way from the other coast to here.  I was sitting outside of church, when my dad leaned over and said, “Lori got married…to another woman.  Don’t tell your mom.”

 Apparently the “gossips” at church had been right all those years ago.  They were following their God-given mandate to warn people of their sin.  Things may not have been what they appeared to be, but they were certainly close enough to merit mention.  While Lori was claiming divine revelation, her opponents were the ones getting the message from above.  She may go to Hell, but it won’t be for her ignorance.

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