"Well, not much to tell you really." I told him. I looked around. We were in a fairly large room that was empty except for a couple of picnic tables that had been pushed together to form one long table. About halfway down the table were a pair of nice silver salt and pepper shakers. There was a china cabinet which held dishes and a side table that was empty. At the head of the table, where Brother Tom sat of course, was a rough hewn wooden chair that looked a lot like a throne. On purpose I was sure. Behind it on the wall was another version of the same flag they had flying outside. It was actually a satin bedsheet that had been spray painted. Who ever did it had held the nozzle to close and the paint had run.
On his right sat Elder Bob and Brother Tom had gestured for me to sit on his left. His men, all four who had followed us in, took their seats below the salt. The empty space above it was supposed to be filled by Ricky and Loco. Ricky had moved to sit down, Loco growled at him, then he walked away from the table and took up position against the wall by the open door that probably led to a kitchen. Ricky started to take the same wall but Loco looked at the far wall and back at him. Damn, he was slow about some shit but he got the message and moved over to the far wall by the china cabinet. Brother Tom did not like this at all. He opened his mouth, thought about the loss of face involved, and shut it. Inwardly I grinned.
"So where are you coming from? You know how it is. We don't get the news like we used too." He smiled. I am sure he thought it was his best "Talk to me" one. Before I could say anything he banged on the table with his fist and yelled "Women! Where the hell are you! You got thirsty men in here. Bring us some water!" He continued "I am sorry that all we have to offer is water but this is a poor village. Perhaps we could convince you to tithe a small bit to the church. You are good Christians are you not?" Oh yeah. His boys who hadn't missed a word of what was being said popped a woody of nonverbal delight over this comment.
"Well Brother Tom, you know there are many roads that lead to the Fathers house." I remembered hearing someone say that once and liked it. It had lots of weasel in it without being nasty. He thought about it for a second, or pretended too, then he said "Yes, but there is only one God and one true path." He smiled at me. Then yelled "Water! Woman get your ass in here now!" I heard her voice saying "Coming!" before I saw her. That was a good thing. I needed it. A cold wave splashed over me and a jolt of pure energy lit up my nervous system. She came through the door struggling with a five gallon plastic container two thirds filled with water. Another woman was right behind her carrying coffee mugs on a silver serving tray. She said "Sorry Brother Thomas. The stupid bitch, I mean woman, had problems with the pump." She curtsied, set the cups on the table and told Carol "Don't splash the water all over the place when you pour."
She looked like shit. She probably hadn't been that skinny since she was twelve. Her hair was dull but when she looked at me, only for a second before dropping them, her eyes told me she was still alive. I slid my legs up over the seat and dropped them on the floor. Then I bent down and began retying my boots. I had too. I knew if anyone saw my face then it would begin. It would too, just not until she was out of the room. I heard her bare feet move across the floor and Brother Tom say "Do you have a problem with women knowing their place amongst your people? I didn't look at him first. Instead I looked at his men and then Loco. I heard Loco say softly "Holy shit." Then I turned to Brother Tom and said "No. Not at all."