There were few people on the street this early in the day. Trucks loaded with produce rumbled down the street, while a car stopped at the curb, where it was met by a freckle-faced boy who picked up the bundle of newspapers that tumbled out of the car onto the curb. A milk truck cruised down the streets, then pulled up beside a house nestled into a thin lot between businesses. The milkman in his white suit collected the empty bottles from the doorstep, and replaced them with two full quart bottles. Jason watched from his spot on the sidewalk, but noticed his cardboard box was missing. That refrigerator box wasn’t much, but it was his only shelter from the bitterly cold wind. Looking at his hands, he saw that the fingers of his gloves no longer had holes in them, and that his left toe no longer stuck out from his torn sock and shoe, which were now whole.
Then he spotted the sign down the street, reading “Healing Hands Rescue Mission.” For some reason, he hadn’t seen it yesterday—in fact, he didn’t remember the street on the other side of his spot at all. He walked down the sidewalk toward the rescue mission, thinking that although he didn’t really want to stay at the shelter, it had to be better than sleeping on the street.
He climbed the steps up to the second floor, and walked through a set of swinging doors. He spied a row of wooden pews and a pulpit, behind which stood a curtained stage. To his right lay a kitchen with a serving counter, and a row of tables and benches at the far end of the room.
“Hello?” Jason called out.
A heavy man emerged from the hallway, wearing slacks and a long-sleeved shirt with the sleeves rolled up. Even at this early hour of the morning he wore a tie, although the button at the collar was unfastened and the tie hung loosely under his puffy chin. He carried a thick black Bible that was undoubtedly heavier than the Manhattan telephone directory. He broke into a friendly smile.
“Hello, my brother! I’m Pastor Roy. How can the Lord and I help you today?”
“I’m looking for a place to stay. I slept on the sidewalk last night.” It occurred to Jason that he felt warmer inside the rescue mission than he had been all yesterday. The young man extended his hand. “I’m Jason.”
Jason and Pastor Roy were shaking hands when a woman came out of the hallway. She was voluptuous, to say the least, with wide hips, solid legs, and a belly on her that continued below the waistline of her skirt. She also sported a pair of enormous breasts. She was cute despite her weight, and Jason figured that if she lost thirty pounds she would be gorgeous.
“I’m Sister Belinda,” she said. “Let’s go get you cleaned up.”
“Yes, please do that,” the pastor agreed. “The fleas in this town are out of control.”
Sister Belinda placed a friendly hand on his shoulder and led him down the hallway to a restroom. Once they were inside, she bolted the door behind them. Turning from the door to face him, she smiled.
“Let’s get you showered off.”
Jason looked around him for a changing room, but there was none—just a couple of urinals, three stalls with toilets, and a tiled corner where a shower stood, looking bare without curtains or any kind of screen. She helped Jason strip off his coat, which she draped over a stall door. He was unbuttoning his shirt when she knelt and slipped off his shoes, followed by his socks. As Jason slung his shirt onto his coat, she worked at unfastening his belt.
Jason felt uneasy, but at least he was grateful that he had a belt instead of a knotted rope to hold up his pants. She slid his pants down to his ankles, and placed them on top of the towel dispenser behind them, which consisted of a white towel in a long loop that scrolled through the dispenser as one cranked the handle. She yanked down his boxers and scrutinized his thighs and groin.
“Is that mustard?” she asked in bewilderment at the spot near his crotch. “You know, Brother Jason, lust will make a man do many sick, twisted things, but the Lord shall set you free.”
Jason thought there was no sense trying to explain how he had waded nearly naked through the holovideo fountain to get coins and was forced to dry himself off with a discarded newspaper and a hotdog wrapper.
Rising to her feet, the Rubenesque woman turned on the shower, waiting until the water turned comfortably warm, testing it by putting her hand into the stream. She guided Jason into the shower with a helpful hand on his butt. Jason reached for the soap, but she beat him to it. Sister Belinda began rubbing his shoulders with the soap, while her other hand scrubbed.
Jason felt his face flush with embarrassment. “Sister Belinda, let me wash off; I don’t want you to get wet.”
“It’s okay,” she replied, never stopping her washing, “I’m already wet.”
It seemed to Jason that she was unaware of her double entendre. Sister Belinda started with his hair, washing and raking his scalp with her fingernails, before working her way down his chest, to his abs, which caused Jason to tense up, but he felt relieved when she skipped his groin and dropped down to his feet. Looking down at the woman kneeling at his feet, Jason had an incredible view of the massive cleavage crowded into her blouse, like two flesh-covered watermelons. The bar of soap and her scrubbing hand slowly progressed up his ankles, his shins, to his knees, to his thigh, then his inner thighs.
“Oh, my, Jason,” she exclaimed in surprise, “your balls are so dirty.”
Sister Belinda soaped up his balls, jostling them in his sack with her fingertips, as the stream of water poured onto his scrotum. “And your penis is so filthy.” She soaped up his penis, which had already begun to thicken and stir.
“Cleanliness is next to godliness,” she observed cheerfully. Her hands ran up and down the soapy length of his penis, which turned into a raging erection. Her foamy hands did corkscrew twists on his knob, making it darken as blood flowed to it.
If he wasn’t mistaken he seemed better endowed than yesterday, measuring slightly longer and thicker.
“Don’t be ashamed of your big cock, Brother Jason; it’s a gift from the Lord.” She rinsed off his genitals, but his erection still jutted out from his groin. The large woman rose from the shower and took a towel from a shelf near the door.
“You know, I used to be ashamed of my big bazooms. All the children used to tease me, and I thought that my huge bosoms did nothing but cause lust, so I felt like I was a stumbling block, a millstone around the neck of the brethren.”
She returned to where Jason stood in the tiled corner, and started drying him off with the towel. “But I realized that the Lord had given me my big bosoms for a reason, and it wasn’t my place to question his will.” She worked up and down his body, buffing him with the towel, including his penis, which bobbed up and down.
“There you go!” The woman stepped back to admire her labor. She picked up his boxers from the floor. “Why don’t you get dressed and join me in the kitchen? Oh, and I’ll wash your underwear for you.”
Jason watched her as she went out the door, and waited for his erection to subside. As he got dressed he decided that the rescue mission was an odd place, but it was a definite improvement over yesterday. He felt like a new man, and ran his fingers through his slick, clean hair.
Sister Belinda waited for him in front of the kitchen, holding a plate of scrambled eggs and hash browns. “You look like a new man, Brother Jason. Doesn’t he, Pastor Roy?”
The heavy minister, who was arranging hymnals and Bibles on the pews, did a slow turn to examine Jason. “Why yes he does, glory to God.”
Jason took the plate and sat at the tables. He was devouring his breakfast when Sister Belinda brought him a cup of coffee. “Thank you, sister,” he mumbled between bites.
When he finished eating, the shapely woman asked, “Want seconds?”
“Oh, no, I’m fine, thank you,” he said as he handed her his plate. “That was delicious.”
He stood up and went into the section of the large hall with the pews. “What can I do to help, Pastor?”
The heavy man beamed, and had Jason join him as they wiped down the Bibles and hymnals, wiped down the pews and polished them, then swept the floor and mopped the hallway. As he worked, men filtered out of the hallway and pushed through the swinging doors to leave the rescue mission. They were bums without a doubt, worn down by a hard life, and fond of booze. Although there might be a nicer word than “bum,” there wasn’t any word as accurate, which made him wonder if he looked that bad.
“Can you cook?” the pastor asked. “It will be lunch before too long, but Sister Belinda and Sister Jamie are still out ministering.”
“I can make beans,” Jason offered, hoping he remembered the recipe his grandfather taught him.
“That’s great,” the pastor replied. “The Lord will provide.”
Jason went into the kitchen and started cooking the beans, rounding up onions and garlic, bay leaves, chili peppers and paprika. To his surprise, a pot of beans had been left to soak overnight. After draining them, rinsing them, and replacing the water, he sautéed the spices in a separate pan and added them to the pot. While he waited for the beans to come to a boil, he cleaned up the kitchen, organizing food stocks and utensils on the shelves. Once he dialed down the flame to simmer, he tackled the dishes, which had accumulated in the sink and the adjoining counter.
There were just a few more ingredients missing from his beans. He reached back into the closet, and high up on a shelf, in the back corner where he had missed it, he found a can of chicken broth and three cans of beer.
“The Lord will provide, indeed,” he thought.
He removed a can opener from the drawer, and punched holes in the broth can so that he could add it to the bubbling pot. Where was the tab on the beer cans? Then he remembered it was 1920, and beer cans had no tab, but had to be punched with a can opener. Upon puncturing the three cans, he watched the beer create tall piles of foam when it hit the simmering beans. Jason sniffed the beans, and they smelled delicious.
The men began to come into the rescue mission, signaling that it was almost noon. Pastor Roy greeted each man individually and warmly as he sat down. Maybe a dozen or so men sat on the pews, and the pastor motioned for Jason to have a seat. Jason looked over his shoulder to see Sister Belinda and a new young lady he hadn’t seen yet, coming down the aisle. The new lady was slim, with big eyes and pert breasts. She must be Sister Jamie. The two women took their spots at the front, positioned at the center aisle, and the motley assortment of men stared at the big-bosomed sister and her slim companion with looks that were more than brotherly.
The two ladies broke into “Bringing in the Sheaves,” with Sister Jamie playing the tambourine as Sister Belinda used her loud voice to boom out the tune, and the bums mumbled along. Jason thought wryly that it was the best song that he had ever heard about carrying bundles of wheat, but knew that participating in the worship service was the price of lunch.
After they sang or hummed all five verses of the hymn, Pastor Roy thanked the sisters and launched into a sermon full of fire and brimstone, complete with the most graphic descriptions of eternal torment. Thankfully, the sermon was short, but the pastor’s prayer before the meal lasted nearly as long. The men sat at the edge of their seats, eager to race to the kitchen window, but there was the matter of collecting the offering.
The sisters moved among the men, holding out silver collection plates, while the pastor exhorted the men to give. A few coins, mainly pennies and nickels, thunked onto the plate. It occurred to Jason that whether it was him sitting on the sidewalk, or the organ grinder’s monkey, or the sisters here in the shelter, it seemed like everybody was a beggar with a cup. Jason felt his pocket, and remembered that he had 90 cents, which was borne out by a quick glance at the “game wealth” column on his watch. Feeling bad for the trio, who had collected almost nothing, but who had given him breakfast, he tossed a quarter into the plate.
The clunk of Jason’s quarter onto the plate was the signal for the men to rush to the serving window, moving as fast as possible without actually running. Sister Belinda and Sister Jamie ladled out beans and placed rolls onto the men’s plates, while Pastor Roy poured coffee into paper cups. The men sat at the tables and inhaled the steam rising from their bowls. They knew beer when they smelled it. They eagerly ate their beans and returned for seconds, until Sister Belinda sadly informed them that they had run out.
The men thanked the pastor as they left, to which he replied with an enthusiastic, “God bless you, brother!” He urged them all to come back.
Jason helped the sisters collect the dishes and clean the tables, then joined them in the kitchen, where he helped them wash the dishes.
“The men really loved your beans, Brother Jason,” Sister Belinda told him.
Sister Jamie said nothing, but smiled shyly.
“There are almost always leftovers, but today they ate every last bit.” The amply-endowed sister handed him a plate that she had just scrubbed, which he rinsed and handed to Sister Jamie to set onto the rack.
Pastor Roy came up to the kitchen window, only now he wore his jacket. “I’m off to the jail to minister.” He waved good-bye and strode out the swinging doors.
They finished the dishes and left the kitchen, when Sister Belinda approached him. “I think you need the laying on of hands.”
Sister Jamie remained quiet, but smiled before she looked down to escape his gaze.