“Why the hell are you wearing that dumbass shirt?” My dad growled at me from his bed when I walked through the living room with two fresh cups of creamy coffee.
“Sounding pretty judgmental for a guy sleeping on a bed in a living room, dad,” I shot back and set down his coffee next to a short glass of whiskey. “Besides, this shirt signifies I know how to fix computers and that’s a pretty non-dumbass skill. You wouldn’t call a guy who can repair a driveshaft a dumbass, would you?
“Would if he wore a shirt like that. Where you going anyway?”
“Looking into this stuff about Chase. You ever heard of Crave Churches?”
“Is that a gay bar?”
I shook my head and walked out the door.
I must have driven or walked by the Crave Church in my hometown a million times and not even thought about what it was. There are so many churches in rural Tennessee I have heard at least three individuals in my lifetime say you can’t “swing a dead cat in rural Tennessee without hitting a church.” Disgusting analogy, but accurate.
Tucked behind Main Street on a little poorly-paved road next to the north woods of town, Crave Church was a white, triangle-shaped building with a rotting wooden statue of Jesus stuck out in the front yard next to a reader board which housed just three black letters rearranged to spell out VAG. I let out a little chuckle when I walked up the front steps of the building, my eyes stuck on the brilliance of some town kid.
The front door of the church was open when I reached the top of the little cement slope of a walkway which led up from the sidewalk.
“Howdy,” I announced myself in my cheeriest tone when I walked into the cramped congregation room. “Hello?”
I was answered by the retching sound of someone vomiting.
“Hold on one second.”
I followed the pained voice down a dark hallway to my left and the open door of an office. I continued until I was in a little doorway looking down at a man in a wheelchair. He quickly looked up at me
“Holy hell,” the man pushed the about 20-30 thin red hairs which lived on his scalp back and looked up at me. “Welcome to Crave.”
The sad scene I had just stumbled upon made me have to rethink my plan on the spot. I was going to con a guy who looked like a broke ass Larry Flynt who was working and barfing on a hot Wednesday morning?
“Uh, ah. I’m with Frontier IT. I was dispatched to update some of the computers in your computer lab with new software,” I finished my statement with the wave of a jump drive.
“That sounds about right. I don’t think anyone has tinkered with those things since Clinton was in office. Bill, not Hillary,” the man in the wheelchair answered back, punctuated with a chuckle and stuck out a hammy paw for a shake which I accepted. “Bill Crunkle, but my friends call me Crumpled Twenty. Get it? Like crumpled twenty-dollar bill? I know it’s not that great.”
Bill wheeled his chair up to me.
“You know where the computer labs are?”
“It’s been a while.”
Bill wheeled past me. I followed him out into the hallway.