Deacon Reynolds leaned back in his leather office chair, the image of relaxed authority. Determined not to make eye contact, he steadied his gaze on the second hand of the clock just behind his parishioner’s heads. Mr. and Mrs. Jacobs had been attending weekly counseling sessions for just over one year. Today was their final session.
“Folks, I can’t tell you how to live your lives but I can tell you this, “he began; now staring at the ceiling. He pressed his palms together before raising his index fingers to his lips. “Scripture is clear on the roles of men and women, not only in the house of the Lord, but in our private homes”. He rocked in his reclined position for a few moments, hoping his prayerful stance inspired divine action.
“I’m sorry, Deacon Reynolds. If Sheena could meet me in the middle, maybe we could work this out. She wants too much. I’ve been sober for nearly a year, I’ve cleaned up my credit, I got a better job – it’s still not enough!” Mr. Jacobs was on his feet now, shoving his arms into the coat that had been crumpled in his lap for the past fifty-five minutes. The deacon swiveled around to face him – Lord, he did love a chair that swiveled – and narrowed his eyes.
“You are treading dangerous waters. Ten years of marriage to a good woman and you give up? Coward! Repent, and make things right. The Lord will forgive you.” He leaned back into the cognac leather, enjoying the squeak of the hinges.
Bob hung his head and slumped back onto the Chesterfield next to his wife. Sheena Jacobs was an ice sculpture; beautifully crafted yet frigid. The A/C blast wasn’t helping ease the tension that hovered around her. Bob started to reach for her hands, neatly stacked on a chiffon dress that was almost too dressy for such an occasion, before he thought better of it.
“Maybe I am a coward” Bob started, “… but I’m no schmuck. What’s done is done.” He exited without another word.
After a few moments, Sheena stood to release the creases in her dress. Her anxiety was palpable. Deacon Reynolds sat up again and loosened the starched white collar from around his neck. “Another Friday evening of success”, he quipped.
The young woman smirked, her nerves now electrified. She crossed the room like a lioness, her confidence increasing with each step. As she lowered herself onto the good Deacon’s lap, he whispered, “Leave the dress on tonight”.