They got together to pray every Tuesday morning. They gathered the prayer requests in the black boxes along with the tithes and offerings, and every Tuesday they went over the congregation’s problems and concerns as submitted in prayer, many of which if whispered outside the confidential confines of the pastoral offices would cause quite a stir in the community. His meeting with them was at three. Just turned forty, Pastor Mike was used to such meetings handling such affairs it was his job to be at weddings and marriage counselings headed for divorce, births and deaths, commencements and funerals, and you could say after being at Cornerstone for the past four years, moving the church to the old Wal-Mart, that he knew the town pretty well–he knew the people of the town.

At the behest of both families he had reviewed the videos on YouTube, and though he was not privy to access the darknet (the church wi-fi had very strict search filters), he had seen printouts of what George had posted there, remnants of the story, which shocked the pastor not so much in how it was written, but in the content–it was the pathology there that disturbed him–and he knew the gist of the story, how George’s girlfriend was still in jail and he was up for a transfer (That’s how they handled government employees involved in indiscretions, usually there were mandatory briefings and new policies enacted, but the disciplinary action just meant a different tour of duty. He’d been there when George broke his leg. Reinhilde made sure to put in the prayer request for a hospital visit. That and to pray “he’d get off that stuff that comes in the mail”.), and Pastor Mike knew how V’s father had passed away in the last year, and he could see the grief in the videos, not just in the face but in the tone of voice, but his job now was to untangle these issues and hopefully reach some sort of resolution. Mason’s parents deserved that. And as the sign said on the door, despite whatever religious affiliation or background Chad and Stacy came from, they deserved God’s love and open arms. The church creed was: Love God, Love Others, and Make Disciples. He could only imagine the hurt Chad must be feeling as a father. He had two sons himself, and two adopted sons. The oldest was just reaching puberty with those questions those basic human questions he tried to answer in his sermons on Sunday. This family deserved to know where their son was.

“I don’t know, preacher,” Chad said, “I mean it’s not like we don’t know I know my boy is dead, but what the world should be and what the world is is two different things. Far as I’m concerned the world’s just a whore who prides herself in how little she has to put out. It’s all about position who has the upper hand if you want to play the game if it matters to you… You’re asking me to care about this girl’s baby when she still hasn’t fessed up where the body is? I mean I know we’ve all fallen short and all, but it seems strange to me that we’re told of this world where everyone should care that to not care is the warning sign of a psychopathology and that it’s more than just a guilt trip people are layin’ on us we ought to be truly concerned we ought to care deeply about the world around us… Well tell me this, preacher, does the world care that my boy killed himself that this world I’m supposed to care about bullied my boy into killing himself? Look me in the eye and tell me that. Tell me this world cared if my son lived or died, and I’ll have the gall to ask of God that He bless what my boy left behind.”

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