Portia’s Peanut Butter Ice Box Cake
“Are you people just going to stand there?” Pastor Griffin sputtered. “I demand you remove this man immediately.”
“It’s going to be like that, huh?” Izzy took a step back and glanced at the crowd around him, as if waiting to see who would step up to confront him.
“I, for one,” said Deacon Perry. “Would be very interested in hearing what he has to say.”
“I won’t stand for this,” Pastor Griffin said. “Either you get this man off my property this instance, or I’m calling the police.” There was a small murmur of protest. “I mean it. He’s a gang-banging thug. Are you going to take anything he says over me?”
Those nearest to Izzy threw him uncertain looks but the doubt reflected there provided Pastor Griffin the opening he’d hoped for. “I’m sure someone with your record wouldn’t want to have any new face time with the cops.” Pastor Griffin did not wait for a response. He pushed through the crowd of parishioners, left the awning of the tent and into the light.
Ethel Mae tracked his progress to a table and pair of lawn chairs set up near the treeline. Agnes and Jamella Bradshaw trailed after him. Jamella carried a frosty jug of fresh squeezed lemonade while Agnes presented him with a heaping slice of Portia’s Peanut Butter Ice Box cake. Ethel Mae wondered if all of the Blue Bell Ice Cream was gone.
“Izzy, right?” prompted Deacon Hanson.
“Yeah, that’s me,” Izzy spoke with a challenge. “You finna try to throw me out of here?”
“No. Despite what the pastor just said, this is God’s property. All are welcome here.”
“I don’t know about that,” said Izzy. “Unless y’all do something,” Izzy thumbed towards Pastor Griffin. “All of this gon’ be turned into a new shopping mall.”
“No.” The strangled cry from Deacon Kieran raised the hackles on Ethel Mae’s skin. “Pastor Griffin wouldn’t do that. You’re a liar.”
Izzy’s sharp gaze examined the young deacon from head to toe. “Man, you’re living the lie . . . and the pipe dream. I don’t have anything to prove. Monday morning, when the construction crew shows up with bulldozers, you’ll have all the proof you need.”
“Son, what are you talking about?” Deacon Perry insisted. But Izzy shrugged them off and walked away.
Hanson turned to Kieran. “What do you know about this?”
“I don’t know nothing.”
“Kieran, we don’t always agree and that’s okay, but this congregation and the traditions of this church supersede everything. Earlier, you were all prepared to fire Pastor Griffin and expose Lady Charlotte. Why?”
“He promised!” Kieran repeated over and over, hugging himself as if he were afraid if he let go, he would split apart. “I did everything he asked. Everything!” The last word spewed out with hate, as he glared towards the table where Pastor Griffin still sat. “He won’t get away with this.”
Kieran ran towards the parking lot, his sobs trailed after him like a mist of smoke.
“Uh, if I can have everybody’s attention.” Agnes Bradshaw stood on top of a down-turned crate. “This is a time of, uh, fellowship. And uh, now that we know longer are under the shadow of foreclosure, uh, we can now celebrate too.” She trickled a laugh and waved her hands as if to encourage the crowd to join with her. “Okay, so . . .” She seemed uncertain as members of her church family glared at her. “Let’s get this party started. First, we’ll serve the potluck. Y’all can start forming a line at the end of the buffet table. After everyone is fed and full, we’ll proceed with the silent auction. Okay?”
When nobody moved, several folk shaking their heads in disbelief, Agnes shouted, “Move!”
One by one, the crowd shuffled out of the tent and then reassembled at the other end to begin their process down the buffet line.
Mama Lou shook her head in disbelief. “I told y’all we should have left.”