Just when it seemed like he couldn’t hold onto sanity for another minute, right after dinner there was knock on the door. When his father answered, the first voice he heard was Reverend Anderson and his heart sank. He sat in the living room, where he had been watching television, thinking, “Might as well stick a fork in me and call me done.” His father led Reverend Anderson and Pastor Cal into the living room and invited them to sit down. They did and Vernon’s heart thumped so loudly, he just knew everyone could hear it.
“Reverend Jenkins, thank you for agreeing to see us. We have a rather grave matter to discuss involving Vernon. But before we get started, has Vernon told you anything about what happened three days ago?” Pastor Cal asked.
“No,” Reverend Jenkins replied stiffly. “I know something has been going on, but when I asked, he refused to tell me.”
“Vernon,” Reverend Anderson spoke calmly, “Would you like to tell your dad why we’re here?”
“No! Y’all here you might as well do what you do,” was Vernon’s rebellious response.
Paul sighed, before he turned to Vernon’s father and began to tell him what happened. Until Paul actually pulled the plastic baggy out of the manila envelope that Pastor Cal had been holding, Reverend Jenkins sat in unbelief. When he saw the bag, he started to get up from his chair, but Pastor Cal motioned for him to sit.
“Vernon, tell your father what this is and where it came from!” Reverend Anderson said.
“How am I supposed know? You brought that in here. You tell him,” adamantly denying everything.
“Okay, I’ll tell him.” Turning to Vernon’s father, he pulled out his cell phone and showed him the picture taken on the day Paul had seen him with the seedy-looking guy. Vernon’s father visibly blanched at what he saw. The veins in his forehead started to pulse and anger was written all over his face. Before anyone could have anticipated the next move, he was out of his chair and had grabbed Vernon and threw him down on the floor and started punching him. It took Paul and Cal to get him off Vernon and even then, his fists were still flailing, almost hitting Paul in the face. He was livid!
“Torrance!” Pastor Cal cautioned him. “This is not the way. Beating him to a pulp is not going to help.”
“Oh yes, it will,” Torrance responded, breathing heavily. “It will help me to teach this boy some respect! I will not tolerate drug use in my house. If he can’t abide by my rules, then he can get the hell out!”
Paul was still holding onto him, while Cal attended Vernon, who was curled up in a fetal position on the floor. His hands were protecting what was left of the exposed part of his face, but where his father’s punches had landed, skin was rising in protest of the beating along one whole side of his face.
After carefully checking Vernon over, Cal determined there was no skin broken or broken bones and he helped him to sit back in the chair from which his father had pulled him.
“Torrance, profanity won’t help the matter here. Please, get yourself in check. We need to talk. Beating Vernon is not the answer. At this rate, the only thing we’ll accomplish here is to get him angry enough to leave and then we won’t have any control over what he does. Calm down!”
“How can you tell me to calm down? What would you do if this was your son? I don’t mean the one that’s grown? But with a baby on the way, you better know how to deal with this nonsense because it’s not going to get better.”
Cal ignored Reverend Jenkins for a moment. He was not there to discuss his future child; he was there to find a way to keep Vernon out of trouble.
“Vernon, look at me. I want you to think about what’s going on here and the fact that you have to stop using and selling drugs. If you keep going in this direction, it will only be a matter of time before you’re arrested. Look, I know some of the pushers have kids believing they cannot be prosecuted, but the laws are changing. You can and will be prosecuted and there is nothing your father or anyone else will be able to do about it. Is going to jail what you really want?”