Lolly Llewellyn felt she had to many L’s in her name. She also felt that all stores should be closed on Sunday as this was the Lord’s day. Yet, she was unsure of what there would be to do after church on Sunday if the mall were closed. Her grandmother promised family dinners every Sunday if Lolly didn’t always go off to the mall with her friends. Lolly didn’t like the smell of her grandmother’s house or her grandmother.
On most Sundays, she met up with her friends at the mall. They had been friends since they were small enough to be taken to the church pre-school then later to the church school. They were from the same town, the same church, the same school.
All of the seventeen years of her life were spent in Oklahoma. Most of that time in the same neighborhood of Tulsa where her parents and grandparents lived. Her great-grandfather moved to Tulsa from Mobile, Alabama during the years of the Dustbowl. No one in the family knew much more of him than that.
He was a God fearing man who met his wife, Ermaline, while volunteering at a pancake breakfast one Sunday in May. Ermaline’s father came from a small family that lived on a farm where oil was found. The family gave up farming and moved to Tulsa. Ermaline’s father died when the car he was driving ran off a bridge one night in the rain. The bottle of whiskey he was drinking from flew out of the car and into the river so his wife never knew the cause. Ermaline was five when that happened. All she could remember of her father was what her mother told her he would or would not approve of as she was growing up. As a result, he turned out to be a very disappointing father. Her mother had a weakness for her only child and often went against her late husband’s wishes while raising her.
Lolly often heard stories about the good old days in Tulsa. She heard them from her family and her pastor and her friends’ families. Lolly thought her days were pretty good on their own and would be able to stand up to all of the memories she had ever heard anytime at all.
Lolly sat with her friends at the mall sipping milkshakes and talking about Todd, one of the boys at school, who was expelled. None of them knew why. They speculated he might have been on drugs or maybe had sex with one of the girls from a public school. All they really knew was he had been called out of class on Friday morning by Deacon Rogers. After lunch, rumors began to spread that he was expelled. That night, at home, her parents asked her if she knew the boy.
“Not really very well,” she said. “He was in a couple of my classes."
Her father gave a stern look and said, “That’s a good thing. If you see that boy again, we don’t want you speaking to him. Do you hear?”
“I hear you, Papa.” She smiled back. Now, she was with her friends at the Mall on a Sunday afternoon wondering what it was that happened to him.
As it turned out, Todd contracted polio. His parents felt vaccinations were an abomination and that if one lived a life without sin, the Lord would protect you. The only sin Todd ever committed was when he was six. He hollered back at
his mother in a supermarket when she told him to stop when he tried to open a box of Oreos on the grocer's shelf. Not that it was really a sin but his mother was so embarrassed by his tantrum that she rushed him home without saying a word. That night, his father had a quiet talk with him about not honoring his father and mother. He was told he would burn forever in the fires of hell for what he had done. Todd was lost and he knew it. After the talk, his father pulled down Todd's pants and beat him with his belt. It was the only way to have God forgive him. He would have God's law beaten into him. Todd never sinned again except later when he would masturbate to the idea of being beaten on his ass by his father.
Lolly Llewellyn was Captain of the Christian Youth Coalition Chapter at the Holy Redeemer Evangelical Church of Jesus Christ Savior. She was proud of the church she attended for it had God’s full name spelled out right in there on the sign over the door. She found it both familiar and respectful. But not so formal that anyone would think of calling him Mister Christ. Nor was it so familiar that someone could address him only by his first name.
She got top grades at Holy Redeemer High where she was a junior. Lolly was talented. She knew how to twirl a baton. She could dance the hula. She could even tap dance. She played piano and loved show tunes. She especially liked The Sound of Music and once wore her tap shoes and her feet tapped away under the piano while playing Edelweiss to express her spirit. But for all of her God-given talent, Lolly could not sing a note on key. At the age of eight, she was mortified when asked to leave auditions for the church choir. She never sang again except from the pews at church where neither she nor anyone else could tell how bad her singing really was. Lolly had a secret dream to one day play the Abbess in The Sound of Music so she could sing Climb Every Mountain. She knew it would take a miracle for that to happen and God was much too busy with real problems.
Her friend Terri changed the subject away from Todd. “What I can’t figure out is what all these stores are doing open on a Sunday. Why in the world are all these folks working?” She sucked at the straw in her milkshake.
Ruthie answered, “I just know some of these businesses here are owned by Christians. The ladies at church who work down at the Hallmark store were going on about all the good Christian store owners here.”
“It doesn’t make no sense for them to be open on Sunday,” Terri said while still sucking on her milkshake.
“Well, it's not like they have any real Christians working here, “ Lolly added blithely. “I mean, look around. Not a one of these folks here were ever in our church. And there’s hardly none of them are white.”
“There’s some white boys working at the movies,” Ruthie blurted out.
“They’re poor and they’re not really proper Christians anyways. No matter what, you can’t say that a good Christian is ever gonna work on a Sunday.”
Terri looked out past the storefronts at the mall and drifted into asking, “What about Reverends?”
Lolly didn’t miss a beat, “They’re okay. My grandma says they’re doing God’s work and they don’t get paid for what they're doing on a Sunday anyway. They only get paid for the days they work on the rest of the week. Grandma’s daddy was a preacher and that's what she told me.”
Ruth looked puzzled, “What about doctors and firemen and the police? Are they gonna burn in hell?”
“They all do good deeds. For every good thing a person does on Sunday, God gives them points. If they got enough points, God lets them go to heaven.”
Helen didn’t say a thing all this time. She just slurped on the straw in her milkshake. She looked up at the others and said with finality, “I want some French fries.”
The four girls got up from the bench. They dusted off the seats of their pants and smoothed down their t-shirts. Each was pudgy but walked with the ease of being trim and lithe.
Lolly was the shortest of the girls but her breasts were the largest. Her grandmother often said, “If the Lord's blessed you, flaunt it.” But Grandma was talking about wealth. It was a carry-over from the oil boom days when the streets of Tulsa were filled with big cars and well dressed women. Lolly applied this philosophy to everything she felt God had bestowed on her. Her firm breasts jiggled of their own accord as she walked and she dressed to ensure everyone noticed. And everyone did. And Lolly noticed them watching. And she was thankful for that and smiled.
©2009 - Stanley M. Fried
|Lolly is an incomplete character study for a possible longer work.