Katrina Middlesex was the news anchor of the USBN station. She insisted on being referred to as an anchor rather than anchor-woman or anchor-person, citing that she had no intention of “skirting” her responsibilities.
She requested a “meet and greet” with Reverend Meningsbee. Partially flattered but mostly trapped, the pastor agreed, but decided to make the pow-wow at his church office instead of his home. He selected that atmosphere because he didn’t feel comfortable talking to her in his private environment, and didn’t want to offer tea and crumpets (since he didn’t care for tea and had no idea what crumpets were).
She arrived promptly and didn’t waste time. Before her backside had completely hit the cushion on the chair she fired a question.
“What is it you have against this series we’re doing on your town?”
Meningsbee was equally as willing to commence. “It’s intrusive. You don’t really know these people. Many of the things you’re examining are multifaceted story-lines, and you’re focusing on one sensational aspect. And to be blunt, Ms. Middlesex…”
She interrupted immediately. “No, call me Katrina.”
Meningsbee relented. “All right, Katrina. To be candid, I don’t think you really care about the people on a human level, but rather, see them as caricatures for your network’s unfoldings.”
She smiled. “Well, well. You certainly don’t hold back, do you?”
“I’m not trying to be blunt, nor do I mean to be rude,” said Meningsbee. “It’s just that the commission I have here and the calling I enjoy asks me to be a shepherd, and that involves protecting the sheep from outside forces…”
Katrina interrupted again. “You mean like wolves? Do I look like a wolf to you?”
“Yes, actually, you do,” answered Meningsbee. “You don’t know you’re a wolf because you hang around with people who have teeth. The folks in Garsonville are simple, and dare I say, toothless.”
She giggled a little bit–almost girlish. “I don’t think you know the people quite as well as you think you do. Not only are they more complicated than you describe, but a bit more greedy. I’ve had numerous requests for revenue for the stories they’re providing, assuming, I suppose, that our network is making tremendous profit from their profferings.”
Meningsbee remained silent. A little piece of his soul was burning from the statement–partially due to the nastiness of her tone, but mostly because he was fully aware that the folks of Garsonville had been cast under the spell of big-town profit and gain.
Katrina waited for a moment, and then pursued. “Let me give you an example. The little boy with the miracle ears…”
Meningsbee jumped in. “Katrina, it was not a miracle. At least, not what you mean by a miracle. The young boy had a medical condition which the doctors felt might take care of itself and might not. It was beautiful that his inner awakening of healing happened during his baptism, but certainly it wasn’t due to an angel touching his ears.”
“Oh, ye of little faith. Wherein do you doubt?” Katrina chided.
“I believe in God,” said Meningsbee. “I just think the miracle He gives us is life, and we’re trying to learn how to use it and to pursue all of its meaning.”
Katrina opened up a notebook and began to read. “I have stories here of adultery, one horrible recounting of incest, somebody even referring to the fact that they might have witnessed a murder in the town. Are you aware of all this, Pastor Meningsbee?”
The Reverend sat for a long moment, staring at the self-satisfied anchor. “No,” he replied. “Nor do I wish to know. You see, my dear, repentance is something people do when they understand the depth of their error. Recounting is what they do when they’re in front of foolish people who are looking for the darker side of humanity.”
Ms. Middlesex smiled, but exuded no warmth. It was obvious she had no affection for the simple parson who stubbornly refused to submit to her charms. She rose to her feet and headed toward the door. Turning, she delivered one final statement.
“Richard…may I call you Richard?”
“You just did,” said Meningsbee.
“Richard, I have stories on everybody in this town. Including you. It is my job to discern which ones are suitable for air and will bring the most viewership. I try to use gentle discretion, but I am a business person, not a theologian.”
Meningsbee stood to his feet and stepped toward her. “And if all the atrocities done in the name of business would have taken into consideration the worth of a human life, we wouldn’t need theologians…because we’d be so close to God.”
Katrina squinted at him, extended her hand, which he took, shook and she slid out the door.
Meningsbee was a little baffled by the whole situation, not sure why she had come in the first place, but he exited the building, climbed into his car and went home. He was in the mood to have a good cup of coffee and retire to the cubby-hole he had set aside for personal time and study. Procuring his coffee, he headed into his little den of thought.
At the door he suddenly stopped, staring into the room–startled.
His computer was gone.