|This is another short story by Harold Hogan, a son of John and Bridget's son William. See brief bio on Harold at beginning of his story "Dog Joe".|
| Sister Faye Goes Soul Saving
Sister Faye stood in the doorway of her cellar and squinted up into the misty face of the March sun. The sun's newly revived warmth was like a cloak stealing over her thin old body. The sun was good. God was good. Her weak eyes watered with the sun's mild beneficence.
After the cool darkness of her cellar, the light and warmth were miraculously innervating. She scrunched her shoulders with pleasure and took a deep breath. The air drifting inland from the bay usually smelled of bilge and creosote. But the atmosphere was different this morning.
Spring was in the air. It made Sister Faye's rheumatism-plagued bones feel young again. Her three-score-seven years rested lightly. Her heart picked up a beat and her soul seemed to lift and expand with the wings of the morning.
Quite suddenly, her lips were moving and she was singing out loud of the God that was in her heart:
"The Lord is my Shepherd,
Praise be the Lord,
Holy His name,
Great Peace to his children,
Holy forever, Omnipotent God!"
A woman came out of a hotel across the street from Sister Faye's mission. The woman's body was fitted snugly into a leopart-skin coat. She was hatless, and her auburn hair flamed redly at the ends of looping finger curls. Her face was pretty in spite of the unnatural crimson glowing on her cheeks. Her eyes were wide-set, haunting and dark. In her earlobes twinkled two Woolworth diamonds.
Sister Faye peered at the sun, source of life and inspiration. Her eyes watered joyously.
"Ought to save a soul today," she said elatedly. "Mighty nice day for soul-saving."
She trotted briskly down the cellar stairs into the living quarters of her mission and hastily filled a thread-bare handbag with her best revival literature. Then, tucking her dog-eared little black bible into her black satin blouse, she was out on the street again. She walked past Ivan's Pawn Shop and glanced reproachfully at the diamond diadem glinting brazenly in the window.
"Fifteen dollars," she muttered. "Fifteen dollars for an invitation to sin. Take your money and your soul at the same time."
The streetwalker had not yet reached the end of the block. Sister Faye hurried after her and gave the woman her warmest smile.
"Good morning to you, Mary Magdalen," said Sister Faye.
The woman turned away slightly and said, "Good morning," without so much as a glance in Sister Faye's direction.
"And where are you going so bright and chipper this morning of God?" pursued the evangelist undaunted.
The dark eyes of the woman kindled a little.
"I don't want no preaching, Sister Faye." She set her red lips together tightly and started to walk.
Sister Faye followed her with quick, skipping steps.
"I ain't aiming to do no preaching, Mary," she excused herself. She'd been after this soul for a long time and she knew that she would have to be careful if she intended to erase this mark from Satan's score-sheet and chalk one up for God. Suddenly her legs began to tremble and her heart warmed within her breast. The spirit had begun to move her.
She crept up to Mary, who stood waiting impatiently, and lay a withered hand across the woman's shoulder.
"Honey," she begged affectionately, "I've known you for a long time, ain't I child?"
"Three years, Sister Faye." The dark eyes were uncomprehending. Sister Faye's eyes watered.
"My goodness," she said. "Gracious me! Three long years of God and I ain't never give you no present." What greater gift than the word of God, she thought.
The woman flinched. Fright showed briefly in the dark eyes. Then she said in a very low voice,
"No thanks, don't want no reading literature."
Sister Faye clutched the woman's shoulder more firmly. She didn't want to let go of her now. Somehow it seemed today was right for saving this soul. Momentarily her old eyes left the painted mask which was the fallen woman's face.