Dee Anna hated being late. She stepped on the gas, finally passing the dirty red truck pulling a horse trailer. It had been slowing her down on curving roads for the last 20 minutes. She was running late for the interview with the deacons. A sick dog, a flat tire and a wrong turn had all contributed to the delay.
Fresh clothes hung in a garment bag in the back seat. Good thing. With the heat and humidity off the charts she’d need fresh clothes, especially since her ancient Ford Falcon’s air conditioning had long ago given up the ghost. The thick woods she had been driving through for the last hour looked green and cool. "Looks are sure deceiving" she thought grimly, wiping her neck with a leftover McDonalds napkin.
“Oh Lord, please help me find the church with no problem,” Dee Anna implored the Almighty, wondering if the fact that she was driving 15 miles over the speed limit meant that God was not obligated to listen to that request. What a day. She had planned enough time for a relaxed drive followed by a shower and change of clothes before the interview. So much for the relaxed drive.
The parsonage was right next door to the church. She’d been assured that fresh towels could be found in the bathroom. It was strange to think of showering in an uninhabited house that might, or might not, become her home.
A nervous glance at her watch as she turned onto yet another county road showed that time was running out. Then she saw a large sign on the right. A moose stood by a waterfall and a man in a black and red checked shirt waved a greeting. Welcome to Little Big Foot, population 5,004. Ah, at last!
Dee Anna drove anxiously down Main Street, wishing she had time to take more note of the town. The church was on the corner of Main and Seventh streets. She passed several taverns, a Kwik Trip, a Ben Franklin Store, a Piggly Wiggly grocery, and two Lutheran churches. She'd slowed to check the signs as she passed those, admiring the stonework, in one case, and the contemporary design, in the other case.
Ah, there it was, North Woods Chapel. Whew, only 15 minutes until meeting time. “How fast can I shower?” she wondered, thinking it was a good thing she could do her makeup in less than five minutes.
She pulled into a parking spot halfway between the front doors of the little brick church and the front door of the parsonage, spinning a little gravel. She swing her feet out the door, noting the dirt around the edges of her flip flops. Wrestling her garment bag out of the back seat she thought, “Okay, now for a super quick shower. I sure hope somebody remembered they were supposed to leave the parsonage unlocked…”
And-then she saw them. Four men stood in a row, each staring at her though the glass front doors of the church. They were dressed in suits.
In addition to the flip flops, Pastor Dee Anna was wearing jeans and a cotton "big shirt." She could feel that beneath the shirt, in spite of it’s roominess, her bra was sticky with sweat. She briefly thought of her interview outfit, chosen carefully two days ago. A twinge of panic chased the thought away.
She had fifteen minutes, didn’t she? The woman's voice on the phone had said they would meet at five p.m. It was 4:45. “Did you have trouble?” One of the men. large and balding, held the right-hand door ajar. “We wondered after we’d been here for about 45 minutes.” He frowned. “Come in.”
“Oh, I am so sorry. I must have misunderstood. I thought we were supposed to meet at five. I had planned a shower and…” Her voice trailed off as she looked at three more unsmiling faces.
“We thought maybe you’d call since you were so late” said a tall, bearded man with a crew cut. “I got cows waiting for milking.”