Jesse Miller stifled a yawn in the sanctuary’s fourth row. He had to remember-he wasn’t here for the Mega-church pastor’s usual boring sermon, but for the state-of-the-art children’s programming. Securing his son’s future made an hour of tedium worthwhile.
Jesse stared up at the big-screen plasma television, where the fair-haired, lanky pastor loomed large enough so that those unfortunate souls at the back of the massive structure could actually see him. Of course, the screen was big enough to show live sporting events and movies on.
Come on, Jesse, focus. You have to set a good example.
Jesse sat back in his padded dark blue chair and took a quick study of the worshipers. Quite a few faces had boredom etched on them, but none looked like the sort who would rob or steal, upstanding moral people. Unlike the riffraff he dealt with on the street.
He smiled at his wife, sitting demurely on his right. It didn’t hurt that going to church made her happy.
On his left, Dr. Laban Saltier leaned forward with his raven hair resting neatly on his suit’s shoulders. The hard lines on the older man’s face defied his worshipful expression as well as sidekick stereotypes.
Laban elbowed Jesse and leaned over to whisper, “The pastor is exasperated and feels if he says what’s really on his mind, people will walk out en masse.”
Jesse’s cheeks burned. He whispered back, “No mind-reading in church.”
Laban chuckled. “It can be quite amusing. Particularly when women up front wear inappropriate outfits.”
Jesse sent Laban a scowl and turned back towards the sermon. Laban always forgot his powers’ ethical limits. Despite dozens of arguments, Laban still seemed to think he was always Revelator.
Not that Jesse would ever put that in a comic book, unless the Revelator had experienced something odd. Like a chemical being spilled on him that caused him to lose all good judgment and common sense.
He glanced at the empty row behind him, reserved for the Order of the Sword. His employees had all made excuses. How much more patient could he be? He’d presented the facts about the good church attendance did for one’s health and financial well-being, and the example it set for young people. But they laughed off the statistics. Never mind that, unlike people, statistics never lied.
One of the church’s faithful musicians began singing uninspiring drivel about loving the whole world just as they are.
Jesse sighed. Whatever happened to the life-changing gospel Grandma lived by? If Grandma was alive, and he’d been stupid enough to invite her, she’d have marched up there and caned the poor girl for suggesting the Church sit by silently while the world headed into eternity “unregenerated.”
Sure, Grandma’s delivery had at times left something to be desired, but if he took this song literally, he couldn’t even stop a mugging, or a terrorist. Not if love meant accepting the criminal in his crime-committing state.
The offering plate came down his row from the right. Laban put in a $20 bill. Jesse sent a sharp look at him. What a poor example! You can afford more than that.
Laban rolled his eyes.
Jesse began to plunk $50 bills into an offering, counting them off loudly enough for people within a row to hear, but not loud enough for everyone to think he was just putting on a show. He plunked the last bill in the plate. “And $1000.”
Giving brought good things into your life. Of course, his customary $1000 each week amounted to less than 1% of his income, rather than the 10% the church claimed a right to. But giving to the poor of foreign lands, medical research, and homeless shelters had the same impact. His wealth multiplied with his giving.
As the closing hymn was sung, the pastor dismissed the service. Jesse followed the stream flooding out into the foyer and on out to the parking lot, with Laban close behind him.
Laban caught up near their cars. “Darn it, Jesse. Why do you have to rush out every week? Sally and Todd are always around a long time. We don’t get to know anyone.”
Jesse pressed his lips together. As it was, Laban was too friendly with the spinster and his fellow widower. “In our business, we don’t need more people to hide our secrets from.”
Jesse turned on his cell phone. A golden Japanese sword appeared.
Laban looked over his shoulder. “What’s the Golden Samurai have to say?”
Jesse pressed a button and frowned. “Dark Mystic’s in trouble.”
Laban nodded. “Okay, I’ll leave a message for Sally to take the car – ”
Jesse snapped his fingers. “No, that’s okay. Go socialize; take them home.”
Laban folded his arms. “You don’t want me to go.”
Jesse sighed. This was one of the downsides of having around an ex-scientist with a nanobiotic brainwave-detecting implant that allowed him to “hear” the thoughts of those around him at will. “You two don’t get along.”
“Doesn’t mean I want the guy hurt.”
Yeah, right. Dark Mystic was uncomfortable around Revelator. Said Laban was jeopardizing their mission.
“What mission might that be?”
Jesse growled. Will Laban stop listening in on my private thoughts already! “Get inside! I’ll get Mystic myself.”
Laban winced. “Man, we’ve been fighting crime together six years. What’s going on with you and Mystic?”
Jesse jumped into his car. “We’ll talk later.” But not about that. Some things had to be kept under wraps.
Continued in part three.