BOOK DETAILS

The Reverend Viola Flowers: A Novel

The Reverend Viola Flowers: A Novel

by Will Gibson

ISBN: 9781478185055

Publisher CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform

Published in Literature & Fiction/African American, Religion & Spirituality/Fiction, Literature & Fiction/Contemporary, Literature & Fiction

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Book Description

Rev. Viola Flowers’ main challenge as pastor of her church is helping her small evangelical flock deal with a rapidly changing world, with grave issues like gay rights, etc. Years ago her grandfather, the founder and bishop of her church, taught his flock not to wander too far a field because the secular world was a dangerous place for real God-fearing people like them, Many of these issues divide black conservatives and black liberals, and even here Rev. Flowers is caught in the middle. Her life is further complicated by the fact that she still might be in love with a man not her husband.

Sample Chapter

The hot Southern California sun radiated down on the small house that sat behind some green hedges next door to the church. In the back yard some jaybirds were chasing a crow from the bird feeder. “Vi, are you home?” a female voice called through the front screen door of the parsonage. “C'mon in! I’m here in the kitchen!” Rev. Viola Flowers called to her sister Lettie from the back of the house. Her bright clean kitchen overlooked a back yard full of flowers and fruit trees.

Rev. Viola Flowers, an attractive woman in her early fifties, was the pastor of the Church of God & Spirit, the church next door. Her visitor was Lettie, her younger sister, who had dropped by as she often did after work.

“Why the long face, Sis?” Lettie asked Viola soberly.

“Maxine was here earlier, and we had a big fight,” Rev. Flowers said irritably, speaking of her grown daughter. “I don't know what to think of that girl. She's so selfish. She thinks only of herself. It's so aggravating at times.”

“What did you two fight about?” Lettie asked, as if she didn't know. “Was it about Calvin?” she then asked needlessly.

Lettie knew Rev. Flowers and Maxine had been quarreling a lot lately over Maxine's repeated rejections of her longtime boyfriend Calvin's marriage proposals. Rev. Flowers felt it was time for Maxine to settle down and start a family, and like everyone else in the family she liked Calvin and believed he would make Maxine a wonderful husband. “He's a nice, responsible, hardworking young man who loves children,” was how she described him to friends. But Maxine simply refused to talk about it. On the topic of marrying Calvin she was like a stubborn mule.

“Yes,” Rev. Flowers answered Lettie, “She came over here today crying that he's threatening to break off their relationship because she won't marry him. Then she stormed out of here blaming me. The nerve of that girl!”

“You are to blame, Vi,” Lettie said coldly.

“Me? To blame for what?” Rev. Flowers said with wide eyes. She stopped what she was doing at the kitchen sink, squared her shoulders, and faced her sister with an obdurate look.

Maxine and her Aunt Lettie were very close and shared secrets, going back to when Maxine was a small child, which Viola Flowers saw as natural and healthy for a niece and aunt to be buddies and share secrets. When angry at her mother as a small child, Maxine would pull Lettie by the hand into her bedroom and closed the door, and then she would complain bitterly about her mother. On the other side of the door, Vi would only smile, thinking it was rather cute.

“Calvin wants a family but Maxine can't give him one. That's why she won't marry him,” Lettie said bluntly.

“Lettie, what in the world are you talking about?” Viola said in a rising voice, her eyes now not only wider but fearful.

“Maxine can't have children.”

“What do you mean she can't have children? Who says she can’t have children?” Viola blasted back as though Lettie had lost her mind.

“Maxine's sterile and she blames you.”

“Sterile! Who says she's sterile?” Viola gasped, her face hard and her eyes narrowed into tight slits. “What's going on, Lettie?” she demanded to know, folding her arms crossly. She was upset that something very serious had happened to her daughter that she hadn't been told about, and she held her sister Lettie responsible.

Lettie read her big sister's angry face, so she pulled out a chair from the kitchen table and sat down for the difficult discussion to come. Viola took a seat opposite her, clasping her hands before her on the tabletop like an ill-tempered judge at a judicial hearing.

“Do you remember the time when Maxine ran away from home, and I had to go out and find her?” Lettie said.

“You mean that time in high school when she ran away because I grounded her for staying out late, and you found her staying at a friend's house in El Monte?” Viola answered. El Monte was a small town near Los Angeles.

“I lied to you, Vi. Maxine wasn't at a friend's house in El Monte. It had nothing to do with her being grounded. Furthermore, I didn't have to go out and find her. One of her girlfriends called me and told me where she was.” Lettie paused nervously, dying for a cigarette but knew her big sister didn't allow smoking in her house.

“Go on,” Vi commanded sternly.

“Maxine was pregnant and was afraid to tell you about it,” Lettie said, “She knew how strongly you felt about abortions. Somehow she got the name of an old woman in Hollywood who did abortions cheap. She and her girlfriend Pam checked into a nearby hotel, and went and saw this woman. After seeing the woman and the filthy place she worked in, Pam tried to talk Maxine out of it, but Maxine wouldn't listen to her. She was too terrified of you. So Pam called me to come right away and stop Maxine. But I got there too late. Maxine had already gotten the abortion. That poor girl. The old woman had blotched things badly. I got there in the nick of time to check Maxine into a hospital before she bled to death. The doctor at the hospital told her that she would never be able to have children. This so upset Maxine that the doctor had to give her a sedative. The next day she was all right, so the doctor released her.”

Glassy-eyed Viola Flowers just sat there stunned by what she had just heard. Her eyes began to fill with tears.

“The real tragedy of it, Vi, was that only one block away from that old lady's house was a free women's health clinic where Maxine could've gotten a clean safe abortion at no cost at all,” Lettie said.

“Sweet Jesus! Sweet Jesus! Sweet Jesus!” Rev. Flowers moaned over and over as she sat there at the kitchen table blaming herself, her eyes closed, her head in her hands, rocking back and forth like a spastic person. “My poor baby!” she bewailed over and over.

“Vi? Are you all right?” Lettie asked with alarm at seeing her big sister all broken up like that. Normally Viola was as strong as granite. Now she was like a crumbled graham cracker.

Viola Flowers just sat there, stunned.

**************************

That night being unable to sleep Rev. Flowers got up in the middle of the night and went into her study and read her Bible. She wanted to find stronger evidence that she had been right in her unyielding stand against abortions. To find stronger evidence that she was only doing God's will. But her biblical search was futile. The Holy Scriptures now didn't seem as unequivocal as in earlier readings.

“Please help me, Lord,” she asked God repeatedly as she tried to reconcile the clashing texts in the Bible. In the countless hours she had studied the Bible over the years, she had never wrestled harder trying to make sense of God's words. She begged God to help her understand Maxine's predicament without having to think about all the choices that might have produced a different result.

“There was only one choice, right, O Lord?” she pleaded. Then she cried herself to sleep over what she did to poor Maxine and over the grandchildren that she and Albert would now never have.

The year was 2000.

Continues...

Excerpted from "The Reverend Viola Flowers: A Novel" by Will Gibson. Copyright © 2012 by Will Gibson. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
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Author Profile

Will Gibson

Will Gibson

I founded the American Black Book Writers Association, a nonprofit organization whose mission was to assist black book writers and strengthen the African American book market. I served as the first president of the organization. I also served as editor-in-chief of the ABBWA JOURNAL, the erstwhile trade journal of the black book industry. I served on the advisory board of the BLACK WRITERS: A SELECTION OF SKETCHES FROM CONTEMPORARY AUTHORS, 2nd Edition, Gale Research. Since my days at the ABBWA JOURNAL, I have written about a dozen novels.

View full Profile of Will Gibson

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