Hot August night […]
And when you'd almost bet
You can hear yourself sweat,
He walks in…
Chapter 1: Verse 1
"Goddammit!" Simon said crisply, throwing the stylus down onto the slate. He'd put all of his attention into stemming the blood pouring from the artery, forgetting the last bullet fragment that lay perilously close to the vagus nerve. Now all the gauges had flatlined, and an alarm blatted.
"What's wrong?" Kaylee asked, leaning back against the counter. Simon stroked the area between her halter top and the waistband of her shorts appreciatively. "'Operation successful, but the patient died,'" Simon said. "I hate it when that happens."
Kaylee squinted at the screen, currently tallying the points for Combat Surgery Advanced Training Module 9. "You made it Jayne's avatar again, huh?"
"Well, he is the largest, so he offers the greatest challenges in volumetric maintenance…" Simon said, then ducked his head. "I'm still upset about it even if it is him."
"Wanna come to bed? It's pretty late," Kaylee said, as Simon's hand dipped beneath the waistband.
"Best not, sweetheart. It's U-Day, the bars are still open, and either I'll have to patch up Mal and Jayne, or Zoe will have to go and bail them out."
"Seems funny Zoe ain't with 'em," Kaylee said sadly. (In fact, this year it had been Jayne who circled U-Day in red on the calendar, griping about the lack of action. Zoe begged off, saying, "Somehow my sparkling sense of fun ain't what it used to be, Sir.") "But maybe they won't get hurt too bad. I mean, River's with 'em."
"Something else I'm not loving about the whole situation," Simon said, wishing that he still had a workable safe word for River.
"Hell, honey, 'less they got somethin' new to set her off, she's just gonna get drunk an' rowdy, blow off some steam."
"And once again you point to a wonderful feature of our new life."
"Simon," she said, "Girl's got to grow up some time."
"It's not what I wanted for her," Simon said. "Any of it."
He had noticed that River's involvement with Mal disturbed him because he was at least half in love with each half of the couple. No one knew how bitterly he missed Book because some awkward private discussions—between a lapsed Buddhist and a Shepherd whose church didn't believe in auricular confession—made it easier for him to avoid certain temptations simply because he'd be so humiliated having to disclose that he had tripped over his feet into a pitfall.
Simon tried to look on the bright side: at least now he had an excess of emotional energy that he could devote to striving to fall in love with Kaylee. He gazed at her, trying to will stars into his eyes.
Kaylee shrugged. "Well, guess them bearings have soaked in the degreaser long enough," she said. "I'll go scrub 'em down and then turn in."
It wasn't until a respectable time after Inara left for the last time—concluding that love isn't enough if it interferes not only with your ability to like yourself at all but your ability to earn a living—that River wandered onto the bridge where Mal, blushing furiously, pulled the old brown blanket further over himself and folded his hands on top of the blanket. Over the evidence.
"Were you thinking about me?" River asked.
"Good," River said, whisking away the blanket.
"Hey!" Mal said.
"Not bad," River said. "Bet you can do better when you're not embarrassed." She put one hand on each of the chair's arms and vaulted into his lap.
"Look here, River, this is just every kind of wrong, I mean, I'm old enough to be your father, even on a planet that ain't so very bad, and you're, well, you're not the thickest-shelled egg in the Easter basket…"
"I'm a lot better since Miranda. That was a nugget of poison that I expelled."
"Well, yeah, that's true in a way, but…"
"I got better. You got crazier. We met in the middle."
"Well, your brother don't want me an' you an' middle in the same sentence."
"Even when my brother is objective, he isn't always right."
Chapter 1: Verse 2
"All right, listen up, everyone," Mal said. "No, scratch that. Gather all ye round and hearken." That was what Mal loved most about leadership: to thank his crew for all their very fine contributions, which had been instrumental in shaping the orders that he now gave them, to do something they would absolutely hate.
"Now, some of you've been sayin' that in the long run, we should find some line of work that conduces to prosperity but don't make so many folk wanna shoot us up. And yet others have been sayin' that they didn't sign up for no prayer meetin'. Well, Jayne, all I can say is, y'have now."
Jayne, refusing to be drawn, simply continued stirring sugar into his coffee, which was already material and well on the way to becoming concrete.
"I been lookin' back over the vast and spangled panorama of human history, and y'know what it shows? That when it comes to gettin' the Sucker Sapiens to unhitch his wallet not just willin' but with a smile, there is nothin' to compare with the Word of God. First thing, I thought about was carny…"
"We sure got plenty o'freaks," Jayne said.
"…But I rejected that 'cause we would need more money than we got, to get all up with animals and sword swallowers and, Jayne, don't even think what you're thinkin' much less say it, and we'd gotta work for a manager or some such, and I don't want to have a bossman any way atall. This way, we don't need nothin' but a tent and a tambourine. Maybe a harmonium, I was always partial to a hymn on a harmonium. So what we do is, we do some research, scope out the Rim colonies where there might be a bit of coin for the show, but either the carny don't go there, or they been an' gone long enough that they're spoilin' for some entertainment. We come in, set up, blow outta town just a few days later with the collection, and move on."
Mal found Simon in the medbay, contemplating whether it would make more sense to take a couple of painkillers before the measured discussion and exchange of views. Simon certainly didn't think that the pills would slow down his reaction time enough to make any difference to the outcome.
Mal, looking a little hangdog, put his hand on Simon's shoulder.
"Don't touch me! Don't touch anyone in my entire extended family!"
"Just what exactly is your problem? You think I ain't good enough for her? 'Cause we're not too likely to cross paths with any scions to court her."
"She wouldn't be here if she were in any position to make her own decisions. There isn't any part of the scale that she's normal on, Mal. Above or below the line."
"Just how perfect does someone gotta be to be entitled to any love? Look," Mal said. "I always took care of her."
"Sooner or later," Simon said.
"You think I'll take care of her less this way?"
Chapter 1: Verse 3
Zoe stood, her eyes wide, electrocuted another jolt. When she could move again, she folded up the papers, went to her cabin, and began to pack. When all her possessions were stowed in Shuttle Two, she gave Kaylee a hug that told most of the story (figuring that River would give her the rest), and went to tell Mal.
"It's my sister," she said. "Dorthea never really healed up after she had Pavel. Never got right again. And now she's gone. Left them two babies behind. And, well, you might not remember, but my Uncle Horace died 'bout a year and a half ago. Dorthea inherited the Margaret J. Cameron. And the Maggie J's mine now. So I got a place of my own, and them babies need me."
"Oh, Zo'," Mal said, his eyes soft. "Don't hate me."
"I'm sure there'll come a day when I won't, Mal," Zoe said. "Probably come faster if I ain't around here, though."
Chapter 2: Verse 1
"Huh," Mal said, upon discovering that the tentmaker was, in fact, named Omar. He was in the throes of negotiation for a bigtop, two smaller tents, and a cubic metric shitload of folding chairs when a tall, bespectacled, sandy-haired young man unhunched from the ledger he was balancing.
"My God, it isyou," the young man (who, in Mal's estimation, was rather horse-faced but it was a horse of equable temperament) said. "Take me with you, Captain Reynolds!"
"Fess Higgins! I'm the one who took off the landlock so you could escape from Canton! And as a result, I was disinherited and ended up in this…counting house!" His eyes lit up. "I want to follow your example and lead the Outlaw Life!"
"You know anythin' about tents?"
"For my sins, I know everything about tents."
"Interestin' choice of words there." Mal went over to the young clerk and whispered to him. "Wanna show me what an outlaw you are? Get me a thirty percent discount—from the big-order price, mind you—and you can come along."
"Oh, I can't wait to see Lady Inara again!" His face fell at the thought that even if he put his life savings in a single purse, he wouldn't be able to afford a professional consultation, but perhaps during a planetfall she would consent to accompany him to a puppet show or for a sarsaparilla.
"That'd be a mite tougher than you think, boy," Mal said, patting his shoulder.
Chapter 2: Verse 2
Mal was immediately cheered by the prospect of having someone on board who actually knew how to put up the tents, newly purchased at the cost of most of his cash reserves. Higgins also was worth his weight in gold because of his knowledge of port codes, and the sincerity with which he explained that "Serenity" was an eminently sensible and spiritually sound motto to paint on the side of a ship that was, for the moment, named something else entirely.
All hands turned out on a practice run for raising the great tent.
Simon, thick white bands down his nose and across his cheekbones, passed around a jar of zinc oxide, but his warnings about future skin cancer were greeted by a uniformity of rolling eyes.
Three hours later, after numerous fairly good efforts marred by some part or other of the tent falling down, the brown canvas glowed warmly in the late-afternoon sun.
River scrambled up the scaffolding and did most of the high work (uniting her brother and her lover in a recognition that telling her not to do something would achieve exactly no result). Then she seized the rope that ran down from the peak of the bigtop, swung it from side to side, and slid all the way down.
Kaylee sang, "Her movements are graceful, all the boys she does please!"
When she dropped the rope just in time to do a triple somersault and land, River stood up and patted Simon's cheek. "Silly! She has not taken your love away!"
Chapter 3: Verse 1
Brother Jeremiah's Old-Time Tent Revival and Crusade was a work in progress. In the first version, while the punters were just getting seated, Mal opened up with some Bible readings (a much-appreciated feature in settlements where not many people had had the opportunity to learn to read), then a rip-roaring sermon.
Next, Jayne took the floor with a thrilling testimony about his sinful past vis a vis gambling, drinking, and whoring. Mal had to call frequent afternoon rehearsals to take out the improvements and make sure he stuck to the script. Then Kaylee, her voice choked by tears (at least that camouflaged the giggles) testified about her gaudily bedizened past of dazzling impurity. She wasn't best pleased that the slide show included a capture of her, in her tiered pink dress, as a Bad Example.
Mal and River could have been the best carny mentalist act ever, and Mal didn't want to let that go to waste. So every night, he picked out a few of the sinners in the middle row, stood 'em up, and, acting on River's hand signals, counseled them in great detail about the problems afflicting them. Another hymn or two, then River would scream, fall to the ground in convulsions, and speak in tongues. Mal would heal her, then Jayne would take up the collection, they'd have the altar call, and everyone would go home happy, humming the tunes.
Takings for the three-night stand at Busted Nugget had not been spectacular, so Kaylee volunteered to go around the farms with Simon and see if they had anything that needed fixing or doctoring. She got the McNaughtens' cream separator up and running but didn't have the parts needed for Widow Liang's solar fruit dehydrator. Simon performed a prenatal exam on Lacey Jephcott and then managed, with more luck than real knowledge, to clear up an intestinal blockage in a fairly good cow. He was glad that he was wearing a threadbare gingham shirt of Mal's at the time.
"It's fun to learn new things," Simon said unconvincingly, and logged on to Large Animal Veterinary Training Module 4.
Chapter 3: Verse 2
For the first few tour dates, they just had Kaylee working the karaoke machine for the hymns. Then, at a rather disappointing stand at Pumice, they picked up The Heavenly Gem Sisters (Diamond, Emerald, and Ruby). Mal had his doubts about their sisterhood—especially since they had identical wavy blonde coiffures, but the second soprano, Emerald, was black. Mal also formulated certain suspicions once he found out that beneath her wig, Diamond wore a crewcut. She smoked cigars, and only two beds ever seemed to be slept in in the Passenger Dorm room he knocked together for the Heavenly Gems by moving one shoji screen.
Shortly after the Sisters joined Serenity, Mal explained to them all that no member of the Serenity crew was authorized to induce them to anything of a sexual nature that they didn't want to do, and if they thought anyone was going to induce them to anything they did want to do, they should see the Doc first for a pro kit.
An amateur statistician might be able to map the number of times that Jayne wasn't in his rack or the cargo bay or the lounge area but shouts of "Praise the Lord!" could be heard in the passenger area, but insofar as whatever happened apparently happened among consenting adults more or less in private, no one took much of an interest.
Chapter 3: Verse 3
"Well, you can see for yourself, Shepherd, you got here just in the nick of time," said the heavily pregnant girl. Her fiance respectfully doffed his straw hat.
"Congratulations, darlin'," Mal said, and then recollected himself, scowled, and said, "See here, young man, you shouldn't oughtta have took advantage of this girl. I should thump on you my ownself if her daddy didn't. Even if he did. But come to the service tonight, and I'll see you two get hitched by all the power the Alliance vested in me." When they left, he grinned. This wheeze should be good for every single spare part Kaylee ever begged him for.
Chapter 4: Verse 1
Simon got back to Serenity after a week of near-constant work trying to develop a public health infrastructure for a moon called Collins' Escarpment in time to prevent an outbreak of Appleseed Fever from exploding into a full-scale epidemic. He had a small wooden carton of bottles of homebrewed beer under his arm. He wasn't quite sure whether a sixer for averting an epidemic was more or less inadequate than a hamster Naming Opportunity for saving someone's leg.
He was a few feet away from the hatch to Kaylee's cabin when he heard enough sighing, giggling, and "Yeah, honey, like that"s to demonstrate the thoroughness with which he had been replaced.
He took himself and the beer to the lounge area, put his feet up on the table, and uncapped the first bottle.
"Well, looks like Higgins beat your time when your back was turned," Jayne said, sitting down unbidden. (Mrs. Cobb didn't raise no fool big enough for him to waste breath asking.)
"This day just gets better and better," Simon said, and chased it with half a beer.
"Hell, she give you more of a run than I ever got," Jayne said. "A few sweet rides, and then she handed me the key to the Black. Guess she figured she had to dangle you longer, make up for all that time she chased you. Make it worth it."
"Oh," Simon said. "I didn't know," feeling compassion for a fellow-discard, annoyance at having Jayne's leftovers and mean satisfaction at being his replacement, and anger at himself for having failed to diagnose another aspect of Serenity's history.
"There's a deep-down coldness to that girl," Jayne said, half-admiringly. "Got the soul of a well-digger's ass. Must be how she stays so cheerful all the time." Silence fell for a moment. Simon finished the beer and set the bottle down on the table.
"Tell ya what, Doc. Seein' as how you're all depressed and such, wanna suck my cock? I bet it's bigger'n the one you're mopin' after and you wouldn't have no chance at even if it wasn't bangin' your sister."
"You're a veritable prince among men, Jayne," Simon said.
Jayne shot a significant glance at the remaining beer bottles.
Simon handed him one. "Here. I'm going to drink the rest, and then throw the bottles at an inanimate object. As your medical advisor, I'd suggest that you demonstrate your non-category-membership by moving out of the way."
Chapter 4: Verse 2
The most successful new product line was the full wedding package. Basic hitching and a pre-printed marriage certificate was ten Plat, but for thirty you not only got a hand-written certificate and the Heavenly Gem Sisters' rendition of "I Love You Truly" but a veil sewn down to a band of nylon orange blossoms. Emerald made them between gigs, in the stretches of Black.
The full package also purported to include a genuine nine-karat-gold wedding band. At first, Kaylee made them on the lathe, out of spare brass tubing, but Simon bought a bag of thin gold rings at the marketplace in Wahbei out of sheer disgust at the whole operation.
Chapter 4: Verse 3
Mal wandered toward the coffeepot, toweling his hair dry, when he saw Zoe sitting in the lounge area. She was sipping whisky and playing Chinese Checkers with Jayne. Her return was no surprise to Kaylee (Zoe had waved her up) or for that matter to Fess (who was on comms when the wave came in).
"You cut your hair," he said, looking at the sphere of soft curls around Zoe's head.
"Didn't have time to fuss with there."
"Never cut it all through the war or here…"
"Yeah," Zoe said.
"You're back," Simon said, after dinner. ("You ain't a guest so you're on dishes with the Doc tonight," Mal told Zoe.)
"You're still here," Zoe said.
"You had somewhere to go. You and Inara. I admire your…energy. Ability to break free from the gravitational field."
"Family. Family comes first," Zoe said firmly. "You're stuck with 'em, like 'em or not."
"Sometimes or mostly your family is the fools whose blood gets spattered on your cammies, not the fools whose blood is inside your veins. Anyway, I got sick of that idiot Dorthea married proposing to me all the time." Zoe patted the money belt from around her waist. "He's rentin' the Maggie J. from me, so I got some coin I can pass along to rent that shuttle now that Inara ain't usin' it."
"Actually, I'm renting it," Simon said. "I can't quite bring myself to leave, and I can't figure out what I'm doing, but I can't quite…stay on the same terms."
"Fine. I'll get our things outta storage, and rent Shuttle Two."
"I'm….well, I'm afraid that, you know, he didn't know you were coming back…well, Mal has commandeered your—what was, your double bed."
"That son of a…" then Zoe's face changed. "Good. Just as well not deceive my sleeping self, what's real and what ain't. Speakin' of which, Mal ain't really got religion again, has he? Whole thing's just a big grift, right?"
"A gigantic grift, Zoe," Simon said reassuringly. "But if you're going to catch any of his sermons, I'd recommend the one about Cleansing the Leper—I supplied some medical detail for that—but stay away from the one about Hell. You might find it —disturbingly autobiographical."
"Hafta catch the services," Zoe said. "Taught a passel of new hymns to them Gem girls. I'll be singin' first alto."
"Zoe, I'm glad you're back, but…what happened?"
"Couldn't hack them ankle biters day in and day out. Y'know how the Maggie J mostly earns her fuel? As a school bus."
Chapter 4: Verse 4
"Aw, c'mon, Simon," Kaylee said. "Ain't like we meant that all-fired much to each other anyway."
"No, we didn't," Simon said bitterly. "I'm glad I made such an impression."
"We didn't say it was forever, did we?"
"What about your new friend? Does he think it's forever?"
"Oh, Simon," Kaylee said. "All this time out in the black, and you still ain't figured out how it works here."
Chapter 5: Verse 1
The front of the flyer gave the times and places of Brother Jeremiah's revival services, with a big picture of Brother Jeremiah and a somewhat smaller picture of the (now a quartet) Heavenly Gems. The tariff of charges was on the back—what Jayne called the Hatched Matched Dispatched list.
Simon and Zoe could put up the two small tents in half an hour, and the rest of the crew could put up the big tent in an hour, and knock down in forty minutes.
Brother Jeremiah's reputation spread from hamlet to township to moon. The opinion among connoisseurs was that, although he preached a fine spine-shivering Hellfire and Damnation sermon, he was at his best taking a funeral. Based on what he heard if he went to the wake himself, (or what River heard even if she didn't), he could usually stitch together a little narrative about what the dead person had been like, and have the mourners laughing sometimes and weeping sweeter tears the rest of the time.
Simon and Zoe laid out the bodies, they'd seen enough corpses to be over it. If there wasn't an undertaker in town, Jayne and Fess dug the grave. If there was a widow, and she was otherwise going to stand alone at the graveside, generally she'd find that Zoe's arm was around her.
Sometimes they played stands where there already was a Shepherd, or even a church. Once or twice they had to up stakes before the scheduled end of a date, when the Shepherd threatened to run them off or looked like a man with a solid collection of WANTED posters. Usually, they got invited to a fried chicken dinner and pie by a Shepherd who thought a dose of old time religion was just what his backsliding congregation needed.
Mal liked the gamble.
Chapter 5: Verse 2
Ruby nodded, and Simon brought his hands together, scooped up the bottom corner of the sheet, and walked toward Ruby. Two more folds, and they added the sheet to the pile on the table in the laundry room. She held up a black shirt with a white tab at the front of the collar. "Better press this a lick or two, Dr. Tam," she said.
"I hate that shirt," Simon said mournfully.
"Why? I think you make a very handsome Deacon," Ruby said. "You are the rock on which he builds his church."
"Short-sleeved shirts are vulgar," Simon blurted.
"I'll make a note to tell that to Emerald," Ruby said. "She is determined to study up how to be a Lady." Ruby began sorting the underwear into the various crew members' laundry baskets. Simon threw her a pink bra with a satin ribbon between the cups (now washed rather paler than the time of his previous acquaintance with it).
"I wish Inara was here," Simon said. "She'd be a great resource. But really, I hate the shirt because I hate lying to all those people."
Mal—as the Captain in one arena and the star in another—claimed the privilege of sleeping in after the evening show. Simon never went to any of the services, and a pretense was made that at need he could be the get-away driver so he had to take the bridge. Thanks to long evenings at the Cortex terminal, he was now up to Large Animal Veterinary Training Module 15. But the trade-off was that Simon (and sometimes River) worked the early shift in the small tent. In great secrecy, and in exchange for a substantial fee, River would read Tarot cards. Mal didn't like her to do it. He said it muddled the image he was trying to market, and she usually upset the paying customers, although not to the point that the line outside the tent ever ended much before the evening show.
In exchange for coins dropped into the tambourine, Simon would practice the Laying on of Hands (which gave him an opportunity to check vital signs and take pulses), and listen to complaints that sometimes wrung his heart and frequently bored him. Then he'd tell the customer to close his or her eyes in silent prayer, and then take some pills out of a big box divided into pie-shaped wedges. If he had any paper packets, Simon would put the pills in a packet. Otherwise, he'd pour them out into handkerchiefs of dubious cleanliness, or into the palm of someone's hand.
"I do not see the problem with lying if it does no harm and conduces to the general happiness. What's in them Prayer Pills you sell 'em?"
"The white ones are broad-spectrum antibiotics. The pale blue ones are diuretics—water pills. The yellow ones are anti-depressants. The green and white capsules are vermifuges—they kill intestinal parasites. Just those will take care of a surprising number of non-surgical cases. Sometimes I go out on the surgical cases if there's a matinee."
"You are giving yourself too much credit. A surprising number of cases are took care of just by someone actin' like they're important. And for the rest, a power of them just need to lose weight. Like the eighty kilos of ugly fat my mama lost when my daddy run off. She was light in her heart ever after that. Just as I am light in my heart now that I am here. It offers a superior work environment than dancing the cooch," Ruby said. "And the accommodations here are more comfortable than even the best of the carny wagons. And that was a smart idea of Miss Kaylee's to have them Harvest Festivals. Jayne cooked those collards and mustard greens just the way my Mama did."
Simon switched on the pressing machine and, once it was toasty, began feeding the napkins through it. It would be both obvious and rude to point out that an apprentice cook's assistant's feet wouldn't have touched the ground of the Rough Work cookhouse at the Tam estate had he or she even mentioned collards, so he developed the subject in a slightly different direction.
"Well, I'm glad that this is a good berth for you. It's not—it's not exactly what I'm used to."
"Are you a real doctor? I ask only because Mr. Malcolm is not a real Shepherd."
"Oh, I am—or was, if they've canceled my license—a real doctor, all right. And even if I haven't taken this year's Continuing Education lectures, I've made up for it in field training. It's not the money I miss, oh, don't get me wrong, I liked it, but I liked my job even more. It was interesting, and every day something different happened, and more often than sheer chance would predict I helped people. And things were predictable. And I could control them. Things—awful things—didn't just happen to me."
"That is why I do not care two hoots for becoming a Lady," Ruby said. "To the best I can tell, being rich makes you delusional. Or, at the very least, it stops you from enjoying things."
"I don't—I'm not a, I'm not even supposed to be a Christian, but I don't think it's right to mock those who do believe."
"In light of who got there first and will still be standing long after the Captain has passed, I find it more significant that the Lord has shown that he believes in Mr. Malcolm by making him a man of parts."
Chapter 5: Verse 3
After about four months, Fess saw the handwriting on the rippling canvas wall, debarked at Peony, and caught a banana boat back to Higgins' Moon. Although No Fatted Calves Were Killed in the Making of This Reunion, they didn't kill the prodigal son either.
Chapter 6: Verse 1
"That's fine," Simon said, as the inhuman moans spilled from his patient's throat. "You're really doing very well. And you're almost fully dilated." He patted her flank. "All right. Push now. Push. Yes, I can see the top of the head now." He was glad to see that turning the mis-aligned fetus had worked. Just one more push and he'd be able to see the horn buds.
Afterwards, he washed up at the pump in the yard and went into the kitchen. "Mother and kid doing fine," he said. Ed Finneran paid him his fee and they had a shot of beach plum brandy to wet the baby's head.
Twilight was falling. Simon set off to walk back to Serenity, figuring that the odds were against him. He didn't want to Wave up Mal or River or Jayne or Kaylee to ask them for a lift, and the Heavenly Gems weren't allowed to drive the mule. Finneran told him to take the old gray, she was as gentle as a rowboat. Then just turn her around; she'd find her way home.
The road sign welcoming visitors to town said "Drive Carefully. The Life You Save May Be Your Own." Simon was so tired that he thought there was an extra L in Save, and he nodded, his head pressed down against the mare's neck.
He remembered what Ruby said: ("The Lord don't close a door but he opens a window"); and what he said ("The better to jump out of it, my dear") and Ruby's reply: ("And that is why he usually waits until you are in the basement.")
Chapter 6: Verse 2
There were certain obvious differences. Shepherd Book never had a thin big-eyed girl on his lap, for one thing, with her shoes parked in precise fifth position near the chair. But sometimes, when Serenity was parked planetside, a man could be spied, sitting on a folding chair, paging through a Bible. Mal took his texts from the Book of Revelation more often (the paying customers liked the drama). For his own private reading, he, like the late Shepherd, was partial to the Psalms.
I said brothers
Now you've got yourself two good hands
And when your brother is in trouble
You gotta reach out one hand for him
'Cause that's what it's there for
And when your heart is in trouble
You gotta reach out your other hand
Reach it out to the man up there
'Cause that's what He's there for