“God is love,” Pastor Denton said. “And that goes double on Valentine’s Day.” The joke got almost no response. Denton had grown adept at moving on after failed jokes. But he thought the double on Valentine’s Day joke was at least as good as the thing about the new coffee pots he’d done a few weeks ago. And that one had gone over great. What the heck? though Denton. Was it not Valentine’s Day? He checked his phone with a deft motion. There—it was the 14th. What the everlasting heck?
Trudy Vinter, in the third row from the front, seated on the middle aisle, did not register the joke. She didn’t hear it. She couldn’t stop thinking about what she’d seen during coffee and donuts, right before the service. She’d wanted to chat a little with Damon, and then get to her seat to prepare her heart for worship. But she’d been disturbed the whole time. Was it actually four? she asked herself. Well, she thought, it could have been more. She only started paying attention when it became obvious that he kept going back.
It was definitely six, Stan Barclay thought. He ate six donuts. He couldn’t think of a reason for it. He tried to think of a reason why someone would do that. If you were really hungry, you might eat three, he thought. Like if you’d done a full workout before the first service, and hadn’t gotten breakfast, and then made it through the first service, and then seen the donuts and just not been able to help yourself, three would kind of make sense. Even four would still be comprehensible. Five was crazy, and then six was completely insane. But it was definitely six, Stan thought.
He’s trying to tell me something, Trisha Denton thought. He’s trying to make a point. I’ve been a little distant, haven’t I? she thought. He’s under stress with the sanctuary expansion. But what the heck? He ate six donuts in less than ten minutes. He still has some glaze in his beard, on his chin. What is going on? I could have made a bigger deal about the Whitman’s Sampler he gave me. But it seemed so basic and almost, whatever, perfunctory. But then for him to eat those donuts like that . . . Why?
He was trying to intimidate me, thought Rob Wexley. He stood right next to me for all six. And he’s trying to let me know that he knows that I have no self-control. That’s why he was doing it, it was like, “This is you.” He knows. Ugh. How does he know?
We’re going to have to talk to him about it, clearly, thought James Pizzolatto. It’s a Matthew 18 situation. I’m going to have to get a couple of the other elders and we’ll talk to him. Six. Come on, Denton.
“So that’s ‘L’ and ‘O’,” said Pastor Denton. “Let’s move on. ‘V’ stands for ‘Viscous'”. He could feel them all drifting. Why weren’t they paying attention? He felt like he was bombing. His vision clouded for a moment. He was feeling surprisingly light-headed. Maybe, he thought, I should have had another donut.