Chapter 15: Cover-up and Revelations
This week, Arts & Education presents the final in a series of excerpts from Addeah Palmer's Macca Tree Manns.
The chatter surrounding the God plan was so loud that Mr McEnuff heard it from his house. Bent on finding out what exactly was happening in his precious Macca Tree, two days later, he made good on his word and visited the pastor. Monica's husband, who was already briefed of the promised visit, opened the gate to greet Mr McEnuff.
Facing each other, both men had nothing in common. Where Mr McEnuff was tall, Pastor was short; where the pastor was stout, the farmer was slender. Whereas Mr McEnuff was in command, the pastor was a puppeteer's pet personified - a good student, seated at the front of Monica's class over the few years they had been married. Never wanting to disappoint her by going against her requests, the pastor always did as Monica commanded - even marrying her after she made an impromptu marriage proposal to him two months after his ailing first wife died.
A much younger Monica had sealed that deal by telling him that the Lord relayed their union in a vision; having no children, the pastor gained a daughter and a wife in one fell swoop, thus making Monica the First Lady of the community. Moving from the capital, Savanna-la-Mar, where she resided with her aunt, Monica relocated to the community-hosted two-bedroom house reserved for the head of the church and his family. Over time, she used her wiles to master the art of manipulation, so her husband had grown accustomed to being played, never wanting to be detached from the strings she pulled.
"Welcome, Mr McEnuff. To what do I owe the pleasure of your presence on this wonderful day?" Pastor asked, dressed in his black suit and white collar.
The day was indeed wonderful; Macca Tree had returned to its regular activities, graced by all the elements nature could provide for an unforgettable day. Lloyd Lovindeer's Pocomania Days rode on the wind from a nearby radio, but was suddenly drowned out by the gospel music of the Grace Thrillers. Seeing Mr McEnuff, Monica felt the need to pump up the volume on her player, putting her acclaimed spirituality on full display.
Talk with Pastor
"Well, I hear about a little thing the church have going on down there. I just come to hear a little bit more about it."
"Come sit with me on the verandah, Mr Mack. This may take a while." There were four chairs and a knitted hammock from which Mr McEnuff could choose, all placed below hanging flowers. Pastor was ready to deliver his message; Monica, serving lemonade from a glass ewer, had joined the men on the covered entrance.
"You remember my wife, Monica," Pastor said gesturing to her.
"Yes, of course," Mr McEnuff replied, turning his attention to her, "how are you, my dear?"
Blushing, she nodded her acknowledgement. Monica always enjoyed the attention of an older man.
Continuing his persuasion, Pastor said, "I guarantee you, it's not a Ponzi scheme, Mr Mack. What can I say, the Lord laid a plan on Monica's heart and many will reap rewards if they are obedient to His call."
"Well, I don't intend to get between you and your God, Pastor, but this thing has the potential to get out of control, I have seen it happen."
Monica had now affixed herself to Pastor's side, egging him on as he spoke. But for anyone who knew them, this was not strange behaviour. Monica was his devil and his angel, flipping roles at will to shape him for different occasions. Unknown to Gloria, it was Monica who convinced the pastor to get involved when she had taken the partner money three years ago. Audaciously trying hard to hide her part in the robbery, she insisted day and night that her husband instigate the community to rise up against Gloria and her family, sending them back to Kenneth's birth parish, Trelawny. Like a persistent mosquito, Monica lived in his ear until he gave in and banished the Manns from church. Once-prominent members of the flock, Gloria and Kenneth became fugitives from Macca Tree in a heartbeat.
"I tell you, Mr Mack, it was like an angel spoke to mi clearly. I got the revelation like God Himself was talking to mi. I couldn't turn my back on God; He has been too good to me." Monica chimed in.
Monica continued her sermon to Mr McEnuff. The lounge chair she had perched herself on was just one of the many pieces of furniture the Manns had in their yellow board house before the house and furniture were sold to repay the stolen partner money, back then, with negligible regard for the law.
Trusted with funds
Being the banker for the community partner, Gloria was accountable for over $600,000 when her mother fell ill from cancer. Being the sole caretaker and burdened with the countless treatments and long trips to Kingston over the infamous Spur Tree Hill, within months her funds were exhausted. But Gloria had a plan B and using Monica as collateral, she had given her a third of the money. In the height of her distress, Gloria decided to buy Monica's silence whilst making a deal that she would use the church funds to replenish the partner money before anyone knew. Gloria intended to repay the church in small amounts. Not one to pass on money, Monica caved; not wanting to be a part of such scheming, she confessed. Once it was leaked that the money had been stolen, a raging mob descended on the Manns on a cold winter night. Their iciness was echoed among the barking mongrels that also seemed to be demanding that the Manns pay up. But there was no money to repay.
The only thing of value belonging to the Manns was their house and its contents. Pastor instructed that these things be sold to compensate the community. Without an active conscience, Monica watched as Joscelyn, who had the biggest hand in the partner, used horse and cart to move the Manns' house over to his property. It was one of the darkest days in Macca Tree, the first and last of its kind. Paying over money to some residents, giving furniture to others, Joscelyn added Kenneth and Gloria's structure to his one-bedroom house, upgrading it instantly to four. Still, Monica never wavered.
Convinced then, as now, that she was doing the right thing, Monica continued on her rampage of reason to Mr McEnuff, "This will be nothing like what Gloria did pull off Mr Mack. I am a decent law-abiding God-fearing woman. The people trust me and I won't let them down."
- Macca Tree Manns is published by Ian Randle Publishers and is available from the publishers, bookshops islandwide and from online retailers worldwide.