I was a choir boy when I was younger. But I seldom acted like a choir boy. In fact when something out of the ordinary happened our adult leaders suspected me first. They were right more than not. But the most trouble I ever got into in church was something I didn’t do.
Mrs. Brown formed a boys choir and we often sang in church. We all wore these white and blue robes that made us all look like girls. We hated them, but who could we complain to? (or for you language geeks, “to whom could we complain?”) It was in third grade. I remember this fiasco like it happened yesterday.
It was a typical Sunday. We choir boys were sitting quietly in the first two pew rows, minding our own business and playing hangman on the back of church bulletins. I was sitting next to David. He nudged me and motioned toward his lap. I gasped. Resting among the cute blue folds of his skirt was a cap pistol. “Are you crazy?” I whispered. “You better not mess with that thing. It could go off.” On David’s other side Larry was urging him to leave it alone as well. Even I would never take a chance like that–playing with a loaded cap pistol in church.
David snickered at us and toyed with the small metal pistol. I watched him put a cap in it. “Are you crazy? Stop playing with it,” I whispered again. David just smiled at me. (Reverend Crandall was in the middle of his sermon.) David continued twirling the loaded weapon, turning and twisting it in his hand.
The staccato pop reverberated through our sanctuary.
I heard a few scattered gasps. Some of the boys on our row jumped in their seats.
Reverend Crandall glared at us.
The sanctuary was eerily silent. All eyes shot darts of anger and disappointment into the backs of our heads.
A telltale tuft of white smoke wafted over our heads and hung motionless in the still sanctuary air.
Reverend Crandall finally spoke. His only words to us were, “Let that be a lesson to you.”
After that I really couldn’t tell you what happened. David was a corpse. His eyes didn’t move. His hands didn’t move. I think the cap pistol dropped on the floor. I do remember filing out of the sanctuary in single file and down the stairs to Fellowship Hall where we hung up our robes.
I didn’t see David at church the rest of the day. I knew David’s dad and if David lived until Monday I would get to tell him, “I told you so.”
David never brought a weapon to church again.