Reverend Dave Bland woke up in the gilded bedroom of his stone and fir mansion set on a hillside overlooking a winery a few miles outside of Amity. It wasn’t his mansion or winery. They belonged to his wife, Kari. She was one of the wealthiest women in the Willamette Valley.
The Reverend’s wife of seven years wasn’t around. She was probably sweating at yoga or drinking fancy coffee with her winemaking friends or carrying on yet another assignation.
It was the day before Thanksgiving. Traditionally, the couple dined at some swank restaurant where a cliched celebrity chef repurposed meals from classic American cuisine (this season it was Salisbury steak and Swedish meatballs) and everyone reveled in the expensive irony.
But as of Wednesday, Kari hadn’t said a word to her husband about where they were going. That hardly mattered. He was as indifferent to Thanksgiving as a beaver was to a presidential election.
The Reverend checked his phone. He had a text message from Kari sent earlier in the morning. It read:
It’s over. I’m flying to Sicily for the holiday. I’ll return in a week and don’t want you there. Please sign the divorce papers in the office and leave a forwarding address. There’s a debit card with $10,000 on it for you. That’s it. The password is our wedding date. I paid your phone bill for the month and signed the title of the Navigator over to you. No more church service either, so tell everyone. It was fun at first but got boring. Good luck. You’ll need it.
Don’t think about going to the beach house in Manzanita. I changed all the security codes.
Was the poor Reverend in shock? Not really. He knew the heave ho was coming sooner or later, but a text message the day before Thanksgiving? And her flying to Sicily? Well, at least she left him the alimony and a SUV.
So now what? Where to go? How to survive? The Reverend didn’t have a clue. The practical thing would be to locate a place to live. But if he did and paid all the deposits, the Reverend would be as broke as a homeless John the Baptist, though at least he wouldn’t be wearing a loincloth and eating locust and wild honey.
Reverend Bland decided he would reach out to his flock for succor. That’s what a church is for, right? And his flock was rich. He texted several members and waited for sympathetic responses and offers of temporary housing as he packed up a couple workout bags full of belongings. He didn’t really own much of anything except a wardrobe, a phone and an Apple Watch. Everything around him was Kari’s.
They had met in a New Age Christian addiction recovery center (only gentle self-flagellation allowed and lots of healing crystals). His sin was sports betting, hers was pills. They’d hit it off immediately, violated various center rules with their sensual shenanigans, and then got married a week after their release. He was 35, she was 50.
He’d been cleaned out by his addiction and lost a condo, a boat and a semi-lucrative job selling medical equipment. She’d lost nothing except the craving for pills.
Kari told him he was great in recovery talking to the addicts, helping them each have their own Saul-on-the-road-to-Damascus moment. He was a born storyteller, she said, who should form some kind of ministry to continue his good work. She would subsidize him.