On God's Green Earth



NPCs written by Brooklyn.

Scene Title On God's Green Earth
Synopsis Which doesn't narrow it down any as to Joseph's whereabouts, but Abby finds out from a phonecall that they can at least cross 'Tennessee' off the list.
Date September 13, 2009

Guiding Light Baptist Church: Upstairs, Joseph's Office

Joseph's office is about as tidy as he'd left it, which was with the expectation that he'd be returning to it the next day. It's been almost a week, however, since he'd called in saying he'd be gone for however long, and open books on his desk, a coat hanging in the corner, are all left untouched. The door is only partially open, allowing a slice of it to be seen by Abby as she waits in the hallway in the upper levels of the Guiding Light church.

A 'guest' speaker was brought in to speak to the congregation this Sunday. More of an emergency replacement, but naturally not introduced in such a way. Likely this had not exactly stopped inquisitive minds, and there had been mostly apology and uneasiness in Pastor George Ashby's demeanor when approached. Currently, the sound of drawer opening and foot steps sound out from his office a little further down the hallway. Moderately unused by him which manifests in taking a little longer to get the information sought from alcoves of drawers and files.

But he steps out into the hallway, holding a piece of paper with a number written in his penmanship upon it, and a name, Claira Sumter. Over fifty, with grey peppered through his shaven black hair, Ashby doublechecks the number written out for Abigail before handing it over. "I was going to get Caroline's number from Joseph, but he hasn't been answering, but Claira'll know what's going on, I'm sure. You can use my phone, if you like," he says, with a nod back towards his office door.

"Oh no, please don't apologize Pastor Ashby. I can get his number and address from Mrs. Sumter. Just, you know us southerners, there's little rules and traditions and if I didn't send flowers or some sort, my momma would done turn over in her pew and ask god what she did to not turn her baby up right and proper" Because there's just rules about this sort of thing.

"I'll use my own, but thank you muchly, do you mind though, if I just sit inside his while I call, so I don't disturb any others? I promise i'll be just a moment and I won't touch a thing"

Ashby smiles at her, crows feet lines at his eyes at her words, before nodding once, his hand coming up to smooth down his tie, still dressed immaculately for service. "I'm sure he wouldn't mind, so I don't either," he says. It helps that Abigail attends consistently enough for even the somewhat hands off senior pastor to make note of her, or likely this conversation would be slightly more closed doors. He begins to head for the staircase downwards. "I'll be downstairs, if you need anything, and… well, you can let me know how it goes."

"I will Pastor Ashby" Abigail drawls as she pushes at the adjar door with her slender hand and slips in. If he stays to listen, then he stays to listen. The piece of paper is looked down and the numbers on the paper are pressed one by one, ten in all on the little red cellphone. That done, it's soon pressed to her ear so that she can listen to the ringing on the other end, steel herself for a phonecall.

No eavesdropping for Abigail, the heavy sounds of Ashby's footfalls down the stairwell creaking loud enough for her to hear. There's a couch— a new once, since the day Deckard lead gasoline and blood on it— and a desk and a chair, and enough simple comfort that one could comfortably spend hours within an otherwise windowless room. As the phone rings tinnily in Abby's ear, not so far across the country, a woman moves from one side of the house to the next to answer it.


Claira's voice sounds tinny, but already there's a trace of accent in there witihn a neutral tone of voice. Perhaps appropriately, there are a couple of images of the woman seated still on Joseph's desk, all blonde hair and bright smiles, soft looking as if she were younger than she is.

"Mrs. Claira Sumter?" Abigails voice soft across the lines. SHe's taking the chance on saying Mrs. Better than Ms. yes? "My name is Abigail Beauchamp, I attend the church that Pastor Joseph Sumter officiates at." This felt awkward, calling Joseph ex-wife when he barely talks about her. Her fingertips are in need of a little circulation since they're gone white at the tips. "Do you have a moment?"

"Oh." There's surprise and perhaps suspicion in that one syllable response, and then the distant sounds of a radio being switched off. There's plenty of puzzlement in her voice as Claira continues with; "Sure, I got a moment. What can I do for you?"

"Joseph called in last week, said there had been a family emergency and had to leave, that Caroline had fallen ill. His mother? Well, we're trying to find out where to send flowers and well wishes from the congregation-" Really, just Abby actually. "But no one has an address or a phone number. I know that it's probably three shades impolite to have called you, but yours was the only number we had and we though maybe that you might be able to help us?"

Claira is quick to fill in any lingering silence that might occur, despite the hesitation that comes after Abby's words. "Oh, I— and you can't get ahold of him yourself?" There's some exasperation in her voice - not quite at Abby, but perhaps more directly at Joseph, but then vague affront filters in as she says, "I had no idea, myself. I saw Caroline just last Wednesday at church, and she was fine. She didn't say anythin' about Joseph comin' back."

"I'm frankly getting nothing on his cellphone which was why I called this number. He must have it turned off or it ran out of power and he can't find it. Truly Mrs. Sumter I'm sorry that I'm disturbing you" This Wednesday. No. That's not right. Abigail frowns and looks to the desk from her perch on the comfy couch. "So Caroline is doing better?"

"That's fine, that's fine," Claira assures, breezing out a sigh. "And please, just call me Claira. You're probably right. But I coulda sworn Caroline's been fine. You're telling me he's come back all this way?" There's suggestion in her voice, that someone is going to have to answer for being so sneaky. "I had no idea."

"Claira. Please, call me Abby." But Carolines been fine. She was seen this past Wednesday. "Claira… He calld Pastor Ashby and said that his mother was very ill and that he had to fly back home to see to her" Already the young blonde is mentally preparing a text to send to wireless and ask the technopaths help. "Do you think that you could call Caroline and inquire as to whether he's there? It would do my heart good, and i'm sure the rest of the flock here if we knew he was okay. There's been some grafitti and the like on the church and some people came by and roughed him up some weeks back for being what a bunch of us are that attend the church" There's worry now seeping into the blonde's voice.

"I see." Worry is matched with vague chilliness, now, after an uncomfortable pause. Not exactly overwhelming concern, but cool familiarity. "I coulda told him…" Words trail off, and Claira starts again with; "Here, you hold on. Lemme talk to Caroline and see if he isn't hidin' under the bed or some such. I won't be two minutes." Before Abby can properly protest, there's the sound of her call being put on hold, flowery muzak ringing tinny down the line.

Jospeh's wife does not like Evo's.

That's the assumption the blonde takes from the tone. No wonder he and she were not directly together. It made sense, on some level. And the pastor still wore his wedding ring. Her gaze wanders to the picture of the woman on his desk while her ears are accosted with the muzak. Really, who has that on the home phone?!

The picture is a simple one - lake side, overly bright, and features only her with her hand up in a salute to block the sun from her eyes, though the shadow from it isn't enough to veil a bright smile. It certainly speaks of a happier time. The woman in the photograph is at least honest— it takes just about two minutes for her to switch back over to Abigail. The former chilliness of Claira's tone has become that bit more frosty. "Mrs. Sumter says she's perfectly fine, and hasn't heard from Joe at all," Claira says, in a tone of informing the younger woman across the line. "Now, I don't know what this is— some kind of joke or… I don't even know. Maybe you could explain it to me."

Mrs. Sumter is perfectly fine.

And Abigail's heart is stopping.

"This was not a joke. And.. Lord on High" Abigail's horrid at lying and she's not even trying. "You're sure, She's sure that he hasn't shown up? At all?" There's even more worry now. "Can you get a pen and piece of paper, i'm going to give you my number. I have friends and i'm going to try and find him. I'm worried… I'm worried that something untoward has happened to him"

"I…" That likely was not the response Claira was waiting for, but in the end— there's the sound of shuffling as she goes to get a pen and paper. Uneasiness replaces the icy tone from before. "I am very sure. I talk to Caroline near every week— she's still family to me, you realise— and I know she wouldn't go lyin' to me about that. Lord. He's not gotten himself in trouble, has he? It was exactly the same thing up here, you know, there are just some things… okay, I have a pen."

"If he is Claira, I swear on the bible, that I will pull his arse from the fire myself and put him on a plane to be yelled at by you and by his momma. I should have called sooner, but I didn't want to disturb him or your family. Let you all get your ducks in a row" Abby rattles off the numbers, her cell phone and the number for above the bar. "I'm sure that all is fine, but i'll still chase him down and .." And something. "I don't think it's trouble of his doing. He's a good man but this is New York and even my own parents don't like me living here. I'll phone and keep you up to date Claira. I swear it. Don't.. tell his momma just yet?"

There's a soft sound at the back of Claira's throat at Abby's words, but she copies down the number all the same. Her voice crackles bitter down the line as she continues; "Caroline can have a go at yellin' at him - Lord knows I tried. Then he goes and runs off to the most dangerous city in America and does it all over again." There's a beat, then; "I'm sorry. Thank you. For callin' me, and— alright, I won't tell Caroline either. You just let me know what's going on."

"He still wears his ring" Why on earth Abigail says it, she doesn't know. "I've never seen him a day without it. He's got your picture on his desk even" She's stepping over boundaries, lines, a conversation she has no right to enter into. "I'll call tomorrow with word. I'm sure maybe he's just gone and done a forty days and forty nights sorta thing. Get some answers. God bless Claira, thank you muchly for even answering me. I'll do my best, you can trust me, to get to the bottom of this" and then Abigail turns off the phone. Mostly out of embarassment for the first words out of her mouth.

"Joseph Sumter, where on Gods green earth are you"

Fingers begin to taktaktak out a text message on the QWERTY keyboard of her phone to wireless while her own heart has lodged itself in her throat.

Claira is left blinking as Abby hangs up, having been effectively silenced by that step out of social boundaries, enough to flush her face red with both embarrassment and guilt in equal measures. When only the dial tone is left to see off the conversation, she lowers it, hangs it up and runs fingers through long blonde hair.

Abby's number is not discarded, slipped beneath a book in both safekeeping and a way to keep it out of mind, out of sight. Not her problem anymore. They made that clear a long time ago.

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