Suffer the Little Children
by Janice Daugharty
Copyright 2010 by Janice Daugharty
“Janice Daugharty is a born story-teller...,” Joyce Carol Oates
The wavering soprano of Dot Knight rises above the bright chiming of children’s voices, a song of Jesus that could be any song, any glad message about to burst forth from the new blue Buick and change—well, at least, dent—the little North Florida town of Jennings. It could be any town on this mid-summer mid-day that Dot has chosen to spread the gospel, except for the umpteen-dozen Hispanic migrant workers. Enough to fill up the entire Baptist church of Statenville, Georgia, across the state line, and then some. The trick is to get these people to the church’s revival, to convert the heathen, thereby elevating the status of one Dot Knight, Sunday school teacher supreme and dutiful disciple of the Lord.
Well, let’s just say she is trying.
The last two churches simply didn’t work out. First church, after she got saved, she had a run-in with the deacons because they let a woman known to have black blood join the church. Second church, she got into it with the preacher for expecting her to bus bad children in her new car from all over creation to vacation Bible school.
At the crossing in Jennings, she slows the Buick to a crawl, easy up the slope of the entrance to the Holiday Market, stops and the children start pouring out. Dot’s entire Sunday school class: David, Neida, Alda and Pat, and thirteen year-old Sister with a wormy-looking baby attached to one hip. Where Sister goes, the baby goes, and there really isn’t much Dot can do about that. She’s tried before, and where has it got her? To church number three.