Robin G. White

_____It seems like it took me forever to get here. One solid year of watching Miss Mavis Dupree. Sister Mavis Dupree that is. One solid year. Mm. Mm. What a woman. Every Sunday I, Marva L. Malcomb, do the praise and worship hour at The Divine Deliverance Tabernacle. Oh we really get the spirit movin’. Sister Etta Wrigley leads the jubilee chorus in their weekly shoutfest as I get things going with my organ.

_____My fingers fly across those keys while my feet pump the pedals. It’s not an easy thing to do unless your doin’ it for the Lord like I am. Some Sundays I can hit it just right, punctuating the shouting with just the right articulation as Sister Wrigley shouts, “Put your hands together for Jesus. Let your praises be heard in the heavens. Hallelujah. Lift your voices and let me hear an amen. I said lift those voices of praise. In the name of Jesus, In the name of Jesus, We have a victory…” The whole congregation joins in clapping, singing and I’m just a playin’ on that organ.

_____Well this one particular Sunday about a year ago is when Sister Mavis Dupree came to join us. I noticed her right off because of her height. Not too many folks can be six foot two and not be noticed and especially not a woman like Sister Mavis. No, no. Not like Sister Mavis. She stood off to herself on the left side of the church looking a little lost and quiet. She wore a long plain skirt and blouse. Her hair was neatly pulled back and held with a clip. Pretty, but plain.

_____We were in the middle of praise when the usher had seated her in the midst of Sister Beaulah’s crew. They were rocking and swaying and you knew it was getting ready to hit the pitch when Brother Marcus began to jog. He jogged first across the front of the church and then back. Well that just got those sisters riled up cause the next thing you knew three or four of them had joined him and Sister Martine had started with the cries. “Oh Jesus. Yes Lord. My God, my God. Oh. Oh. Oh. Yes Jesus. Oh Yes Jesus. Oh. Oh. Oh. Jesus, Jesus, Jesus. Oh Jesus, Jesus Jesus.” The attendants came and caught her just as she swooned.

_____Brother Bishop had joined in the fray and was now jumping straight up and down in place. This started his whole row going. I was moving my fingers up and down the scale punctuating every percussive bass note I could find right in beat with Lloyd Jr. on the congas. The Jubilee singers took their cue, “I’m in my Father’s house, I dance I sing I shout. I love to give Him praise and bless His Holy Name. Shout, Shout, Shout. Dance, Dance, Dance. Sing, Sing, Sing. And bless His Holy Name.” Sister Wrigley raised her skirt and did a little step. Brother Richard grabbed a tambourine as Sister Jean worked over the bass guitar. Hallelujahs went up everywhere.

_____Out of the corner of my eye, I could see her hands clapping. She bent over and put her Bible and purse on the seat behind her. The crowd was pulsating. Brother Edwards and his grinnin’ self edged over toward her. That dog. If it wore a dress he just had to sniff under it. But she was gone. She moved forward in the midst of the commotion and threw her head back. Her arms fell to the side and her feet started dancing. Her torso trembled as she submitted to the Holy Ghost taking her shaking and dancing all the way from one side of the church to the other. The hair in that neatly pinned bun just let itself loose as did her body. Back and forth she leaned, first one way then the other, her body surrenderin’ to that good gladness, that happy dance. Her hips moved in time with the music, grindin’ and gyrating’. Her pelvis pumpin’ and pushin’ that fine behind back and forth.

_____And all the while I was playin’. Oh man was I playin’. I could feel my behind sliding from one end of the bench to the other, feet pumpin’ away at the pedals, my fingers stroking those ivory keys with deliberate measure, my tongue licking my lips. I locked onto her step and moved faster and faster as the congregation’s fervor grew to a collective pitch. No one was seated. Some twelve hundred folks were shouting, ”Hallelujah, Praise Jesus, Thank you Father, Yes Lord.” But above it all I could hear her voice shouting, “Yes Jesus, Yes Jesus. Oh God, Yes Jesus!” My body was trembling, twitching. I could feel the burn in my thighs as I pounded those pedals harder with my feet. My throat became dry as I sucked in short breaths between the hiss of the “Yes, Jesus, Oh yes Jesus,” moaning between my lips. My bottom felt on fire as I continued to bounce along the bench the cheek muscles contracting with each syncopated beat. I began to lose the rhythm as the all too familiar explosion edged its way to the surface. The strain showing on my face. I slowed the rhythm of my music. And God’s people followed suit. Sister Mavis collapsed in her chair as she turned winked and smiled at me.

_____Like I said it has been a year since that first Sunday. We’ve had fifty-one Sundays since. And on everyone of them Sister Mavis Dupree recreates that Shout at home with me, Sister Marva L. Malcomb. Gotta go. She’s in the bedroom waiting to celebrate our anniversary. And I don’t want to keep her waiting. Not Sister Mavis. Oh no, no, no. Not a woman like Sister Mavis.

Copyright © 2000. Used by permission of author.. All Rights Reserved.

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