Things I Learned from R. B. (April 5th, 2020)


Jonathots Daily Blog

(4371)

Episode 10

We decided to settle into Shreveport, Louisiana, where I took a job as a professor at a Bible college, teaching drama and also Music Director at the adjoining church.

The college was very small—only twenty students—and the church maintained a faithful fifty. But it garnered me living quarters and a small weekly stipend.

I took the opportunity because I thought “college professor” would look good on my resume.  I also speculated that it would give me several months to think things over before the evangelical church, which financially supported the college, grew tired of me and my creative ways.

R. B. accompanied us, but only in body—somehow absent the heart and soul which had once plumped him up into being human. The misadventure in Minnesota had left him defeated, devoid of confidence. So upon arriving in Shreveport, he found a young couple who had an extra room, and he moved in.

Although he was only ten blocks away from us, we gradually lost contact.

He despised the director of the Bible college and came to church services very infrequently. I did not agree with him about the founder of Hope Bible College,  even though the man wore cowboy shirts, bolo ties, boots and stabled two horses on his property. He and I were not a natural match, but still maintained a strange respect based upon the fact that he yearned for my youthful intervention at his dream institute.

And I certainly loved having my rent paid and enough money to fund my addiction to lunch meat.

There was a small dormitory on site which housed six students. One was the onsite janitor, whom the college touted as “recovering from mental retardation.” He was not really challenged—just a young kid with the shit intimidated out of him. There was also a black student, fulfilling Hope’s MLK moment. And then there were four gentlemen who certainly, in the real world, would have been prescribed anti-depressants, but were instead being sustained by prayer-healing.

Now, I knew my stay would not be long, so I launched.

I wrote two original plays and staged them in a small auditorium where we built a stage and I wired in two banks of overhead colored lights. The proctor of our “college-ette” was thrilled beyond measure when we presented the first play, and not only was the auditorium filled to the brim, but the local newspaper arrived to review it.

Yet R. B. only showed up when I asked him to play organ in the church. He arrived attempting to play with a black gospel-jazz flair. Unfortunately, R. B. was not black, nor jazzy.

In a nutshell, he was frustrated and confused.

He took up smoking, started to socially drink (which the congregation found quite unsociable) and he was touchy. I guess “touchy” was an old-time word we used when a human being was always ready for a fight. For R. B, a grimace had replaced his grin.

My stay at this institute of higher learning turned out to be seven months. It was eventful, troubling, and even though the president of the college loved my talent, he hated the challenge and the competition.

Truth of the matter is, so did I. I was weary of having ideas that had to come under the bar of religious prejudice.

So I left Hope on agreeable terms. R. B. gladly left with me.

I didn’t want to go anywhere else. I was not madly in love with Shreveport, but even less inclined to pack up one more time and darken the road. My wife had a job; my kids had schools.

So I stayed—and so did R. B.

But it wasn’t a mutual friendship holding us together. Rather, it was the need to hold onto one another during a mutual disintegration.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: