Preacher ManBy: Jessa Kane
Mama says I’ve got the devil in me and she must be right.
Because I can feel the eyes watching me through my bedroom window, out there in the backwoods Mississippi darkness and most girls would scream and call for their daddies to get their rifle. Not me, though.
Never met my daddy, either.
I take my time reclining back on my narrow twin bed, pretending it’s covered in luxurious silks, instead of a ratty sale-bin comforter with frayed edges. My nightshirt rides up my thighs and I raise my hips, showing my bottom off to the man outside. He comes every Sunday night, like clockwork, to watch me through the window and it’s the highlight of my week.
One afternoon in June, I noticed there was a worn patch of grass outside, beneath my bedroom window. The kind made from the continual treading of feet. A man’s feet. Large ones. And it excited me. Lord it did, even though I should have told my mama and asked her to call the authorities right away. The only kind of man who watches an eighteen-year-old girl through their bedroom window during private moments is most definitely a bad one.
Imagine my surprise when I caught a glimpse of him one night during a full moon. The man lurking outside is one who everyone I know believes to be the best man among us all. A step above the rest. A direct line to God.
The town preacher, Joseph Stark. A man whose very job is to quiet the devil inside his followers, yet he teases Lucifer himself to life inside me. Makes him dance.
His eyes are on me right now and I arch my back, letting the nightshirt drag higher, until it catches around my waist. The blood at my pulse points pumps madly knowing he can see my panties, plain and threadbare though they are. It must excite him to see my barely covered private parts, since he keeps coming back every single Sunday. That mental reminder of his reliability makes any self-consciousness fade to nothing.
There’s only me and the presence outside the window as I cup my breasts and twist my hips around, my breath rattling around in my lungs, sounding so loud in my ears. Look, Daddy. Look your fill.
I told you the devil lived inside me, didn’t I?
Those terrible, twisted thoughts are probably what made me tempt a righteous man. Mama says men are ninety percent animal and no amount of praying or repenting can stop those things between their thighs from standing up, searching for somewhere to…what? I’m not sure. All I know is that lately, down at the water hole, boys have been looking at me strangely, pushing and tugging at their bulging laps. I reckon it’s me that’s the cause. They can sense the devil inside me and know how unfulfilled I am.
The preacher coming to my window is a blessing and a curse. A blessing because it cuts loose the wildness living in my bones. Lets me be me. Even if it’s only for a little while. His visits are a curse, too, because they make me hot, itchy, starved—and no matter how I touch myself or pump my hips against my pillow, I can’t seem to get relief. Oh, I kick up a fuss and pretend I’m experiencing the height of pleasure. Wouldn’t it be embarrassing otherwise? To let the man outside know I can’t make the ache go away no matter what I do?
The bad seed inside me has been germinated and grown uncontrollable. Vines wrap around my lungs now, making it hard to breathe as I roll over onto my stomach, lifting my backside in the air and moving it in a slow figure eight pattern.
What is the preacher doing out there?
Is he touching that thing between his legs?
The very idea makes me lightheaded. Joseph is the reverend of our town. A year ago, he arrived and built a small church on the edge of the woods. Since then, he’s been credited with bringing God to a community that had turned their backs on their creator. Every Sunday, he projects his deep, husky voice, sending it booming out onto the great lawn where his congregation spills out beyond the church doors. Women and men shout halleluiah and raise their hands over his sermons.
And there I sit in the front row, wishing he would take me off into the woods and lay that big body down on top of me. Hard. Press me down into the earth and kiss me. Put his hands on my breasts and take off my panties. Look at me there.
I know it’s wrong. I know it’s bad. He’s a man of God and look what I’ve done. I’ve cast my darkness in his direction and reeled him in. If my mama knew, she’d take the wooden spoon to my backside and bruise me good.
When Joseph Stark came to town, he was just so…other. Quiet, intense, watchful. Different from everyone else. I’d lay odds he’s from a place faraway from Mississippi. A Yankee from up north, perhaps. Up until that first day I saw him behind the pulpit, I’d been spinning crazy tales in my head about the father I never met. Maybe he left to be an astronaut or solve crimes for the FBI.