By Katrina Byrd
Mary Lyn can sit up there on the front pew dressed in all white looking like one of God’s sweet angels all she wants. We all know that she’s hell on wheels. She owns Big Mama’s, the only restaurant in Hot Cakes, Mississippi. My sister, Lerleen, works for her. Says she’s loud, cusses like a sailor, and she’s cheap. Won’t even pay minimum wage. Lerleen says that Mary Lyn even dares to have a mister on the side. That’s probably why she’s at church without her husband this morning.
The light from the warm sun filtered through the stained glass windows casting an array of colors over the small building and the well-dressed “Christians” inside, as Reverend Scucchi lifted his large hands upward. Who ever heard of an Italian preacher in a Black, Southern Baptist Church, but there he was. Tall and handsome. Skin as smooth and flawless as a fresh open jar of peanut butter. Eyes black as coal and silky, dark, curly hair. When he spoke his mellow baritone voice filled the room. Mary Lyn hung on his every word like a tick on a dog’s back. She was shoutin’ and amenin’ all over herself.
By the time the choir broke into "Victory is Mine," the entire congregation was on their feet clappin’ and hollerin’. Sweat pourin’ from brown faces. Feet thumping and bumping against the wooden floor some on beat, some off. Nobody ever would’ve guessed that there are rhythmless Black folk but there are. One of them was Mary Lyn. She was a movin’ and dancin’ to her own beat; her backside bouncin’ like a rubber ball unknowingly revealing, what I know in my heart, was only meant to be between her and her maker.
“Lawd a mercy,” I say under my breath as I watch in disbelief. That off-key singin’ gal they got leadin’ the choir hollered into the mike. I couldn’t make out what she said but whatever it was it prompted Mary Lyn to holler out and lift her hands. Mary Lyn’s long black hair swayed back and forth as she stood there with her fat hands lifted toward the sky like she trying to catch a bird. What Mary Lyn didn’t know is that all her movin’ about caused her snug white suit jacket to slide up revealing the back of her unzipped and unbuttoned skirt. I shook my head and pulled out my sewing kit. I walked as fast as I could toward Mary Lyn without breaking into a run. The last thing I needed was to go to hell for laughin’ at a cheap, rhythmless, hypocrite jumpin’ and hollerin’ on the front pew while her shiny red drawers were a shinin’.
Katrina Byrd is the author of One HOT Minute, a collection of flash fiction, as well as Byrds of a Feather and Justice is Blind. She graduated Millsaps College with a bachelor's degree in History. She has written several short plays that have been seen locally. Katrina served as the The Center Players’ Playwright in Residence for the 2010-2011 season. One of her short plays, Dinsmoor’s Last Stand, was written at the request of The Center Players Community Theatre. Dinsmoor’s Last Stand was performed at a ceremony hosted by the City of Ridgeland to commemorate Silas Dinsmoor, a Choctaw Indian Agent. Several of Katrina’s ten-minute plays have appeared in Fondren Theatre Workshop’s Ten Minute Play Projects. Katrina has also received four Artist Mini-grants from the Mississippi Arts commission. Her last Artist Mini-grant helped to fund a staged reading of Death Rattle, a full-length play that was started at a writing workshop hosted by the SonEdna Foundation. Two of Katrina’s short stories were published in the 2010 issues of Black Magnolia Literary Magazine.
In addition to being a writer and playwright, Katrina is also an actress and performer. Some of her most memorable roles were Dutchess in the Center Players production of HATS! The Musical, Grandma in the Millsaps College production of Fabulation and Mrs. Gluunfridget in the Fondren Theatre Workshop production of Legal Mumbo Jumbo written by Oppie Cooper. To learn more about Katrina, check out her Facebook or Goodreads pages.