Dixie Lee ~ Part 8

For those of you who have been joining me on this journey of discovering Dixie’s story, thank you! I have a rough outline and idea of where we’re going but I find myself surprised along the way as characters take shape.

I hope you’ll continue joining me on Fridays as we dive into Dixie’s world. It’s my goal to post a section every week until the story is finished. I hope in the end these posts will turn into a full-fledged book. If you see a typo or feel a particular sentence or scene doesn’t work well feel free to let me know. This project will be the better for your collaboration!

And if you like the story the best way to pay me a compliment is to share it with a friend, or on your Facebook or twitter feed!

(If you need to catch up with Dixie’s story you can begin here.)

 

Dixie Lee

After dropping Gabriel off the ride to Dixie’s house was quiet. She and Kenny were lost in their own thoughts.

What had Mr. McAllister seen in Gabriel and Kenny that had caused him to take the time to be kind when no one else was? Or, maybe, the better question was, what had he seen in Jesus to cause him to be kind?

Where was that confidence she had felt in church? What was the passage she had read? The Word dwelt with us… glory… from the Father… grace and truth.

What was the truth? What was grace? All Dixie knew was that she was about to get people’s backs up, and if she was she had better know why. Sighing she shook herself loose from those heavy thoughts.

Kenny seemed to take her cue and shake himself loose as well. He looked over at her. “I’m glad Gabriel came with us today. He’s a cute little fella’.” He cleared his throat, “What’s wrong, I mean what’s the matter with him, his legs I mean.”

“Oh, I should have explained that to you. He has cerebral palsy. He was born that way. It affects movement, in Gabriel’s case mostly just his legs. He can explain it better.”

“Well, I really like him. Maybe his whole family will come to church next time.”

“I hope so too, Kenny.”

The conversation lulled again as they drove by a yard lit with the color of a stunning dogwood in full flame. The Mississippi Delta wasn’t painted with the full colors of fall her northern neighbors displayed, but a few trees put out an effort to mark the season. The Delta didn’t get a lot of things her neighbors did, come to think of it.

Looking out the window as they drove Kenny asked, “Do you believe what your daddy was talking about today? That Jesus really is God? I don’t know how I missed that before. But it makes all the difference, don’t it?”

“Yeah Kenny, it does make a difference, and I do believe it. I trust what the Bible and my daddy say. But I’ve also experienced God’s forgiveness because of Jesus. I don’t think any ordinary man has that kind of power.”

“Your dad, he’s real smart. I wish I knew as much as he does.” Kenny’s voice sounded wistful.

“He is smart, but everything he knows can be found in that Bible you’re holding. Start with John, Kenny, and see what you learn.”

Regardless of his rough past, and unpopular lifestyle, Dixie couldn’t help but be drawn to Kenny’s sincerity. She found herself rooting for the underdog.

They pulled up to the Lee’s immaculate home. She parked her blue truck alongside her mother’s white Toyota Camry and took a deep breath. Whatever it was Jesus and Mr. McAllister saw in Kenny she wanted to be brave and see it too. She just hoped she could help her family see it as well.

Dixie and Kenny entered the house through the kitchen. Sunday’s pot roast filled the air with a rich aroma that made her stomach rumble. She hoped Kenny didn’t sense her nervousness. Voices drifted from the dining room. Dixie led Kenny through the hall and into the room stylishly decorated by her mother.

The family was seated around a large cherry table laid with the family’s Sunday best, a grandmother’s silver, her mother’s old-fashioned Lenox china in Brookdale with its dainty flowers and silver trim. Daniel and his wife Muriel were seated to the right of Dixie’s daddy. Her mother to the left.

Had Dixie understood the undercurrent she was trying to swim against in her family and small community she may have hesitated. Instead the force of her personality led the way. She stepped boldly into the dinning room and said, perhaps a little too loudly, “Hey folks! Daniel, Muriel, I’d like you to meet Kenny.”

The room was hushed as Kenny stepped forward smiling, “Nice to meet y’all.”

“Dixie, dear,” her mother’s hand gestured to the chair beside her, “have a seat, and your friend can sit at the end there.”

Daniel and Muriel both murmured polite hellos to Kenny, though Dixie noted veiled animosity behind her brother’s eyes. Dixie’s dad, Richard, who was in the process of serving the excellent pot roast smiled, “Kenny, good of you to join us. It was a surprise to see you in church today.” He shot his daughter a meaningful glance.

Dixie felt the heat rise to her cheeks. Daddy was such a good man, she hated for him to be disappointed in her. It was thoughtless of her to have surprised him. She shoved the thought to the recesses of her mind. “Daddy,” she said, her freckles popping and green eyes flashing, “Kenny enjoyed your sermon today, I thought he might enjoy dinner and further conversation. We were talking about the importance of Jesus being not only a man but also God.” She looked between the two of them.

Had Dixie been in her father’s head it would have sounded something like this: “How I love this daughter, her vivacity and determination, but she will be my undoing.” He was sure of it. He didn’t know whether to chuckle or to sigh.

Dixie waited expectantly for her father to take the bait of conversation. Kenny’s face was eager. Across from her she noticed her brother’s brows knitted together, quizzical and unapproving.

She nudged a little further, “I gave him one of the pew Bibles daddy, I knew you wouldn’t mind. He didn’t have one of his own.”

“Well, son,” he bit, “I hope you’ll take the time to read the book of John. It answers just about any question regarding Jesus you may have. John knew Jesus personally, we can trust his account. His gospel begins by establishing Jesus’ divinity. That is, that Jesus really is God. And also reminds us that he became a man. Why do you think that might be important Kenny?”

Dixie smiled to herself triumphantly. Her father couldn’t fight who he was, a teacher. There was nothing he loved more than to explain the Bible to others, especially those in need of direction.

“Well, sir, I suppose it’s cause if Jesus was just a man when he died on that cross he would have just stayed dead.”

“Good observation, Kenny. Of course God can raise any man from the dead but the death of Jesus, had he been only a man, would have been ineffective for us. One man can hardly die for the sins of the whole world and be an effective substitute. Only a pure sacrifice, who had never sinned would do. And only Jesus fit that bill. Jesus is where God and man meet and the issue of separation is finally settled.”

“Richard, I do believe you’re on the verge of preaching another sermon. Why don’t you say grace for us and we can eat.” Sharon placed a slender hand overtop of her husband’s as she spoke. A hand of restraint Dixie frustratedly observed.

“Good idea, Sharon,” he said taking her cue. Looking at the whole table he said, “Let’s pray. Gracious Father, thank you for this food that you have provided and for the people around this table. We pray our conversations would be seasoned with truth and we would be ever grateful for the gift of your Son. Amen.”

Plates had been passed and filled with pot roast while the conversation was unfolding. Now rolls, homemade applesauce, and pea salad were passed around the table.

Sharon directed her attention to her side of the table and asked Muriel how baby Jackson had been sleeping lately. Soft spoken Muriel confessed he was a restless sleeper and she was worn out. To which Sharon proceeded to offer advice and opinion on how to get a baby to sleep.

Richard asked Daniel if he had had any difficult cases at the law firm, of which he was a junior partner, lately. Daniel began a storied answer about disputed boundaries between some colorful locals.

That left Kenny and Dixie quietly enjoying their pot roast. The window for conversation with Kenny had passed and an awkward chill had settled over their end of the table. Dixie doubted that Kenny realized he was being snubbed but she could read his discomfort.

“Your mom makes a great pot roast, Dixie.”

Dixie suddenly noticed how out of place Kenny looked in her mother’s fine dinning room with his country ways and unique appearance.

“I agree Kenny, I love her pot roast!” She wished she could say or do something to make him feel more at ease.

Softly, as he studied the contents of his plate, Kenny said, “Don’t think I’ve ever been in a home this nice or with a family so fine.” She wasn’t sure if the comment was directed at her or to himself.

Dixie’s heart squeezed tightly. Why couldn’t everyone else see what she saw in Kenny? Not a threat but a great need.

The rest of the meal passed in quiet conversation. Her brother never spoke to Kenny but kept himself involved in other conversations, none of which Kenny could follow. Dixie consoled herself with the fact that at least no one had been overtly rude. Dinner was followed by dessert, old-fashioned caramel cake. As soon as dessert was finished Muriel and Sharon began clearing the table. Dixie noted the meal had not been lingered over as the family usually did on a Sunday afternoon.

Dixie took her cue and stood saying, “Well Kenny, I should get you home.”

As the young man stood to follow her Richard and Daniel interrupted their conversation to say goodbye. She led him back through the hall and into the kitchen where Muriel and her mother were putting away leftovers.

“Thank you Mrs. Lee for the delicious meal, that was the best pot roast I’ve ever ate.”

Her mother turned from the kitchen counter. “You’re welcome Kenny, I’m glad you enjoyed it.” And then turned back to her task.

“Goodbye Kenny, it was nice to meet you. I hope we’ll see you again soon,” offered gentle Muriel.

Dixie could see her mother’s back stiffen.

She led him out of the kitchen and into the warm afternoon air. Bees droned and children laughed in the distance. A sudden weariness descended on Dixie as she opened the pickup door.

The pair rode in contented quiet, fighting off the drowsiness of the afternoon. Dixie crunched into the gravel drive of the trailer.

Kenny turned his sincere blue eyes on her, “Dixie, thank you for bringing me with you. I really enjoyed it. Maybe I can go to church with you again next Sunday?”

“Of course you can, Kenny. I’ll talk to you later this week.” He slipped out the door. “Bye.” Why shouldn’t he, she had already waded into that muddy water.

Check back next week to see how Dixie handles challenged relationships, small town gossip, and her mother.

Once again thanks for sticking with me! I feel like Dixie’s story is important to tell and I appreciate those of you who are listening. I’d love to hear how you think the story is working so far!

{I encourage you to share this link with friends. But please don’t copy and paste, that way ownership of the story will never be in question. Thank you.}

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