Regina muttered her farewell and scrambled into the truck. Kathryn stayed leaning against the front of the truck, scratching Bea behind the ears and talking with Pastor Small. She knew her companion wanted to get out of there, but she also knew the minister had questions. He had been patient and helpful and accepted what she told him. She couldn't repay him any other way except with as many answers as she could safely give.
"I really appreciate this," she said. "Not many people these days will help strangers with such a flimsy explanation."
"That isn't reason enough?" Pastor Small laughed and gestured over his shoulder at the white steeple with the gray metal cross on top.
"It should be, but--" She decided not to get into that area.
Sometimes the nastiest, most uncooperative people she had run across in her journeys were people who claimed to be Christians. Nine times out of ten, they based their long lists of what a "real" Christian should be on their own opinions and schemes to earn their way into heaven, and never checked what the Bible said.
"What really convinced you? Back when we were talking in the sanctuary, there was a moment when I thought you were going to throw us out or call the police, then you changed your mind."
"Those." He pointed at the shoes the custodian had given her.
"Oh. Sorry." She went to one knee and started to untie the paint-spattered sneakers.
"No, you ought to keep them." Pastor Small bent down and caught hold of her arm, tugging her upright again. "Four years ago, our youth group put together a time capsule as a joke when they renovated their classroom. Those are my shoes. It was quite a mess, with all the painting we did. We had a great time." He winked. "Those shoes should be in a locked metal box three feet underground, sealed in plastic wrap and cement."
"You're kidding." Kathryn felt a chill race up her back, but it was a good chill.
"Plus," he continued with a lopsided smile, "we don't have a custodian right now. The deacons and trustees and the ladies mission groups and other committees take turns with the upkeep and cleaning. The place hasn't looked this good in years..." Pastor Small tried to laugh. "Whoever -- or whatever -- helped you, he wanted you to be here. Who am I to argue?"