God’s Naked Will: C. D. Mitchell
Each person lives with the hope that they will have a good life, be accepted by others and hopefully never endure the wrath and hate that often befalls those that are different or less fortunate. Reverends and preachers are supposed to prepare sermons for their parishioners that will engulf them within the spirit of the church, encourage them to want to participate in the services and hopefully keep them in God’s good graces. C.D. Mitchell’s stories spotlight different characters whose faith in themselves, their families and their belief that God will provide for them and make them whole, often results in failure, the feeling of unworthiness and the lack of drive to continue in the path they set out and often turn in the wrong direction. Clovis Clementine is the title of the first story and the name of our first character whose life was destined to heartache, ridicule, abuse and loneliness from the moment he took his first breath and the world saw what many hoped they would never, his deformed foot. An indiscretion by his father who slept with his brother’s daughter, led to his birth, his parents not wanting him at all and the reason why his came to live with his Aunt Ruth, Uncle Clarence and lived at Lamm’s Chapel Church. Removing his shoes would startle those that observed his foot as they recoiled at the sight of his “Cloven hoof.” A young child with so little going for him and yet an aunt that loved him unconditionally and a whole congregation that would not stand by him and embrace him for who he was. Both his aunt and uncle had him evangelized and at every church they entered they told the story of his foot and the great deeds that they hoped and knew he would perform one day. Not even a surgeon could correct his deformity and the author relates what happens in school at the hand of bullies. Diagnosed with schizophrenia and possibly symptoms of autism we follow his life, his life living with his preacher Aunt Ruth and the end result. Each story takes place in Delbert and all of the characters present a different side of this town and a different perspective on life. Clovis works at the church and is tormented by bullies in school, ridiculed by those attending the church and shunned because of his deformity. Working at the church and helping his aunt is his way of surviving, being left alone and convincing everyone that he is okay. But, when confronted and tormented by someone what he does changes it all. A grave flood will cause many of the coffins in the cemetery he tends to open up and float away. One corpse comes alive you might say and the end result will surprise the reader as one young man decides that sometimes there is only one way out.
The next story is titled Stud Fee and the one that follows God’s Naked Will. These two stories have a lot in common as both deal with two young women that are in need of love, want to follow in God’s path but digress in different ways. One young woman named Lani convinces her husband that since eh cannot have children she should get pregnant from another man. Listening to Lani and her husband Jim talks about his, the business arrangement made you wonder what the final outcome will be and if she will become attached to Mike the you might say as a surrogate dad. Doubts are uppermost in their minds but when we hear Lani and Mike discuss their futures what happens will make you wonder just where this is going, why she put herself through the entire ordeal and if she and Jim can reconcile their marriage by having another man’s child. Fears, failures, lack of faith in themselves as we meet another woman named Delilah and a man named Mooney. Mooney is a preacher and seems to have quite a following. He lusts for a girl named Nancy but he cannot bring himself to submit to her advances because it is wrong. Instead of giving in and remaining chaste, he decides to leave Delbert and go to Chicago and calls an escort service. What better name than God’s Own Escort Service, A Touch Above With Every Date. Calling they think he might be a plant from vice but after a while they realize he is just new at the entire experience. Allowing himself to rethink what he might be doing does not stop what happens next. Mooney attend a Pentecostal Church and developed quite a following. Being saved that first day and learning more about himself he realized that he would receive, “ love, adulation in the church, that he had lost when his mother died.” But, the money was quite plentiful and the rewards greater. When Delilah enters the room, pays her fee and the end result happens the guilt he feels, the voice that awakens within him and the offer he makes her will make you wonder just how far one man will go to repent his sins. What is the final deal? Read the story to find out what the definition of God’s Naked Will really is!
Healing Waters is the heartfelt story of a man named Elias whose wife died. A special hot springs filled with water would wash over her body and his hoping to heal her illness but it never did. The story begins with Elias observing a woman swimming in the creek and leaving his property before he can find out where she comes from or why she is there. This hot spring is said to have healing powers and the property his lives on contains a special herb with healing powers too. But, Elias began wondering about this woman and decided to try and meet her. What happens will make you wonder just what is real and what is wishful thinking as two people whose lives intersect change in a flick of a moment and whose perceptions, beliefs and faith will never be the same. The Execution is next and is also set in this same town with the a Sheriff that is bent on making sure that a young man named Sonny pays for the crime of killing a young girl named Nancy. Meeting her in a previous story we remember that her behavior was at times not quite stellar, considered more like a street tart and the fact that she was raped, mutilated and murdered upset most of the town, her parents but not the man who killed her. Toying with the Sheriff, not wanting to divulge where he buried her the reader wonders just that is really guilty and of what crime. Did the Sheriff abuse the prisoner? Did the prisoner mutilate himself because he is ill? What really happened? Can you forgive this man for what he did? What are his last words before being executed? Or was he?
Job’s Comforter is next followed by Original Sin which takes place in a community where people have the choice between wearing clothes or not. The story centers around two young people about to be married, the different rituals required, the ceremonies at this unique resort and the harsh realization they learn about humans at the end. This is really quite different from the rest and the startling revelations they learn about themselves and others will surprise the reader.
Each character has their own strengths and flaws hoping to overcome their plight in life and possibly come out ahead. The final story The Reverend Elvie Simms dealing with a incident that would change two lives. Imagine walking in on a Reverend cleaning the baptism tank and finding him scantily dressed. When a young boy named Denny decides to help clean the tank what happens will bring to light when urges win out and behaviors are soon to be questioned. Learning more about the Reverend his duties and his job we hear about his failings, refusal to help counsel a young couple before they married. At the same time Denny was battling lung cancer as the years past away from what happened in that tank so many years before. Secrets, lies, deceit and one man’s hope to avenge himself, clear his heart of all sins and finally reveal a harsh truth that would ruin more than one life if he lived to tell it. Just what happens at the end you will learn for yourself. Will Denny confess to his wife what happened so long ago? What did the Reverend intend to do before his wife walked in?
Author C.D. Mitchell presents many different sides of each character as they struggle to decide how to proceed with their wants, deal with their guilt and have the future they hope for. One woman who wants a child so badly she would sacrifice her own happiness with another man while another sells herself to the highest bidder to provide her son with a good life. Still one more woman agrees to marry a man just because he wants to repent his sins. Each story so different yet each the same in many respects as the characters go about their daily lives but in reality face their own demons, their feelings about God and their own spirituality. Issues like schizophrenia, hearing voices, incest, bullying, visions, inter-racial marriages, executions, cock-fights and prostitution this book brings to light each of these issues in these stories. One man whose sexual preference might have cost him everything if revealed at the end and nude weddings that would shock many and others might embrace. The characters have their own strong convictions, never mince words and definitely would have to go a long way before finding salvation and at times as the author states we all” Fall short of the glory of God.” Who wins his faith? Who does not? Read God’s Naked Will and other Sacrilege and you decide. This is one book that once you start reading you won’t stop until you turn the last page.
Fran Lewis: reviewer