by Jim Foreman
The auction wasn't scheduled to begin until 1:00PM, thus excluding the need for the sellers to furnish a noon meal for the bidders who had come to pick and strip the remains of the John Deere agency. No matter how bad the farming business gets, whenever there is a going out of business auction, there are always people looking for bargains among the ruins.
Ginger had completed two years at the university in Manhattan but with the failure of her father's business, the future didn't look all that good for her being able to return in the fall. When she arrived from school, Gary Matlock, her boyfriend through most of high school was waiting for her. He had gone to work for his father on their farm instead of going to college and had a whole different idea of what their future should be. He asked her to marry him the first night she was home, even had a ring and a date selected. Ginger had turned him down because while she wasn't sure of what she wanted to do, she knew that she certainly didn't want to become a farm wife trying to scratch out a living on 320 acres of dry farmland.
The Reverend John Harrison arrived at the Wilson house just after breakfast. He had come to explain his mission and to ask their permission for Ginger to accompany him as his assistant. "He's going to San Francisco and I have wanted to go there all my life," said Ginger. "This is a perfect opportunity for me to go."
The Wilsons concluded that, since he was a well-known minister and seemed to be sincere, they saw no reason why Ginger shouldn't go with him if she wanted to. After all, she was over the age of consent, knew what she wanted to do and there was certainly nothing to keep her in Noggley, Kansas.
The Reverend and Ginger drove out of town just as the auctioneer began his chant. Ginger fought the conflicting emotions of sadness and elation. She was excited at the thought of going to San Francisco yet tears welled in her eyes was she thought about leaving her parents and home. The Reverend was elated at having such a beautiful assistant to help him in his war against sin as he drove westward toward San Francisco, the city which he knew to be the sin capitol of the world. He felt that there was no place on earth which was more in need of his services. They hopped from one small Kansas town to the next, stamping out sin as they went.
With Ginger's assistance in handing out copies of his birth certificate to prove that he was born of an Immaculate Conception and passing the collection plate while he kept the audience captive, financially speaking, things began to look much better for the ministry. The main difference was that he could keep it all.
The Reverend decided that since he was dressed as a circuit riding preacher, Ginger needed an attire more in keeping with their war against sin and in line with her virginal beauty. When they stopped in the town of Ordway, Colorado to save souls and stamp out sin, he suggested that Ginger find a seamstress who could make a proper robe for her to wear during the services. Ginger found a lady who just happened to have some thin, white satin material left over after ordering too much for a wedding dress and agreed to design a robe for her.
It was also pure chance that the seamstress also fancied herself to be a designer equal to any who stitched gowns for the stars and set at the task with enthusiasm. She would drape the material over Ginger's shoulders, pull it tight at the waist and stick in a few pins. Finally satisfied with her design, she began to sew. When she was finished, the gown was biblical in design but styled in such a way that it clung to Ginger's perfect body like a coat of paint. It looked even better when worn without a bra or underwear.
The Reverend was interested only in the biblical aspects of the gown and completely failed to notice that Ginger now looked like a nightclub singer from the era when Moses was carving his admonishments in stone. Even though the Reverend didn't fully appreciate Ginger's new looks, the men in every town where they stopped did and the number of young men appearing at each sermon was astonishing. Collections soared and soon they not only had ample money for their basic needs, they were able to sock some away for a rainy day, should it ever come. The Reverend figured that the whole change had come about as a result of his rousing oratory.
One of the main problems which faced the ministry on its westward wanderings toward the sin capital of San Francisco was the approach of winter. Their outdoor appearances were beginning to suffer a considerable loss of enthusiasm which not even the sight of Ginger in the gown could improve. While the gown did great things for the people who came to gaze at Ginger, it was a total failure when it came to giving her any protection against the chilly breezes which held the silken dress so nicely against her nubile body.
After one particularly frigid outdoor service in the town of Cortez, Colorado, Ginger made a small suggestion to the Reverend, "I'm about to freeze my ass off running around in this damn gown," she told him. "I'm going to start wearing red long johns under it if we don't head for some place that's a lot warmer. I'm sure that there is just as much sin in warm places there is here in this damn icebox, probably even more."
While Ginger's language did shake him up a bit, what she said seemed like a reasonable suggestion to the Reverend, especially after he gave some thought as to what effect her wearing red long johns under the gown would have on the collection plate. Not only that, but it would certainly lessen Ginger's biblical image. Also, she was probably right about their finding as much sin to stamp out in warm places like Arizona as they would in cold Colorado. With quick turn to the left, San Francisco was forgotten and their sights were set on the alternate sin center of the world, Arizona. He had heard someone mention Sun City, Arizona and had thought that they said Sin City.
With a few quick stops to save some lost souls and stamp out a little sin in Farmington and Gallup, New Mexico, they crossed the Arizona border on Interstate 40. After a pause in Holbrook for one night of preaching in the park, and they made their way southward once more. When the Reverend and Ginger reached the town of Show Low, Arizona, they stopped by a small Baptist church to see if they could stage a revival to help the sagging attendance. The resident preacher thought that it was a good idea and the deacons approved it. Posters were printed and placed all over town, telling one and all that a true Child of God, the Reverend John Harrison, born by Immaculate Conception, would lead all the Baptists and other sinners of Show Low along the road to salvation at a revival meeting.
Even though the usual fee charged for an appearance by the Reverend while he was with the Immaculate Conception Ministry, was a flat 75% of the take, the Reverend decided to be generous and split the money which came in the collections plates, on a fifty-fifty basis with the church.
The church was packed each night for the whole week and twice on Sunday. The collection plate was heaped with green folding money each time that it returned to the hands of the preacher who took it to the back room where he and the lady who directed the choir counted it with a certain looks of pleasure and glee in their eyes.
"Are you keeping up with the collections as they come in?" asked Ginger when she noticed how much interest both the preacher and the choir director were showing in the money.
"The preacher is taking care of that," replied the Reverend.
"Shouldn't you be looking over his shoulder while he is counting it?" asked Ginger. "After all, half of it belongs to you."
"Are you suggesting that a Baptist minister, a fellow man of the cloth, needs to be watched?" asked the Reverend. "I find that suggestion to be almost a sacrilege."
On the following Monday morning, when the Reverend and Ginger stopped by the church to bid farewell and pick up their share of the contributions, they found that the preacher had taken all the money, deserted his wife and ran off to parts unknown with the choir director.
The deacons of the church, which included the sheriff and one of his deputies, claimed that the Reverend and Ginger had probably been in on the deal with the preacher all the time and told them to get out of town as fast as their van would take them if they didn't want to visit the county jail. Besides, they figured that there had to be some awful sinning going on in that van each night and they didn't want people like the Reverend and Ginger hanging around their town.
While filling the tank of the van with gasoline, the Reverend chanced to pick up a magazine which fell open to a travel advertisement for a place called Los Cabos. He glanced at it, "Los Cabos, Where The Fun Never Sets". Then he noticed the nude figure of a woman outlined within the rocks and came to an instant decision. If the fun never sets in this placed called Los Cabos, then the sin probably never sets there either. That place was their new destiny. They had to take their ministry to Los Cabos, wherever that was.
Ginger couldn't have cared less whether they were going to Los Cabos, Las Vegas or Los Angeles, because she found the whole trip to be one big adventure and lots of fun. At any rate, she was just going along for the ride and the diversion that it offered from the boredom of life in Noggley. She had never been more than a hundred miles from home before and this trip with the Reverend was a hoot. So what if she had to dress up in that sexy white robe and pass the collection plate around, it was easy work and she liked the way that the men looked at her. The only thing that she really missed was the fun that only a man could provide and the Reverend had never appeared to be even slightly interested in that sort of thing, not that she would have considered giving him a tumble in bed.
With maps in hand, they drove right through Tucson, where it was too hot and dry for very much sin anyway, and on to Nogales. Down Mexico Highway 15 they traveled until they were approaching the town of Guaymas. Just north of town is a village known as San Carlos, which was populated mostly by Americans who had bought land and built retirement and summer homes there.
The Reverend decided that Americans living in a pagan and decadent place like Mexico probably needed some spiritual guidance so he stopped to administer a good dose of religion and to stamp out whatever sin might be hanging around. They drew only a very small audience, mostly Mexican boys who didn't understand or care what the Reverend was talking about but just stopped to get a look at the wonders of Ginger in the white robe. Not a single American living in San Carlos came to any of his meetings. It appeared that the only two things which they showed any interested in was fishing and drinking Cerveza Tecate.
While waiting for the time for them to board the ferry which would take them across the Sea of Cortez to Baja, the Reverend stopped by the local Catholic church and asked if he could hold a genuine, old-time, shouting and singing, Bible Belt Baptist revival in his church. The Priest told him that his congregation had no need for anything that the Baptist church had to offer and that he had better watch his step. While he might not come down with the dreaded Montezuma's Revenge, he would certainly suffer Father Juan Carlos Ferdinand's revenge if he tried to proselyte any of his members.
The Reverend and Ginger arrived at the ferry terminal early to be sure of getting aboard. The van was measured, they bought tickets and were told to park in a certain spot. When the time finally came for the van to be driven aboard for the trip to Santa Rosalia, they found that they were parked right behind a Cadillac Sedan bearing Illinois license plates and a Chicago dealer's logo.
Seeing the Cadillac with license plates from a city which the Reverend felt was only slightly less sinful than San Francisco, he approached the lady who was driving it and said, "Excuse me Madam. I see you are from Chicago and I would like to talk with you about sin."
She took one look at him and replied, "Get the hell away from me, you goofy old weirdo, or I'll call the Captain."
Ginger met Maria, who was traveling with the lady from Illinois, and they struck up an immediate friendship. They went to the lounge, but the Reverend refused to go with them because they served demon rum in there. In the lounge, they met two American students from the University of Texas who were on their way to a research project in Marine Biology at a place called Bahia de los Angeles. The two students invited them to their cabin, where they enjoyed a much more exciting and eventful trip across the Sea of Cortez than did either the Reverend or Rebecca Crenshaw, who were seated next to one another in the Tourist Section.
It was late in the afternoon when the ferry docked at Santa Rosalia to discharge its passengers and vehicles. Rebecca and Maria drove directly to Mulege, followed close behind by the Reverend and Ginger. Rebecca was bound for Maria's house while the Reverend was looking for a place to park the van for the night.
Rebecca, following Maria's directions, made her way along the narrow streets of Mulege until they came to a pleasant little house which faced out toward the river. There was a woman sweeping the street in front of the house when they arrived.
"Mama!" shouted Maria as she jumped from the car and ran to the house.
Maria's home!" shouted Mama as she ran to meet her. There was much hugging, kissing and crying, joined in by two younger girls who had come running from the house.
A boy about eighteen walked from the house and saw the shiny Cadillac parked in the street. Rubbing his hand over the sparkling chrome trim he said, "Man, Oh Man, what a low rider this would make. If I had a car like this, I could pick up all the Chucka Chucka in town."
"Manuel!" shouted Mama, as she swung at him with the broom. "How you talk in front of your sisters and the lady from Chicago."
Just then, an old Mexican man came stumbling around the corner of the house. His shirt was unbuttoned, his fly open and wearing only one shoe. His hair was long and shaggy, and he looked and smelled as if he hadn't bathed or shaved in a month. He was probably as horny as a goat, because he certainly smelled like one. Stumbling and falling into the street, he shouted, "Is this la Gringa from Estados Unidos who wants a good escrewing?"
"Pay no attention to Uncle Fernando," said Manuel. "He is mucho borracho. He's been drunk ever since we got the letter from Maria saying that you were coming to meet him."
"Maria, when was that photo that you showed me taken?" whispered Rebecca.
"Almost twenty years ago, Senora, at my Christening," she replied.
"Have a nice Christmas with your family, Maria," said Rebecca. "Tell me how to get to the best hotel in town. I'll pick you up next Monday and we will celebrate the New Year in Los Cabos."
"Go back through town the way that we came in, turn left across the river and go about a mile. The Serenidad Hotel is on your left," replied Maria.
When she pulled into the parking lot of the hotel, she noticed the Reverend's van backed into one of the RV spaces. "At least I'll know someone who is staying here," she thought to herself. "That nice girl, Ginger, is here. I wonder how she ever came to be traveling with that strange old coot in the black suit and funny hat."
"You will be in the San Javier Room," said the man at the desk as he handed her a key. "And, I'll reserve a ticket for you to attend the pig roast this Saturday night?"
"What number is that room?" she asked.
"Our rooms do not have numbers, just names, Senora," he replied.