The preacher's robes were starched, his hair shiny and smooth. There was a small microphone attached to his collar. His smile could have sold every used car in Alabama. He had very white teeth.
"John was a generous man who served his community selflessly for forty years. We gather here today to share and remember the acts that humbled us, that gave us a model to - "
The preacher had already been talking for five minutes when John's daughter stood up. At first, she didn't speak, but those in attendance followed the preacher's gaze. Their eyes fell upon a slight young woman, dressed in black trousers and a black blouse. Her skin was pale, cheeks aflame. She was shaking. No one moved. Most held their breath.
Slowly, she raised her head. Her eyes were moist but fierce. The preacher knew what was about to happen. It had happened before. There was a chance ...
"Sally, you just sit and rest, honey. Try and take it in."
It might have been alright if the preacher hadn't spoken to her. Try and take it in...
Sally stood ramrod straight, her eyes now cold and hard.
"Why don't you tell them the truth?"
The old man opened his mouth, but did not speak. A cousin grabbed at Sally's arm, but she shook it off.
"I'll tell them the truth. My dad was a mediocre person and sometimes a downright petty asshole. I loved him anyway, but he wasn't a Prince. I know it; you all know it. He was human, like all of us. I'm tired of dressing up in black to listen to your lies. You think if you say enough nice things about folks when they pass, someone will extend the same courtesy to you. Despite what we all know about why Ms. Hastings left town. Despite the fact that, somehow, our devout spiritual guide lives in the nicest house in the county..."
There was complete silence when the preacher spoke.
"You could just be honest. My dad wasn't a saint, don't try to make him one. He was a human being and he deserves to be remembered as one, not as one of your plastic trophies - you don't get to profit off this. You don't deserve to play the good guy and eat everyones' Sunday dinners like we don't know the goddamn truth. This ain't about you. It's about my dad. The real one. Not this bullshit hero you describe. I don't want to hear lies. I want you to tell the truth."
As one, the eyes left Sally and landed on the pulpit, piercing the man sweating beneath his robes. He seemed to deflate before their eyes. It was the first crucifixion any of them had seen in person.
The moving van appeared the next day. The preacher was gone before Sunday service.