The 9 Lives of Oliver 6: TOUCHED OR ANNOINTED? [Reader Discretion Advised]

It was my all time favorite song to hear Sista Moms sing; “He Touched Me” is a beautiful Gospel ballad that talks about becoming whole at “God’s touch.” “…Something happened, and now, I know… He touched me and made me whole.”

People truly felt touched when Sista Moms sang that song. Even the pastor’s wife, to her chagrin, didn’t command as much respect as Sista Moms soprano sermons. When Moms sang with the choir, there was sure to be some weepin’ and a’wailin’. Particularly, so, if the right musicians were on deck. Moms played off her spiritual connection and a connection to the music. Oliver’s favorite thing was to observe the process.

Minister Jacob Jonas was a “spirit-filled” musician and budding minister that befriended Moms. He was a respected Gospel musician and choir director throughout the local Pentecostal churches. Even Ollie’s eight-year old eyes saw the femme in Jacob’s gait.

Ollie’s earliest memories are of kids giggling and whispering “effeminate” around him. He was afraid to ask what it meant. Whatever it was, he knew it was something he was supposed to be ashamed of. Childhood trauma that sabotages a sense of self-worth and belonging can heal over time. It is personal work and often an unpaved path.

Being constantly confronted by others because of the way one naturally loves, breathes or moves through the world, is a denial of that person’s humanity. Denial of a person’s humanity is a breeding ground for mental illness. They are a grape shriveling in the sun; a sprout in feeling for light in the dark; a rose pushing through concrete. How can we truly grow by wading in the murky, limited perspective of others?

Minister Jacob’s presence was simultaneously grounding and unsettling. When Ollie was eight, he looked up to him. All the kids liked him because he was young, around 22, and he always brought excitement to the music. He directed the youth choir, where Ollie sang, and the Gospel ensemble choir, where Sista Moms sang. Both choirs were in demand, traveled and were pretty well known throughout the Tristate.

Minister Jacob’s gift of playing the organ and piano never disappointed. He played a classic ole’ school church organ with three levels of keys and about 50 foot pedals. With its array of buttons, switches, levers and lights, it was a playground of sound!

Minister Jacob let Ollie sit next to him on the organ bench during Moms’ choir rehearsals. He was usually the only kid there. In fact, he was usually the only kid in most places Mom’s went.) Minister Jacob rarely let the other kids sit on the bench. They were too rough. Ollie just sat and watched all that soul flowing out of that organ. Plus, he knew all the parts.

At times, Minister Jacob guided Oliver through the dynamics of playing – what to touch and what not. Sometimes, during a special concert, Minister Jacob would let Ollie him sit at the organ. His perfectly timed, soul-stirring accompaniment would move the congregation to ecstatic release. 

As years passed, Minister Jacob became a favorite of Sista Moms, visiting the house for meals and fellowship. He began pursuing Oliver when Ollie was 9. At first, he wanted to wrestle when Moms wasn’t around. He started tugging on Oliver’s waist. Minister Jacob smiled, and his eyes twinkled as he said he was just playing. 

Oliver was confused. Something felt wrong. Minister Jacob was like his uncle. He was at least 10 years older. However, the attention Oliver received was a rush. Oliver felt wanted. He always wanted to feel wanted. 

His father didn’t seem to want him. Elder Nesto would call and say, “I love you, son,” but he was miles away. In the days when he had been there Moms had to push him to spend time with little Ollie. So, Oliver never really believed it when Elder Nesto professed his long distance love. 

Elder Nesto never showed any material support of his son. Oliver wore the ill-fitted hand-me-downs of various church members. Sometimes, when his father called, he’d mention how he’d heard that Oliver was a “sissy.” 

“I hear you wearin’ your pants too tight. You know what happened in Sodom and Gomorrah, right? Like I always say: I can love the sinner, yet, hate the sin,” was his response to 10 year-old Oliver about the rumors. Elder Nesto never sent money for new clothes that fit.

The conversations are foggy in Oliver’s head. Minister Jacob wanted him. Minister Jacob promised to take care of him. He never said, “Don’t tell.” However, he got pretty unsettled when Oliver threatened to; signaling that Minister Jacob felt it wasn’t right. Oliver tasted a newfound feeling of… power. 

Minister Jacob was old enough not to expect a child to entertain his fantasies. Oliver felt sorry for him. Jacob’s home life was traumatic. His mother was rough. Sista Moms had become a second mother to him. He obviously struggled with his identity, and to feel loved. Davina always had so much love to share; She was sometimes blind to the underside of helping hurt people.

Grandy never liked Minister Jacob in her house. Jacob laughed too loudly and sincerely, with a high-pitched giggle at the end. He usually came over to the house with his friend and prayer partner, Sista Lucy. Sista Lucy liked to pray; and eat.

Oliver always had a FAT crush on Sista Lucy. She was a good ghetto girl with pretty green eyes, and a family full of brothers. In his pubescence, Ollie was convinced he had found his wife. He was 10, and she was, like, 24. But he was a mature 10, though. She was patient and kind as she thwarted his lil’man advances.

Sista Moms would cook and have Minister Jacob, Sista Lucy, and Moms’ friend, Auntie Lissett over to Grandy’s house for dinner and fellowship – usually, when Grandy was out. They would pray, sit and talk about spiritual life and quote Bible scripture well into the night. Oliver loved those times when Grandy’s house felt full of life and love. They were a family.

Grandy’s house could feel like a stuffy church, at times, though. The minimal furniture had belonged to Ms. Izzie, Ollie’s great-grandmother. It was the home of Southern Christian women living independently on their own terms. They condemned the temptations of the flesh. They gave to the poor. They blessed your heart without gracing your chest. Their reputation of being upstanding “women of God” preceded them.

Ms. Izzie’s house on Neumen St. still had signs of Ms. Izzie’s recent transition. A tucked away bedpan; church-lady hat boxes stacked in a closet; a discarded ‘porta-potty.’ A solemn feeling permeated every room.

During her lifetime, Mrs. Isadora “Ms. Izzie” Woodie operated a small ironing business from her living room. Her, her daughter and granddaughter would press many of the shirts and suits of the local white businessmen. Her business was known for the quality of her service. Grandy and Moms inherited the business after Ms. Izzie took sick. However, they didn’t always see eye-to-eye. Eventually, after Ms. Izzie passed, Moms decided to go her own way as a part-time domestic. She had big talent, but little tolerance.

After Oliver’s father left, Moms and little Ollie were cast out of their apartment. Grandy, alone in her house, was reluctant to let her family move in, but she did. The bittersweet mother-daughter relationship continued to sour once Minister Jacob, Sista Lucy and Auntie Lissett started to frequently stop by. Moms said Grandy was jealous. Grandy had her suspicions about Moms’ relationship with Auntie Lissett; and she certainly had her reservations about Minister Jacob Jonas.

One evening at the dining room table, during one of their spiritual debates, Oliver wondered about a brown paper bag on the floor at the feet of Minister Jacob. When he asked, everyone went speechless while exchanging knowing looks. Minister Jacob offered, “Don’t worry about it, Ollie, you’ll find out later. It’s a surprise.” Sista Moms gave a nervous grin, then suggested Ollie go get washed up for bed. He had a strange feeling in his belly. He said his “Good nights”, anyway, and obeyed Moms’ request.

About 20 minutes later, he lay in bed. Minister Jacob Jonas appeared at his bedroom door. Jacob had never been in Ollie’s room before. In his hand, he held a brown paper grocery bag. “Can we talk?” Ollie heard himself say, “Sure.” Somehow, Ollie knew this was about sex.

Sure enough, Jacob pulled out a picture less, dusty textbook whose cover read “Human Sexuality.” He said, “I thought we could have a chat about sex” as if he hadn’t been trying to introduce Ollie to sex for years. Apparently, now, it was a conversation sanctioned by Moms.

Jacob opened to a chapter titled, “HOMOSEXUALITY.” Ollie wondered why the talk was starting there? Jacob basically broke down homosexuality as “the attraction to the same sex.” Ollie’s mind wandered off into puzzlement. Sure, he’d known what it was and what people said were the consequences. He knew about AIDS. He knew people in church and the neighborhood. They were usually pretty kind to him.

Minister Jacob looked up from the book. “Look Oliver, you’re 11, now. You’re getting to a point where your body and feelings are changing. One day, in a locker room, or somewhere, a boy is going to approach you for sex, and your going to like it.” Oliver protested. His father had said it was a sin; had said he was a sissy. Minister Jacob insisted that Oliver would one day be open to it, and it was ok. Then, he flipped the book closed. 

That was it? That was “the talk?” Jacob was confirming that he would be the “faggot” everyone said he was? As the pages closed, Ollie caught sight of another chapter with one word: MASTURBATION.

What’s that? Jacob looked. Masturbation? Oh that’s when white boys stand around in a circle and jerk themselves – until they ejaculate. “What’s ‘ee-jack-you-late?’” They ‘blow a load.’ Y’know, until sperm comes out.” was the minister’s reply. Ollie had never heard about sperm coming out. “Where does it go?” Ollie asked. In his infinite knowledge, Minister Jacob answered, “All over themselves, the walls, wherever.” Oliver’s mind was blown. 

He was taught that pre-marital sex was wrong. Making out and touching a breast was wrong. He was supposed to wait on the one woman that God would one day send him. He liked it when his neighbor, little Shelly Miles showed him her muffin. He was scared, but he liked it. However, the adults in his life were confirming he was destined to be a homosexual. There would be no wife for him. Homosexuality was a sin. Game over.

Well, “Good night, Ollie.” Minister Jacob gave him a hug, then left the room. Ollie’s imagination was swirling. Sista Moms always said that he was just as God made him. Whenever he complained of being bullied, she said there was nothing “wrong” with him – he was God’s perfect creation. Now, she thought he was gay? Did she know Jacob had been pursuing him? She never mentioned it – before, or after. 

By the following year, Minister Jacob became comfortable openly making moves towards Ollie. Oliver was twelve, and confused, with conflicting feelings. Jacob was his closest male role model. He was twenty-four. Oliver respected Jacob’s talent, but felt pressure from his affections. 

Oliver had no idea how to navigate through sexual feelings with people his own age. The rage around the absence of his father, keeping Minister Jacob at bay, created numbness in his heart. The father he wanted to want him didn’t want him; and had no interest in protecting him. Perhaps, Ollie was not being fair to Minister Jacob. 

Ollie planned to find out either way. Minister Jacob was always offering a sleepover, and Oliver decided to submit. He agreed to spend the night. Minister Jacob ok’d it with Sista Moms. Would Oliver really go through with it? One way, or another he needed Jacob to back off. Oliver felt guilty about the distress Jacob seemed to be in over him. He also knew it was not cool for an adult to be sexual with a kid. 

Oliver went to Jacob’s that night. He wore clean Superman underwear. Jacob changed his sheets and lit candles. At bedtime, Oliver entered on one side, Jacob entered on the other. Oliver lay in bed, his back to Jacob. For some reason, he couldn’t stop thinking about “The Dukes of Hazzard.” He was scared. He was ready to grow up. He wasn’t ready. He wanted someone to intervene. This has to end. No one seemed to notice what was happening. 

“We don’t have to do anything, if you don’t want.” Minister Jacob was obviously excited. Oliver turned over to half-heartedly offer himself. Jacob pressed his man-size body against Oliver’s small frame. Oliver felt the stiffness and turned back over. Jacob reached around to hold Oliver in his hand. “Stop.” Jacob froze at Oliver’s words. “Stop.”

Oliver couldn’t go through with it. No matter what anybody said, or whatever he might be, twelve was too young. He was too scared and uncomfortable to go through with it. People said it was a sin. This man may love him, but this felt wrong and not fair. Drifting off to sleep, he thought he heard Jacob whisper something about blue balls. Oliver couldn’t think of a game with blue balls.

Sista Moms was afraid to believe Oliver when he told her what happened. She had Oliver apologize to Jacob for the obvious misunderstanding. Jacob banned Oliver from his presence. O. told his sister, Loretta. Loretta told Vonetta. When Vonetta found out, she knocked on Jacob’s door, like a witness. When he answered, she held a kitchen knife in his face. “You been messin’ with my brother?” Jacob only blinked and shook his head.

“You come near my brother again, and I’ll cut your m’thafckin’ blue balls OFF! You hear me?! Nuff said. Church done. Amen, a woman.

Intellectual property of ML. King, House of Aleijuan, all rights reserved, 2019


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s