“The hardest choice she ever had to make was between true religion and true love.”
Rose Gluck thought she had everything in life. Just out of high school, she spent her days working as a pioneer minister of her Jehovah’s Witness faith, going door-to-door teaching others about the Bible and the happifying future God had planned. She thought she knew what it meant to be happy, but things would change when Wyatt True shows up.
Drawn to the dashing young brother, Rose experiences feelings that she never knew existed. Meanwhile, despite his vow of singleness, Wyatt can’t but help to fall for the beautiful young sister. But the Presiding Overseer of the congregation has his own plans for Rose. Will Rose find eternal happiness?
Returning to Kent Springs, Rose, her grandmother, and Viola agreed that it had been the best convention ever. It was such a letdown to return home where things were all so very blah. There was also the additional complication of Rose’s pending marriage to Clinton Green.
There was much to work out yet, including where to live. Rose didn’t want to leave her grandmother, but the old woman protested that living with her was no way to start a new marriage. Fortunately Viola offered that she might move in with her old friend, so Clinton started looking for an apartment in town. Viola was ecstatic looking forward to making Rose the most beautiful dress in the world and for once her grandmother wasn’t putting up a fight over the style, finally conceding that Rose was an adult.
Rose thought she should be more excited about the whole thing, but somehow she wasn’t. She had waited her whole life to get married and thought about having her own place one day, but now that it was all happening she wasn’t sure that she was ready for it. She wanted freedom, but with Clinton buzzing around her like a horse fly she felt more trapped than ever.
A few weeks after the convention the congregation was scheduled to have a review during the Thursday night meeting. Rose sat down at the small roll top desk in her bedroom to prepare. As she pulled the notebook from her bag something caught her eye nestled down in the corner. She reached for it and to her surprise lifted out a convention name badge. Rose arched her eyebrow in bewilderment. Her badge was in her dresser drawer where she kept all of her convention name tags and programs as mementos.
Rose’s face registered shock as she flipped it over and read the name, Wyatt True. Had the badge fallen off when she had stuffed his suit jacket in the bag? She subconsciously brought the card up to her lips and went into a daze thinking about the young man. Where was he? What was he doing? Back in Black Island did he even remember the girl he had spilled soda on and helped to get an illicit bag of pretzels?
She sat the name tag down on her study desk and opened her notebook. Her convention notes from Friday started off well enough, but for the afternoon session they were a scattered mess. She blushed at one notebook page that simply contained the name Wyatt True written in flowery print over and over again like a daydreaming schoolgirl. Even more embarrassing were the many variations of “Sister Rose True” decorating the page. She tore the page out of her notebook, wadded it into a ball, and tossed it in the waste basket. Clinton could never see that; there would be no way to explain.
Rose attempted to do the same with Wyatt’s badge card, but paused, unable to bring herself to part with this last reminder of him. Instead she pulled out her United States atlas and scanned the map looking for Black Island, the congregation listed on Wyatt’s name badge, but her attempt was unsuccessful. If she wasn’t holding the badge in her hand she might not have believed he was even real.
Rose looked down at her engagement ring. She must concentrate on Clinton, not daydream about Wyatt. Rose took the convention badge and hesitantly dropped it in her wastebasket. That is the end of that, no more Wyatt True, she thought, going back to her studies.
That Thursday meeting, Clinton was eagerly waiting for her at the door. Ever since the engagement, he was there to greet her, helping her carry her books to his seat up front, even though it was the same book-bag she had quite capably carried herself before. She thought she liked it better when he didn’t pay her that much attention.
When she got into the auditorium she noticed a cluster of the congregation around someone in the corner of the room. She didn’t know who it was, but had figured that perhaps it was a newly interested one that came to the meetings for the first time. The congregation would be eager to warmly greet them in order to impress upon them the love of Jehovah’s people. Rose was grateful for some new excitement to break the otherwise joyless routine of their congregation meetings.
As Rose walked over to the group to make her introduction she was surprised to hear the unusual sound of hearty laughter coming from the huddle. Who was this new person? When she got to the group she couldn’t believe her eyes. It was Wyatt True!
Instead of introducing herself as she intended she turned around and walked back to her seat. What was he doing at her congregation? Rose hoped he wasn’t there to retrieve his convention name badge, which had already been carried out to the trash burn pile. Did he come to see her? Rose shook her head attempting to dismiss the illogical thought, though it lingered on during the meeting.
During the mid-meeting announcements Jasper Green walked up on the stage and formally announced, “We have a new brother with us tonight. Please join me in welcoming Brother Wyatt True who has been assigned to our congregation from the Ministerial Training School.” Jasper’s voiced always sounded miffed, but as he gave the announcement it came off as particularly strained.
As the meeting continued Rose couldn’t help but to keep stealing glances in Wyatt’s direction, though it was a challenge sitting on the front row with Clinton. Wyatt was wearing a deep brown suit with a stylish striped auburn tie. She listened intently every-time that he commented and was amazed at his eloquent delivery. Rose didn’t understand her misfortune. The guy of her dreams just happened to come to her Kingdom Hall when she was already engaged. Rose struggled to keep the disappointment from registering on her face. The situation felt like a cruel joke. It was difficult enough just seeing Wyatt briefly at the convention; how would she manage seeing him at every meeting now?
Rose leaned closer to Clinton, taking him by the sweaty hand. She would have to try her best to make it work. She had to like him.
The following Saturday, Rose and her grandmother picked up Viola for field service but not before first stopping to get a newspaper for their secret activity. Saturday was the day the entire congregation met to distribute their magazines. Would Wyatt be there?
At the Kingdom Hall, Rose heard his voice. Wyatt was standing up conducting their field service meeting and reading from the Daily Text. Rose slid into the back row hoping not to be noticed and pulled out her own copy.
Wyatt stopped his reading and commented on the three late arrivals. “Glad to have you with us today.”
It was Viola who spoke up, “Sorry Brother True. We stopped to take care of something.” She dared not say what they were doing as it was a secret kept only among the three of them.
“No worries,” he said. “We were just reading today’s text.” After he finished he showed the current issues of The Watchtower and Awake! magazines they would be placing that particular morning. Next it came time to make their car groups.
“Does anyone already have any arrangements?”
Rose’s grandmother raised her hand.
“Sister?” Wyatt pointed to the elderly woman. “I’m sorry it will take me a little bit to get a handle on everybody’s name.”
“Sister Gluck,” Rose’s grandmother replied. “Sister Viola Whitecell and my granddaughter Rose had plans.”
“Very fine,” said Wyatt. “Anyone else?”
No one else raised their hand and so Wyatt divvied up the remaining publishers into car groups of four. Rose noticed that he had neglected to place himself in a group. “I apologize if I put you with someone you absolutely cannot stand. In addition to names it’ll take me at least a couple of meetings to figure out who hates who.”
There was an uncomfortable murmur among the small crowd as no one knew if they should laugh or not. Of course Jehovah’s Witnesses had Christian love toward all of their brothers and sisters, but as they were imperfect there were certainly some they loved a little less.
“I feel like I’m forgetting something,” said Wyatt. “Oh yes. I forgot to place myself in a group.” He chuckled and looked around at the groups that he just made before turning to Rose’s grandmother. “Sister Gluck, since you have a group of three would you mind if I worked with you?”
Rose glanced over at her grandmother in anticipation of what she would say, not that she expected her to decline a brother. Her grandmother said that she would love to have him join them for the ministry. Wyatt called on another brother to say a prayer for them. Afterwards they went out into the parking lot.
“I assume you’d like to drive,” Rose’s grandmother said to Wyatt.
“Perhaps I’ll just ride along since I don’t know the territory yet,” said Wyatt.
The four of them walked to the station wagon and Wyatt attempted to climb into the backseat.
“Brother, wouldn’t you like to sit up front?” asked Viola, offering her normal spot.
“No, the backseat is fine for me,” Wyatt said with a smile.
Rose didn’t know if she should be thankful that he wanted to sit in the back — it would allow her to concentrate on her driving — or if she should be disappointed that he didn’t want to sit by her.
In the car the three women looked expectantly at the new brother.
“So what’s the plan sisters?” Wyatt asked.
“As the brother certainly you’d like to take the lead,” Rose’s grandmother said modestly. “Where would you like us to work?”
“Well seeing as how I am new to this congregation maybe I’ll just leave that to those that know it best. What do you pioneers usually do on Saturday mornings? Territory? Return Visits?”
What they normally did was garage and yard sales but no one wanted to volunteer that information. After no one said anything Rose finally replied, “We normally do garage sale witnessing, but we could certainly do something different.”
“Of course we will do whatever you want to do,” Viola chimed in.
“I did have some back calls that I’ve been meaning to get to.” Rose’s grandmother pulled out her address book.
“Well I’m not familiar with garage sale witnessing, but I wouldn’t mind giving it a try.” Wyatt smiled.
Rose caught her grandmother smiling in the rear view mirror, she knew how much she liked her sales. Her grandmother opened the paper and indicated that there was a sale on nearby Oak Street, which they traveled to first stopping at a Laundromat down the street to drop off some magazines to get their time started. As they pulled up to the sale, Rose was already scanning the folding tables for anything that might catch her eye. Viola always looked for clothes, even though her closets were bursting. Rose’s grandmother looked for dishes, even though she had more than she could ever use. Rose was treasure hunting for her most favorite thing in the entire world, old vinyl records. She was hopeful when she spotted a milk crate sitting on a picnic table.
Wyatt opened his car door. “Well sisters let’s go see what they have.”
“I’m sorry brother, but shouldn’t we pray first?” Rose’s grandmother asked.
A confused look spread across Wyatt’s face. “Pray? We prayed back at the Kingdom Hall.”
“I mean for extra … protection,” her grandmother tried to explain.
“Protection from?” Wyatt inquired, arching an eyebrow.
“Well … demons.”
They had heard plenty of stories about demons being attached to items bought at yard sales and her grandmother was not one to take chances by dragging home a tea setting with an unclean spirit hiding out in the kettle like a genie. Rose looked to Wyatt to gauge his expression. It was positively puzzled.
“I think that the prayer that we said back at the hall should cover us just fine,” he said with a grin. “It is something we learned at Ministerial Training School.”
From the look on her grandmother’s face, Rose could tell she wasn’t really buying it, but she knew better than to argue with a brother. Instead the grandmother meekly agreed and closed her eyes for a quick prayer to herself when Wyatt got out of the car.
Rose made a bee line to the record crate. She frowned looking at the first record, The Oakridge Boys Christmas. As one of Jehovah’s Witnesses she couldn’t listen to Christmas music. She flipped through the next few records with a sigh, two copies of Bing Crosby’s White Christmas, It’s Christmas Charlie Brown, and Loretta Lynn’s Country Christmas. She paused with a smile when she saw her favorite, the Carpenters, but when she pulled it out she was irritated to see that it was just their Christmas Portrait album.
“Any demons here?” Wyatt walked up behind her and whispered making her jump.
“Oh I was just looking,” she said placing the Christmas record back in the box.
“Don’t mind me. Let me know if you come across any demons,” he said with a wry smile.
“What about this?” Rose said pulling Michael Jackson’s Thriller out of the crate. Michael Jackson had just disassociated himself from their religion over a scandal with his horror-themed video for the titular track.
“We should buy it and burn it just to be safe.” Wyatt joked.
“Grams would have a fit,” Rose said, putting it back cautiously.
Rose continued looking through the crate and found a copy of Debby Boone’s You Light Up My Life.
“That’s a good one,” said Wyatt. “My mother use to play that song all the time.”
With his endorsement Rose decided to get the album. She carried it up to the householder and gave her a quarter for the record. Then she pulled out a set of The Watchtower and Awake! magazines and offered them to the lady. The householder accepted them. Having placed the literature Rose asked for a donation. The lady handed Rose her quarter back with a confused look on her face, as if wondering if she had been scammed.
Back in the car Viola commended her, “Good job with the magazine placement!”
“And I even got a donation!” Rose beamed placing the quarter in an envelope labeled in pink pen, “Donations for the World Wide Work”
“So sisters, where to next?” Wyatt asked.
“There is another sale on Washington Avenue,” Rose’s grandmother said, looking at the paper. “What do you think Brother True?”
“I think I’m beginning to like yard sale witnessing.” Wyatt smiled brightly. “I got a wig!” He held up an old Farrah Fawcett wig for their inspection.
Rose’s grandmother gasped. “Brother True, what will you do with a wig?”
He laughed. “I don’t know, but it was only a dollar! Maybe Rose would want it.” He reached up front dropping the wig down on her head. Rose was speechless as she looked in the mirror at the askew wig looking like a dead animal.
Viola the first to begin laughing, followed by Rose’s grandmother, and then finally Rose.
“You’ve got a lot to learn Brother True,” said Viola through her laughter.
“About what?” asked Wyatt innocently.
“You could’ve at least got them to make a deal for fifty cents on that ratty old thing.” This made them laugh all the more so.
“Sorry, I was absent the day we discussed yard sales at MTS.” Wyatt joked.
It was only his first day in service with them and the first time that anyone had ever gone with them for their sale witnessing, but Wyatt True immediately fit right in.