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When pastor Jim was very young and wise beyond his years he developed a great vexation with his father who was a semi-invalid deeply enamoured of the local pool hall and the habitués thereof whom he repeatedly trounced in endless games of chance.

I, working early and late against the fearsome odds of the Great Depression to support the family and to get on with young Jim’s college fund, gave little attention to the heat being generated over the issue until-

One evening hurrying down an alley to the grocery, I collided with a neighbor in the half-dusk. Hanging over the back fence of the pool hall, peering..into the dusk.. “My word!” I groaned, “What’s up?” Receiving no reply I took my place beside him hastily scrutinizing the area in the direction of his gaze…never have I seen the likes before or even expect to see the likes again,” said he excitedly. “Three weeks ago, it was, and Little Jim sittin’ cross-legged.. in that very spot.. surrounded by rats big as cats.. Where rats have never been before..” He seized my arm in iron grip and rasped, ”Listenin’ they wuz to every word he said… Did ya ever SEE a varmint listen, Mrs. Jones? Well… it was a hunnert or so listenin’ and little Jim was saying: ‘Friends! The hour has struck.. You must chew the foundation from under that den of in-in-ee-quit-us!’”

Mine informant sprung uncomfortably close to my ear and hissed – “Oh you will not see them, Mrs. Jones, only the big holes, and the mounds of sawdust beneath – and the timbers set under the sagging corners..and perhaps, you have heard how ol’Jarbon was bitten to the bone, a week ago, when he struck at a rat, and the floor giving way under Big Jim Jones’ chair and ‘tis a wonder his back was not broken… and, the urine.” “The what?” I whispered, “Surely he didn’t…”

“No! No!”, shrieked my informant “‘twas only the way of rats trompin’ vituals, and Baldy, God rest his soul, never had a nose for smellin’ – Remember he was slapped down twice by a couple of strangers who found rat pellets in the ham sandwich he sold ‘em. Ah! Yes! It’s the nature of livin’ things to eat, beat, and excrete.. As they shoulda knowed, but it all started when little Jim set right there a sayin’ to them rodents, “Friends! The hour has struck.”

There was a stirring of many bodies-a mere whisper sound in the tall grass and a rasping of many teeth on wood, a spooky sort of symphony, well suited to this night. Mine informant stiffened and resumed his darker stance, gazing fixedly at the pool hall.

Little fingers snuggled into mine. Lady Bug (his little dog) reared her soft white body between us. Little Jim said: “I have a feeling God is very fond of nights like these. No! It is not a feeling, really, but a knowing,” said he pensively. “Yes! A knowing that has been going on a long, long time, when worlds were different than this one and we were not much different than now.”