Was the preacher an answer to prayer?

More chapters from Borrowed to the Bone

A VG Serial: Borrowed to the Bone

Chapter 57

It took Ben Tom the better part of three months to clean up Trez’s financial disaster. When it became clear Trez would never raise the money, he sold Trez’s house by White Rock Lake, paid his back taxes and delinquent utility bills, put two thousand left over in a savings account in Trez’s name.

The savings account ate at Trez. He wanted to spend that money. The more he thought about it, the more he figured he had more than that coming out of a nice house that had no mortgage. “How come you nearly gave away my house?”

They were sitting under a tree in front of the fish trailer. Ben Tom smiled. “You signed the paperwork. You knew the price. You forget you let the place go for years? The roof leaked; the floors were rotting; you never fixed the porch. Then there’s five years of back taxes and several months of utilities. Want me to go on?”

“What the hell am I supposed to live on? Hell, you won’t even allow me money for cigarettes and beer.”

The questions and demands grew in frequency and intensity, especially when Trez needed money for beer. “I’m tired of being babysat out here with you. I don’t want to live in no fish trailer anymore. I want my own place. I got my own money.

***

Josiah Welch, a local evangelical preacher, approached Ben Tom in downtown Riverby the next day. “People say you’re the biggest real estate speculator around here.”

Ben Tom tried to shake off the praise, but could not. “And you are?”

“Pastor Josiah Welch of the Rivers Crossing Church”.

“That Pentecostal or what? My family was Pentecostal.”

“We are not affiliated with any national church organization. We prefer to seek the truth without the constraint.

“Sounds good.”

“Know anybody who might be interested in a nice piece of land with a mobile home on it?

The preacher seemed to be an answered prayer.  “Where might that land be?”

“No more than three miles from where we stand.”

“How much?”

“I fear my little church is in desperate straits, sir. We also have a family in dire straits. For a buyer willing to act quickly, we will let it go for the unheard of price of only four thousand dollars. The trailer alone is worth ten.”

Ben Tom strolled over the two acres and examined the trailer house. Everything the preacher said seemed to be true. But . . . he had been bitten before. “I didn’t just fall off a watermelon truck, Reverend Welch. What’s wrong with it?”

“Check it out for yourself. The plumbing works, the septic system is in good order, even the window unit cools perfectly.”

When Ben Tom finished verifying everything the preacher had said, he determined that the man was the answer to a prayer. He used Trez’s equity money and matched it with two grand of borrowed money and took possession of the land and the trailer.

Twenty four hours after the land title was transferred, Ben Tom took Trez out to look at his new home. The trailer was gone. A neighbor told Ben Tom that a truck had pulled it away under the cover of darkness, ripping away rather than disconnecting plumbing and electrical, as if they were in a big hurry. Ben Tom called the sheriff.

It took the local sheriff two weeks to locate the trailer on a used mobile home lot. Paperwork was attached to the door and sides. Ben Tom ripped off one seizure notice and saw Mark Conley’s name in fine print.

Mark leaned away from his desk, affecting his normal hands-behind-the-head posture.  “We did loan the preacher the money, but we always sell off mobile home notes to a firm that finances them as a specialty. They’re not too forgiving when they repossess. Wish you had told me you were going to buy that trailer with the money I loaned you. Thought the loan was for a piece of land.”

“It was. Didn’t see any need to even mention the trailer, since I got it for next to nothing. The land was worth more than what I paid.”

“Now you know why.”

“How do I go about getting the trailer back?”

“Suppose the preacher didn’t tell you that he was way behind on the payments.”

“I just checked to make sure the land was free and clear. You’d have thought a person, especially a preacher, would have mentioned that.”

Mark shook his head as he peeled back one sheet of paper and looked underneath it as if expecting to encounter a scorpion. “He owed nearly six grand on the mobile home. Said he had a big high-paying job in Oklahoma when he borrowed the money. Traveled all over the country. Some kind of computer consultant.”

“If he had such a good job, why did he get behind?”

Mark was apologetic, knew he had been duped just like Ben Tom. “He had tax returns and a W-2 that showed more than six figures. Should have known better.”

“What do I do now?”

“Assuming he hasn’t already left the country, maybe you could catch him at his church Sunday morning. Get your money back.”

 

Chapters of the serial are published on Friday.

You can learn more about Borrowed to the Bone and other titles by Jim H. Ainsworth on his Amazon Author Page.

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