‘Lord I was down. I was down and out and I was on my knees. I stared into a bottomless pit through the neck of a bottle. I was motherless. Fatherless. Lord, I was alone. Then you sent her to me. And she said to me, ‘come, walk a while.’ And she took me where I could eat. And I ate. And she took me where I could bathe. And I let myself be washed. And my sins were cleansed.’
Tyrone Paul raised his eyes to the congregation. He knew when he had them. His eyes met Loretta’s. Not until they were sure did she pass the collection plate to the first of the worshippers.
‘Yay,’ he continued, ‘though I was desolate, a sinner, unworthy, he showed me love. He picked me up. Through the agency of that blessed woman he saved me. And that is why we come to you now,’ he said. ‘As man and wife in the Lord we come to save you.’
Someone called, ‘hallelujah,’ and the room filled with a spontaneous chorus. Loretta fell to her knees. They loved it when she fell before them. Beneath the cries of adulation and subjugation she listened for the clink, clink, clink of their coins. The rustle of their notes. Suckers.