LEVELS Sneak Peek: “Other Duties”


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Note: This story was written specifically for the Monsters & Mormons anthology, which deals—as the title suggests—with monsters and Mormons. As such, it’s replete with LDS in-jokes. I apologize if non-Mormons don’t get them. Trust me, they’re funny.

The voice on the other end of the telephone line overflowed with nervousness and apology. “Hi— Bishop Evenson? This is, my name is Steve Roundy, from the West Point Fourteenth Ward. I’m really sorry to bother you so late, but I heard that you’re the agent bishop for stuff like this…”

“I am.” Norman Evenson rubbed the gummy stuff from the inside corners of his eyes with the thumb and forefinger of his other hand. He could see his wife Miriam up on one elbow, watching him. Beyond her, the digital clock read “1:32 AM” in glowing green. He gestured to her to go back to sleep and stood up, taking the phone with him as he walked out of the bedroom toward his home office.

“Tell me what the problem is,” Norman said as he flipped on the light and squinted.

***

It took a little over ten minutes for Norman to get from Brother Roundy the salient details. After he hung up, he put on the white shirt, tie and Dockers that he kept in his office so he could get dressed at odd hours without waking Miriam. He avoided his two-piece suits for matters like this; not only were they all dry-clean only, but their crotches tended to split out if things got active. When the tie was knotted, he called his first counselor, Brant DeSalle.

“Sorry to wake you, Brant,” Norman said, the phone cradled in his neck as he slipped on his shoes. “We’ve got a call to handle.”

“Oh. Mercy.” Norman could hear the lag as Brant’s sleepy brain caught up to his words. “I don’t need to shave, do I?”

“I’m not going to. Give Brother Wills a call and have him meet us… Wait, he’s still out of town, isn’t he?”

“Baby blessing up in Idaho, back Thursday,” Brant said.

“Right. Don’t worry about it, then. I’ll see you at the church in fifteen minutes.”

After he hung up and tied his shoes, Norman flipped back through his stake calendar. It was the first week of February; he had only been the agent bishop since the start of the year, and this was only their third real call. Maybe he could call the previous agent bishop to put together the needed quorum.

There was no answer at Bishop Stewart’s home number, so he called his cellphone. It took three rings for him to pick up.

“Bishop Stewart, this is Bishop Evenson. Sorry to call at this hour, but we got an emergency call and my second counselor is out of town. I wonder if you can help us out.”

“Yeah, I’m in Barbados on a cruise ship,” said Bishop Stewart.

“Oh. Sorry to bother you, then.”

“Best of luck, though.”

Norman ended the call and paged again through the directory. The next person in the ward who held priesthood keys was Kyle McMullin, who had come back from his mission in May, gotten married in November, and been called as the elders quorum president in December. Norman doubted that the high councilor had even given Kyle’s presidency any training yet on the full scope of the agent ward’s duties. But that was the way the line of authority ran…

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This story and sixteen more are included in Levels: Fantastic and Macabre Stories, now available! Buy the ebook on Amazon or Smashwords, or the print edition on Amazon!

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