“Here, I got another one for you.” When Revered William T. Walter catches your eye and commands your attention, he doesn’t let go. Since I’m in the business of seeking out people who want to talk, we’re a natural match.
“Guess how big I was when I was born? I figure William’s going to boast of being small rather than large, since he’s mighty ample now. He’s in his sixties at least and it would unusual for a four-pound baby to survive in the 1950’s, so I guess three pounds eight ounces. “Lower.” He grins. “Two pounds twelve ounces?” “Lower.” Since we’ve entered the realm of fantasy, my guesses hardly matter. “Two pounds.” Lower, man, lower. I weighed eight ounces when I was born.” Once I accept that fairy-tale size, anything is possible.
William is a patchwork quilt of astounding facts. His mother had thirty children. He has no idea where he fits in the order. His birth mother was a drunk who hung around the fields and was repeatedly raped by hands. His father was a Cherokee, which might be true considering the man’s reddish ebony sheen. After being born so small his birth mother gave William up. The doctors in the orphanage declared him dead, but his adoptive mother took the infant, placed him in shoebox and fed him with an eyedropper. She brought him to church, placed the box a prayer circle that prayed the fledgling boy to life.
“Here, I got another one for you.” William tells stories out of school. He was called ‘Ugly Jim.’ His mother told him to throw taunts back at the aggressors by exclaiming, “You’re jealous.” He banded with the other social rejects. Sometimes, when they triumphed over the popular kids, his peers saw an aura envelope Ugly Jim. “At age fourteen I was called to preach. Been preaching ever since.”
“Here, I got another one for you. I was sick and needed dialysis. I told God my fingers were cramped and I couldn’t write. The next night I woke in the middle of the night and there on the TV they were selling a dictation machine. So I got one, and that’s what I’ll use.
“There’s one part I don’t want to write. About my mother and getting raped. I told the Lord I could not write that. God told me I had to write that to free others with problems from the shackles of their past. The Lord is giving me the strength to tell all.”
How will we live tomorrow?