Francine Peters was due to be baptized next Sunday but Pastor Jerguson came down with the flu. She had already invited her family to come watch her take the plunge and a party had been planned in the fellowship hall following the service. Joyce Kelly, the church secretary, called Grady and Goober to ask them if they could help out in Pastor Jerguson’s absence.
Grady felt a spiritual surge rush through his body and he humbly agreed to the divine task. Goober wasn’t so sure.
“Big people float, don’t you know that?” Goober said. The reference wasn’t being critical, just observant. At 325, Mrs. Peters was quite the large lady.
“Well, between the two of us, we ought to get her down,” Grady said.
Pastor Jerguson’s waders were hanging on a nail in his private dressing room beside the long white robe he wore to cover them. When Goober pulled them off the nail the waders snagged on the backside and tore a hole in the rubber. He never noticed the rip and slipped them on and draped the robe around himself.
“You look mighty pastoral there, Goober,” Grady offered.
“Wonder if I could borrow these to go noodling,” Goober asked.
The service had gone along well, even without Pastor Jerguson. Willie Bob got the people into the spirit with some rousing songs about Jordon and gathering at the river. Then it was time for the baptismal.
The final song was over and Goober stepped down into the warm water. He never felt the stream rushing in from the tear. Francine came down the steps from the other side, her robe barely covering up her shorts and t-shirt. In fact, Maxine Baker who helped get the ladies robed up had decided to put two robes on Francine, one to cover the front the other the rear. When Francine reached the bottom, the water level had risen dramatically and her wake was running over the glass and onto the men on the back row of the choir loft. They quickly moved.
Goober positioned Francine and said as best he could the words Pastor Jerguson usually said and made his first attempt to get her under the water. As soon as he tilted her back her feet came up and she started floating. He stuck his elbow on her sternum and pushed down as hard as he could. She wouldn’t go. He let loose of her head and with both hands tried to get her under. She just bobbed on the surface, so he raised her back up.
“Let’s try that again,” he said. He repeated the baptismal words and tried to take her down faster, before her feet could come up. All that caused was a huge tidal wave that drenched the rest of the choir. They all left the loft.
“Grady,” he whispered. “Little help here.”
Grady slipped into the baptistery and swam under water behind Francine. When Goober took her down the third time Grady grabbed her and tried to pull her under. Unaware of what was going on she began to flail her arms and kick. She slipped and lunged backward, pushing Grady to the bottom. All his air remaining in his lungs squeezed out so he, too, began to kick. He wriggled free and shot out of the water like Shammu, then fell back and splashed water up into Goober’s face, Goober lost his grip on Francine and dropped her. She bottomed out in the tank. Grady fell back on her and forced her all the way under.
When Goober realized they had finally gotten her fully immersed, he lifted his hand into the air and calmly said, “Buried in Christ, now raised to walk in newness of life.”
When they finally got her back on her feet, Goober realized his waders were totally full of water and too heavy for him to lift up the steps. He asked Willie Bob to close out with a prayer and while Willie Bob prayed Goober pulled off the robe and waders and left them in what little water remained in the baptistry. The last thing the folks peeking during the prayer saw were some red boxers with big white snowmen heading up the steps on one side and Grady shoving Francine up the steps on the other.
When he found out how things went, Pastor Jerguson asked Joyce to remind him to never again ask Grady and Goober to help with baptism.