The Profound Pontifications of Brother John Deacon
By James C. “Chris” Williams IV
Dinner and Dancing and John Spills the Beans
I have learned over the years that I should never plan on anything to go 100% according to plan. Last week, Pam and I were having dinner after work on a Friday night. There was a genuine
Texas chicken-fried steak sitting in front of me (true Texans know what I mean when I say “genuine” chicken-fried steak) with a heaping helping of pan-fried potatoes and onions, flanked by a big square of sweet cornbread, and my favorite adult beverage was within easy reach. We were sitting out on the patio/veranda under the shade of some beautiful ancient oak trees while the classic music of Patsy Cline, Merle Haggard, George Jones, and others of that era topped off the perfectness of the evening. Heck, if you closed your eyes, it was hard to tell you weren’t listening to the originals themselves. A pleasant breeze made the temperature about as perfect as it could be. It may not have been heaven, but it was close.
We were having dinner and unwinding from a tough week at little place called O’Brien’s in the big little city of Bergheim that kinda sneaks up on you as you’re driving along Highway 46 outside
Boerne. I should have known the feeling was too good to last. I was in the process of taking a sip of my drink when over my shoulder I heard a voice boom, “Hello, Brother Chris, is that a chicken-fried steak you got there?”
Well, you know how your mind will process something you hear, see, and feel at the exact same instant? Well, in that instant, I knew that voice was John, I felt my hand jerk as I was startled, and I
saw my drink spill into my lap. I quickly realized something else too—I was the only one not laughing. I rotated my chair around and there he was with an innocent look on his face.
“I’m real sorry I scared you, Brother,” he said in a small voice.
“What are you doing here, John?” I asked, trying to sop up what was left of an excellent drink.
“I’m really sorry,” he apologized again, smirking at my wet pants, “but you had told me how good this place was and I just got into town and I thought I would try it. I’m sorry to bother you folks,” he said to everyone in the immediate vicinity of our table. Everyone gave him a hi or a wave, chuckled once more at my uncomfortable-ness, and went back to their meals. Pam finally got control of her laughing, got up to give John a hug, and made him sit down with us. As far as I was concerned, he could have sat somewhere else. I could already feel the evening starting to slip
away. He plopped right down, waved our waitress over, pointed to my plate, and said, “I’ll have what he’s having, only bigger and, darlin’, don’t be stingy about that gravy. And could you bring us
some more cornbread please?”
She promised to put a rush on it since Pam and I were already eating and, true to her word, his plate arrived pretty quickly. I glanced over as she set his meal in front of him. Lord, there was a lot of food on his plate. I’m sure someone else had to wait a little longer for their meal. He dug right in and went into his quiet mode (which was A-OK with me) After a few minutes of total silence, which Pam wasn’t used to, she asked him how he was doing and, when he didn’t respond, she looked over at me and I told her to wait until he finished eating because his ears don’t work when his mouth is moving.
“I heard that,” he growled. “You need to quit trying to make me look bad.” He turned to Pam, smiled real sweet like, and said, “Don’t you listen to what he says about me ma’am ‘cause he’s
always being mean to me.”
“That’s ok,” she said. “I don’t listen to much of what he says anyway.” They both got a little conspiratorial chuckle out of that. Again, I was the only one not laughing.
As usual, John ate everything in sight. Heck, the only things he didn’t eat were the plates and the utensils. We were just
sitting there enjoying that feeling that you get when you’ve just had a really great meal when John commented on how good the band was and that they played the older country music, the “good stuff” as he called it. I watched him craning his neck, trying to see something down below us, and I asked what he was looking at.
“Brother Chris,” he said. “They’ve got a dance floor down there. I need to work off some of this chow.”
“John,” I begged, “please don’t make it so I can’t come back here. I like this place.”
“Don’t worry, Brother Chris, I won’t,” he said. Then he grabbed Pam’s hand and said, “Let’s go cut us a rug.” As he pulled her towards the dance floor, she looked back at me with a quizzical look on her face and mouthed the words “cut us a rug?” I just shook my head and waved her on. I figured they wouldn’t be long since the song was half over when they got up, but … wrong again. They finished the song and danced the next one and I was amazed. Ol’ John was a heck of a dancer. He was really good and I wasn’t the only one who noticed. I heard a lady at the next table commenting on how good he was for being such a big guy. I could tell Pam was enjoying dancing with someone who could actually dance for a change.
I was amazed at how the evening was going… you know…totally normal, but this wasn’t my first rodeo, not by a long shot. I kept saying to myself, “just wait for it, just wait, it will come.” Well,
it didn’t take long. I saw several of the women on and around the dance floor watching John and a couple of them were inching closer to where he and Pam were dancing. Just when the song
ended, one stepped up and cut in on Pam and danced with John for the next dance. Pam made her way back to me a-huffing and a puffing. She said, “I’m going to have to thank that lady for cutting
- I was dying out there.”
While she was catching her breath, I watched as John danced song after song for darn near an hour. At that point, he was on his fifth dance partner. I noticed also that the dance floor, which had been only about half full before he got up there, was now overflowing with people. It looked like everyone wanted to dance. A couple of the old timers had gotten up and were doing their darndest to out-do John. Heck, I even asked Pam to dance with me a couple of times. We spent the next hour relaxing and listening to the music … and watching John. He never stopped and the band either forgot or decided not to take a break because everyone was having so much fun. I got Pam up to dance one more time and we worked our way close to John and I told him he was looking a little ragged and asked him when he was going to stop. He said that the ladies wouldn’t let him stop.
When we got back to the table, I told Pam that I could get him to stop. I ordered three big slices of German Chocolate Cake and when they appeared at our table, just like magic, John appeared too. “Why didn’t you say you were ordering dessert?” he asked. “And its choke–let, my favorite.”
While we finished our dessert, which was awful good (Pam gave John, much to his delight, half of hers), we chatted about the weather and such and then, out of the blue, he turned to Pam and
asked, “How are you handling being a Mason’s wife? Does he tell you much about what we do and what we are?”
“He tells me everything he can, I think,” she responded, looking sideways at me wondering where this was going. She doesn’t really like to be put on the spot so she was being cautious. “But do you really know what the purpose of Masonry is?” he continued. “Did he tell you what our plan is or what secret stuff we are plotting in our meetings?”
Glancing back and forth from John to me, she said, “I didn’t think you were meeting in secret to plan anything. I guess I don’t really know.” As she said that, she looked at me as if I was hiding something. I was also wondering where he was going with this and if he didn’t get to the point quickly, I was going to have to strangle him or something. I gave Pam a quick “it’s no big deal” look then turned to John and gave him a look which I cannot define nicely here and said, “John, I live with this woman. Give me a break.”
He smiled, turned to Pam, leaned forward, glanced both ways to make sure no one was listening, and motioned for her to do the same then said in a little more than a whisper, “It’s true. We
are trying to take over the world.”
Her eyes opened wide, her mouth dropped open, and she gasped, “Oh, my gosh, oh, my gosh, oh, my gosh, oh my …” That’s when I grabbed her hand and she finally stopped; her mouth was still going, but no sound was coming out. It’s hard to describe the look on her face. I think total and complete confusion would do it the best. I could see that she was struggling with what she really knew and what I had told her over the years against the possibilities of what John had just said. I knew he was playing a game … at least I thought I did.
I turned to John and said through my clenched teeth, “My Brother, I sure hope you are going to explain yourself before I have to call my friend Jubala … if you know what I mean.” He threw back his head and let out a whoop, “Jubala, huh?” Now everyone was looking at us, wondering what the heck was happening. It looked to me like Pam was contemplating leaving by herself and I think John saw it too because he stopped laughing and got real serious and said to Pam, “I am going to tell you the real truth and I am not going to hold anything back. I am going to tell you what the plan is and how we are going to do it … if you really want to know. Do you?”
Pam’s eyes had gotten big again and she was tuned in. I could have been a thousand miles away and she would have never known it. There were two guys and their wives at the table next to us and they heard John say that he was going to give up the secret plan and they leaned toward us, straining to hear what John was going to say. He saw them but ignored them. I have to admit that I was getting a little tense because I knew how unpredictable John could be but I also knew he had never done anything bad (not that I knew of anyway) so I waited for whatever pearls of wisdom he
had decided to share with apparently all of us. He was still waiting for Pam to answer so she nodded ever so slightly and whispered yes.
“OK then,” he said. “I need to start off by telling you that the teachings of our Organization, those teachings that we are all constantly learning, are not only supposed to help us live our life a certain way but are supposed to be our life. These teachings, some of which we learn in rituals behind closed and guarded doors, teach us to love and respect and take care of one another. These
“secrets” (as some call them) are what keep all of us in the “Brotherhood” moving ahead to achieve our common goal—you know, the one I told you about earlier.”
I saw her give a very slight nod as he went on, “Yes, what we do inside our Lodges is to conspire to carry out this master plan of ours. We have been working on it for several centuries so far and we are totally committed to its success. I can tell you that we will never, never, never rest until we have achieved our goal. All Brothers take an oath to that effect.”
The more he talked, the closer the four people at the next table got to our table. Pam had glanced at me a couple of times as he spoke, maybe starting to wonder what sort of plot I had gotten myself involved in. I had already realized where he was going with his “take over the world” speech and just smiled at her, which added to her confusion.
John was a strong closer, so I was looking forward to hearing how he was going to spring the “secret plan.” His voice got a little lower and we all leaned in a little closer as he said, “You might be wondering why I am going to reveal a centuries old plan for taking over the world,” he said. Out of the corner of my eye, I could see them all the onlookers nodding. “But the fact is that no one can stop it,” John went on. “Our organization is firmly entrenched throughout the world. We have people almost everywhere and we all look like any other person in whatever part of the world we are in. We have operated and carried out our plan in plain view virtually undetected for countless generations.” “Failure is not an option and we all know that. And now I am going to reveal the plan that many conspiracy theorists have been searching for as they try and try to create evil where none
exists. The diabolical and evil plot is…” (I could hear the multiple intakes of breath in anticipation.) “…that by due attention to the sacred teachings found in all the holy scriptures along with something we don’t hear about much anymore, ‘the golden rule,’ we are going to make the world a better place.” All their faces went as one from intense concentration to puzzlement as he continued, “Yes, our secret is that we want to first make ourselves better men; good and true men; spiritual men; men who live by God’s rules; men who always try do the right thing; who love and support and respect and care for each other; to be the best man they can be, the best husband, father, and
citizen they can be. The plan further calls for these men, by their actions and deeds, to influence others to follow their example and soon … very soon…” He paused and his serious expression
changed to a big smile. “…we will see changes in our world. Peace on a world level could be a possibility; we would surely see prejudice start to fade away, tolerance between all religions would
be achieved, and suspicion and hate would be replaced by trust and respect. Close your eyes and imagine this so-called ‘takeover of the world’ that we are plotting. Don’t you wish you could just open your eyes and it would be here?”
And in the short silence that followed as we—all seven of us—were imagining that world, the voice of one of the men broke the quiet. We all opened our eyes and turned to the man who had
spoken. “So what is this secret organization you belong to? It sounds like something I should be involved with.” John grinned but before he could respond, the man’s friend spoke up and, as all
eyes turned to him, he said to his friend with a big smile, “Jimmy, it’s the Freemasons, and I have never been so proud to be a Brother Mason. I figured it out about halfway, though.” He turned
to John and I noticed he was a little misty eyed and he said, “My Brother, I have never heard the principals and teachings of Masonry explained quite that way before and I am thankful that I
was here tonight and close enough to hear it.” Then he and his friends all got up to leave. He introduced them and shook hands with John and me, quickly realized that I was a Brother too, then
turned to his friend while John was getting hugs from the ladies like he always does. I didn’t get any hugs.
I heard the Brother say to his friend as they walked away, “Jimmy, I will tell you whatever you want to know about Masonry… as much as I can, that is.”
I was smiling as I sat down and I looked over at Pam and saw that she had a thoughtful, contented smile on her face. I asked her what she was smiling about and instead of answering me she turned to John and said, “You know, everything you just said I have heard from time to time mostly in bits and pieces ever since Chris became a Mason, but to hear it like that kind of puts a lot of things into perspective. Thank you for presenting it like that and thank you for the dance and I am glad you came here tonight.” The waitress had given John the check for his meal separate from ours (to my delight) and as Pam was saying all this to him, she reached over and took it out of his hand and gave it to me.
I said, “Wait a second. I didn’t even invite him to dinner and now you want me to pay? That’s not fair.” John got that goofy grin on his face and said, “Thanks, Pam, that’s darn sweet of you to buy my dinner like that.” “Wait just one minute,” I sputtered, but before I could continue, she gave me the very same look my Mom used to give me when I was a kid when I got out of line in public. I realized the best thing to do was to concede this battle and live to fight another day. I finished paying, gave our waitress a very generous tip (she was very good), and we got up to leave. True to form, everyone had something to say to John on the way out and the members of the band, who were finally taking a break, came up and said goodbye. When we got to our cars, Pam gave him a hug and thanked him again for the talk. She told him she was glad that I was a Mason and not to worry about most everything I said cause I was mostly all bark and no bite. I groaned, shook his hand, and told him I would see him next month. As Pam and I headed home, I got to wondering why I liked this guy so much when he aggravates me so bad. Must be that “friendship and Brotherly
love” thing. Yeah … that must be it.