Brother Taylor lay dying. No longer the “nice young preacher” he had been when he left rural Mississippi more than a half century ago, he now was but a desiccated husk of a man, wracked with disease and the ravages of having spent his life in the service of these people of this remote area in the foothills of the Himalayas. He had arrived here alone all those years ago, unbidden and unannounced and had worked tirelessly, ceaselessly from that day to this, to help those in need. Now it was nearly over.
He beckoned his assistant to his side and painfully extended a thin hand to draw the man’s ear near to his dry cracked lips. There was something he had to say before it ended.
“Once, a long, long time ago….. before I came to this village….. in another life….. I was in love with a girl. A young farm girl, from my first congregation….. She was beautiful….. she was strong……..”.
Taylor paused, lost in the image of her, still brilliant in his brain after all this time, of her in the field, her long dark hair tied back, the outline of her young body moving gently under the oversized thin t-shirt with the rhythm of chopping the cotton. His breath rattled in his throat as he struggled to draw in enough air to go on.
“But she loved another, not me…….I watched them together and my mind was warped with jealousy.”
There was a longer pause, while he gathered his last bit of strength. Soon, he knew, within moments, his time would be finished.
“On the third of June, 1966…… I pushed Billy Joe McAllister, off the Tallahatchie Bridge”.