Cozy was his name and women were his game and the pelts of
many ladies hung from the rafters of his mind. He loved them all for the hour
or so hed spend with them and many ladies never tired of this country boy
who could talk beautifully while their husbands were away hunting or fishing.
Cozy never came a-calling while a husband was around
although husbands in the rural countryside and town had heard of Cozy's
reputation but they never thought of him consorting with their wives. Not their
wives. And there were many women thereabouts who would never look or talk to
Cozy. But other ladies kept him busy talking which Cozy loved to do before it
was time to get down to business.
The odd thing is, Cozy was a religious man, went to church
every Sunday, met some lovely ladies there, prime prospects for later in the
week. He was "born again, in a spiritual sense, in his late teens and
believed that when he died he was going to Heaven. His wife married him right
out of high school, had no idea he was the philanderer he had turned out to be
and loved him dearly. She was proud that Cozy, like everyone else in their
church, was "born again."
Once saved, always saved, Cozy would often say
at the local diner without any prompting. And many in the town and countryside
agreed with him. But not everyone.
There was another church in town where congregants were
also "born again" but the belief at that church was one could lose ones
soul if one lived in sin despite ones faith and failed to repent before
one died. Cozy and his wife never went to that church. When they died, they
were going to Heaven. They were born again and that settled it for
One husband of a lady Cozy used to call on regularly became
suspicious when he had come home earlier than expected from a hunting trip and
found his wife singing Amazing Grace" and dressed the way she had never
dressed for him. She wasnt expecting him until deer season ended the
following day. But in the ashtray was a dead cigarillo, or small cigar, and no
one the husband knew smoked cigarillos except Cozy, who always seemed to have
one in his hand or jutting from his mouth. A small liquor store just outside of
town stocked this particular brand just for Cozy. No one else bought
The husband didnt say anything about the cigarillo,
just went about his business farming and tending to the family garden as time
went by as it does when one makes ones living from the land. He loved to
garden, was always weeding, and used to tell his wife that a garden was like a
You have to keep a garden free of weeds just as you
have to keep a soul free of sin, the husband would say at times when his
wife was sitting around drinking coffee and working crossword puzzles.
Weeds come up every day, hed say. And sins are just as
plentiful. They can kill you.
The husband was "born again" as was Cozy but he and his
wife attended the other church, the one that didnt hold to the belief
that once saved, always saved. Their pastor taught that a believer
steeped in sin without repentance would go to Hell, no questions asked. Christ
died for everyone, the pastor preached, but He didnt suffer hypocrites
Break the commandments and die without repenting and
you will wake up in Hell, the preacher often said, pounding the pulpit,
especially if some congregant in the pews had been rumored to be up to no good
recently. This pastor's congregation was not as large as the one at Cozys
church. Once saved, always saved, without restriction, had greater
appeal for many of the families who farmed the area.
Not too long after finding the cigarillo in the ash tray,
the suspicious husband arranged another hunting trip out of state, this time
for pheasant, and told his wife he would be gone a week and hoped to come home
with a mess of good meat for the freezer. She wished him good luck, but shortly
after he left the house with all his hunting gear, she gave Cozy a
Ill be over in an hour, Cozy said.
"Cant wait to see you.
Cozy arrived on time, swathed in Mennen After-Shave lotion,
but was unaware the husband, instead of going on his hunting trip, was hiding
behind one of the outbuildings, rifle in hand. He let Cozy go in the house,
then went up on the front porch and waited for the lights to go out, quietly
entered the house and put two bullets in Cozys buttocks, the first thing
he saw. Then he stood over Cozy and called the sheriff. No one can remember
what the charges were but Cozy got two years. He served them quietly and was
paroled early for good behavior, albeit once again during deer
Cozy really liked the wife of the man who had shot him,
perhaps even loved her, so as soon as he had packed away a big breakfast of
biscuits and gravy at the local diner he gave her a call. She was glad to hear
from him and said her husband would be gone for another three days and he was
welcome to come over.
Cant wait to see you, Cozy. I bet you have a
lot to say, she said.
The problem is, her husband had heard about Cozys
early parole in town two weeks earlier. Once again he was hiding behind the
same outbuilding, rifle in hand, when Cozy, swathed in Mennen After-Shave
lotion, arrived. This time he shot Cozy between the eyes and Cozy never took
The funeral at Cozys church was not that well
attended. A few older women who always prepared food for post-funeral services
were there with their fried chicken and apple pies as were their husbands if
they were still alive. But nowhere in the pews were any of the ladies who had
been regular consorts of the dead man.
The pastor explained that Cozy, "born again" long ago, was
in Heaven now. He said nothing about the man who had shot him. The shooter had
not been charged with murder since Cozy had been caught violating another
mans property, namely the mans wife. No one disagreed with that
principle in this farm area. Property there, especially a mans wife, was
not to be violated.
The big argument in town, however, was whether Cozy, "born
again" but a lifelong adulterer, was in Heaven or in Hell. Its an
argument that still goes on today between congregants at the same two churches
who gather at the diner in town after services on Sunday mornings and Wednesday
nights. But they are not alone. Essentially the same argument - once
saved, always saved - resounds among millions of believers throughout the
United States and perhaps the world at other churches, large and small, as