Who Am I?

Who am I that the King of Kings would come down to save me from my sins.

Who Am I?

I am a sinner.

I am the foulest of men.

I am covered in sin.

I am bathed in it.

I am flawed!

I am a fading flower.

A speck of sand that gets blown around by the wind.

A dandelion silk seed that weaves and bobs to the current of the wind.

I am an animal that is ruled by the brain and not by the heart.

I put my trust into the tangible not the unseen.

I am but a child who eagerly seeks his Father’s warm touch.

A seed that is waiting to be bathed in my Lord’s love so I may become what He wants me to be.

I am an old man who has walked with his Lord for 40 years and still, even though I make mistakes, seek Him.

I am flawed and dented covered in scars yet my Lord loves me still.

I am loved not because my Lord has to but because He wants to.

Does that sound familiar. Did you think of yourself when you read that. If you did then remember this.

John 3:16

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”

Isaiah 53

The Suffering Servant

53 Who has believed our message?
And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
For He grew up before Him like a tender shoot,
And like a root out of parched ground;
He has no stately form or majesty
That we should look upon Him,
Nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him.
He was despised and forsaken of men,
A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;
And like one from whom men hide their face
He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.

Surely our griefs He Himself bore,
And our sorrows He carried;
Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten of God, and afflicted.
But He was pierced through for our transgressions,
He was crushed for our iniquities;
The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him,
And by His scourging we are healed.
All of us like sheep have gone astray,
Each of us has turned to his own way;
But the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all
To all on Him.

He was oppressed and He was afflicted,
Yet He did not open His mouth;
Like a lamb that is led to slaughter,
And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers,
So He did not open His mouth.
By oppression and judgment He was taken away;
And as for His generation, who considered
That He was cut off out of the land of the living
For the transgression of my people, to whom the stroke was due?
His grave was assigned with wicked men,
Yet He was with a rich man in His death,
Because He had done no violence,
Nor was there any deceit in His mouth.

10 But the Lord was pleased
To crush Him, putting Him to grief;
If He would render Himself as a guilt offering,
He will see His offspring,
He will prolong His days,
And the good pleasure of the Lord will prosper in His hand.
11 As a result of the anguish of His soul,
He will see it and be satisfied;
By His knowledge the Righteous One,
My Servant, will justify the many,
As He will bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great,
And He will divide the booty with the strong;
Because He poured out Himself to death,
And was numbered with the transgressors;
Yet He Himself bore the sin of many,
And interceded for the transgressors.

Jesus died for you. He doesn’t care about your flaws or your scars. He cares about you. You are special to Him. He loves you like no other. His love is perfect.

If in reading this blog post, you find that you want to come to Jesus then it is the easiest thing you can do. Talk to Him, take Him as your own and declare Him as your Lord and Saviour.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. As Christians, we are here to show you the way but to do in a loving way. Not to shove Jesus down your throat but rather present Him in such a way to show you who He is and that He is who He said He was.

If you come away with nothing else other than “Jesus loves you” then the seed has been planted and we will pray for you!

 

“Keep Looking UP!”

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Where the Thunder Roars

This story is inspired by the song “Where The Thunder Roars” recorded by the Christian Band White Heart. I hope you enjoy it.

 

Where nuclear snow falls the thunder is close to follow.  For almost a decade nuclear winter had had a strangle hold on the world. Anything left alive now cried out for death to come.

Ten years ago or there abouts, four nuclear bombs were dropped on North America. Two on Washington D.C., one on Ottawa, Canada and one on Mexico City, Mexico. All over the world nuclear bombs were being dropped in other capitol cities. Small countries nearby were left alone. The blasts from neighboring countries were enough to destroy the small countries. Millions upon millions of people died. Innocent children and adults died before they even knew what happened.

The war started three years to the day that the United States invaded Iraq. A year into the war, civil war broke out. The U.S. military were driven out but the U.S. would not leave. They insisted on staying.  The president at the time was bent on a democratic Iraq no matter what the costs were. Lives were lost. Bombs were dropped. The U.S. military were all but wiped out. The President was not happy.

More military were called. The draft was re-initiated. Thousands upon thousands of boys sixteen or older were drafted. These same boys would sent home in body bags. More boys were called up and even girls were drafted. The more that were sent, the more that were sent back in body bags. The Americans were loosing more then just people. They were also loosing friendly countries. Soon out of nowhere came a country no one had thought about.

 This country sat between Iraq and Israel. They were an Islamic country but were friendly with Iraq and Israel which was unusual. The country was called Palmyra. During the civil war in Syria had caused a split. What was once one country was now two? No one took notice of the civil war in Syria because of the situation in Iraq.

 It didn’t take long for Palmyra to show its true intent. Soon bombs were dropping everywhere. Palmyra started dropping bombs for no apparent reason. It didn’t take long for the world to become something that it should never have been.

 Now ten years have passed and countries no longer mattered. What was once a planet of several billion now was a planet of several thousand. Millions up millions died from the bombs. Millions upon millions died because of the fallout. Millions upon millions more died from radiation poisoning. Even more died from all the unrest and laying blame and countries fighting and destroying each other. When the final tally was added up, billions of people had died.

 Race didn’t matter. Religion didn’t matter. Adult or child didn’t matter. Nuclear destruction is an indiscriminate killer. Nothing mattered. Even the very country that set the bombs off was not immune.

 Now the dust fell. The thunder roared and snow drifted to the ground. What once was a beautiful oasis of wonder, Las Vegas was now just rubble. The lights that once shone brighter then the stars were now dead. There was nothing but silence now. No one roamed the streets, for if they did the disfigured animals would get them or the things that use to be human would. But one would.

 Day One

 His name was William Smith but he liked being called Smitty. Smitty stood six feet tall. His black hair trailed down his back in a long ponytail. His steel gray eyes always looked at the person he talked to. It was almost as if he could see right into their souls. He always carried his bible around. Most people thought he was nuts but he didn’t pay them no mind. He knew they didn’t know any better. Maybe he was. Smitty would sit in his bunker and talk to the Lord. He almost always did it alone. Sometimes he would have a rat or the occasional insect as company.

 All the bomb shelters weren’t exactly bomb shelters. They were actually the subway system. Not the upper ones but rather the lower ones. Yes Vegas had a subway system. It wasn’t very big or had it been used but it was there. Since the bomb the tunnels had increased. People dug more and more trying to find privacy when privacy was a luxury. Rooms had been carved out of rock and families huddled together. They huddled to keep warm and to stay alive. It might not be the best life but it was life.

Smitty sat in his own little area. He did the same thing he did every day. He read his bible. He had read his bible so many times that you could tell just by looking at it that his bible was well loved. The elastic bands that held it together was a dead give away. Smitty closed his bible and then began to pray. 

“Father in heaven, I come to you. Not only as your child but also as one who lives in this hell we have created.

“Lord Jesus, I bow before you and worship you. I glorify your name. You are the Master of all. Be with me this night as I sleep. Be with me as I wake and guide my steps. In Your precious name I ask this. Amen.”

Smitty opened his eyes and spied a little girl. She was standing off to one side trying not to be seen. He had seen her the last few days. She crept a little closer every day. He smiled as she walked away. He closed his eyes and was asleep in no time.

Morning came the same way it always did, wet and dreary. Smitty opened his eyes and looked right into the eyes of the little girl. He smiled up at her and she smiled at him.

 “Hello little one, what is your name?”

 “My name is Shelagh, what is yours?”

 “My name is William Smith but you can call me Smitty. Where is your mommy?”

 “She is not feeling well, could you come look?”

  Smitty nodded his head and took Shelagh’s hand. They walked towards the end of the subway track. Finding the hole that Shelagh and her mother lived in, Smitty stepped right in. He could tell right away that her mommy was dead. He turned towards Shelagh.

 “I’m sorry sweetheart, but your mommy is dead. She has gone to be with God.”

 Shelagh began to cry, her hands covering her face. She cried harder. Smitty took her into his arms and she melted into them.

 “Come with me. You can stay with me. Is that okay?”

 Shelagh nodded her head. She clung to Smitty as they walked back to his home. When they got there, Smitty let Shelagh lay down. She fell to sleep almost immediately. Smitty left her to sleep as he went on packing. He finished up and then sat down to watch her sleep. Shelagh stirred and moaned. She was dreaming. Smitty sat down beside her and stroked her head. She seemed to calm down. He wondered what she was dreaming about.

 When Shelagh woke up she found herself curled up into the crook of Smitty’s’ arm. He was snoring softly. She got up and found a place to go to the bathroom. She came back and picked up his bible. She didn’t know what it was but she at it anyways.

Shelagh read words that she had never heard. She read about how God loved us and that He sent His only Son to die for us. She didn’t understand, but she would ask Smitty about it. She looked up to see Smitty looking at her. She quickly put down the bible. She wasn’t sure if she had done something wrong or not. Smitty held up his hands.

 “No, please look. I have another that you can have. This one is mine but you may look at it.”

Smitty got up and found the other bible. He passed it her and took his own. She took the other one and opened it. She looked up at Smitty.

“Who is God?”

“God is the creator of all. He was before there was anything else. He always has been and always will be.” Smitty replied. 

“Who is Jesus?” Shelagh asked.

Smitty smiled at her. He sat down beside her. 

“Who is Jesus? That is not an easy question to answer but I will try my best.

 “Jesus is the Son of God. He came to be the sacrifice for our sins. He did it because He wanted to not because He had to. If He had done it because it was expected of Him then His death would have meant nothing. But because He willingly died, it means we have right to be called the children of God. I know for a little girl, it doesn’t make any sense but in time it will.”

Shelagh nodded and the put down her bible. She looked into the corner of the room. She pointed to it. Smitty looked where she pointed.

“I’m going on a trip. I am going above ground. It has been ten years since the bombs dropped. The dust is still falling but I want to find out if the air is breathable.” 

“How do you know the dust is still falling?” Shelagh asked. 

“I was up high enough last week to see it. I didn’t go way up, just far enough to see the dust.” 

“Can I come?” Shelagh asked.

“I don’t know what dangers are out there. There could be animals and other things. Mutations from the nuclear fall out.”

“I’ll stay close and do what you say. I promise.”

Smitty nodded his head. Shelagh smiled.

“We will leave in two days. I am going to have to find more supplies. A warm coat for you and some boots too. Tomorrow we can go up and the things you need. The clothes might be a little big as will the boots but at least you will be warm. So let’s try to get some sleep.”

Smitty let her have the bed and he curled up in a sleeping bag. Both were off to sleep in no time.

 Day Two

The morning came softly. There was no big bang or major revelation. No bands played and no one saw the sun rise. It just came. Shelagh was already awake. She sat reading the bible that Smitty gave her. She didn’t understand it but she knew that Smitty would explain it best he could. She didn’t know why she trusted Smitty but she did. Everyone did. He was the only one they ever trusted. Maybe it was because he was so gentle even though he was so big. He never said an unkind word or made fun of anyone.

 Smitty stirred but didn’t wake up. Shelagh looked at him. She had always seen him around but never got up the nerve to say boo to him. Her mother spoke to him often. She never heard him talk about Jesus. He would help with anything that needed to be done. He never tried to get payment for any of the work he did. He seemed so odd. Any of the other men around always wanted payment. Normally it would mean her mom having to do something that was so degrading. Smitty wasn’t like that.  Her mom would offer but Smitty would always say no. He would go on his way then be available to help again. Shelagh saw Smitty stir again. This time he opened his eyes slightly. He smiled when he saw her. Sitting up he rubbed the sleep from his eyes.

 “Good morning. I see you are ready to go. Let me get ready and then we can go.”

 “I’m hungry.” Shelagh said.

 “Yes I know. We will have to see what the Lord can give us. He will supply.”

 Smitty got up and changed his clothes then came back out. He looked in the wall and found a can of peaches. He opened it and poured some into a throwaway bowl. Finding a plastic spoon, he passed the bowl to Shelagh. They ate quietly then tossed away the garbage. He took her hand and started on their way.

 Shelagh stayed close to Smitty. It was dark and the way was hard to see. Smitty had his flashlight but it needed new batteries. It did little to light the way but it made Shelagh feel better. Suddenly someone jumped out of the shadows.

 “Give me the girl. It’s been a long time for me. I haven’t had a girl in a very long time.”

 Smitty glared at him, “No, you can’t have her, she is mine. Now be gone.”

 The man brandished a knife. He showed it to Smitty who did nothing. The man lunged at Smitty and he pushed him away. The man swung wildly and caught a glancing blow on Smitty’s’ arm. Smitty could feel the blood start to pour.

 Smitty felt a rage that he had not felt in many years. The man lunged at him again and Smitty caught him square in the face. Shelagh had moved back but not so far that she could not see that was going on. The man went down but was up almost immediately. He lunged again but Smitty grabbed him by the throat. Smitty pushed him up against the rock wall. Smitty was smiling. The man was struggling.

“The girl belongs to me! No one else can have her. I will do with her what I will.”

 “I want the girl. She looks so innocent, so tasty. I want her!”

 The man tried to fight but Smitty pressed him harder into the rock wall. The man brought the knife up and tried to bring the knife down into Smitty’s’ chest. Smitty’s’ arm blocked him. Smitty felt the knife tear into his shoulder. He didn’t scream in pain. All he did was pull the knife from the wound. He forced it down and plunged it into the man’s stomach.

 Smitty stepped back as his attacker sank to the ground. People had gathered around. Smitty looked at them. They all looked down. One woman walked up and brushed his face with her hand.

 “Thank you mister, that piece of trash is the same man that had violated our children. You did right by killing him and protecting your daughter. “

 Smitty nodded and tried to speak. She put her hand on his mouth and then spit on the dead man. She smiled and then with the rest of them, she walked away. Smitty turned to see Shelagh standing in the shadows. She walked over to him.

“Why did you have to kill him?”

 Smitty looked at her. “Well if I didn’t then you would be his slave. Now is that what you wanted. He would have used you for sex and who knows what else and when he was done with you; he would have thrown you away like you were yesterday’s garbage. Is that what you wanted?”

 “No!” Shelagh cried.

“Then it is good that I killed him. Child this is not the world of old. This is a new world. The old world that you have heard about was relatively safe. This world is not. This world may look like the old world but it is a lot more dangerous.”

Shelagh knew he was right. Even though she did not know the old world, she had heard stories, about how people, for the most part, could walk out in public and be safe. How people lived in houses not holes in the ground. She had never seen a flower except in old magazines. She shook her head.

 “Can we go now?”

 “Yes.” Smitty said as he smiled at her.

 They made their way up to the next level. There were very few people around. Most people stayed underground. It was too bright up here. Plus people were afraid of the fallout and nuclear radiation. Smitty knew different. Shelagh looked up at the light. It was bright, so bright she had to shield her eyes. Smitty smiled and passed her a pair of sunglasses. She looked at them and put them on. She giggled. She was still young enough that she didn’t mind wearing piggies on her face.

 They arrived at the first store. Smitty took her hand. She gasped when she saw the first skeleton. There was still a little bit of hair left on the head. It wore dirty white pearls around its neck. Shelagh stared at it with morbid fascination.

 Smitty pulled her arm, “Come let’s go. We need to find clothes for you. We have lots of time. They don’t come out till dark.”

 “They?” Shelagh asked.

 “Yes, they. We will discuss it tonight.” Smitty replied.

 They made their way to the children’s section. There were lots of clothes here. Shelagh had lots to choose from. They quickly chose the clothes for her. They moved over to the shoes. Finding lots of boots and shoes, they chose two of each for her. Now it was Smitty’s turn. Smitty didn’t need much. Just some heavy wool socks. He found some but they were women’s but he didn’t care. They would keep his feet warm and dry and in the end that is all he cared about. Next he went looking for supplies. They would need some where they were going.

 Shelagh lallygagged as they went. She looked at all the pretty rings. Smitty found her a nice purple one. She placed it on her finger and then hurried along to catch up with Smitty. Shelagh found him looking in the canned goods. He was choosing cans at random. There wasn’t a lot there, but he did find some good things. He looked for fruit and found lots of canned peaches. Smitty hated peaches but took what the good Lord gave.

 Shelagh came to him with an unopened can of ground coffee. It had been a long time since he had a cop of coffee. Black no sugar was the way he liked it. He saw that she had three and put them in his bag. He looked for canned juice for Shelagh but all he could find was pineapple juice. It would have to do. He smiled then picked up the bag.

 “Time for us to get going, it will be dark soon and we do not want to be out when that happens.”

 He started walking towards the door then looked back. Shelagh had not moved. She was holding something shiny in her hand. He walked back and looked at it. It was a sterling silver cross. She smiled at him.

 “You gave me the ring so I thought I should give you something. I want you to have this.”

 Smitty nodded and smiled. He took her offering and slipped it around his neck.

 He modeled it for her.  “How does it look?”

 “Wonderful!” Shelagh replied.

 “We must go now. Come along.” Smitty said.

 They arrived back to Smitty’s with no incidents. Smitty took the food and divided it up into days. It was going to take five days  to get to where they were going. He looked in on Shelagh to find her sound asleep. He covered her up and went back to work. After he had packed all the backpacks and sled, he covered them up and the climbed under the covers.                                                      

Day Three

Smitty stirred first. His internal alarm clock went off. He quickly got dressed and then took his bible and began to read.

 “For God so love the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

 Smitty put down his bible and then looked right into Shelagh`s eyes. She smiled at him and he smiled at her.

 “Good morning, are we ready to go?” Smitty asked.

 Shelagh nodded her head, “Yep, I am ready. Not sure where we are going but I am ready.”

 “Good, cause I want to be gone before sun up. When we get to the store level, we will wait till the sun come up. It isn’t very bright but it will be bright enough to get along. We will only travel by day. It is too dangerous to travel at night. Do you understand?”

 Shelagh nodded her head, “Yes, I understand. I will do as you say.”

 Everything was gathered together and they headed out. Smitty carried the bulk of the supplies. Shelagh carried what she could. Anything else was pulled on a small sled. They got to the store level without incident. Stopping to rest, they each had a drink of juice. They didn’t talk.

Smitty picked up his backpack and motioned for Shelagh to do the same. It was getting light out. The monsters that roamed the night world would be heading into their lairs. Smitty smiled and then led Shelagh up the stairs then stopped.

 At the top of the stairs stood a monster, it looked like a man but it also looked like something from a nightmare. It stood at lease six feet tall with long dangly arms arms. At each end of the arms were claws. They no long looked like hands. The skin was charred and oozing with puss. What little hair on its head was wild and short?  Its eyes burned like fire. It glared at Smitty.

Smitty pushed Shelagh down the stairs. . The monster advanced. Smitty stood his ground and pulled out his guns. He didn’t take careful aim, he just started to fire. Most of the bullets missed but some of them hit their target. The monster went down to one knee and Smitty took careful aim. He fired sending the bullet into the monster’s head. It fell to the ground and thrashed around for a few seconds then stopped.  Smitty looked down at Shelagh.

 “Stay there. Do not come near.”

 Smitty moved up towards the monster. It moved and Smitty shot it again. He motioned for Shelagh to come up. She started to come up and then stopped. The monster moved. She pointed at it and Smitty put another round into the body. He kicked at it to show Shelagh that it was dead. She passed by then sat down and cried.

 “Sorry for crying. I was scared.”

 “No need to be sorry. Truth be told, I was scared too but it is gone now.”

 “Will there be more?” she asked.

 “I suppose but we will worry about when the time comes.”  He pointed at the monster, “That is why we travel during the day. They only come out at night. There are things that are out during the day but for the most part they will not even look at you. Ignore them and they will ignore you. Now come. I have to get some more ammo. I saw a gun shop downstairs not far from here. Let’s go.”

 They quickly ran down the stairs to the gun shop. Smitty smashed the glass and then quickly found what he was looking for. He even found some rounds for his Luger. He picked up another one and all the ammo he could carry. He looked around and found another backpack and put all the extra ammo into it. He slung it over his shoulder. He took Shelagh’s hand and then they rushed into the daylight. Shelagh put her sunglasses on and Smitty followed suit. He looked around. Nuclear winter was such a bummer.

 Shelagh looked at all the buildings. Ten years of ash and neglect really showed. She didn’t know what to think. She looked up at the horizon. She could see the red sky and see the lightning. It was faint but she could just make out the sound of the thunder. She looked at Smitty and pointed to the mountain.

 “Is that where we are going?”

 Smitty looked at the mountain then back at Shelagh. He smiled at her and then nodded his head.  She looked at him.

 “Why?”

 “Because I believe that is where I can find God. I believe that is where I can finally be with my Lord and Master Jesus Christ.”

 Shelagh nodded her head. She let the matter drop and said nothing more about it. She just smiled.

 “Where to now?”

 Smitty pointed to his right. He knew where to go for now. After a bit he would be going on gut instinct.  He started walking that way with Shelagh in tow. They walked through the streets. The buildings were falling apart. The corpses of automobiles were scattered like cord wood. Shelagh peeked in one and saw a skeleton. She jumped back. Smitty joined her. He pointed to the silver cross around his neck.

“No worries that poor soul is not going to hurt you. He died during the fallout. Probably a year or so into it I suspect. He might have been a Christian or he might not have been. A lot of people wore crosses then but didn’t believe in God.” Smitty explained.

 “Why would anyone wear something that means something you don’t believe in?”

 “Because that was the way it was. It became a fashion statement to wear a cross. It became not a show of faith but rather a show of vanity. It was a spit into the eyes of God. That is what happens when you take Jesus out of the equation. Put Him up on a shelf where He can’t bother anyone and then go about your daily life as if He isn’t there then when the need arises; claim Him as your Savior and Lord. Come let’s get going. I have something I want to show you.”

Smitty took her hand and led her down the street. They passed by old destroyed stores. She saw the remains of dresses and other items. She saw jewelry all over the ground. She bent down to look at it then walked away. She caught up with Smitty and took his hand. After an hour of walking through dust and ash, they got to where they were going. It was the ruins of an old church. Shelagh could still see the cross standing tall against the ash and duct. She stared at it. It seemed to shine in the dismal light like a beacon, almost as if to say that God had not abandoned the world. Smitty found the remains of a door and opened it. Shelagh walked in before him.

 The pews that still stood were beautiful. The intricate scroll works on the sides were signs of a master’s hand. They were made of the finest oak and a deep rich brown. Some even had the original plaques on them from when people paid for the pew. One read The Miller Family, Nineteen Eighty Five. She looked at the others. They also had names and dates. Smitty pulled her hand gently.

 “Come with me into the bottom level. That is where we will stay for the night. There is no one there so we can leave our stuff and then go back outside and look around.”

 They went downstairs navigating the rubble carefully. Smitty reached the bottom first and moved a rock out of the way. They were still a few supplies there from the last time he had been here.

“You have been here before?” Shelagh asked.

“Yes, I was here about a year ago. I spent two days here trying to find God. As you can see, I found Him.”

 “So this place is safe from the monsters?”

 “Yes, we are fine. They consider this place taboo so they won’t come in. Our supplies will be safe. Let me stow this stuff and we can go.”

Smitty quickly got the guns and some ammo. He rolled the rock back into place and then after sliding the guns into his belt and the ammo into his coat pocket, he motioned for Shelagh to follow him as he made his way back up through the rubble. They returned outside and saw the cross again. Smitty scanned to his left, right and in front of him. He pointed to his right and they headed off that way.

 They trod through the dust and the nuclear snow. As before the remains of rusted out cars were everywhere. Store fronts were destroyed. Looting had happened but those who had done the looting were dead before they had the chance to enjoy their booty.

 As they turned the corner they could hear screaming as if someone was being attacked. They followed the sound to see monsters attacking a woman. Smitty pulled his guns and pushed Shelagh into the doorway. The girl was pretty badly beaten. Smitty walked over carefully all the while keeping his eyes on the one that had his back to him. Holding the gun firmly in his hand, Smitty brought it down butt first and knocked the thing down. Smitty watched for any notice from the other two.

 The girl slid down the wall of the building that supported her. She had blood pooling on the ground. Smitty raised his gun and fired. The shot rang out and hit one of the monsters in the head. He quickly fired again and hit the other in the chest. Smitty ran over and put two more rounds into each creature.  She watched him through bloodied eyes and cringed. Smitty walked back over.

 “It is okay. Do not be afraid. I will not hurt you.” He said as he held out his hand.

 The girl took his hand and got up on her wobbly legs. She started to fall and Smitty grabbed her. He helped her over to a place to sit. She sat down and looked at the bodies.

 “What is your name child?” Smitty asked.

 “Moriah is my name. What is yours?”

 “You can call me Smitty. What are you doing out? It is not safe.”

 “I was coming out to see what the world was like. It has been so long since I had seen it. It is not as I remember it.”

 Smitty looked up to see Shelagh coming closer. He motioned for her to come She looked over at the girl. She was bleeding. Shelagh ripped a swath of material from her shirt and dabbed some of the blood off the girls’ face.

 “There that is better….”

 Shelagh saw the instant fear in the girl’s eyes. She turned around to see the monster rising from the ground. She looked for Smitty but he had gone off to get something. The creature moved closer. Shelagh looked for something to protect herself with. She found what looked like a large stick. She struck the monster with all her might but the stick shattered. Moriah started throwing rocks but it did not stop it.

 “Smitty, help!” Shelagh cried out.

 Smitty came running. He had his guns out. He fired above the monster. It turned towards Smitty and spit venom. Smitty dropped behind an old car and looked at the monster through the broken window. He aimed carefully through the same window. He squeezed off a shot and hit the monster. The bullet whizzed through the air and hit the leg. The monster sank to the ground. The girls got up and ran. Smitty got up quickly and advanced on the monster. It lay on the ground clutching its leg. Smitty looked down and opened fire. He emptied two full clips into it. By the time he was finished, there was nothing left. Smitty turned towards the girls.

 “Are you two alright?”

 Shelagh and Moriah both shook their heads. Smitty dropped the guns and then sat down. He was sad and tired. He didn’t like killing but had no other choice.  Moriah came up towards him.

 “What are those things?”

 “They are mutants. I call them troglodytes. They came into being a year or so after the bombs were dropped. They normally don’t come out during the day. Night time is their time to roam and feed on what is stupid enough to come out.” He replied.

 Smitty looked up at the sky. The shadow of the sun was high in the sky. It was afternoon and darkness would be coming soon. They needed to get to cover.

 “Come we must be going.” He looked at Moriah. “Do you have a place to go?”

 “No. My place of hiding is far away from here. I would never make it back in time.”

 “Very well then, you can stay with us for the night.”

Moriah nodded her head. She glanced at Shelagh and smiled softly. She looked so young and tender. She glanced at Smitty and grinned. He must enjoy her a lot.

 “Is she yours?” She asked pointing at Shelagh.

 “What do you mean mine?”

 “Is she your, you know?”

 Smitty opened his eyes wide. He knew what she meant now. He thought about what to say. He had to protect Shelagh. She was only ten after all, far too young to be used for sexual perversion. He stopped and looked at Shelagh then motioned for her to come to him. She did so and curled up into his arm. He smiled at her like a father would at his daughter. Smitty always told the truth and this time was no different.

 “No she is not mine in the sense that you speak of. She is my daughter and under my protection. Does that explain it?”

 “Yes it does. I shall not bother her. Where are you traveling to?”

 “We are headed to the where the thunder roars.”

 “Why go there. There is nothing but death there. No one and nothing lives there. I am told it is because of the heat.” Moriah said.

 Smitty looked at her. He made it clear with his face that he would not speak of it until they were in a safer place. He took Shelagh`s hand and pulled her gently along. Moriah followed close. They made their way back to the crumbling church. Going downstairs, Smitty moved the rock and pulled out the supplies. He opened a can of peaches and spit it between Moriah and Shelagh. He took a small can of mixed fruit and ate it slowly. He said a quiet grace as he ate.

“I am told that God is at that mountain.” Smitty said.

 Moriah looked at him. Her grey eyes seemed to mock him. She tossed back her blonde hair. She smiled a mocking smile.

 “If God has any brains, He won’t be up there. He will be somewhere safe and warm. Nothing against God but He would be a fool to go there.”

 Smitty smiled. This was a girl that had been to the mountain or at least very close to the mountain. That meant she knew how to get there. He had to find out from her how.

 “So am I to assume that you have been to the mountain?”

 “Close enough to know that it is bloody hot.” Moriah replied with a nod.

 Smitty nodded his head slowly. He slowly rubbed his graying beard. he looked over at Shelagh and smiled. He got up and placed a blanket from the bags over her. It was going to get cold tonight. He looked over at Moriah.

 “I will help you get to where you want to go.” She said as she laid her head down.

 Smitty closed his eyes and said a quiet prayer. Soon he too was asleep. All three slept peacefully though the night. Morning came to rain and cloud.

 Day Four

Smitty woke up first. Moriah and Shelagh slept. He said his morning prayers and then made coffee. He made a small fire and heated some water. He drank his coffee before anyone else awoke and while he read his bible. Moriah stirred first.

 “You have coffee?”

 Smitty nodded and then tossed her a plastic mug.

 “Yep and the water is still hot. Help yourself.

 She smiled and then made her coffee. She sipped it slowly trying not to slurp. She had gotten use to black coffee and sipped it slowly.

“Are you a bomb worshiper?”

 “No.” Smitty replied.

 “Do you worship the goddess or any of the other gods?”

 Smitty turned around. He looked at Moriah and smiled. She asked all the right questions just not in the right way. He didn’t mind her ignorance. Those who did not know the Lord God were not wrong in doing what they did. They had probably never heard the gospel of Jesus Christ and therefore were ignorant of Him.

 “No, I do not worship the goddess or any of the other gods. I do not worship a bomb nor do I plan on it. I worship the One True Living God. Not a bomb or an idol made by man’s hand but the only God that is worthy of my praise. His name is Jesus Christ.”

Moriah smiled softly but her eyes said otherwise. She was taught that the goddess taught tolerance but she was not so tolerant. If he would not worship the goddess then he deserved to die.

 “I see. I worship the goddess. She teaches tolerance.”

 “I understand.” Smitty said through a nod. “We can learn much from each other I think.”

 Shelagh stirred. It was getting light out and they needed to get going. They had far to travel and little time to do it in. Smitty opened a small can of peaches and handed them to Shelagh. She ate them down and then quickly got dressed. Smitty got the supplies out and arranged them into the knapsacks. With a third person more could be carried. He passed one to Moriah, a small one to Shelagh and the other two he took himself. They started upstairs then stopped. Smitty passed Moriah a gun.

 “You do know how to use this right?”

Moriah nodded her head. She took the pistol and the half dozen clips. They continued their way upstairs. The sun was up high enough that the troglodytes should be back in their dark lairs. Smitty headed for the door first. He looked out and saw nothing. He motioned for the girls to join him.

 “It is early and the sun is up. High enough I think to make the troglodytes go back to their lairs but one never knows. We must be wary.” Smitty looked right at Shelagh. “You stay between me and Moriah. Do not leave, get distracted. We must get as far as we can before sundown.”

 Shelagh nodded her head. She watched Smitty take the lead with Moriah bringing up the rear. She felt like a sandwich and she was the tasty filling. She kept pace as best she could. Sometimes she was too fast and sometimes too slow. Smitty kept look out for trouble. Moriah did the same. Suddenly Smitty heard the sound of a bullet flying by his ear. He could actually feel the faint whoosh of air as it flew by him.

 “Hit the ground.”

 Shelagh did as she was told. She did not have to be told twice. She crawled towards a burnt out car and waited She could see Smitty pretty well but Moriah was nowhere to be found. She looked to find Smitty again.

 “Smitty, look out!” Shelagh screamed.

 Moriah came running around the corner and shot. The bullet flew through the air and caught Shelagh square in the chest. Blood splattered outwards and she sank against the car. Her body quivered then stopped as her life ebbed from her. Smitty heard her scream too late. He quickly swung around and caught Moriah as she looked at the dying girl. The evil grin on her face was testament enough for Smitty. He caught her ankle with his leg and watched as she came crashing down. He punched her once. She still breathed.

More bullets whizzed by him. One caught him in the shoulder as he looked towards Shelagh. She was pressed up against a car. He looked back to see another bullet hit him in the other shoulder. He scrambled behind a car and looked for Shelagh. She was still pressed against the other car. She was looking at him. He could see her fear.

 Moving towards her slowly, the pain was almost too much to bear. He commando crawled along the ground. The pain from his shoulders was bad enough that he winced. He got to Shelagh and saw the blood. She had been shot in the chest. Her eyes did not move when he called her name. She didn’t hear him. He closed his eyes and said a quiet prayer all the while holding back the anger that was building.

 While he was in prayer, Moriah started to stir. Smitty didn’t see her but he did hear her. He stayed still and waited for her to get closer. He suddenly stood up and hit her full force on the jaw. She started to go down but Smitty caught her. He dragged her back to the ruined church. Night was falling as Moriah started to stir. Smitty guessed that he had hit her a little too hard. She sat up on her elbows.

 “Why did you hit me?”

 “Because you were going to kill me just like you killed Shelagh.”

 Moriah looked at Smitty and wry grin crossed her face. She didn’t even try to hide her surprise. She hissed at him venomously.

 “Yes I killed her. I would have killed you too if that brat had died the way she was suppose to. But no, she had to use her last breath to warn you.”

 “Why, for the love of God?”

 “Why, because you dared to come out into our territory. You dared to go to the mountain of the goddess. There is no God. You worship a false God. Only the goddess is worthy of praise. The girl was yours. I wanted her. The goddess wanted her. She would have pleased many men as she was passed around. The goddess wishes…”

Smitty watched as Moriah fell to the ground. She moaned as she slid down the wall. She hadn’t even seen Smitty’s fist coming. He quickly tied her up and then gagged her and dragged her outside. He knew it would not be long before they would come looking for her. He grabbed his guns and ammo and ran. He left the supplies behind.

 Running as fast as he could, he left everything behind. He tried not to cry but the tears came anyways. Shelagh was gone and he was alone. Moriah had betrayed him and he was alone. He tried to think that he liked it that way but he knew it was a lie. He loved that little girl like a father loves a daughter. Smitty stopped and fell to his knees. He cried out to God as the tears flowed undaunted.

 “WHY?” He cried. “Why did Shelagh have to die? She was close to coming to you!”

 Smitty got up off the ground and stood still a moment. He waited t0 hear from the Lord but heard only the crunching of his feet against the dust as he began to walk. He looked back but he kept moving forward. The mountain was his goal. He started his journey to the mountain again but this time he wanted answers.

 He had walked for hours and noticed that it was getting dark. He needed to find shelter. He had walked a fair distance. The glow from the mountain was closer. He looked around and found a store that had been boarded up.

 “This looks as good a place as any other place.”

 The door opened easily. Smitty shone his flashlight slowly. No one had been in here for quite a while. He slid down the wall and dropped his guns on the floor. Looking at the door, he found no lock but he didn’t care. He looked around and found the place empty. He tried not to think about the events of today. Tears started to flow. Except for earlier, he had not cried for years.

 “Why? She was so young. She didn’t deserve to die. She was on her way to you. God, tell me! Explain to me why she had to die!”

 His tears flowed and he cried himself to sleep. He didn’t say his evening prayers like he normally did. He didn’t read his bible. He ignored God. He was mad like a little child that had had his favorite toy taken away from him. Sleep came quickly. He tossed and turned. Sleep was restless. He dreamed of pain and suffering. He dreamed of Shelagh’s mom and the way she died. Smitty saw her face and the way it was contorted in pain. He didn’t want to look anymore. Suddenly he heard a voice.

“Jesus loves you Smitty. He loved you enough to die for you, love him enough to realize that I already took Him as my own. I am with Him and you can be too but you have to quit acting like a child. You have to finish what you started. You have to go to the mountain. Go and see what He has in store for you.”

 It was Shelagh’s voice. He smiled. The dreams stopped and he fell into a fitful slumber.

 Day Five

 The morning light filtered its way down through the dust turning it from a bright yellow to a dingy gray. A slight beam hit Smitty on the face. It warmed him enough to wake him up. He sat up and wiped the sleep from his eyes. He still had a smile on his face. He looked around the store to find canned goods galore. He spied a can opener on the floor and grabbed a label less can. He quickly opened it.

 “Peaches again!”

 Using his fingers he quickly ate them and then gathered up his guns. He found a backpack and threw a few cans into it. He threw in the can opener to. Picking up the knapsack, he opened the door and started on his way to the mountain. He knew that he had far to go and little time to get there.

Smitty walked and walked. He didn’t talk to anyone. He saw no and saw nothing but destruction and more destruction. He came upon a burnt out church. He stopped to rest and saw burnt bodies. He looked away and prayed. Soon afterwards, he stood and resumed his travel. He pulled out his bible and began to read.

“Those who wait upon the Lord will renew their strength. They shall mount up on wings of eagles. They shall run and not get weary. They shall walk and not faint.”

 Smitty read it and felt his soul liven up. He walked with a purpose. He knew that he would get to the mountain. He would stand in the heart of the storm and feel the power of the Father, the Creator.

 Smitty walked for hours. He didn’t stop to rest nor did he stop to eat. His feet rose and fell in time. Seconds turned into minutes and minutes turned into hours. He looked up into the sky and saw the setting sun. The building appeared out of nowhere. He would have sworn it was not there a moment ago. He quickly ducked in and took refuge.  He sat down and opened his sack. He took out a can of peaches and after opening it, ate them down. He laid his head down and was asleep in a matter of moments. He did not dream.

 Day Six

 Smitty woke up slowly. He sat up and wiped the sleep from his eyes. He looked around and found that he was sitting in an abandoned mosque. The bombs hadn’t cared about religion. They were an indiscriminate killer.

 Smitty stood up and looked for a place to do his business. He finished up and then covered it. Grabbing his pack, we walked out the door. Strained sunlight hit his face. He didn’t fail to notice the heat. He looked around and saw the mountain. It was closer then he thought or he had walked a very long way yesterday.

 He moved towards the mountain, shedding clothes as he walked.  Soon he was down to his shorts and an undershirt. He walked up the mountain. He saw people standing around and they were waving at him. Some he knew and others he didn’t. Shelagh came running up to him.

 “Smitty!” She cried.

 She jumped into his arms and hugged him. He didn’t understand. He was sure he had seen her dead.

 “Hurry! Taste and see that the Lord is good!”

 Smitty started walking up the hill. It was steep but he did not seem to mind. He reached the peak and stood in the heart of the storm or rather he stood with The Heart of the Storm. He looked right into the eyes of Jesus. He fell to the ground and cried. Jesus reached down and picked Smitty up.

 “Well done good and faithful servant. You came to me and here I am.”

  Day Seven

 The store was quiet. Not a thing moved. Smitty was lying right where he had the night before. The empty can of peaches sat where he had put it down when he drifted off to sleep. Suddenly there was a light in the room. Two men walked in and rummaged around for food. They came upon Smitty. One of the men kicked at him. When they saw that he didn’t move, he reached down to search him. He found nothing but the guns. He pocketed them and continued to search.

 The other man found the knapsack. He emptied it out. He looked at the cans and put them aside. He tossed the clips for the guns to his partner. He took the Bible and tossed it aside.

 “Don’t need that rubbish, didn’t do this slob any good.”

 The two men gathered up their treasure. They looked over the scene one more time to make sure that had everything. They walked out never to look back.

 The bible had landed on Smitty’s chest when it had been tossed. The force of the landing had caused the left hand to bounce. It landed on the bible. The two men had never noticed the faint smile on Smitty’s face. It would remain there.

 End

Gabriela

The little girl sat on the couch. She giggled at the picture of her parents kissing. Her eyes were wide, bright and full of life. She giggled louder when she turned the page and saw another one of them kissing. He daddy’s hand was up held in a fist with his thumb sticking up. He looked so happy.

 “And what pray tell are you doing?” someone asked.

 She didn’t look up as she giggled. “You and mommy kissing.”

 He walked over and sat beside his daughter. She was and always would be as pretty as a picture. He looked at the picture and laughed. Those were indeed good time but those times were over and done with. There was no going back.

 “Daddy why were you so happy then?”

 “Well sweetheart, because mommy was happy and God had given me the one woman I was going to spend the rest of my life with. My soul mate.”

 “Why aren’t you happy now? Were you happier before we came along? Did Payton, Tristan and I do something wrong?”

 “No you children are not to blame. You are the only good things that came out of this marriage. As for the rest of the reasons, you are not old enough to understand.”

 They looked at the pictures together. He laughed and cried with each one. Angel giggled with each one specially the ones of her parents kissing. She had kissed her daddy once when he had shadow and it tickled. When they got to the last page, she looked at her father and kissed his hairy face. She closed the book and then held his hand.

 “I’m gonna pray to Jesus every night that you and mommy get back together.”

 “If you wish. He doesn’t seem to listen to me anymore.”

 “Sure he does daddy. You just have to listen.”

 Mario was about to say something when Angel jumped down and ran into the back yard. She reached the yard and turned back towards him.

 “Bye daddy. I’ll be back later.”

*******************************

 Angel Rocha was eight years old. She could be like all children, little devils. But sometimes she could be wise beyond her years. Her long blond hair hung down to her lower back. Her blue eyes shone like fine blue sapphires. She turned around and was gone from sight.

 He waved at her but was too late. She ran into her brothers as they were playing. Mario went to the door and watched them. He watched them hug and then run into the makeshift fort that he had helped them build. He saw Angel look at him as she went in. She held up her hand with a raised thumb and smiled, then she went inside the fort . She sat down and looked at her brothers.

 “We have to pray to Jesus.”

 “For?” Her older brother Payton asked.

 “So that mommy and daddy will get back together.”

 “But daddy doesn’t believe anymore.” Tristan replied.

 Angel looked at him and then smiled. She reached over and stroke his cheek softly.

 “Sure he does, he just doesn’t realize it. He is hurting and needs help. We have to start on him first.”

 Tristan looked at Payton. They shrugged their shoulders then nodded their heads in unison. They each took one of Angel’s hands then grasped each others. They bowed their heads and Angel spoke slowly.

 “Jesus, please help our daddy to believe again. We know that you love him and so do we. Oh and God, help our daddy and mommy get back together again.”

 Tristan peeked at his sister and slowly nodded his head to himself. Not bad, he thought. He spoke slowly also.

 “Dear God, please help our daddy. We know that he still believes in you but that he blames you for mommy leaving. We know that it isn’t your fault and we want him to know that too. Also God, help our mommy and daddy get back together again.”

Payton kept his eyes closed and nodded his head in agreement. He was the oldest and he was almost thirteen. His short brown hair was cropped close to his head. He liked it that way. He spoke softly as if it were a private prayer rather then a public one.

 “Father God, I agree with Angel and Tristan. I ask for the believing to come back to dad. I love him so much and I know he needs to come back to you.

 “Lord Jesus, I bring my mom to you too. I love her too and I want her and dad to get back together. I know he misses her. I can hear him crying at night. Help them to come together and at least talk things out.

 “Lord, be with us as we continue to pray for mom and day. Encourage us to set things in motion and Lord if we can’t then please Jesus, step in and get things moving. In Jesus name. Amen.”

 Payton opened his eyes to see Angel and Tristan looking at him. He raised his hands.

 “What?”

 Angel crawled over and hugged him and then kissed his cheek.

 “What was that for?”

 “Because I love you.”

 Payton smiled and then pushed her away. “Get away from me ya mutant.”

 The laughter grew louder until it spilled into the yard. Mario looked out the door and saw the children come running out and into the house. The phone rang and Angel was the closest one to it. She picked it up.

 “Hello, Rocha residence.”

 “Hello my angel.”

 “MOMMY!” she cried.

 “Hello my baby. Is daddy home?”

 Angel looked up at Payton and then shoved him the phone. She ran through the house calling for Mario. Payton put the receiver to his ear.

 “Hi mom.”

 “Hello Payton, how is my big boy?”

 “I’m okay, I wish you would come home. We all miss you. Dad misses you the most.”

 “I know baby, but your father and I have a lot to talk about before that can happen. We will see. How is Tristan?”

 Payton handed Tristan the phone and watched as his little brother spoke into the mouth piece.

 “Hi mommy. I love you!”

 “Hey honey, how is my little guy?”

 “I miss you mommy.” Tristan started to cry and almost hung up. He felt the strong hand of his father on his shoulder as he took the phone.

 “Hello Linda, did you call to bust my chops again?”

 “No, I called to let you know that I have to go away for a few days. Some conference and I have to go if I want to survive. I need you to say it is okay if they stay with you till I come back.”

 “No Linda it is not a problem. They are my children too. Enjoy your conference.” Mario hung up the phone and then sat down.

<><><><><><><><><><><><><><><>

  Mario Rocha was a proud man. He was proud when his children were born and he strutted around like a peacock. He was proud of his Italian heritage and that he had, even though people said he shouldn’t, kept his native language. He loved his children and would give his life for them. He loved them so much that he had them tattooed onto his back.

 Back when he was an angry young man and he was on the brink of prison, he had met Linda. She brought him from the brink of destruction. She loved him for who he was. She didn’t care about what he had done all those years ago. She had become his world and she was never to leave it. It had been her that had brought him back to Christ. She had been so patient with him. All those years ago then he had to lash out at her a few months ago and she left him.

 He was so proud when Payton had been born. It was so hard to believe that a man with such anger could produce such a good thing. He was even prouder when Tristan was born. Then Angel came along. She was the one that was not suppose to be. She was their miracle baby.

 After Tristan had been born, he had been diagnosed with testicular cancer. He won the battle but had been told that he would never father another child. Then months later Linda said she was pregnant. He questioned it but when he saw her he knew that this little child was his own. There was no mistake. The doctors were wrong or it could have been the Lord that made it happen. He didn’t care, all he knew was that she was his blood.

 Now his life was in shambles. His marriage was over. He had lost his first love and didn’t know how to get it back. He didn’t even know if he wanted it back. The only reason he existed was for his kids. His life was empty and he liked it that way. He stood and walked away from the phone table. It was quiet and he walked into the playroom. Payton was playing on his Xbox and Tristan was reading. He looked for Angel and found her curled up with her huge teddy bear, using the stomach as a pillow, sleeping soundly. He looked at each one of them then walked away.

 <><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><> 

 Linda Rocha sat at her desk. She glanced at the pictures of her children and the one of Mario. They were her lifeline. They would be her lifeline while she struggled to kick her habit. She had struggled all of her life. She just couldn’t shake the drugs. They mocked her when she tried to get clean. They whispered in her ear and said awful things. She cried and cried and every time she gave into them. She didn’t call out to God because she felt that what God wouldn’t want her as one of His children.

 She, although hard, she stayed clean throughout her marriage and when she had found out that she was pregnant with Payton, she gave them up totally. She stayed clean with Tristan and Angel. Then things exploded. That’s when the drugs reared their ugly head again. She fell into the trap all over again. She tried to hide it from Mario but he knew that she was having a hard time. He tried to hide it from the children and act like everything was okay but his patience ran out. He lashed out at her and she left. Left her children behind and made the drugs her best friend.

 Linda wasn’t a bad person. She wasn’t misunderstood either. She knew what she was doing and that it was bad for her. She knew that she had no one to blame but herself. She understood that she was an addict and that it was her fault. Linda had believed in God once. There was a time that she would have run to Him with the slightest problem. Now she tries to hide those problems from Him.

 Linda had not told Mario the truth. It was not a conference that she was going to. Rather a court appointed detox to clean out her body. She had tried to sell herself to get drugs. She tried it with an undercover cop. She had had a choice. Either go to prison and spend five years there or take the detox. She had a choice and she chose the detox. For the next five weeks, she was going to be guarded by prison guards. Not allowed to leave the premises nor was she allowed any visitors. She could only talk to the other patients. She would be watched like a hawk and she would get clean. It was not going to be a walk in the park. It was going to be hard. The hardest thing she had ever done.

 Linda sat on the edge of her bed. She took the pictures of her kids and the one of Mario and put them into her bag. She pulled the one of Mario out and kissed it softly. She wept silently and whispered.

“I am doing this to win you back.”

 With her bags packed and she was ushered out to the car. She was off to the center to do her time. She was alone now or at least she thought she was.

  <><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><> 

 Green Hills Rehab was not a new business. They had been around for decades but it was a new building. They had all the same equipment that all the posh rehab center’s did except for the fact they didn’t cater to the rich and famous. They charged far less and were not afraid of taking government money. They accepted all the medical plans that were available. They even took a pro-bono case from time to time. There were no movie stars here. The people in Green Hills had real problems not made up ones.

 Linda was ushered into the main seating hall. Every new member had to listen to a message from the founder. It was a taped message for the founder had died many years ago. She found a seat and got comfortable. Two women sat beside her and they both looked at her and grunted.

 “God works in mysterious ways. God does things that seem impossible to the mere mortal but to Him they are not all that impossible but then again God is the God of impossibility. He will do the same for you is you let him.”

 The tape stopped and a woman stepped up to the microphone. She looked out around the crowd and smiled softly. She moved closer and then spoke softly.

 “My name is Mrs. Gwendolyn Myers. I am the administrator at Green Hills. Some of you have been here before and know the speech that I am about to give. Some of you have only heard it once while some of you are new and have never heard it.

 “Let’s get one thing clear. There is a zero tolerance policy enforced here and there are NO exceptions. There are no drugs here unless you have been prescribed them by your doctor. You will not find your drug of choice here. There is no smoking, no alcohol, no sex and certainly no swearing tolerated here.

 “You will be each assigned a caregiver to attend to you. She or he will be with you at all times. They will keep a daily journal about you. Everything you do, say or act upon will be jotted down. Every night the journals will be read by me and then the necessary actions taken if there are any to be taken.

 “Let us be brutally honest here. You are all addicts. You have a drug of choice. It may be cocaine or heroine. It might be pain killers or speed. It might be alcohol or methamphetamine’s. To say that I don’t know what you are going through would be a lie.”Mrs Myers lifted her arms and pulled down her sleeves to show her tracks on her arms. “My drug of choice was cocaine and then it became heroine. I know what you are going through. I went through it. I spent my time in here as well.

 “It’s not an easy road to kick a habit. It takes time for your body to become accustomed to being clean of the drugs you are on. All the staff, even the chaplain, know what you are going through. They are all recovered addicts. They are here to help.

“Lets move on to other topics. Some of you are here by your free choice. Some have been signed in by family while others are here under the government plan. I am the only one that knows which one you are. No one else knows not even the rest of the staff. It is up to you to get clean. We can not help you. We can guide you and comfort you but you MUST be the one willing to do it.

“There is no such thing as recovered addict. Once an addict always an addict. There isn’t a day that I don’t think about getting high and forgetting about the world and all the problems I have in it. But then I remember all the time I have put into get clean and it brings me back to earth. So what does this mean to you out there. Well it means that you are not alone. WE all know what you are going through. You are not alone.

“Now it is time to get you to your rooms and get unpacked. We are having a late lunch and then you will go into your groups. If you don’t know which group you are in, ask your caregiver.”

Linda stood up and looked for her caregiver. He walked up to her and smiled.

“Hi, my name is John and I am your caregiver for the next few weeks. If you need to talk or you need anything then just come to me and I will see what I can do.” John turned around and then turned back. “If you follow me, I will show you to your room.”

Linda followed him and looked around as she followed. He opened a door and then watched her enter. He closed the door and then left her to settle in. Linda looked around at the bare room and then plopped down on the bed. She was finally alone. Her hands came up and immediately covered her face. She rubbed it softly then started to unpack. She laid down afterwards and took a nap. She slept softly, her mind going over the events of the day. She woke up to see a woman sitting in a chair.

 <><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><> 

Angel sat at the table and watched the birds at the feeder. She wondered if God loved them as much as He loved her. She looked at her dad and smiled.

 “Daddy, does God love me as much as He loves the birds?”

 “I suppose.”

 “And does He love me as much as He loves Mommy?”

 “I suppose?” He said looking up at her. “Why are you asking such questions?”

 “Cause.”

 He looked at her. “Cause is not an answer.”

 She nodded her head softly. “Yes daddy. I want Jesus to help mommy. I want Him to heal her so that she can come home. Do you think He will do that for me?”

 “All you can do is ask.” Mario replied.

 Angel got down off her chair and ran over and kissed Mario on the cheek. “Thanks daddy.” He smiled as she ran off and he went back to his paper. He stopped reading when he heard her words wafting out of the playroom.

 “Dear Jesus, it’s Angel again. You must be getting awful tired of hearing from me. I pray all the time and yet you never complain. Well you just might this time Jesus. I want you to do something for me. I want you to get in there and heal my mommy. You have to do something for my mommy. If you love her as much as You love the birds, then you have to get in there and do something.”

 She stood up and went out to the back yard and played on the swings. Payton rushed into the house and after grabbing an apple, ran outside to join Angel. Tristan came running out next and sat on the grass.

 “We need to pray for mommy.” Tristan said.

 “I have been, almost all day.” Angel replied.

 Payton bit into his apple and then after swallowing the chunks he looked at them both. “We have to pray for dad to ya know.”

 Angel nodded her head just as Tristan did.

 “We know. We have been and we know that Jesus has been looking out for daddy. He’s safe as long as we pray for him but mommy needs more prayer.”

 “Why do you say that Angel?” Payton asked.

 “I don’t know. I just know that she needs more prayer then daddy does.

 They gathered together on the grass and held hands. They felt two more hands come into the little group and heard Mario’s voice.

 “Can I join in with you?”

 The three of them nodded their heads and then watched as Mario sat down. He settled in between Angel and Payton then he started to pray.

 “Dear God, I don’t know if I believe anymore or if this is an attempt to get back into your good graces. I know that I have been struggling with my faith and I also know that it will take baby steps to get back into the swing of things. The one thing I do know is that I love you and that I love my children and that I love Linda. I don’t know what she is doing right now but I want her to know that I love her and that she needs your help. I need your help Lord. Please help me and help my beloved…….”

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 The room sat quiet as the words filtered up. The man who sat on the chair listened intently. His head bowed as he listened. He shifted a little and there was a scar on his side. He lifted his hands and you could see the holes that no longer bled but reminded Him of what he had done. He heard the prayers from the three children and the father and then stood up. He walked out into a large area and then headed up to the throne area.  The veil was torn away. The remnants left to remind everyone the sacrifice the Son had made. He smiled as he looked at them then entered the room.

 “Yes My Son.”

 “Father, I have had a special prayer come to me this morning.”

 “From Angel again I suppose.”

 “Yes Father.”

 “What do you wish to do?”

 “I promised my brothers and sisters that if they ask anything in my name that I would give it to them. I wish to grant this child’s prayer.”

“Who do you want to send?”

 “Gabriella.”

 The Father smiled and nodded his head at his Son. He moved from the room and found an angel.

“Find me Gabriella.”

 He sat down and waited. He watched as people moved to and fro caring for each other and caring for their homes. He listened silently as the choir sang of His glory and he bathed it in. He opened His eyes to a girl kneeling in front of him.

 “Stop that. Get up already. I do not want your nonsensical platitudes. I am not like the other gods of this world. I want my little ones to come to me freely and to know that they will get the answer they want. I also want them to know that I love them and that they are my only concern. No sacrifices and no  incense. I want nothing from then but their love and devotion. Now get up.”

 The girl stood and looked at him. She stroked His face and then spoke.

“Sorry Father.”

 “Yes Lord Jesus. You called for me?”

 “Yes, I have a job for you. Remember Clarence?”

 “Yes Lord. He earned his wings by showing that man that his life was not as messed up as he thought. Who do you wish me to save?”

 Jesus sat down and motioned for Gabriella to do the same. “I have a similar job for you but it is not a plea from a man but rather a little girl. Listen to this.”

 He motioned slightly and a sound echoed through the room.

 ‘“Dear Jesus, it’s Angel again. You must be getting awful tired of hearing from me. I pray all the time and yet you never complain. Well you just might this time Jesus. I want you to do something for me. I want you to get in there and heal my mommy. You have to do something for my mommy. If you love her as much as You love the birds, then you have to get in there and do something.”’

 Jesus looked at Gabriella. “The plea from an innocent child. Go and help the mommy that she speaks of.”

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“Hello.”

 “Hello, who are you?” Linda asked.

 “My name is Gabriella. I am your new roomie.”

 “No no. I was told that I would have a single room with nobody else in it. You can’t stay here.”

 Linda went to the door and went to open it. Gabriella stood up and held up her hand.

 “Wait, this is only going to be for a few days. I was told that this was the only bed available and they didn’t think that you would mind all that much.”

 “Well I do mind but if it is only for a few days, I guess I can live with it.”

 Gabriella smiled and then waited for Linda to speak.

 “What are you in for?”

 “My drug of choice is cocaine, laced with heroine and morphine. A lovely little cocktail that will get you up and keep you up for a while. That’s the good side and of course it does have a bad side. The coming down is murder.” Gabriela smiled. “You?”

 “Drugs and alcohol. I want to get clean this time. I want to go home to my kids and husband.”

 “I understand that. I tried so many times to stay clean. I kept slipping and now I am back in here. I want to do it right this time. But it is hard to do. Drugs are such a demon. They get into your soul and then stay there even after you get clean and then, sorry to say, not even god can help.”

 Linda nodded her head and then laid down. She closed her eyes and was asleep in no time. Gabriela watched her then silently left the room. She made her way to the chapel and sat down in the first pew. Bowing her head she started to pray.

 “I have made contact Lord Jesus. As Simon did with Imia Wilson. Help me to get through to Linda Rocha. Help me to lead her back to you. I sense Lord that it is not going to be an easy road.  She knows you Lord but the demon has taken control of her. I need Your strength to break through and free her.

 “Lord, she knows You. I can sense that. She has not let go of You yet she is ashamed of what has happened and is afraid to confront you for she fears you will be angry with her. She has backslidden so far Lord that I fear that if something is not done soon, she will be of no use. I know you love her Lord and that your love for her will heal her.

 “Lord, I beg forgiveness. I lied to her. Well not lied so much as bending the truth. I told her things that were true but not anymore. I am not the person I was before. I am a new creation in You. When I died, I took you as my own and you changed me and made me clean. You have given me the chance to present you to a woman that already knows you. She has just lost her way. Lord Jesus, help me bring Linda back to you. In Your Name I ask this, Amen.”

 Gabriela sat with her head hung low. She didn’t move a muscle. She waited for the answer that she wanted. She worshiped silently. She heard foot falls coming up from behind her. She looked to see the priest sitting across from her. She smiled softly at him.

 “Are you alright child?”

 “Yes I am. Who might you be?”

 “I am the priest here. My name is Father Williams. Is there something I can council you for?”

 Gabriela got up and slowly walked away. She smiled quite nicely and then walked away. She looked back at him.

 “I am alright Priest William.”

 The priest stood up and looked at her. “That would be Father to you.”

 Gabriela smiled. “No it wouldn’t Priest Williams. I call no one Father but the one who created me.”

 He continued to look at her as she walked away. “Wait, why do you say that?”

 She turned around and walked up to him. Reaching down she grabbed a bible from the pew and gave it to him. She smiled quite nicely again and whispered in his ear.

 “Look up Matthew 23:9.” She said as she walked away.

 Father Williams looked up the verse and read it aloud.

 “Do not call anyone on earth father. Only one is your Father, the one in heaven”

 The priest put the bible down and then went about his business. Try as he might, the words stuck with him and wouldn’t let him go. He knelt down in  prayer, speaking the words silently. He stayed kneeling waiting for an answer.

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 Mario Rocha sat at his desk. He looked out onto the sales lot. Cars weren’t selling right now. He didn’t have to worry though, he got paid weekly. He didn’t do commission work on a regular basis. He watched as the lot manager came in. He waved at Mario and then headed into office. Mario waved back too late. Michelle walked into his office and placed his paycheck in the in box. He picked it up and then opened it. His raised an eyebrow and then folded it and slipped it into his pocket. He would Mr. Stone about it later.

 Going back to his paperwork, he signed some forms requiring parts for different vehicles they had in getting repaired. He whistled softly some tune and from time to time answered phones about parts required. He looked up at the clock and saw how late it was. He picked up the phone and spoke to Mr. Stone.

 “Sir, might I come in and have a word with you?”

 Mario put the phone down and walked to Stone’s office door. He knocked and then entered in. Stone looked up at him.

 “Yes Mario, what do you need?”

 “Well Sir, I was looking at my pay check and noticed an extra thousand dollars added to my regular pay. I was wondering if it was a mistake?”

 Stone looked at him. “Nope, no mistake. You sold the mustang and you deserve the commission.”

 “But sir, that was Paul’s sale.”

 Stone put his pen down and looked up at Mario again. He smiled softly. He was a very patient man. He never was quick to blow up or yell or scream. Mario always thought that he looked a lot like that Shannara writer.

 “Mario I understand but I don’t play favorites. Never had and I never will. I was watching. Paul got called away and the buyer was about to leave. You walked up and kept him on the lot. You sold that car to the buyer. It might be Paul’s name on the contract but it was you that sold the car. So it is only fair that you get the commission. When Paul comes to me, and he will, he will be told the same thing. Do I make myself clear?”

 “Yes Sir.”

 Mario walked out of the office and saw Paul go in. He could hear the yelling and the screaming. Paul was cursing up a storm. He heard the door open and heard Stone’s voice.

 “Clean out your desk. I have told you before about the language. You’re fired!”

 Mario watched Paul walk away. He didn’t didn’t look at Mario instead just cleaned out his desk. Mario couldn’t help but smile and then stopped just as quick. Mr. Stone had been looking for a reason to fire that jerk. Today had been the day.

 Paul Stubbs had been a marine. He was use to yelling and screaming but even he knew he had crossed the line. He pulled things out of his desk and shoved them into a box. He looked up when he heard footfalls. His face was full of disappointment when he saw it was Mario.

 “What is it Rocha?”

 Mario passed him a check and walked away. Paul looked at it and then went into Mario’s office.

 “Why?”

 “Because you deserve it. You were the one to grease the wheels. I just got him to sign on the dotted line. You deserve the money. It was your sale after all.”

 “No, that is where you were wrong. He wasn’t going to sign or even consider signing. He wasn’t interested yet you were the one that sold him that car. So you deserve the commission. I over reacted and paid dearly for it.?”

 Mario watched him tear up the check and then walk away. Mario felt good and went to Mr. Stone’s office. He was in there for quite sometime. He opened the door and caught Paul as he was about to leave.

 “Paul, before you leave, Mr. Stone wants to talk to you.”

 Paul put the box down and then went into Stone’s office. Mario was about to leave but was told to stay. Stone looked at Stubbs.

 “Well it seems you have a guardian angel Stubbs. Seems at least one person likes you. Seems Mr. Rocha has taken it upon himself to plead for your job. I on the other hand would just as well be done with you, but I will allow you to stay on one condition. You will stay in my employ as long as you curb your language. There is no swearing allowed in this place of business. Am I clear mister!”

 Stubbs shook his head. “Yes sir, I understand sir, Thank you sir.”

 “Don’t thank me, thank Rocha.”

 Paul walked out of Stone’s office and right into Mario’s. He extended his hand and Mario shook it softly.

 “Thanks man. You saved my life.”

 Mario nodded his head and Paul left. Stone walked right in after him.

 “What is it with you? Why help out someone who is always making fun of you? I don’t understand?”

 Mario looked at him, Stone’s graying hair was short cropped. He like Paul Stubbs had been a marine. He had a kind face and yet could be mean. Not mean in a violence way but in the way he did business. With all of that, Terrance Stone was a fair man.

 “Well I thought about it and wondered two things. What would your father, Jackson Stone do? I think that he would have had him stay. Yes he is a loud, foulmouthed human being but he is the best salesman you have. Beside that, he makes fantastic coffee.”

 Terrance Stone nodded his head and walked away. He knew that Mario was right. He turned around to address all the employees.

 “Listen up all of you. I will not tolerate any oneupmanship. I will not tolerate swearing of any kind. What you do in your own homes is your business. What you do and say here is another story. This will be your only warning.”

 Terrence Stone walked away into his office. He heard the grumbling from outside. He liked being in charge. He sat at his desk and began working again. He chuckled softly. He needed to give Mario a raise.

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 Linda sat in her chair. It was big, comfy and made of black leather. She liked black. It was an all consuming color. It suited her mood right now. She listened to everyone speak and found out that she really was bored. That was until she heard Gabriela.

 “My name is Gabriela. My father sent me here. He thinks I am nuttier then a fruitcake. I’m not ya know. He just doesn’t understand.”

 “Doesn’t understand what, Gabriela?” the Doctor asked.

 “That I am an angel!” she replied.

 “You mean a real honest to goodness angel, with wings and everything.” someone said.

 “Well no. No wings yet. I have to earn them.”

 “And how do you earn them?” Linda asked.

 “By bringing a lost sheep, or in this case, two lost sheep back to the fold.”

 The other women, except Linda started to laugh. Gabriela sat back down and listened to the laughter. She fought back the tears. It was the same everywhere. Even the angels laughed. She looked at all the women hearing their continued laughter. When she looked at Linda, she heard a still small voice.

 “She is your mission. She is one of the lost sheep. Bring her and the other back to Me and you will get your wings.”

 “Yes Lord Jesus.”

 Taking Linda’s hand Gabriela whispered. “Let’s get out of here.”

 Together they walked out. Linda looked at her as they sat in the common area. She wanted so much to ask her about what she said in group. Gabriela looked at her.

 “Go ahead, you can ask.”

 “Well either you are nuts or you really do believe what you are saying.”

 Gabriela looked at her. She had a small grin on her face and her blue sparkled. They gave away the fact that she actually did believe the things she was saying. Linda cocked her head slightly unsure of her new friendship.

 “Well I am nuts. Not the nuts that everyone thinks about. I believe what I say. Some say they know the way to heaven and how to get through this life, but I can tell you that they don’t and that they are very wrong.”

 Linda looked at her and took her hand. “Oh and I take it that you do.”

 “Yes I do. You do to. You have not fallen so far that you can’t come back. I watch you at night and you say your prayers. People that have fallen so far as you think you have have no need of prayer. You on the other hand pray.

 “Linda, you don’t need doctors or the groups. You need only one thing and you know what that one thing is. I heard you once say in your prayers that you had lost your first love. If that was true then you wouldn’t be praying to him.”

 Linda had noticed that a small crowd had formed. They seemed transfixed by what Gabriela’s words. They seemed quite interested in what she was saying. Gabriela ignored them and spoke only to Linda.

 “Do you understand who your first love is? Do you know his name? Do you?”

 Linda nodded his head. “Yes his name is Jesus but what would he want with me. I have sinned to bad for Him to have anything to do with me!”

 “Oh sweet lady, you are so wrong. Most people say that when things go bad, they fall and then they sin and suddenly they think that God wants nothing more to do with them, but that is so not true. Truth be told, these are the times He begs for us to reach out to him.

 “You have to understand, God loves you and hates the sin. It isn’t God hates the Sinner and the sin. Linda, somewhere deep down inside you, there is love for Him. He still knocks at your door. He is still your first love and he always will be. You just keep the door closed and stop him from coming in.”

 Linda looked at her. “How do you know that?”

 “As I said earlier, you lifted prayers up to Him. What really convinced me was that you put your family first. You spent a very long time on each one of them but very little time on yourself. You have not forsaken or lost your first love.”

 “How do I get Him back?”

 Gabriela looked into her eyes and smiled. “Just ask him.”

 “But how, I have done so many things wrong and yet you tell me that he still loves me. I forsook him and I closed the door on him. I told him not to come in.”

 “What, you think God is just someone you can close a door on and he will just walk away. Sorry but it don’t work that way. He knocks and knocks and knocks till you open the door. Some will never open that door but those that are his, hear his voice and open the door.  You are his. You know that.”

 “What do I do, say I’m sorry and then all is settled. I get a clean slate.”

 “Well not exactly but close. I can lead you through the sinner’s prayer. Linda, time is running out.”

 Linda sat and thought about it. She thought about her children and Mario. She wanted to be out of this place and be with them. Together again as a family and one in Christ. She nodded her head slowly. Gabriela looked up and smiled and saw the crowd that had gathered were also nodding. Linda bowed her head the other women followed.

“Repeat after me.

 “Father God, I come before you as a child. I come before you in fear and trembling. I come before you in awe and wonder. Most of all Lord Jesus, I come before you in need. I come before you in need of forgiveness. I have sinned mightily and only through your blood Jesus, can I get that forgiveness.

 “Lord Jesus I need you. I need You in my life. I need you most of all in my heart. Lord Jesus I give my life to you. As I open the door, come in and sit on the throne in my heart. Make me into the creature you want me to be. I love you Lord Jesus and I want to follow you. I give you all the glory and honor and power. I ask this in your precious name Jesus. Amen.”

 Linda looked at Gabriela. She had a soft glow around her just as the other women did. Gabriela smiled softly.

 “No wings.” Linda noticed.

 “Nope, my job is not done yet. I have one more person to see.”

 Gabriela stood up and then walked out of the room. All the other women came in and sat with Linda. She smiled at each and everyone of them. She smiled softly and then they all started talking.

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 Gabriela stood at the altar. She knelt down and looked up at the empty cross. She smiled softly and then waited. Her eyes never left the cross but her lips moved silently. She closed her eyes and then opened them again to find herself in God’s presence.

 “You are not done yet child.”

 “I know Father, but did you see what I did. I brought more then just Linda Rocha back to you.” Gabriela replied excitedly.

 “Yes I did child. I am very proud of you but you must remember your mission little one. The prayer of a little child. “

 “I remember Father. Can I go tell Jesus now?”

 “Yes child but He already knows.”

 Gabriela smiled then kissed God on the cheek. He giggled softly as he watched her run out.  He sat and thought about all the angels with no wings and found that she was his favorite. He loved his children all the same but Gabriela seemed to bring out that little bit more. He saw the door open and she was in Jesus’s arms.

 Jesus laughed and tickled her. Jehovah looked a them. Jesus was always so gentle.

 “Father, Jesus thinks it is great that those ladies came to him too.”

 Jehovah motioned for Jesus to put her down. She looked up at both of them and then she was gone. The smiled at each other.

 “She is a fine angel.” Jesus said.

 “Yes she is.” His Father replied.

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 Mario Rocha sat quietly. He turned the television down and listened for noise. He could hear sounds coming from his daughter’s room. He quietly went upstairs avoiding the squeaky one and then went silently to her room. He listened at the door.

 “Mommy came back to Jesus?”

 “Yes she did. So did a few other women. Some might have come to him for the first time.” Gabriela replied.

 “Then why are you here?”Angel queried.

 “To answer the second part of your prayer. You asked that your mommy and daddy come back to Jesus.”

 “You can do that?”

 “I am gonna try.”

 Mario considered going in but chose not to. He walked away leaving Angel to her imagination. He went back downstairs and went back to his quiet. He picked his bible and  started to read again.

 “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

 He put the bible down and then looked out the window. He looked up to the sky.

 “If you are there, send me a sign.”

 He looked around and grinned. “Just as I thought.”

 Upstairs Gabriela sat talking with Angel, She smiled softly then kissed Angel softly on the nose.

 “I have got to run. Your dad just asked for a sign and that is my cue to bring him back to Jesus.”

 Gabriela disappeared and then Angel could hear her downstairs. Gabriela was talking to her dad. She ran downstairs a little and sat listening.

 “Hello.”

 “Who are you?” Mario asked.

 “My name is Gabriela and I am the sign you asked for.”

 “You are joking right? Where are the cameras?”

 “Not at all Mr. Rocha. You asked for a sign just a minute ago and I am it. Usually the father doesn’t send angels like this but this is a special case.”

 “Why is it special?”

 Gabriela glanced over at the stairs. Angel sat transfixed waiting for an answer. Gabriela smiled softly and then turned back to Mario.

 “Well the answer is really quite simple. Your daughter, Angel, prayed for it. She prayed that you and your wife, Linda, would get back together. She also prayed, in her childlike way, that you would both come back to Jesus.”

 “I understand that but her childlike ways aren’t gonna help.”

 “Not true. The Father sent me down here to facilitate the prayer of a child. Well here I am. Your daughter loves you so much, in fact all your children love you so much that for days they have prayed for you every chance they get. They send out their pleas to the Father to help you.”

 Mario chuckled. “I don’t believe in god anymore!”

 “Sure you do besides it doesn’t matter cause truth be told, He still believes in you.”

 “How do you know that I still believe in god?”

 “Because you see, when someone lifts a prayer to the Father, He looks down upon their hearts. He looks to see if there is any belief lift in them, no matter the amount. If He sees belief, then He sends an angel down to show the way. If He doesn’t see any belief then he answers the prayer in another way.

 “In your case He knows you still believe. He knows your heart Mario. He knows you blame Him for your marriage going south. He knows you blame him for your wife leaving you. He knows that you blame Him for her getting back into drugs. I am here to tell you that it is not his fault. Your wife is the one that chose to get back into drugs. It is the fault of both of you that your marriage went south. It is the both of you that caused the split to happen. You didn’t go to the Father. You stopped lifting your prayers to Him.”

 Mario sat down on the couch and held his head in his hands. He whimpered softly trying not to be heard. He was a man and needed to show strength but he had run out of strength.

 “I know and I want her back.”

 “What about the Father? Do you want him back?”

 Angel heard those words then leapt up and ran down the stairs. She flew into her father’s arms and wept in his shoulder. She looked up at him and cried.

 “Say yes daddy. Jesus loves you daddy. I love you daddy and I want my daddy back. I want mommy back daddy and that can’t happen till you get Jesus back.

 “Daddy, I heard you praying the other day. You said you would do anything to get mommy back. You have to take Jesus daddy. Mommy will come back then daddy.”

 Mario took Angel’s face into his hands. He kissed her forehead softly then looked into her eyes. They were bright and full of tears. He smiled softly and then looked at Gabriela.

 “What about my first love, will I get that back?”

 Mario looked at his feet. He so wanted his first love back. He needed it to be able to go forwards. He sat in silence then heard a knock on the door. He looked to see a man standing, patiently knocking at the door. Mario thought it was strange but got up anyways and went to the door.

 “Yes.”

 The man looked at him. “I never left, you just pushed me aside.”

 Mario looked at him. He saw that scars on his wrists and then scars on his forehead. His mouth dropped open. The man looked at him.

 “May I come in?”

 Mario moved aside and watched him walk in. The man wore a white robe that flowed behind him and seemed to barely touch the ground. His long brown hair flowed down over his shoulders. He had the nicest eyes and the nicest smile. His eyes sparkled with love and forgiveness. He looked at Mario and all he could do was shrink back a little.

 “You asked for your life back. You asked to get your first love back. You asked for a sign. Mario you asked my Father, The Great I Am, to give back something to you that has never been lost. How can one get something back that has never been lost.

 “First you asked for your life back but your life is here. It has gone nowhere. Your life exists in these precious children. They give you the life that you crave so much.

 “You asked for your first love back. I am your first love because I first loved you. I didn’t go anywhere, you just pushed me aside. You chose to ignore me and chaos happened. Your life fell apart but I promised that I would never leave you nor forsake you and I meant it. Even though you ignored Me, I was the silent visitor. The unseeable guest. I was always there watching over you.

 “Just a little while ago you asked for a sign. So I sent you one. I sent my special angel Gabriela. She came down to show you that I was listening but you chose to ignore it. So I had no other choice to come down Myself.

 “Mario, you remind me of Thomas of old. He was so much a ‘see it first’ person. He wouldn’t believe it unless he saw it first hand. You are just like him. So see this.”

 Jesus stuck out his wrists. Mario saw the scars and touched them. He could still, even after all the time had past, put his fingers in. Jesus lifted his robe and Mario saw the scar on his chest. He put his hand in and it came out bloody. He looked up to see drops of blood dripping from Jesus’ head. Mario reached up to feel the still warm blood. Mario tried to stop it but tears welled up in his eyes. He fell to his knees and cried out “MY Lord and My God!” He crumbled and cried openly.

 “You didn’t leave me. You are my first love. I left you and I am so sorry.” Mario cried out.

 Jesus lifted him up and held Mario in his arms. Mario wept still and Jesus cooed him. “No need for sorry. You have come back to me and all is forgiven.”

 Angel had been sitting on the couch. She watched the scene but had not said a word but rather was intently watching the interaction. She felt a tear flow down her cheek as she saw her daddy come back to Jesus. She ran out to the backyard and grabbed Payton and Tristan. They came running in and the boys jaws dropped in unison. Jesus looked at them and smiled.

 “You did a very good thing for your parents. You and your brothers.”

 Mario looked at Jesus. “What about my wife?”

 Jesus looked at Mario and raised an eyebrow. He wanted to help him but it was up to Mario to get her back.

 “Linda has, as you have, come back to me. You need to work things out with her. Through prayer and compromise, the both of you can get back together.”

 Mario watched as Jesus turned towards Gabriela. He looked at her with a smile that was wider then the whole of his face. Her face shone with a brilliance that no diamond could ever equal. Gabriela watched as Jesus turned his head to the others.

 “Witness the joy!”

 Jesus kissed Gabriela on the forehead and she could feel something happening. She could feel something growing out of her back. Angel was clapping and making bird motions with her arms. Gabriela giggled.

 “Really!”

 Angel nodded her head as did Payton and Tristan. Gabriela smiled and looked to Jesus.

 “Well my child, you did well. You brought the two people back to me as you were told to. You brought a few more along with you. I am very proud of you.”

 They started to leave when Mario spoke up.

 “Wait, now how am to get Linda back? I don’t know how.”

 Jesus took his hand and smiled. He stroke it slowly then stroked his head as father would a child’s.

 “Lift your need to God and trust He will answer. Remember God, the Father, is a God of Promise. He told the Israelite’s of old, IF YOU I WILL, God will answer your prayer.” Jesus turned back to Gabriela. “We must go. Her work is done here. She has done her job well but now it is time for them to work on it on their own.” He looked at Mario. “Do so in prayer and forgiveness. Talk, do not yell. Discuss not argue. Include those closest to you, your children. They have a say as well.”

 Mario nodded and took angel’s hand and his sons hands. They watched Gabriela and Jesus walkout the door. Angel looked at Mario and smiled. Mario wiped away the tears. He leaned down to kiss each one of his children’s foreheads. He looked out the window and they were gone. Angel jumped when she heard the phone ring. She picked it up.

 “Hello.” Angel said.

 “Hello baby, is daddy home?”

 Angel passed Mario the phone.

 “Hello.”

 “Mario, I want to come home.” Mario fell to his knees and wept openly. Angel looked at her brothers.

 “Mommy.”

 The boys smiled wide.

 “Yes, Yes, come home. We will come pick you up then we can talk.”

 Epilogue

 “Good morning Jesus, this is Angel. I wanted to let you know that it has been three years since Mommy came home. Things have been great. They don’t fight like they use to and they go to church every chance they get.

 “Jesus, the best part about it is that, you are gonna love this, is that they gave me a baby sister. When they were choosing a name, they chose Gabriela. I gots to go Jesus. Mom is calling and breakfast is ready. One thing though, let the baby mommy is carrying be a girl. He he he. I love you Jesus, talk to you soon.”

 FINI

Spiritual Baptism..Does It Save You!

What is Spiritual Baptism? Is it different than Water Baptism? Will it save your soul? Well let’s break each question down. Try to understand the difference and how it works for a Christian. Let’s start with something easy. Who is the Spirit?

The Holy Spirit is part of the Trinity. The three in One. The Spirit was with God when He created the world and the universe. (Let Us). Now some will say that is not what it means. That it means it was only God and no one else. Now if that were true then it would read “I will” but it doesn’t say that. It says “Let Us” meaning more than one.

Genesis 1:26

26 Then God said, “Let us make man[a] in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

So there we have it. Let US make man in OUR image. Pretty simple. See God put into place the Trinity way back then. It was always the Three. Nothing was done without the Three.

The Spirit is the same Spirit that came down upon the disciples when they were all up in the upper room. The same Spirit that came upon Christ when he was baptized by John. The same Spirit that came down and struck all the Assyrians when Sennacherib mocked the Lord. (2 kings 18-25). The Spirit is through out the bible. Not always called the Spirit but is nonetheless.

BAPTISM!

God instituted Baptism for one reason and one reason only. An outward sign for cleansing of sin. Even when John roamed the earth, it was two system thing. “Repent and be baptized.”

We weren’t saved in spots so why should we be baptized in spots. Some people say that we should be sprinkled. Ever noticed that in the Bible, baptism is full immersion rather than sprinkled.

Baptism is a commanded by Jesus.

Matthew 28 :19 -20

“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

Notice that Jesus says make disciples of all nation (bring them to Jesus) and then baptize them. Yup, dunk em!

What does this all mean. You need to be baptized in water after you get saved. There is no other choice. Becoming a Christian is a two fold process. Taking Christ, being washed in the blood. You get baptized in water to be cleansed of your sin.

SPIRITUAL BAPTISM!

1 Cor 12:13

12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves[d] or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.

So what is Spiritual Baptism. Well it was predicted by John The Baptist.

Mark 1:8

“I baptized you with water; but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

John baptized in water. He knew that you have to be cleansed before anything else could happen. Jesus himself predicted Spiritual Baptism.

Acts 1:5

Gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, “Which,” He said, “you heard of from Me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”

So here we see Jesus say the same thing. After baptism in water, then baptism in the spirit.

But still what is Spiritual Baptism? Well basically it is the indwelling of the Holy Spirit (in a nutshell). It happens after we have been saved and baptized. When does it happen? Well that is up for debate. Some get it when they get baptized in water, some get a a day or two later and some, like the apostles, some 50 days after Christ’s ascension, were baptized in the Spirit.

Do you need to be baptized in water to be baptized in the Spirit. No you don’t. There are many examples in the bible when they were filled with the Spirit and they were not baptized.

Luke 1:5

“For he will be great in the sight of the Lord; and he will drink no wine or liquor, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit while yet in his mother’s womb.”

Luke 1:41

“When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.”

There are many more. So many more that I will just put the Book, Chapter and Verse down.

Luke 1:67, Acts 2:4, Acts 4:8, Acts 4:31, Acts 9:37, Acts 13:9, Acts 13:52 and Eph 5:8

Being baptized or baptized in the Spirit will not save you. The only way to be saved is through the Acceptance of Jesus and taking Him as your Personal Lord and Saviour.

 

“Keep Looking Up!”

 

Say The Word

This story is inspired by a song called Say The Word by the Christian band White Heart. I hope you enjoy reading it and please let me know what you think.

**************************************

With vacant eyes she scanned the room. She didn’t want to be here. This was a depressing place and she was depressed enough as it was. The scars on her wrists were testament to that. She stared out the window. They, the birds and squirrels, were free, why wasn’t she? Tears started to well up in her eyes. She shook her head. She wasn’t going to cry.

 “Lunch time, everyone return to your rooms.” a voice said.

 She mechanically got up and returned to her cell. To her it was a cell, nothing else. The tray was slid through the slot in the door. She looked at it making her way to the tray. She could smell the food. She picked up the metal cap and looked. She took the roll and the Jello. She hated green Jello but it was better then Salisbury steak. She grabbed the milk and went back to her bed. She grabbed her name off the tag. Imia Wilson that was her name, she tucked it into her shirt pocket. Looking at the Jello and the bun she wondered how to eat them. She got off the bed and went to the tray. No knife.

 “Of course no knife, they think that we might off ourselves.”

 Imia settled down on the bed and ripped her bun in half. Using her right hand she put some of the green Jello between the bun halves. She bit down and smiled. `Not bad’ she thought to herself.

 “Better then the other crap they gave.”

 Imia ate slowly and drank her milk. She thought back to when she got here. She had tried to kill herself so many times. So many scars but no one seemed to care. She laid her head down and drifted off to sleep.

*****************************************************

 She woke up sometime later. She sat up and noticed her tray was gone and that the door to her cell was open. Imia sat on the bed and cocked her head. She didn’t hear any sounds. She stood up and headed to the door. She was not sure if she should go out or not. She started to back away.

 “Please don’t go. Come talk to me.”

 Imia looked out her door. Sitting in a chair was a man. He was dressed what looked to be street clothes.  She ventured out a little more. He smiled at her.

 “Please, come, sit with me. I will not hurt you. I promise.” He said as he motioned towards a chair.

 Imia walked towards the chair and then sat down. She looked at this man. What she thought were street clothes turned out to be something else. It was a robe or something like it. The sash was a dark brown. He wore sandals that were made of leather and very simple looking. He had long hair and a long beard. He looked like he belonged in a time long ago.

 “Who are you?”

 “My name is Simon.” he replied.

 “What are you doing here?” Imia asked

 “I am here to help you. That is why I was sent, to help you.”

 “What are you talking about? Who sent you?”

 Simon looked at her. He smiled softly. He pointed towards her heart. She looked at him with no emotion. She thought she was loosing her mind again.

 “No this is not real. You are not real. This is all a crazy dream, nothing but a deluded dream because of my depression.”

 Imia stood up quickly and ran back to her room. She shut the door and tried to forget. She pulled the covers over her head and hid. Now she wished for a way out. She wanted to die. To her dying was the best way out. She heard noises. Uncovering her head she saw people, nurses and doctors walking around. She jumped out of bed and walk into the common room, and then she saw him. He was still here, him and his old-fashioned clothes and sandals.  He waved at her and for some reason she waved back. A nurse walked in front of her and when she was gone, he was gone. Going back into her room she saw him sitting on her bed.

 “What are you doing?” she asked.

 “It looks like I am sitting on your bed.” he replied.

 She sat on a chair and looked at him. Her eyes fell to the floor. She was so sad.

 “Why do you cry?” Simon asked.

 Imia looked up at him. She had tears coming from her eyes. She ran her finger across her wrist. Simon looked at her. She held up her arms to him. He saw the scars. The multitude of times she had tried to end her life. He could see the scars on her heart as well.

 “Don’t you understand? I don’t want to live. I have tried so many times to end it all. If it wasn’t a knife then it was a hangman’s noose. If that didn’t work then it was pills. So many pills that my body was a walking drug store, all because no one would listen to me.

“I’ve been in this place for so long that I know the nurses by name. I don’t belong in here. I belong with my family. But that would mean they would have to deal with the problems that the elephant brings with it, but they don’t. They want nothing to do with me. God doesn’t even want anything to do with Me.” she replied.

 Simon looked at the floor. He knew how she felt. He had been depressed before. He was sad when he saw his Master whipped. He had been sad when he saw his Master carry that heavy cross up to Golgotha. He watched as the nails were driven into his Master’s wrists and feet. All the while he knew there was nothing he could have done about it.

 “I do know what you are going through. I wanted to die as well, but I chose to live.”

 Imia looked at him. She tried not to laugh. He just didn’t get it. Nothing he had gone through could be as bad as what she had gone through. Nobody knew the pain she suffered. No one ever would.

 “I see. Do you know what it is like to be a girl? Do you know what it like to live with depression? Have you any clue as to how it feels to be unloved or unwanted? Well do you?”

Simon looked at Imia with eyes that had seen those things. Had he ever lived with it, no. He was not a woman so woman problems were not his problems. Love was not a problem. The love he received was the greatest love of all.

“Do I know about pain, yes I do. Do I know about women problems; no I don’t, for I am not a woman. Do I know what it is like to unloved and unwanted, yes and no?

“I know the pain of no love. My wife said she loved me but she kept having other men in our bed. My mother use to say she loved me as she beat me. Was I unwanted, no? My wife needed me to bring money home. My mother needed me because she needed someone to beat.

 “Imia, you say you have it rough but you don’t. Other people have it far worse then you do. You have tried so many times to end your life but didn’t. Think about all the people that are dying and that want the chance to live.”

 Simon got up off the bed and headed towards the door. He turned back towards her Imia with tears in his eyes.

 “You don’t even know that someone loves you more then you can know. He did everything for you. All you have to do is say the word.”

 Imia looked up and Simon was gone. Tears started to roll down her cheeks. She didn’t know why but fall they did. Imia cried for what seemed like hours. She put her head on the back of the chair and closed her eyes. The entire place was dark when Imia opened her eyes again. She looked out the window and saw the lighted clock. It read eleven pm. Her neck was sore. She rubbed it slowly feeling the pain go away. She looked to the tray and saw her dinner. She grabbed the roll and nibbled on it. She tried to figure out where she was. Then she remembered, still in the hospital. She went to her bed and slept. She did not dream.

******************************************

Morning came and so did the knock on the door. It was shrink time. She quickly got dressed and then the door opened. The shrink looked at her with eyes that knew no compassion. She knew he didn’t care but only did his job. He started to walk off and she followed him. It wasn’t like she had a choice. He opened the door to the interview room and let Imia go in first. He watched as she sat down. He sat down across from her. He brought out his dinky little recorder and spoke into it.

“Interview with Imia Wilson, time is eight thirty three am. Now Miss Wilson, how are you doing?”

Imia looked at the doctor and sneered. He knew she didn’t want to be here. He also knew that she was allowing this interview because it killed time.

 “Alright, I will tell you how I am doing. I am in a place I don’t want to be in. I am locked up most of the time. I am treated like an inmate in prison. No one trusts me. People put food into my room but leave me nothing to eat with. No fork or spoon. So I have to eat with my hand. I’m not a patient, I am a dog. That is the way I am treated. Like a freaking dog!”

 The shrink looked at her. He knew that she was venting, but the lack of eating utensils bothered him.

 “What do you mean no fork or spoon? There has to be one or the other.”

 “Well there isn’t. I have never received one. Even when I ask for one, they won’t give me one.”

 “Well that is not ri….”

 Imia cut him off. She was tired of this. All the questions and all the false concern, she knew it was false.

 “Look, you don’t care about me. You are only doing your job and I understand that. But if you want to do something, then get me a fork, plastic or otherwise to eat with.”

 The shrink sat back on his chair. He looked at Imia and tried to figure her out. One minute this long haired woman was so fragile and the next she was so strong and vibrant. He wanted to know so much about her but she was being so closed.

 “Tell me about yourself. Where did you grow up? How many siblings do you have? What about pets?”

 Imia looked at the doctor. He wasn’t so bad after all.

 “I will tell you anything you want to know on one condition.”

 “And what might that be?” he asked.

 “You tell me about yourself first. If you are going to hear all about me then it is only fair that I should know all about you.”

 He nodded his head. It did seem fair. To be able to treat her he must be open with her. He smiled.

“Okay. My name is David Matthew King. No relation to the master of horror. I was born May Fifteenth Nineteen Forty Nine in Vida, Oregon. When I was five, my family moved to Steamboat, Oregon. I grew up there, went to school there and even married the town sweetheart there. After I got married I went to the University of Oregon. Then off to doctor’s school. In the meantime I had three children, bought a house and then had two more kids.

 “I have been a practicing Psychiatrist for fifteen years. I have two sisters, three brothers and both my parents are dead.”

 Dr. King looked at Imia. He had a small grin on his face. His bright eyes had a certain kind of childlike gleam in them.

 “Okay, now it is your turn.”

 Imia squirmed in her seat. She didn’t think that he would call her bluff. She sighed softly the sat up straight.

 “Okay, my full name is Sarah Imia Wilson. I was born February Twenty ninth Nineteen Sixty Eight. We celebrated it either on the twenty eighth or the first non leap years. So in fact I am only ten years old. I was born in a little town called Globe, Oregon. When I was four, we moved to just outside Portland. I grew up there. I didn’t graduate with honors; in fact I didn’t graduate at all. I have a grade eleven education. My mother and father are both still alive and I have two brothers, one sister and you wouldn’t know it because they never come to see me.”

 Doctor King watched her face all the time she was speaking. It tormented her that no one in her family would come see her. It also bothered her that she was in here. Of that there was no doubt. He wanted to help this girl but was unsure how to. She spit venom every time she talked about being here.

 “Okay I think that is enough for today. I am starting a group for those who have tried to kill themselves. I would like it if you were to come. You would get to talk to people aside from yourself and you might even make some friends. Will you come?” He asked.

 Imia looked at him. He sounded so sincere. The last doctor she had didn’t give a thought about her. He was just doing his job.

 “Well… sure, but if I feel uncomfortable I can leave, no questions asked.”

“Agreed.” he replied.

 Imia stood up and started towards the door. The doctor opened the door for her and after saying their goodbyes, he watched her walk away.  He sat back down at the table and rewound the tape. He listened to it again and again. He kept hearing the same thing. He heard desperation. All the while during the session, Imia wrung her hands. Standing up he looked at her file. He walked out and went to get some more information on Imia Wilson.

**********************************************

 Imia sat and rocked back and forth. She was so sad. She wanted to go home. Talking to the doctor didn’t help much. She heard knocking on the door and she tried to ignore it but the knocking continued. She got up and looked out the window in the door and saw a nurse. She had something in her hand. Imia opened the door and the nurse handed her the note. Imia took it and sat back on her bed and read it.

 “Come to the recreation room. I want to talk to you about something.”

 The note was signed `Say the Word, Simon.’ Imia quickly changed her clothes and headed off the rec room. She stood at the door wondering whether she should. She could hear people playing the dumb games. No pool table or anything like that. She pushed open the door and walked in. No one looked up except for Simon. He stood up and waved. She waved back half heartedly. She didn’t realize that she had a smile on her face.

 “Hello Imia. I am glad that you chose to come. Please sit; I want to talk to you.”

 Imia sat down across from Simon. She looked into his eyes and saw something or was it someone. She was not sure. She smiled softly.

 “Hello Simon. What do you want to talk to me about?”

 Simon shifted in his seat. He knew he could tell her about Jesus but he never knew how to start off. He quietly said a small prayer.

 “I want to help you. I want you to have peace. I want you to know that there is someone that loves you with all your scars, warts and all the unpleasant things in your life. Someone loves you. He was born for you. He died for you. He rose from the dead for you and everyone who is searching for the right stuff. He loves you with a never ending love.”

 Imia smiled. She knew that Simon meant well. She also knew that no one could love her. Not even God. One look at the scars on her wrists would stop the love.

 “Simon, thank you for your concern but no one could love me. The scars on the outside are bad enough but the scars on the inside are even worse. The emotional baggage I carry is enough to send anyone screaming into the night. I can sense that you are doing what you think is right but I am not worth saving. Do I want to be your friend, yes? But please, no more talk about love.”

 Imia got up and walked away. Simon didn’t get the chance to say anything else, He looked at the floor.

“I failed.”

 “You did not fail my child. You planted the seed and now it is time to water that seed. Show her the same kind of love all the time and the seed will germinate. I have great plans for her.”

 Simon heard the voice. He recognized his Master’s voice. He could tell whose voice it was. His Master’s voice was so gentle and full of love. The enemy’s voice was so full of vile and anger. He spit venom. Simon got on his knees and started to pray.

 “Master of all, you are the mighty God. You are the God of Israel. You are the God of Jacob, Abraham and Isaac. You are the God that parted the Red Sea.

 “Dear God of All, I planted the seed. Help me to not only water but also help to germinate it. You are the God who sent His only Son into this world so that your children might have peace and salvation and if any of your children needs peace it is Imia.

“Lord, she is so broken up inside. The scars on her wrists are not the only scars she has. She has scars on her heart and soul. She has been hurt so much by her family and friends that it has caused her to hurt herself.

 “Father, you know her pain. You know the pain of friends leaving you. You know the emotional pain she is having. Father, touch her. Let her see you in me. She needs you so much and she doesn’t even know it. She has cried out to you and doesn’t know it.

 “Lord, I am not one of those who believe without seeing. I saw you, walked with you. I talked with you and learned from you. Dearest Jesus, let me be the one that brings Imia to you, but Lord, let your will be done. I know through someone, Imia will come to know you. For Your glory Lord Jesus, Amen.”

 Simon stood up and walked out of the rec room.

*****************************************************

 Dr. King sat at his desk. He had read and reread Imia’s’ file. So many drugs and none of them did any good. Each drug that had been tried caused so much trouble. One caused her to sleep while another caused her not to sleep. While another caused rashes and itching. He spent the next hour trying to find a drug that would work without a thousand side effects. He read about the old ones then about the new ones. He could use Valium but there was too much chance of addiction. He decided to forget about the old ones and new ones. She had never been given Prozac before.

 King felt something for this girl. He was a doctor and he had a good bedside manor. He felt compassion for people but this was different. It was sympathy. She was not a happy camper. He had to try. He got up and went to the nurse’s station.

 “Nurse Sharp, I need to change a patient’s meds.”

 “Which patient Dr?”

 “Sarah Imia Wilson.”

 “Oh yes. What is she on right now?”

 “It is one of the older one. Hold on a minute. Here is it is, Immigate.”

 “Yes, that was around when I was her age, old and outdated and too many side effects. What is the new drug?”

 “Well I want to start with Prozac. If that does not get the desired effect then we will try something else. She has been on Immigate for some long and it is not doing the job.”

 “Very well doctor. When do you want the change over?”

 “Tomorrow is fine.  I want to take her off the immigate slowly. She has been on it for so long that her body has become accustomed. We want to ween her off the Immigate.  Start at ten milligrams twice a day. See how that works for a month or so. We can increase the dosage if needed then.”

 “Very well.” The nurse replied.

 Nurse Sharp walked away at the same time as Dr. King went to see Imia. He got to her room and knocked on the door. Imia opened it and let him in. It was plain to see that she had been crying. He sat down on the chair and looked at her.

 “What is the matter?”

 Imia looked at him. She didn’t want to talk but he just sat there.

 “What if I don’t want to talk.” she said through a tear.

 “Then I will sit here till you want to talk.”

 Imia looked at him with questioning eyes. He was nothing like her old doctor. He didn’t give a flying fig what happened.

 “You are nothing like Dr. Campbell. He would pop in and ask how I was feeling then leave. He didn’t care. He put me on Immigate then just went on his merry way. You are different. You seem to care.”

 “Well Dr. Campbell was from a different era. I am here to help you if I can. Will you come to the group?”

 “Yes I will come. Maybe Simon will be there.”

 “Simon. Who is Simon?”

 “Some guy in here. He is dressed in some really old looking clothes. He keeps saying “Say the Word”. I haven’t got the foggiest clue about what he is talking about.”

 “Well maybe he will be, one never knows.  Now for the reason I came. Right now you are Immigate for your depression and from what I have seen it is not doing the job. I am changing your meds to Prozac. Let’s see how it works, okay.”

 Imia nodded her head.  She had been on so many drugs that she didn’t know one from another.

 “When will the change happen?”

 “Well Immigate has some withdrawal problems if taken off of it too quickly. So I think we will do it like this. Today is Immigate and tomorrow is Prozac. Then next day a lower dose of Immigate, then the Prozac and so on and so forth. In a week or so you will be off the Immigate completely and on the Prozac full time. We will see how that goes. Clinical depression is not an easy thing to control. So we take it one day at a time. Okay.”

 Imia nodded her head. She didn’t have the least bit of understanding of what he just said, but he was the doctor.

 “Whatever you say, you are the doctor. You know more then I do.” She replied.

 “Good. I am not like your old doctor. He was more concerned about medication where I am more concerned with recovery. That is why I started the group, so that you and people like you could have a release valve. To talk to people that actually know what you are going through. Tonight after dinner will be the first group. I will see you there?”

 Imia looked at the floor the back at King. She nodded her head then put it down on the pillow and was soon asleep. King left quietly and closed the door. He walked down to the nurse’s desk and looked for Nurse Sharp. He found Nurse Sarita. She was a short Latino woman with striking blue eyes. She looked up at Dr. King and smiled.

 “Yes doctor, may I help you?”

 “Yes, can I get the chart on a Simon? I don’t have a last name. Maybe you can help. Look him up yourself or get someone else to find all the files of all the men named Simon. Imia Wilson talked about meeting a Simon wearing weird clothes. She said she met him at least twice. I would like to speak to him if he exists. You can reach me in my office.” King replied.

 King left and went to his office. He settled down for a long read. Imia’s file was rather thick. Seems Dr. Raymond made lots of notes but nothing else. King shook his head slowly as he read. He lifted his head when he heard a knock on the door.

 “Come In.”

 The door opened and Nurse Sarita was there. She had nine folders in her hand.

 “These are all the patients named Simon. There are nine of them. I checked them out. None of them seemed fit the bill.”

 King took them and quickly scanned them. He looked up at nurse Sarita and smiled.

 “Thank you. I will show these to Imia. Maybe one of them is the one.”

 Nurse Sarita nodded and smiled. She opened the door and left. King picked up one of the files and started to peruse it then heard another knock.

 “Come.” he said.

 Nurse Sarita opened the door again. She smiled her sweet smile at him. She passed him another file.

 “There is another file. I wasn’t sure if I should being it or not so I left it. This is it. The patients name is Nicholas. But according to the file he goes by Simon. According to the file he believed himself to be Simon the Zealot.”

 “Simon the Zealot?” King answered.

 Nurse Sarita looked at him. She nodded her head.

 “You don’t know your Bible do you Dr. King?”

 Doctor King shook his head. He was not up on something he had no use for.

 “Simon the Zealot was one of Jesus’ disciples. He was a hater of Rome. He gave up his hatred to follow Jesus. I know this sounds crazy but this man died five years ago. There is no way she could have seen or spoken to him.”

 “I see. Well I will show her the picture of him. Maybe she dreamed it.” King replied.

 Nurse Sarita nodded again. She opened the door and did not return. Dr. King looked at the file. Nicholas Richardson, He was admitted in nineteen fifty four for schizophrenia.  He was twenty one when he was admitted and he died in nineteen sixty six at the age of thirty three from heart failure.

 “Hmmm, she must be dreaming.” King said to no one.

*********************************************

 He poured over Imia’s case for what seemed for hours. He got to know her inside and out. Her parents came to see her very infrequently. He siblings never came at all. Not counting this term on the ward, Imia had been here eleven times starting from when she was seventeen. She had tried to kill herself twelve times. She had two abortions, three miscarriages and one still birth. She has one living child that she has never seen since the child was born. Her husband left her after the last child was still born claiming that it was her fault.  That is when she had tried to kill herself for the eighth time.

 King got up shaking his head. He went to the doctor’s lounge. He found a seat and slowly drank the coffee he had just got. He was waiting for someone to come in. As if on cue, the person he was waiting for came in.  He waved at him. The doctor joined him.

 “What’s up David?”

 “Well Bob, I have a question for you. Do you know Imia Wilson?”

 “You mean the Suicide Queen?”

 David looked at him, “What do you mean `Suicide Queen’?”

 “Well she has tried so many times to kill herself that she should have set some kind of record by now. Look don’t get me wrong, I think it is awful what has happened to her. But trying to end your life is just calling out for attention.

 “I realize that she has never had her siblings here to see her and as for her parents, well they don’t seem to care much. But that is still no reason to try to kill yourself. It is just an attention getter saying `look at me poor pitiful me. I am so messed up. No one loves me, no one cares about me, and no one likes me.’ Please if she were to just give it a rest and get on with her life then maybe we could all get on with ours.  For to try so many times to off herself and still not succeed, well she is not doing it right.”

 Dr. King looked at Bob Jackson. He stood up and just shook his head.

 “A trained professional and that is all you can come up with. Where is your compassion? My word, you can do better then that. I pray that the next person who tries to end their life doesn’t end up with you as their doctor.”He said as he walked away.

 Dr. King made his way back to his office. He shook his head and softly giggled to himself. What a jerk. He arrived at his office to see Imia sitting by it.

“Hello Imia, what can I do for you?”

 “Nothing, I just thought we, well, we could talk for a few minutes.”

 King opened the door. Imia looked in and then sat on the nearest chair. She tried to curl up but was unable to. King made mental note of that.

 “What is the matter?”

 “Well I just talked to my mom.”

 “Oh that is good to hear. What did she say?”

 “Well I asked her if she was coming to see me soon. She just laughed. She said that if she wanted to see a nut all she had to do was open a can of them. I felt like I had been kicked in the stomach.  I just wanted to die. I cried and she just laughed.”

 Dr. King put down his pen. He looked at a girl that had already been through so much and now to put this on her. No wonder she wanted and tried to end her own life.

 “I am so sorry. She should not have said that. Would you like for me to speak with her?”

 “If you want to but she won’t talk to you either.”

 “Fine, I will call her tomorrow. Now as for today, would you talk about it in group?”

 “Yes, if you like.”

 “Good then. Group is in about ten minutes so we can walk down together. While we are walking I want to show you some pictures. I want to see if you recognize anyone. Okay.”

 Imia nodded her head. She liked Dr. King. He listened to her. They walked down towards the conference room. He showed her the pictures. She shook her head at all of them. She didn’t recognize any of them. He opened the door for her when they got to group. There were other people there. Imia scanned the room looking for Simon but she didn’t see him.

**********************************************

 “Welcome to group people. My name is Doctor David King. When we are in group, first names shall be used at all times and straight talk only here. You say what you mean. You may call me David. So let’s get started. Who wants to go first?”

 A man stood up. He was tall with short brown hair. He hid his hands as to not show all the scars. He looked weather beaten like life had been beating the crap out of him. His face was lined with creases.

 “HI, my name is Robert George. You can call me Bob. I am a clinically depressed person. I have tried to kill myself twenty five times. The last time was three weeks ago. I put a razor to my arm and then stopped. I was going to slice open my veins and bleed myself dry. I put the razor down and then booked myself into this place. I call it the Loonies Shangri-La.”

 Bob sat down and another person stood up. She was tall with long black hair that had been braided. She pulled down her sleeves to hide the track marks on her arms. She held her hands in such a way to hide the razor marks on her wrists.

 “My name is Ruanne Jolan. You can call me Ruanne. If we become friends, I might let you call me Ru. I tried to kill myself as well. That is why I am here.”

 Ruanne sat down and one after another the rest of the group stood up and gave a name and a brief reason why they were here, most of them for the same reason. They had all, in one way or another, tried to kill themselves. Suddenly it was Imia’s turn.

 “Hi my name is Sarah Imia Wilson. You can call me Imia. I have also tried to kill myself. Twelve times I have tried and twelve times I have failed. If it wasn’t drugs then it was razor blades. If they didn’t work then a noose. I even tried to kill myself by sticking my head in a gas oven. Unfortunately for me, the gas had been turned off earlier that day. Someone or something always stopped me.”

 Sitting down, Imia wiped tears from her eyes. She looked at the floor. No one would want to talk to her now. She has revealed all of her flaws and her scars, even one or two that no one knew about. She had showed the imperfectness of her life. She shouldn’t be here. She was nothing. Standing up to leave she looked at the floor.

 “Wait girl, where do you think, you are going?” Ruanne asked.

 “I’m leaving. I don’t belong here. I am a failure. I deserve to die.” Imia answered.

 “Oh yeah, you deserve to die. Is that what you think? You think that you have it so bad. Look here.” Ruanne ripped up her sleeves to reveal her arms.” You think I got these by doing embroidery. These are track marks from needles. I’ve been trying to kill myself since I was nine. If it wasn’t heroin then it was cocaine. It didn’t matter my drug of choice. If I could inject it then I used it. Now you sit your butt down cause honey, you belong here. You need to be reminded that if for nothing else that you are not the suicide queen.”

 Imia sat back down. She looked at Ruanne and then at the floor. Dr. King stood up and walked to the door. He closed it again then looked at Imia. Tears flowed down her face like a dripping tap. He was about to speak when a knock came at the door. He opened it to find Simon standing at it. He looked at King then walked into the room. He stood in front of all of them then sat beside Imia. She looked up and then latched onto him. He held her close for a minute then gently pushed her away.

 “Say the word Imia.”

 “What word? You keep saying that but you don’t say what word.”

 Simon stood up. He smiled but was frustrated. He looked at the rest of them. Ruanne looked at him.

 “It’s you. You came to me and said the same thing.”

 Simon smiled and nodded his head. He nodded his head at each one of them. They all looked at him.

 “Look, two thousand years ago a man came to take all your sins and carry them to Calvary. He didn’t do it because He had to. He did because He wanted to. This is the same man who cried when you tried to kill yourself. Each one of you, even you Dr. King. “

 King looked at him. He tried to figure out how he knew.

 “No one knows about that, no one.”

 “One person knew Doctor. You might ask yourself, each one of you, why He cries.  He cries because He loves you. He cries because whether you know it or not, you are His children. You cry out to Him every time you try to end your precious life.

 “Now I know I must sound like a madman and you would not be the first. But what I tell you is the truth. God loved you so much that He gave His only Son for you. He did it because it was His plan.

 “Jesus didn’t have to die but He did. He didn’t have to bear all that pain and shame but He did. He knew what He was doing. He looked down through time and saw the pain that the world was going to go through. He died to take the sins of the world upon His shoulders.”

 Imia stood up and walked over to Simon. She looked into his eyes. She could see the truth in them. He spoke the truth and he saw in her eyes that she knew.

 “Jesus wants nothing to do with me or them for that matter. We are all damaged goods. Too many times we have tried to kill ourselves. No God in heaven or anywhere else would want us. We are just not worth saving.”

 “That is where you are wrong Imia. You and the ones like you who are sick are the reasons that Jesus came. People think that Jesus came for the healthy. He didn’t. He came for the sick. The sick just like you. Just like the rest of you. He even came for the one that has no use for the word of God.

 “All you have to do is say the word and Jesus will dwell within you. He will enter your heart and start the work that will make you into the being you should be. Drugs and drink will not help. Death will not help. Only the Son of God can help. Only He can give you the freedom that you crave. I will be here if you want to know more.”

 Simon walked over to the nearest chair and sat down. Dr. King looked at him with a perplexed look on his face. How could he have known what he said? How could he have known that he had tried to kill himself all those years ago?

 “Simon, this group is for those who have tried to commit suicide, if you don’t mind.”

 Simon stood up and walked to the door. He turned around and looked at the group.

 “He is yours for the taking. All you have to do is say the word.” Simon walked though the door leaving the group looking at each other.

 Imia looked at the floor. If her own parents wanted nothing to do with her why would God. She got up and went to the door. She looked back then went through. She found Simon sitting in the chair by the door. She sat next to him.

 “Why would Jesus want anything to do with the likes of me?”

 Simon looked at Imia and touched her face softly. He had a tear in his eye. He looked at her. She looked into his eyes. She saw a man. His hands were stretched out. She could see the scars on his hands. They looked like they went right through. He smiled at her. A tear ran down Imia’s’ face.

 “You saw Jesus didn’t you?”

 Imia nodded her head. She started to cry. The tears wouldn’t stop.

 “Say the word Imia. Say you want Jesus. Say the word.”

 Imia looked at the floor. She wanted to but was afraid. She was ashamed. She had tried so many times to kill herself.

 “I don’t know.” she whispered.

 Simon lifted her head and smiled, “Those who come to Jesus don’t know that is what they want until they do it. They fight and fight and then they take Jesus. All of a sudden they forget why they fought. They have let the barrier down and let Jesus come in. Jesus cleans house and takes out the trash. After He is finished, there is nothing left but the love He gives.”

 Imia sat and looked at her arms. The scars and the pain they pain they caused. The fact that they showed that she had tried so many time to end her life She looked back into Simon’s eyes and saw the man again. She saw the scars on his hands again. She cried openly. She looked at Simon and nodded her head.

 “Yes I want Jesus. Help me.”

 Simon smiled. He took her hands then heard other voices. The rest of the group were standing at the door. Each one of them had tears in their eyes. They gathered around Simon and Imia.

 “Please kneel with me.” Simon said.

 They all kneeled with Simon. Dr. King was there too. Nurse Sarita came over and put her hand on Kings’ shoulder. She put her other hand on Imia’s’ shoulder. She joined them as Simon led them through the sinner’s prayer.

********************************************

 Three Years Later

 Imia sat in her office. She was getting ready for group. She talked to one of the girls in the group. The girls looked into Imia’s’ eyes and saw a man. He was holding up His hands showing her the wounds on them.

 “Who is that man in your eyes?”

 Imia looked at the girl and then smiled softly. She looked at her own scars.

 “Say the word.”

 Imia got up and walked with the girl to the group room. Walking in Imia smiled and started to talk.

 

Finis

Unchain

This story is inspired by a song called Unchain by the Christian band White Heart. When I wrote this story, it became very apparent to me that even though the character is a fictional character, that it was somewhat about me. It was very cathartic. I hope you enjoy reading it and please let me know what you think.

***************************************************

The photos were of a pretty lady. She had long red hair. Her face was the face of a goddess and her body matched. He looked at her and cried yet again. He did every time and he always thought the same thing.

“Why did you leave me alone? Why did you have to die? If the God you served loved me so much, why did He let this happen?”

He put the photo album back on the shelf where he had retrieved it from. Wiping the tears away he went upstairs to his lonely room. He had already put the children down. He slid on his pajamas and climbed into bed. The next morning, he got up and did his usual routine. He brushed his teeth, shaved his head and trimmed his beard. He went back into the bedroom and chose his suit for the day then got dressed. Mrs. Johnston was already there. She always was. She would look after Daniel while he was at work.

Mrs. Johnston was a wonder. She always had something ready for him to eat. He always ate it cause if he didn’t she would give him the evil eye till he did. It was normally toast and coffee but this morning it was eggs and bacon. He wasn’t hungry but he ate it anyways.

“Mrs. Johnston, that was wonderful. I wasn’t hungry till I started eating.”

“You are most welcome Mr. Black. I realize that you don’t pay me to make meals but if I didn’t, I know you would eat unhealthy stuff.”

Walter Black smiled back. He nodded his head and then smiled again. He hadn’t some it in so long. He looked at the floor.

“Mr. Black, are you alright?” Mrs. Johnston asked.

“Yes, I am fine. Still a little bummed I guess.”

Mrs. Johnston looked at Walter. She smiled softly. She knew it would get better. She knew the pain that he felt. Walter walked to the door. He waved at Mrs. Johnston.

“I will be home early.”

She heard the door close and she slowly dropped her head.

“Father, let Mr. Black have release from his pain. It has been ten months since his wife went into your presence. Please help and comfort him.”

Mrs. Johnston cleaned up and then went up to get Kneesa and Jacob up for school. They did so with little protest. She made sure that they did it quietly as to not wake up Daniel. Kneesa was the first one ready. She rushed downstairs. She was in junior high and had to be early to talk about Jon Bon Jovi to her girlfriends. They all thought he was so dreamy. Jacob came down next. He didn’t care about rock stars. He was into cars. That’s all he talked about, this car and that car. His fellow middle schoolers did the same, cars and more cars.

Kneesa and Jacob rushed out after eating their breakfast. Mrs. Johnston was glad sometimes that her brood was all grown up. Well all except Joshua. He was still at home but being seventeen, he could fend for himself.

Mrs. Johnston went upstairs and into the baby’s room. There he was, sleeping soundly, his blanket all in a ball below his feet. She peeked into the crib and he moved ever so softly. She walked out and went back down stairs grabbing the baby monitor as she did.

******************************

Walter Black was a lawyer, a very good one at that. He defended the down trodden. He did it well and sometimes he got well paid for it. His newest client was a man accused of murder. This was a pro bono case. Walter believed that all lawyers should take on free cases so that they can remember where they had come from.

Mr. Kensington was an older gentleman. He had white hair, a white beard and the most striking blue eyes Walter had ever see. They were ice blue and when he looked at you, it was almost like he could see into your soul.

“Mr. Kensington, it doesn’t look good.”

“But I didn’t kill him.” Kensington replied.

Walter looked at him. He knew this frail old man didn’t kill the victim. He was just at the wrong place at the wrong time.

“I know that Mr. Kensington, but you were found holding the murder weapon.”

“I know. I found it before I found the body. I saw something shiny and I thought it might have been some loose change. I bent to pick it up and it was a gun. I looked around and that is when I saw the body. I didn’t know who it was till they asked me. I told them I wanted a lawyer and that is when you came into the picture.”

“So did you know the victim?” Walter asked.

Mr. Kensington lowered his head. He nodded slowly.

“Yes I knew him but I only knew him as John. He was a homeless guy just like me. We use to pal around together. We never got into trouble. We never begged for money. We were good bums. Then John just disappeared. I thought he went out for a walk that night and decided not to come back. Then I found his body and the gun, but I didn’t kill him.”

Walter could see the truth in the old man’s eyes. He knew that he didn’t kill him.

“Well, all we have is your say so. The police have your fingerprints and that fact that you were holding the gun. It is not good that you were standing near the body. But on the other hand I think all the evidence is circumstantial and I am almost certain that I can get the charges dropped.”

Mr. Kensington stood up. He stretched out his hand and then shook Walters’. He smiled softly. “Thank you sir and good day.”

Walter watched the old man walk out. He sat and thought about how this would play out. It was certain that this man did not kill. He was old and too kind natured to do such a thing. He yelled out the open door.

“Janice, bring me the police report on Mr. Kensington please.”

Janice came into the room and had nothing in her hand. Walter looked at her.

“I asked for the police report.”

“I know and I don’t have it.” she replied.

Walter looked at the file. He flipped through the pages but the report wasn’t there. He looked up at Janice and she shrugged her shoulders. She looked around his desk the spied it on the floor. Picking it up she handed it to him.

“Here it is.” she said.

Walter thanked her and then glanced at the report. Janice was about to leave when Walter looked up.

“Hey wait a second. I want your opinion on Mr. Kensington. Does he strike you as the murdering kind or even a violent man?”

Janet sat in the chair next to him. She looked at the wall then out the window. She saw a seagull flying free. Looking at it fly and soar she spoke.

“No I don’t. He has always been very kind to me. Always asks about how I am. No, in my opinion, he does not strike me as a violent person or a killer. In fact, truth be told, he kind of reminds me of Santa Claus. The white beard and all, ya know.”

Walter thanked Janice then watched as she left the room. He turned his attention to the police report again. His brow furrowed as he read it. He picked up the report on the gun. He read it again. Something nagged at him.

“Janice, get me….” Walter looked at the report again, ” Get me Detective Macally on the phone.”

A few minutes later Janice rang Him.

“Detective Macally on line one sir.”

Walter thanked her then went on the other line.

“Detective Macally, we need to talk.”

Macally agreed and Walter left the office. Janice sat and watched him leave. She softly prayed.

“Lord, protect Mr. Black. He needs you more then he knows.”

*******************************************

Walter walked into the police station and looked for Macally. He waved over to Walter.

“I only have a couple of questions.”

Macally nodded. “Shoot.”

“Was the gun in the Kensington case ever re-dusted for prints?”

“No. They belonged to Kensington and a very partial one. We assumed it was his also.”

“Was he ever tested gunshot residue?”

“Yes and it came up negative.”

“Did you ever run the partial?”

“No, but if you ask really nice we can.”

Walter smiled and then shook Macally’s hand.

“Yes please do. Let me know the minute you find out anything.”

Walter walked off and then stopped for coffee. He stopped to look at his watch. His therapist was waiting for him. How he hated those appointments.

**************************************

“Well Walter, how goes it?”

“I looked at her pictures again last night. I cried and cried. Will the pain ever go away?”

“Yes Walter, it will end. When you are ready to let go you will.”

Walter looked at the ceiling. Tears rolled down his face in a steady stream. He wanted to stop but was afraid that if he did, then he would forget what she looked like.

“I feel like there are chains wrapped around me and there is no way of getting them off. I don’t know how much longer I can handle it. I am trying to be strong for the children but what about me?”

“What do you mean, what about me?”

Walter looked at the doctor. He tried not to look indignant.

“I mean, am I cursed to spend the rest of my days mourning my dead wife. Hiding my feelings from my children. Putting on a mask every time I leave the house?”

The doctor looked at the wall clock. Their time was almost up. He started to put his pen away and close his notebook. Looking at Walter, he knew that the pain would pass. It would take more time and that there was no way of stopping the pain entirely.

“Well Walter, our time is almost up. We will talk again next week.”

“What no answer? I have to wait till next week to get my answer?”

Dr Williams looked up at him.

“Only you know that answer. I can give you the clinical one but they is only my opinion. I think in time the pain will go away. How long that takes is up to you.”

Walter got off the couch and grabbing his jacket, he walked out the door. The doctor sat looking at his lap. He knew that he could not help this man. All he could do was listen and take his money.

Walter walked back to his office. It was going to be a long walk but maybe the cool air would help clear his mind and help him free himself from these chains. The air was brisk and cold and frosty. Walter could see his breath. Earlier in the day it was warmer and now it was turning cold. Rain was in the air even though you couldn’t see it. You could feel it and it was saying that winter was not far away.

**********************************************

Walter stopped at the corner. He watched the traffic go through the intersection. He thought how easy it would be to step into traffic and end it all. But that would mean leaving the children without a father. He waited for the light and made his way to the other side. Walter walked into the office to see Janice talking to another woman. He looked at them.

“Is this a client Janice?”

“No Mr. Black. This is Mrs. Frietz. She is my pastor’s wife. She was just leaving.”

Walter nodded his head and walked towards his office door. Mrs. Frietz looked at him as he turned around to speak to Janice.

“God bless. I will be praying for you and your children Mr. Black.”

With that said, Mrs. Frietz walked out. Janice looked at Walter and waited for him to say something. He didn’t. He just went into his office and closed the door. She waited for something but nothing came. Suddenly she heard him call.

“Janice, come in here please.”

Janice came running. She wouldn’t have normally but he sounded so frantic. She opened the door to see him sitting behind his desk. He looked up at her.

“Was Mrs. Frietz here for a special reason?”

Janice looked at him. She knew that she couldn’t lie to him.

“She came to discuss something. We were supposed to meet for lunch but she was unable to do so. She phoned and asked if it was alright to come and discuss it here. I didn’t see any problem with it. Why is that a problem with that?”

Walter shook his head no. He looked at her and smiled. He had Janice for quite sometime and knew that she did not lie.

“Is Mr. Kensington here yet?”

“No, he phoned and said he was going to be late. ”

“Did he say why?”

“No.” Janice replied.

“Let me know when he gets here and until then, no calls.”

Janice walked out and Walter picked up a picture. The carousel horse was painted white with pink polka dots and a bright purple bridal. The woman who sat on it was pretty. Her long red hair flowed behind her as the horse rode along. She looked so happy but the look belied the pain she was in. Her tummy was extended. Being pregnant will do that. Walter put the picture down and went back to work.

**********************************************

Softly the music played. The horses flew around. They went up and down, always in a circle. They were all different colors. There were ones attached to wagons. He stood watching them fly by. His eyes never left them. The music played and the chains rattled. The horses flew, the music played and the chains rattled.

Walter looked and rubbed his eyes. He looked again and the chains were still there. The music had changed. It was not longer sweet. Instead it was sick and twisted. The carousel had become broken down and ugly. The horses were no longer pretty but ugly and evil looking.

Walter couldn’t take his eyes off the scene. He watched and the redheaded woman flew by. She was no longer the beautiful redhead that he remembered. Now she was nothing but bones with ghastly flowing red hair. Her eyes peered out through the chains. The chains reached out for him. Each link had his name engraved on them. The skeleton looked at him. He tried not to scream

“Walter, come to me. Be with me Walter. These chains bind us together. They will always be there no matter what you do.”

The chains started to wrap themselves around his feet, creeping, moving up his legs. Walter lost it. He screamed and screamed. He tried to run but could go nowhere. His screaming continued. He pulled at the chains but they refused to budge. He screamed again. The chains were pulling him closer to the carousel. The skeleton, that was his dead wife, had its bony arms extended. He screamed. She pulled him closer. He screamed. She tried to kiss him. He screamed. The chains wrapped around him, her arms were also around him. He screamed and his bladder opened. He whimpered.

Suddenly he heard a sound. He saw a light and an old man’s hand sat on his shoulder. The chains moved back. The skeleton hissed. It lashed out at the hand but no good came of it. Walter was being pulled back. The hand grabbed his collar and pulled.

Walter woke up. He was covered in sweat. He noticed that his chair was wet. He was so ashamed. He quickly got up and rushed to his private bathroom. He pulled off his wet pants and after washing himself off, he slipped on a pair of sweat pants. He opened the door and went back to his desk.

Mr. Kensington sat quietly in a chair. He flipped through a magazine. Walter sat down and noticed his chair was gone. Janice must have brought him a new one. He looked at Mr. Kensington.

“Well sir, I do apologize for my appearance. I was having a very disturbing dream.”

“A nightmare I think. You were whimpering and moaning. You looked and sounded like you were fighting with the devil himself.” Kensington said.

“Then it was you that pulled me out?” Walter said with a bewildered look.

Mr. Kensington smiled and nodded his head softly. He put the magazine back on the desk.

“So, have you gotten anywhere with my case? It is coming soon. My day in court I mean.”

“I am working on it. Unfortunately my day has been somewhat frazzled. I think that tomorrow will be a better day. A good night’s sleep is all I need.”

Mr. Kensington nodded. He knew all about being frazzled. He reached for Walters’ hand. Shaking it softly he spoke.

“Then till tomorrow, I will be praying for you Mr. Black.”

With that Walter watched him leave the office. Walter called in Janice.

“It’s three in the afternoon. Pack up and go home. Time to close up shop for the day. Tomorrow we work in earnest on Mr. Kensington’s’ case.”

Janice smile and then walked out to put her stuff away. She did not have to be told twice. Walter watched her go. He did the same. He closed the office door and after locking it, headed home.

***************************

Morning cam quickly. Walter was up and out of the house just after Mrs. Johnston came in. He had made a promise to get to work on the Kensington case. He knew the old man was innocent but he had to prove it. He arrived at the office before Janice and started right in on work. He re-read the police report. He was seeing problems. He picked up the phone and dialed the police station.

“Yes, I need to speak with Detective Macally. Yes I will wait.”

Walter listened to the police version of Muzak. Just sounded like crap to him. He listened some more while he glanced at the police report again.

“Hello, this is Macally. Who is this and how may I help you?”

“Detective, this is Walter Black calling. We spoke yesterday.”

“Oh yes, how may I help you counselor?”

“Well I am reading the police report and I don’t see the name of the officer that was first at the murder scene. Can you help me with that?”

“Yes I do believe I can. The officers’ name is Patrolman Webster Cross. I can transfer you if you like.”

“No that won’t be necessary. I will come down to the station. I need to speak with him in person.”

“Very well, I will have him stick around.” Macally replied.

Walter hung up the phone and grabbed the report and anything else he needed. He left locking the door behind him He started to think about the dream but pushed it back out of the way. He went downstairs and walked passed his car towards the police station. Arriving at the station, he walked in and set out to find Patrolman Cross. He found him sitting at Macally’s desk. Walter nodded at the detective. He stretched out his hand to shake Cross’s’ hand. Cross just looked at him.

“Good morning Detective.”

“Morning Black. Here is Cross, have fun.”

****************************************

Macally stayed in his chair. He watched Black looking at Cross. Macally hated lawyers but Black he liked, didn’t know why. Maybe it was because they had both lost wives. He noticed the black circles under Blacks’ eyes. Black stood an imposing six foot six. A bald head with a salt and pepper goatee. A dark suit covered his body. White shirt with a black leather tie, patent leather shoes with black socks completed the ensemble.

“Patrolman Cross, I have but a few questions” Walter said.

“Go ahead. I can’t answer them any better then I already have.” Cross replied.

“Okay, then let’s get to it. You say in your report that you first got the call while you taking a bathroom break. Is that true?”

“Yes, even cops have to answer the call of nature.”

“Okay. You say in your report that you received the call at nine twenty am. You came on duty at what time?”

“I was supposed to be on but eight am but I was delayed. So I guess it was nine am when I came on duty.”

“Why so late?” Walter asked.

“The car I was supposed to use had a problem. The carburetor was cracked. The mechanics had to fix it. I would have taken another car but they were already all assigned or broken down. So I went to an empty desk and got some paperwork out of the way while I waited.” Cross answered.

Walter looked at the report. Looking back at Cross he furrowed his brow. He looked at Macally then back at Cross.

“I see. It says in your report that when you arrived at the scene you saw the suspect holding the alleged murder weapon. You then looked down to find the victim. It doesn’t say here that you called for backup, why not?”

“To be honest, I didn’t think I needed it. It was an old man. He didn’t run when I came up to him. In fact he got down on his knees. He had the gun in his left hand butt end towards me. I took it, cuffed him then looked at the body.”

Walter looked at Cross then at Macally. Macally shrugged his shoulders. Walter looked back at the report.

“Okay Patrolman Cross, we are almost done. Two more questions. When did you read my client his rights and there was a partial print found on the gun aside from the suspect. Did anything ever come of that?”

Macally handed Walter a paper. It was the fingerprint analysis, the results of the second test. The partial print was neither the victims nor the suspect. It did not belong to Cross either. The report showed that the print was on the butt end of the gun, middle finger.

“So if this report is true, it was a luger that the shot came from?” Walter asked.

Cross started to nod his head. He stopped and looked at Walter.

“Wait, I put in the report that it was a nine millimeter. I never said anything about a Luger. By the way, to answer your previous question, yes I did read your client his rights. Courts get cranky, as do captains, when suspects are not read their Miranda rights.”

“Are you sure about the gun?”

“Yes. The ballistics report said it was a nine millimeter.”

Walter looked at the report. He looked up at Macally and then at Cross. He lifted his hand

“Just one more thing, was the suspect standing over the body when you found him or was he a distance away?”

“I do believe I wrote in my report that he was standing close to the body. It was almost like he shot him then made it look like he was just a helpless victim.”

“Okay, thank you Patrolman Cross.”

Walter shook the man’s hand and then turned towards Macally. He smiled softly and then shook his hand as well. He started to walk out then turned around.

“Detective, I will be seeing you again.”

Walter turned around and walked out of the building. The rest of the day he spent at the office returning phone calls and researching precedent. He need to find something or there was a good chance he was going to loose this case. He knew that Kensington was innocent. Looking at the clock he saw it was four in the afternoon. He went to call for Janice but she did not come in today. He picked up his briefcase and headed out the door.

***************************************

The wind blew softly enough to make the chains rattle. He looked at them. Each on had his name carved on one side, on the other as the name of his wife. He touched them and felt the warmth from them. He felt each letter. He felt the C and then the O and every other letter. It spelled out the name Corrine. He cried. The chains rattled a little more.

Walter walked away from the chains and turned towards the music. It was the same melody as before. It was so soft and sweet. He felt drawn to it. Corrine’s read hair flowed behind her. She was beautiful. Walter walked towards her then stopped. The chains reached for him. He tried to avoid them. He turned around and walked away. He could hear her calling after him.

“Walter, come back. You are mine. You belong to me. I love you, come back.”

Walter stopped and looked back. She was a skeleton once again. Her red hair, brighter then it was before, flowed behind her. Her bony arms were outstretched. Her fingers pleaded with him to come back. She spit his name.

“Walter! You are mine. No one can have you but me!”

The skeleton got down off the carousel horse and started to walk towards him. He wanted to run but found he couldn’t. He looked down. Chains were wrapping around his feet. They pulled harder as he struggled and tried to run. He felt the hand of the skeleton touch his arm and he screamed. He tried to run. He wanted to run. He begged to run.

The arm wrapped around him. He felt the coldness of the other arm wrap around him. He screamed. The head, with the flame red hair, moved closer. It kissed his cheek.

“See Walter, I am still your wife. I still love you.”

“NO! You are not. You are NOT!” Walter whimpered.

The skeleton that had been Corrine kissed him. Walter lost it. Urine rained down his leg. She kissed him on the lips. He cried and tried to run. She held him tighter, her mouth on his. He could taste her death. It was not a kiss of love rather a kiss of ownership. He was hers and no one else would have him. Suddenly Walter heard a voice. It was calling him but it was not his name that he heard. It was the voice of a child. He held onto the voice. The skeleton shrunk back.

“Daddy, daddy, wake up!”

Walter looked around. Corrine was gone. The chains were gone. All that was left was him standing in a field.

Kneesa sat on the edge of the bed. She was shaking Walter. The sheets were all wet and wrapped around his feet. Kneesa shook him harder.

“Daddy, daddy, wake up.”

Walter opened his eyes. He noticed right away that he was wet. He looked at Kneesa. She was crying. He looked at himself. He was covered but barely. He sat up and took her into his arms.

“It’s okay darling, it was only a dream.”

Kneesa smiled through the tears. Daddy always called her his darling.

“You were screaming. You were begging mommy to let you go. You were crying and peeing. Daddy, don’t you love mommy anymore.”

“Of course I still love mommy. But mommy has gone to heaven. I am afraid. I don’t know if I can love again. Do you understand?”

Kneesa nodded. She was twelve and sort of understood. She looked at him.

“Do you want to find us a new mommy?”

Walter shrugged his shoulders. He smiled softly then pointed to the door. Kneesa got up and headed to the door. She turned around.

“I will pray for you daddy.”

“You do that honey.” Walter replied.

He watched her go. He couldn’t help but whisper under his breath.

“Go ahead and pray to the darkness.”

Walter finished getting dressed and started to go downstairs. He could hear his daughter praying for him. He stopped to listen.

“Dear Jesus, my daddy is awful sad. My mommy died and she is with you now but daddy is so sad. He misses mommy so much and I know because I hear him cry in his sleep.

“I know that I am not the greatest little girl. Daddy gets mad at me sometimes. That’s okay. Daddies are allowed to. Daddies are a lot like you. They get mad but they still love us.

“My daddy is sad. He loved my mommy and you took her to be with Jesus. Daddy is so sad. Please God, show daddy that he doesn’t need to be sad anymore.”

Walter wiped a tear from his eye then turned away to go downstairs. Kneesa got back into bed and tried to go to sleep. The more she tried the more awake she was. Finally she got up and grabbed her bible.

“Jesus loves you daddy.” she said.

Walter looked at his watch after getting downstairs. It was one am. The city was quiet. Walter turned on the television set and found only some loud-mouthed preacher spilling out the mumbo-jumbo that was supposed to be Christianity. He flipped through the channels, nothing but the same preacher. He put the remote down and in no time was asleep.

*************************************

The chains rattled, not as soft as they did before. They rattled faster and faster. He tried to get through them but the further he went the thicker they became. They lapped at his hands and wrapped themselves around his legs. He shook them off and continued on his way. Reaching the center he saw her. Her red hair flew around her. Her eyes shone brighter then the brightest star. Her bones were as white as snow. Her smile was a toothy one. She held put her arms.

“Walter, you came to me my love. Come stand with me and the love we share.”

Walter stood watching. His legs moved forward even though he did not want to. He tried to stop but found he couldn’t. He came closer and closer then he stopped.

“Come to me Walter. I love you Walter.”

Walter shook his head. He was trying to clear his mind. He looked away but found himself looking back just as quick. He started to walk forwards again. This time he walked faster.

“Dear God, help me!” Walter cried.

“Dear God, help me! God! What God? There is no God! If there was a god, would He have taken me away from you? Would He have left your children alone with only you to care for them?

“You think that this Jesus that our daughter prays to is real. He’s not. He’s a fake just like all the other gods. Jehovah is a fake, nothing but a fake!”

The skeleton reared back its head and laughed. It laughed so hard that the chains rattled. It was almost as if the chains were laughing with her. She stopped laughing then looked at Walter.

“COME TO ME!” She screamed.

Walter started to walk forward. He felt compelled to come yet something nagged at him. He looked to left then to his right then looked back at the skeleton. He started to shuffle towards it again.

The skeleton smiled a toothy grin that looked like a grotesque grin. It raised its hands in victory. She held her arms out and waited with baited anticipation. Walter was coming closer. She could smell his flesh. She opened and closed her bony hands. Walter was within her grasp. Suddenly he stopped. She stared.

“Come Walter my love. Be with me. It is so lonely without you. I miss you Walter.”

Walter looked at her. He started to move forwards again, and then he stopped. He looked at her.

“NO! NO! NO! You are not who you say you are. You are a fraud.”

“NO Walter, I am Corrine.”

“No you are not!”

Walter heard a voice. It was so soft and sweet.

“Jesus loves you daddy!”

Walter listened for it again.

“Jesus loves you daddy!”

The skeleton suddenly moved backwards. It screamed and screamed.

“You can’t have him. He’s mine! He’s mine!”

Suddenly the chains pushed apart but no hands moved them. They seemed to obey someone yet unseen. Walter moved away from the skeleton. It was cringing, scared to death. The light got brighter and brighter. It was so bright that Walter had to cover his eyes.

Walter opened his eyes to see a man. This man was nothing out of the ordinary. He didn’t look of any great stature and yet Walter felt like He was. The skeleton thought so as well for it cringed even more as the man came closer.

“Jesus loves you daddy!” Walter heard.

He looked around. The chains moved back where ever the Man stepped. They seemed to hiss at Him. He paid them no mind as He advanced. His sandalled feet walked with purpose. He looked not around but rather kept His eyes on the skeleton. The skeleton moved back.

“NO! NO! NO! You can not have him. He is mine! He is mine!”

The man raised his hands. He looked like he was about to throttle the skeleton. Suddenly the skeleton stood and spread its hands.

“Look Son of Man, he fell into my trap and you can not have him. You did nothing for him. You took his wife away from him. You made his children sad. You caused him with all his grief. You are at fault. I had him first.”

The Son of Man cocked His head and stared at the skeleton. He raised His arms with palms pointed out. The skeleton recoiled.

“Long before you were I was. I was there when God created this world. I was there when you were cast out of the garden. I was there from the beginning. I was there for David and Daniel. I was the fourth man in the fire.

“I was the greatest sacrifice that mankind has ever known. You have no ownership on this man. He is free to do as he pleases. He can worship or not worship whom ever he pleases. You can not have him.”

Walter was staring at the hands. He could see the wounds from the nails. His eyes opened wide. This man was Jesus. He suddenly felt the need to fall on his knees. He could feel his face wet from tears.

“Jesus love you daddy. Jesus died for you daddy. Don’t fight daddy, take Jesus as your own daddy.”

Walter felt an arm go around his shoulder. He wiped the tears from his eyes and looked right into Corrine’s. He started to cry. He couldn’t help it. Corrine looked at him and spoke.

“Do not fear my love. I am not that thing. I am the one that tried to tell you that Jesus was who He said He was. That Man with the scars is He. Listen to Kneesa. She may be young but when it comes to Jesus she is much older then you. Listen to her.”

Walter watched as Corrine walked away. He turned to see the other scene. Jesus was forcing the skeleton into submission. He bound it with the chains that had bound Walter for so long. Jesus turned around and faced him.

“The chains are gone now. You can get on with your life and look after those children.”

Walter watched as Jesus walked away. He looked around and saw no chains. He finally felt safe. He also felt so very tired. He laid his head back and drifted off to sleep.

Walter opened his eyes and looked to see Kneesa looking down on him. He smiled up at her.

“I want Jesus!”

Kneesa jumped up and down. She yelled for Jacob. He came running down.

“What is it?”

Kneesa told Jacob what Walter had said. Jacob smiled and gave his dad a high five. He sat down across from him. Walter looked at Kneesa.

“Help me take Jesus.”

Kneesa and Jacob took Walter by the hand and walked him through the sinner’s prayer. Walter had tears in his eyes after they were finished. He kissed both his children and pulled them to the couch. They nestled into his arms and they fell asleep.

*****************

Morning came and Walter got up to get showered and dressed. He woke up the kids and got them moving. When He came back downstairs he could smell that Mrs. Johnston was in the kitchen making breakfast. He walked in and greeted her.

“Good morning Mrs. Johnston. Before you ask, yes I will take breakfast this morning.”

Jacob and Kneesa walked in a few minutes later. Kneesa had Daniel on her hip. She looked so much like her mother. She put Daniel in his chair then sat down beside Jacob. Mrs. Johnston served up breakfast and then returned to her duties. Walter looked at her.

“Mrs. Johnston, please join us. There is more then enough to go around.”

Mrs. Johnston sat down and grabbed a piece of toast. Walter smiled at her.

“Thank you dear God for this wonderful woman that you have brought into our lives. Thank you for the food that she prepares and how well she takes care of my children. Thank you dear God for my three wonderful children, they are the light of my life. Most of all Lord, thank you for the privilege of taking Your Son as my own. Thank you Lord Jesus.”

Mrs. Johnston had tears running down her cheeks. She reached over and took Walters’ hand.

“Welcome to the family Mr. Black”

“Well then, if we are family now, that is enough of the formalities. No more Mr. Black. Please call me Walter.”

***************************************

After breakfast was over with, Walter went to work. When he got there, he called Janice into his office, He told her the good news and she jumped with joy. After she was done with her dancing, he asked her to send in Mr. Kensington.

Kensington walked into the office. He shook Walters hand and then sat down. He couldn’t help notice the grin on Walters face and the spring in his voice. It was almost infectious.

“What has you so happy today Mr. Black?”

Walter looked at him and couldn’t hold it in. He wanted to tell the whole world.

“I, how do I say this without sounding childish? I took Jesus as my own last night. I fought and fought it but I finally gave in.”

Kensington stood up and shook Walters hand again.

“Welcome to the family.”

Walter looked at him. He never thought that Kensington knew the Lord. Walter sat back down. He was so happy but knew he had work to do.

“Okay, on with the business at hand. We go to court tomorrow and the fun will be….” Walter looked at the phone as it rang then picked it up.

“Yes, oh is he. Show the Detective in.”

The office door opened and Macally walked in. He shook Walters’s hand. He sat down in the other chair and then retrieved his note pad.

“I came over because we have some new information that I do believe will be pertinent to your client.”

Walter looked at Kensington then at Macally.

“What do you mean?”

“Well on a hunch, I took it upon myself to re-examine not only the crime scene photos but also the murder weapon.”

“What did you find?” Walter asked.

“Well I found that the victim had not been killed at the scene. There were no casing found at the murder scene except for the one from the alleged murder weapon. I thought that was strange. Also after getting the gun examined a third time, a finger print was found that had not been found before. It was a left thumb print.”

Macally tossed a stick of gum at Kensington,he caught it with his right hand. Macally smiled.”

“What was that for?” Walter asked as Kensington started chewing the gum.

“That was to prove that he could not have killed the victim. The killer was left handed.”

Walter cocked his head. He didn’t understand, Macally looked at him. He could see in Walters’s eyes that he didn’t have a clue. Macally took out his gun. After taking out the clip and removing the round from the chamber, he passed it to Kensington.

“Show me how you picked up the gun. Make sure it is the same way as before.”

Kensington put the gun onto the floor then picked it back up with his right index finger and thumb. Macally took back the gun.

“Now wait, are you saying my client is innocent?” Walter asked.

“The only thing he is guilty of being an idiot.” Macally chuckled.

“Then who did kill my friend.” Kensington asked.

“Well for that answer you will have to wait for your day in court. All will be answered. Make sure Black, that you call me first so that I can set the stage.”

Walter nodded and then both men to either home or the police station. Tomorrow would be a big day. Then it hit him.

“Macally, what about the D.A., they will have to be told.”

“They already do. I told him before I came over here. You should be getting a call from them at any moment.”

Almost as if on cue, the phone rang. Walter picked it up.

“Hello. Well hello Robert, I was just talking about you. Were your ears burning?”

For the next hour Walter talked to Robert. They bantered around ideas. They finally agreed upon one just as it was closing time.

“So we will for go our opening statements and get right to the matter at hand. Very well Robert. Yes, talk to you tomorrow. Goodbye.”

Walter hung up the phone just as Janice tapped on the glass. He told her to come in and she looked at him. He had a big smile on his face and looked like the cat that had just swallowed the canary.

“Are you ready for court tomorrow?” she asked.

“Janice tomorrow is going to be a very long day. Might as well plan on staying late tonight.”

*********************************

The next morning came as usual. The courthouse was filled with people hoping to get a glimpse of the homeless killer. Walter walked in and got ready for trial. Mr. Kensington was brought in afterwards. The D.A. was already there. The bailiff announced the judge.

“All rise, Oregon Supreme Court Case #23975, the People vs. Orlando Kensington. The Honorable Judge Hadley Comfort presiding.”

Judge Comfort took his place. He told all to sit then looked at the D.A.

“Are you ready Mr. Rodgers?”

Rodgers stood up. He looked at Walter. He moved out from behind the table. He was a striking man. He was tall with pitch black hair, blue eyes and a neatly trimmed goatee. He had an air of sophistication yet was hardly sophisticated. The tweed jacket look good on his well trimmed body.

“Your honor, if it pleases the court. I yield the floor to Mr. Black. There is new evidence that has come to light, that is most relevant not only to his clients defense but also to the outcome of this trial. Therefore after speaking with Mr. Black, it was deemed best if we postpone our opening statements. I believe that this new evidence will allow us to bring this trial to a conclusion that is most satisfactory for not only the court but also the people.”

The judge nodded and then turned his attention to Walter Black.

“Well Mr. Black it seems you have the floor.”

“Thank you your honor.” Walter said as he stood up. “The defense calls Detective Waylon Macally to the stand.”

Macally walked up to the witness box, he stayed standing as the Bailiff walked up.

“Put your hand on the bible.”

Macally did so.

“Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth? So help you God” the Bailiff asked

“I do.” Macally replied.

“State your name for the record.” the bailiff asked.

“David Reginald Macally.”

“You may be seated.”

Walter walked up as Macally sat down. Looking at him, Walter saw a man that had been at his job far too long. Walter looked him right in the eye.

“Detective, can you tell us the new information that you have?”

“Yes I can. After speaking with you at the police station, I took it upon myself to have the murder weapon re-examined. After re-testing for fingerprints, there was found a partial thumb print on the left hand side of the barrel. There was no reason given why it had not been found before and I didn’t ask for one. After finding that print I believe that your defendant is innocent.”

“Why do you say that Detective?”

“Well seeing how the fingerprint was placed. The shooter had to be left-handed. ”

“How do you know that?”

“Here let me show you.”

Macally asked to see the murder weapon. Walter passed it to him. Macally took the gun in his left hand and pulled back the hammer. He looked inside the chamber to make sure there was not a round in it. He then let it go.

“This how a right handed person makes sure the weapon is loaded.”

Macally cocked the weapon using his left hand and then let it go. The clang of the metal filled the quiet courtroom. Walter looked at Macally.

“Assuming that I have never fired a gun before. Why not use your right hand to load the weapon?”

“Because it would be too cumbersome. Hold the weapon in your left hand, load with your right then switch the weapon to your right hand. No, by the time you were ready to shoot you would be dead.

“Understand, a left handed person would pull with his right hand. A right handed person would pull with his left hand. Because the print was found on the left side of the gun, that means that the shooter was a lefty. Mr. Kensington is not left handed, he is right handed.”

Walter looked at Macally then at the judge. Turning around he smiled at the D.A. then sat down. The D.A. stood up.

“So Detective, is that all?”

Macally looked at Walter. Walter shrugged his shoulders as if he didn’t know. Macally looked back at Rodgers.

“Don’t worry Detective. I have only one question, if the defendant did not kill the victim, then who did?” Rodgers asked.

Macally looked at Rodgers then at Black. Walter stood up.

“Your honor, if it pleases the court. That question can be answered by the calling of my next witness. I realize that this is out of the ordinary but to expedite this matter, the prosecution has agreed to allow my next witness.”

The judge nodded and had the next witness called.

“The defense calls Patrolman Marcus Cross.”

Patrolman Cross walked into the courtroom. He was in his uniform. Everything was perfect, not an item out of place. His blond hair was greased back. You couldn’t even tell if he had shaved or even needed to shave. He made his way to the witness stand with this sort of cocky strut. The Bailiff came up after him and after going through the oath was asked to speak his full name.

“Marcus Maurice Cross.”

“You may be seated.” the Bailiff said.

Cross took his seat and waited for someone to speak. Walter stood slowly up and for dramatic effect, walked very slowly towards the witness. He looked at Cross and smiled. It was not a smile of friendship but rather a smile that said `we got you’. Walter put the murder weapon in front of cross. He spun it around and then spun it around again.

“Patrolman Cross, can you explain something to me? I am quite puzzled over something and it looks like you are the one that can answer me.”

“What do you need?” Cross asked slightly agitated.

Walter picked up the gun and handed it to Cross. Cross took the gun and then put it back down. Walter watched as Cross put the gun down with his left hand. Walter showed no emotion but his insides were doing the jig.

“Can you explain how your thumbprint came to be on this gun. Now before you answer I want to let you know that I know you took intense training on how to pick a weapon without gloves on. Please don’t give me the excuse ‘I forgot’.”

Cross looked at Black then at Macally.  Macally just stared back. Walter looked at him. Cross was becoming frantic even though he didn’t show it.

“Your client passed it to me. I took it without thinking.”

“Show the court how he passed it to you please.”

Cross picked up and gun and then with a smooth move positioned the gun so that the butt end was pointing at Walter and the barrel was towards him. Walter smiled and shook his head no.

“Thank you and no Patrolman Cross. Let me refresh your memory. Please read the highlighted area on your report.”

Cross took the report and started to read.

“Perp handed me the gun. I took it with my right hand. I had put my gloves on to make sure that the item was not contaminated.”

Walter took back the report and then gave it to the prosecution. He turned around to Cross.

“Please explain again how your prints got on the murder weapon?”

Cross shook his head. He was also sweating. Barely noticeable but sweating nonetheless. Walter smiled.

“Now let me think. You want to know how I think all this went down.”

Cross looked at Walter. He nodded his head. He did so but his eyes told another story. He was looking like a trapped rat.

“Okay now please stop me if I get off track. This is how I think it went down. The victim is a John Doe or at least we all thought he was. Ya know the joy of being a lawyer is that not only do you, sometimes, get the help of the police but also a private detective. He did some checking for me on our John Doe. It turns out his last name was not Doe at all but rather Cross, Albert Andrew Cross to be exact. Now that made my eyebrows perk up a lot. Seems I have heard or read that name before. It was your name.

“Now it seems like sloppy work but you were the officer of record. You knew the victim. You were able to do it all and not give anything away. You did all the paperwork and you even did a ballistics report. How do I know all this you ask? Well there is no record of an official ballistics test but on your report it shows the results of one. Now one can assume that either again there was sloppy work or you did it yourself. How am I doing so far?”

Cross looked at Black. His eyes were wide with fright. He had to figure a way out of this. He had worked to hard to be where he was. He wasn’t going to let his dead idiot brother ruin it for him from the grave.

“Sounds like a fairy tale to me, but amuse yourself and continue.” Cross replied.

“Thank you, I think I will. My private detective did some last minute checking for me last night. In fact you might say he really earned his pay. Anyways I digress. Now it seems that one M.M.C. did time,little stuff like b&e, petty theft. You know little stuff. Seems this M.M.C. had himself a partner. A.A.C. was the initials. Now my guy did some more digging. Seems M.M.C. stands for Marcus Maurice Cross. Imagine my surprise when your name popped up. Then when I saw the name of the John Doe, and you know, the hair on my legs stoop up.”

Cross was sweating profusely; He looked nervously around the courtroom. He was trying to find a way to escape. Everything was becoming unraveled. Too many mistakes. He cursed softly under his breath. All the while Walter was staring at him.

“So as you can imagine, it didn’t take long to put two and two together. ”

Suddenly Cross stood up and jumped out of the witness stand., He pushed Walter out of the way and ran for the door. Kensington quickly stuck out his cane and tripped cross up. The Bailiffs were all over him. They shackled him and faced him towards the judge. Cross shook off the arms of the Bailiffs.

“Alright, I did it. I killed him. He would have exposed me for the fraud that I am. I knew that if he lived my career as a police officer was over. So I killed him then dumped his body and waited for a bum to come by and pick up the weapon. Kensington was kind enough to be the fall guy.”

Striking his gavel on the desk, Comfort asked for quiet. He pounded the gavel harder and screamed for silence.

“Mr. Cross, yes I said Mr. Your career as a police officer is over. I am ordering your immediate arrest and I am ordering the District Attorneys office to start an official investigation.

“Mr. Black, I here by drop all charges against Mr. Kensington and give him the courts deepest apologies. He is free to go. I don’t see any problems with that Mr. Prosecutor?”

“Not at all your honor. The District Attorneys office has no problems in dropping the charges.”

“Bailiffs escort Mr. Cross to a holding cell.”

The Bailiffs escorted Cross out of the courtroom. Robert Rodgers turned towards Mr. Kensington. He extended his hand.

“I am very sorry for all of this.”

“No need to be sorry. You were just doing your job. If I am free to go I would like to. I have a cardboard box, with my name on it, waiting for me.”

Walter watched Mr. Kensington walk out of the courtroom. He quickly shook Roberts hand and then rushed out to catch the old man.

“Orlando, wait.”

Orlando stopped. He turned around to look at Walter. He waited for him to catch up. Walter looked at him.

“What? Where?”

“My box in the park.” Orlando replied.

“No! You have to come home with me. A celebration is in order. Come home with me. Have dinner and meet my children. Please.”

“Alright, but only this once.” Orlando nodded.

“By the way, you never did tell me what you use to for a living.” Walter said.

“Oh I didn’t. Well I use to be a lawyer.” Orlando replied.

Walter laughed and walked out with Orlando. This would not be the last time they would be seen together.

Finis

 

I dedicate this story to my beautiful wife Rose who passed away November 11th 1995, She is with Jesus and is waiting for me. I love you Rosie!

Baptism, Does It Save You!

Sorry to tell you but no! The act of baptism does not save you in the least. To be baptized first you have to take Jesus as your own. The act of taking Jesus saves you, the baptism, seals the deal.

After taking Christ, you are baptized so that you may receive the Holy Spirit. Yup believe it or not the Holy Spirit does not indwell till you are baptized. Some put it off and some never get it but the Bible is very clear. Baptism should be done right after taking the Lord.

Now some will tell you that baby baptism is okay, but there is no Biblical scripture to back it up. No where in the Bible does it say that. Beside, to be baptized is a personal thing and the last time I checked, a baby didn’t say yes or no. The baby has no idea what is going on. To it, it is getting wet, that is about all the baby knows. But we are not talking child baptism which is a whole other question altogether.

Is the act of the baptism enough to save your soul. Well if it was the only thing needed at the time sure but it doesn’t work like that. The simple act of being dunked under water is not enough. 1st Peter reads thus.

1 Peter 3:21

21 Corresponding to that, baptism now saves you—not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God [b]for a good conscience—through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,

So what does this mean. Simply put, the baptism is of no use unless you are saved by The Blood Of The Lamb! Jesus died then he rose again. Through his resurrection, you are saved by the baptism. The two go hand in hand.

Let me give you an example.

Acts 8:26-40

26 But an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip saying, “Get up and go south to the road that descends from Jerusalem to Gaza.” ([a]This is a desert road.) 27 So he got up and went; and there was an Ethiopian eunuch, a court official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of all her treasure; and he had come to Jerusalem to worship, 28 and he was returning and sitting in his [b]chariot, and was reading the prophet Isaiah. 29 Then the Spirit said to Philip, “Go up and join this [c]chariot.”30 Philip ran up and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet, and said, “Do you understand what you are reading?” 31 And he said, “Well, how could I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. 32 Now the passage of Scripture which he was reading was this:

He was led as a sheep to slaughter;
And as a lamb before its shearer is silent,
So He does not open His mouth.
33 In humiliation His judgment was taken away;
Who will [d]relate His [e]generation?
For His life is removed from the earth.”

34 The eunuch answered Philip and said, “Please tell me, of whom does the prophet say this? Of himself or of someone else?” 35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning from this Scripture he preached Jesus to him. 36 As they went along the road they came to some water; and the eunuch *said, “Look! Water! What prevents me from being baptized?” 37 [[f]And Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And he answered and said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”] 38 And he ordered the [g]chariot to stop; and they both went down into the water, Philip as well as the eunuch, and he baptized him.39 When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away; and the eunuch no longer saw him, [h]but went on his way rejoicing. 40 But Philip [i]found himself at [j]Azotus, and as he passed through he kept preaching the gospel to all the cities until he came to Caesarea.

Notice in 36 it reads that the eunuch listens then sees the water. He jumps out of the  chariot and wants to be baptized but Philip responded with . “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And he answered and said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”

With that the eunuch is baptized but not before taking Jesus as his own.

Even Jesus was baptized but that was a different kind of baptism. As Jesus was sinless, it was not a baptism to cleanse. His was a baptism of announcement. The minute Jesus came up out of the water, God himself spoke.

Matthew 3:13-17

13 Then Jesus *arrived from Galilee at the Jordan coming to John, to be baptized by him. 14 But John tried to prevent Him, saying, “I have need to be baptized by You, and do You come to me?” 15 But Jesus answering said to him, “Permit it at this time; for in this way it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he *permitted Him. 16 After being baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and [a]he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove and[b]lighting on Him, 17 and behold, a voice out of the heavens said, “This is[c]My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.”

John 1:29-34

29 The next day he *saw Jesus coming to him and *said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is He on behalf of whom I said, ‘After me comes a Man who [a]has a higher rank than I,for He existed before me.’ 31 I did not recognize [b]Him, but so that He might be manifested to Israel, I came baptizing [c]in water.” 32 John testified saying, “I have seen the Spirit descending as a dove out of heaven, and He remained upon Him. 33 I did not recognize [d]Him, but He who sent me to baptize [e]in water said to me, ‘He upon whom you see the Spirit descending and remaining upon Him, this is the One who baptizes [f]in the Holy Spirit.’ 34 I myself have seen, and have testified that this is the Son of God.”

Mark 1:9-11

In those days Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 Immediately coming up out of the water, He saw the heavens [a]opening, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon Him;11 and a voice came out of the heavens: “You are My beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased.”

Luke 3:21-23

21 Now when all the people were baptized, Jesus was also baptized, and while He was praying, heaven was opened, 22 and the Holy Spirit descended upon Him in bodily form like a dove, and a voice came out of heaven, “You are My beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased.”

I asked my best friend and brother John Howard about Jesus’ baptism. It was not a baptism to cleanse sin and he responded with.

 “You’re right – it wasn’t for cleansing from sin. And because Jesus never sinned, he didn’t need John’s baptism (which was to show that people repented of their sins (Mt 3:11). When John didn’t want to baptize Jesus, Jesus said to do it “to fulfil all righteousness” or “to carry out all that God requires”. We see in Mk 16:16 that baptism is a sign of belief, and according to John 3:16-18, only believing in Jesus is necessary for salvation. Once we believe ( and are baptized as a sign of our belief) we learn to follow Him and be His disciple, as our Saviour and Lord.”

Jesus is perfect. He can be nothing else for He is the Son of God. God made flesh so that we might, by way of salvation through the lamb, enter into heaven. The sacrifice made, for us, on our behalf, even though we did not deserve the sacrifice made.  We are washed in His blood.

So does baptism, in itself actually save you. No. You can be drowned, dunked, sprinkled and sprayed and guess what. It is not going to save you. Just like sitting your fanny in a church pew every Sunday is not going to save you. You can do it til the day you die and you will still not get to dwell with the Father.

Salvation is a two fold (simple) thing.

1 You come to know the Jesus I know. The holy Son of God. The one who died for you. Taking him as your own. Accepting Him as you Lord and Saviour.  Letting Him into your heart. Letting Him guide you in your walk. Oh and you have to mean it.

2 Being baptized. Take Jesus, be dunked in His name.

Very simple. Sure there are ministers out there that are going to say that it is a little more complicated than that. Well in fact it’s not. Look back at the Eunuch. Accept Jesus..be baptized. Simple!

Why Aren’t You One?!

“Zombie Jesus has risen from the Dead!”

That’s what I heard on a TV show after Easter. To say I was shocked would be too easy. Even my wife said that it was so wrong and it was. I can understand that not all people believe as I do. People believe in different gods and things and that is their right.

It never ceases to surprise me that they pick on Jesus when they need a joke. Or take His name in vain during a comedy skit. Not sure why. You don’t see them taking Buddha’s name or Vishnu’s name in vain. But it seems that Jesus is fair game. Even television shows are now doing it. Taking the Lord’s name in vain. It doesn’t seem to bother them at all.

People say that Christianity is just too easy. Believe in a God that loves you and sent His son to die for mankind. To give over control to an unseen God and believe without seeing. We must be daft. But it is not as easy as it sounds. Your brain says no and your heart says yes. The two are in constant battle for dominion.

For so long believing in Jesus was considered a disease. You were considered psychotic cause how could you believe in such a thing. But through the decades those people who said those very same things met up with the One that they said was not real and found out He was.

Christians are made fun of. They are treated like crap. They get spit on and beheaded. In some countries, they have been forced underground and meet secretly in houses or basements. Worshiping Jesus is against the law in some countries. I don’t understand why.

Jesus Christ, the King Of Kings, Lord of Lords. Fairest of Ten Thousand. The Mighty God, Glorious Warrior. Born of a virgin, in a manger meant for a beast of burden. He rose to become the greatest teacher ever known and taught that God was a God of love. He sacrificed himself. Chose the day, time and place of His death. He had the right to say no. He didn’t have to die. He could have left us to burn in hell.

Jesus said (Matthew 10:16-21)

16“Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves. 17“But beware of men, for they will hand you over to the courts and scourge you in their synagogues; 18and you will even be brought before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles. 19“But when they hand you over, do not worry about how or what you are to say; for it will be given you in that hour what you are to say. 20“For it is not you who speak, but it is the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you.

      21“Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death. 22“You will be hated by all because of My name, but it is the one who has endured to the end who will be saved.”

People will hate you because of Jesus’ name. As Christians, we carry his name. We willingly came to Jesus and took Him as our own. We are His and He is ours. We are brothers and sisters in Christ.

Does that make it any easier to be a follower of Jesus. Nope. It doesn’t. But knowing that there are others out there that believe the same as you do is very comforting. Knowing that you can go to almost any country and find someone of a like mind and soul is so rewarding.

People laugh at you and talk about behind your back. They point fingers and giggle. They say it’s just to easy to be a Christian. My response!

“If it’s so easy being a Christian..then why aren’t you one!”

My Mom!

Doreen Gertrude Keast (Nee Ley, Nee Crawford) Born July 11th 1926 Died January 9th 2004.

“Gone But Not Forgotten!”

This is my Mother. She went to be with the Lord 13 years ago. She was just not my mother. She was the mother of 6 other children. Robert Jr, Deanna Rose, Leyton, Steven, Grant, Nancy. She was not just my mom, she was their Mom too. I didn’t want to forget them when I posted this.

Was she a great Mom, nope she made her mistakes like every other mom in this world but she was still our mother. There is not a day goes by that I don’t think about her or miss her. We had our battles but no matter what I loved her as much as she loved me and her other children! She often was disappointed in us but she never stopped loving us.

She was the oldest of twelve. She would tell us stories about her growing up and some of the tricks her dad would do to get more food. One I remember most is when they were sitting down to a spaghetti dinner. Granddad would would slurp them into his mouth and comment…”mmmm these worms are good.” my mother would come out with “sure are…mmm very good”. She knew what he was doing and wasn’t falling for it.

My mom was a loving mom and yet she was stern as well.She was just as quick with the hand to discipline as she was to caress a face. My favourite memories of her was when I would sit at her feet and she would comb her fingers through my hair. It made me all squishy inside!

I could go on and on and say all kinds of things about my mom. But I like to remember her as she was. My Mommy! One day I will see her again!

I think I can say this for the rest of her children. We love you Mommy!

 

President Elect

Okay so the orange scourge is now the President elect. Not happy about it, but that is the way it is. Do I think he will be a good President, not a clue. Guess we will have to wait to find out.

I also understand the protesting. Sure you’re not happy about it, I get that, and I understand that you want to get your frustrations out, but why do you have to destroy things when you protest. It doesn’t make any sense. You’re pissed that your candidate didn’t get elected, i get that, but why the destruction.

What’s done is done. You can’t change it. You want to try to change things, then work with your representatives and your senators and congressmen or women, and make the changes that you think need to be changed. You can’t change who the President Elect is but you can change the way he runs the country!