A strange life.
Yesterday was my 62nd birthday, and it brought to mind some ideas.
I used to be enthralled by the stories of my late grandfather (he was a fisherman on the North Sea).
I never thought of the days when that person telling stories would be me, but here I am.
By my next birthday, I will be as old as our Lord was when he died past the time I thought I would be dead.
At 29, I had no idea where I was going with my life. I had a good job and could afford a vacation, but I had no girlfriend, no desire to get one, so I would never would have found one. At that time, I thought I was repulsive to the female sex - one of the reasons I came online was to find out if that was true - I did plan to kill myself by the age of 30. The decision had nothing to do with the "29 Club," the group of singers who killed themselves at 29.
When I look back, apart from not being able to drive, the plan would not have worked as the vehicle would not have gained the speed to cross the barrier and smash into the concrete pylons supporting the highway as I planned.
My life was changed by two friends who arranged who arranged a blind date with a young lady who I later married.
For many years, I have questioned my sanity, I put down the weirdness of my writing to my strange mind, but now things are getting strange, even by my standard of weirdness.
Today, I thought I heard my name called, but nobody called. This calling of my name is the second time this year it has happened; the previous time was a few months ago.
I am wondering if this is a deep inner need to feel wanted, or do I suffer from dementia?
The truth is out there.
The medical evidence is that I am not losing my mind; my recent brain scan came back clear.
As I thought, the moments of forgetfulness I get are the result of constant stress and old age.
Today, Wednesday December 19th, 2018, I woke thinking it was Tuesday. I have long wished to wake up and find I missed a day, but to realize I forgot yesterday is daunting; other than anything else this shows how boring my life has become when all days merge into one mess.
I have come to terms with one aspect of my life that caused me great concern but I will never truly forgive myself for what I did this year - www.alsdominion.co.uk/home/ill-never-truly-forgive-myself.
Some people say dreams are unfulfilled wishes, in some cases, I cannot dispute that as some of my thoughts do tend to wish fulfillment, but indeed not last night's dream.
A writer in search of an answer.
Archie Grimley is the type of guy you pass on any street, and never notice. Life had passed Archie and left him down at heel. He had one thing in his favor, he had a knack for a good story, and this kept him working. His stories never made headlines, but readers liked his offbeat and often controversial style.
The problem Archie had about writing is he could never let a story die. Many people had told Archie to let sleeping dogs lie. Archie had a bad habit; he loved to kick the nest; to see what came out. If he got stung, as long as he got his story, that's all that mattered.
Years ago, he had a family. In those days he was a man with respect in the town; now he was nothing but a joke. Life kept kicking Archie, but he kept fighting the odds and living for the next story. He pushed himself beyond the limits; trying to keep the dream of a Pulitzer Prize alive. Nobody had the heart to tell him unless you lived in the city, you had no chance of winning the prize. The papers didn't go out to "the sticks" looking for a reporter with a knack for stories. The papers only saw what was on their doorstep, and Archie wasn't in the front line.
Archie had taken more beatdowns than anyone should take; a man with nothing to lose will go beyond the limit. He was such a man; he had no life outside the paper, and the next story to chase. The tough exterior he showed hid the pain of loss. The scars of many fights had ravaged his face. Some days he couldn't look in the mirror. Archie had never been handsome, but he had an earthy charm the ladies once liked. Now, Archie looked like what he was, a punch-drunk hack writer for a two-bit magazine, looking for a story which would get him a bed, and a bottle.
Luck passed Archie many times, but he didn't care. He was stuck in a rut and had lost the will to climb out. He believed in his ability at times. When the drink and the courage were flowing, Archie had the spirit which got him his job. It was hard for Archie to recall those days after so many nights on the bottle. The days were getting fewer and further apart, for a man who knew he was running out of luck.
He'd fought men more significant than himself, but the things he could never beat were his demons. Archie's family died in a fire, on a day when he was out chasing a story. Everyone told him it wasn't his fault, but he never forgave himself for not being there to try to save his wife and children. There was a story going around that the fire was arson; a warning to Archie. The one thing they forgot to tell the people who set the fire. If you take away what he lives for, a man becomes a wild animal with only revenge fuelling his body.
The thing which bugged him the most was he'd been at the paper for years, and never caught a real break for a story. On that day, he was the only one in the office, and he got called to an out of town job. On his return, he saw the fire and knew something dirty was going on. The only trouble was, he made a point of chasing stories others let drop. In the process, he made some powerful enemies.
A man who had been a loving husband, and father, in one night, became a relentless hunter. Archie may have lacked the qualifications of the better-known writers, but he had the imagination they lacked. Archie's relentless drive made him a fearless reporter who got the truth, even if the story never got published. If this meant heads had to be busted, Archie was the man to do it. Fools rush in, where angels fear to tread became his motto, and Archie went above and beyond his call of duty every day.
He was relentless, never taking a vacation, always chasing the next story. Archie thought if he missed a story, he would lose his chance to get the prize – or so he told himself in the beginning – now, he didn't believe the story either. Archie knew in his soul, the only reason he kept going was that the longer he went on, the less he thought of that night. In the weeks after the fire, Archie searched for the reason.
Was he the reason? Had he crossed somebody? He spent weeks trying to find a reason or the people who set the fire. Each night, he slept in his beat-up car, waking with a sore back, and a dry throat. Each day, he promised himself he would find those responsible for his pain; and make them suffer. Days turned into weeks, weeks into months, and he was no closer. One day he was sat in the shade of an old tree, drinking the last of his beer, when the truth hit him like a hammer. He was to blame, and finding out who, or why, wouldn't bring the family back. The only thing he could do was to keep his mind active; if he did that, he might blur the images of the horrors. The truth was he'd upset too many people to try to find who had torched his home. He realized nobody would help him, the people he went after had so many connections they could cover their tracks; before he got close enough to get a hint of the truth.
Archie decided to chase any story which looked intriguing to him. He got up from his seat and walked to the remains of the garage. Inside was his old beaten up car, and a suitcase. He was never a man who had a lot of clothes, so packing up his belongings didn't take long. He took a last look at the old place. Then he walked to the car, opened the door and threw his case in the boot of his old car. Without a look back, he drove out of town and headed into the desert. Where he was going; he didn't know, or care. All he wanted was to hit the road and start over.
Days and nights passed on the road, as the miles mounted up. Archie lost track of time. All he could think about was the road, and how dry his mouth was becoming. The day had been too long, and the way too hard. The dust clung to the air like a blanket of bees to a honeycomb. His eyes burned with the salt from his sweat. Like a mirage. The inn appeared suddenly in front of Archie, out of the sandstorm. "Hell, I didn't know that was here," he muttered as he pulled in.
He pulled over, and let the engine idle; he sat quietly considering his options. Archie looked up the road; all he saw was distant dust trails and miles of empty sands. He took a look at the oil gauge and said, "Well, I guess that settles it. I'm gonna have to get some gas and a meal here. I can't go on, and I'm dry as a bone."
He bent over, and picking his old leather hat off the back seat he went over to the door of the tavern. He paused to feel the coolness of the air inside before he went in. The bar was dark and cool, and his eyes took time adjusting after the blinding light of the desert.
Archie glanced around the bar, his time alone made him watch for possible threats, but the folk looked friendly here. He walked to the bar, leaning on the rail he enquired, "Can I have a beer, please?" as the barmaid approached him.
She winked at him, his matted beard showed he'd been on the road a long time; "What's your poison, friend?" she asked.
He smiled, and replied, "Long, and cold, anything goes. I've been on the road too long to care.
The dark-haired barmaid smiled and swayed her way along the bar, as she did she took a second glance at Archie and licked her lips. Her mind was racing at the possibilities which could lay ahead for romance. It wasn't long before she returned with a cold drink; as he dug his hand in his pocket to find the change, she said, "Ain't no need for that, this is on the house. I don't see many new faces, and none as handsome as you."
Archie smiled and replied, "Thank you, kindly miss. The road is a harsh mistress, and the desert can drive a man crazy. I almost missed your establishment."
He sat at the bar, the sweat running down his dust-coated face. He took the time to try and figure out who the patrons of the bar were, but nobody stood out, "I guess they got the same raw deal I did and left everything behind," he thought, as he looked at the sad, worn out faces looking back at him. "One for the road!" he said, as he raised the glass to his mouth, and took a large mouthful of the refreshing beer.
Behind him Archie heard someone speak, as he turned, the barmaid said, "What's your name, stranger?"
He took a big swallow, and replied, "Archie Grimley. I can't say where I came from, I've been on the road so long my mind is foggy. Years ago, people said I was respected, and now I'm on the run."
The barmaid replied, "My name is Carol; I run this establishment. Most of the folk here left everything or had it taken from them. What are you running from, Archie?"
This question was a question he had not been able to answer during his time on the road. "I can't say for sure, Carol. The closest I can get to an answer is myself."
A friendly looking man rose from a table in the far corner and came to the bar. "Hi, Fred Doyle is my name. You sure have a problem, man. I can't say I know a man who can outrun himself. It's a mighty hard thing when you're running; especially when you can't find any place to escape to."
Archie rubbed the sweat from his brow with a dirty rag, and replied, "You're right about that, Fred. I've been running so long, and hard, I forgot why I started. The only thing I remember is seeing the engines outside of my home, and crying as they carried my family out; what happened between then and now, I can't say."
Carol replied from behind the bar, "it's probably for the best, Archie. There are times when our mind blanks out the bad things so that we can move on."
A middle-aged man enquired from the darkened corner of the room, "Why do you think you're running from yourself, and not the past, Archie?"
The crowd turned to face the corner, as he replied, "I've been chasing the stories so long, I forgot I had a family; I think in the end, one of my stories got too close to the truth and somebody put the heat on, to scare me, but it went too far, and I lost everything.
Carol poured herself a small beer and came out from behind the counter, her dress swishing in the slight breeze. In the bar there were few tables and fewer patrons; most of the crowd knew each other. Outside all you could see was mile after mile of empty desert. She sat at the table next to Archie and enquired, "What are you chasing this time?"
He turned slightly to see her for the first time, and answered with a sigh, "I don't know, Carol. I've been driving so long I don't know where I'm heading," Archie paused to look out of the grimy window, with a nod, he continued, "other than out there."
The man in the corner enquired, "If you don't know what you're after, how will you know if you find it?"
Archie smiled and said, "I guess I won't until the story has the right feel to me. That's the problem being a reporter. You have to keep going where the story takes you; even if it isn't where you intended to go."
Carol moved slightly, her fingers touching Archie's dirt covered fingers; he turned to look her way, and she smiled back. Her dark hair matched the color of her tanned skin beautifully. "You look tired Archie, when did you last sleep?"
He paused to think, then answered, "I can't recall the last time I slept in a bed, Carol. Most nights I nap in the car when I get too tired to drive, or my eyes get too salty to see." Archie gulped his beer, and enquired, "If you don't mind me asking, what's your story, Carol?"
She winked at him and replied, "There's no problem; everybody knows me. I had a messy relationship and came out here to escape a clingy man. He never gave me space, in the end, it got too much for me, and I walked out on him. I took my car and drove until I had to stop. When I parked up for the night, it was pitch dark, and I never saw this place. I woke the next morning and decided this was where I would stay. In the beginning, it was hard. Nobody came for weeks. But gradually people drifted in, and the rest is history as they say."
Archie looked at the people sitting at the bar, and at the tables, and said, "You've made a lot of friends by the look of it, Carol. I'm pleased to see the place is thriving, after what you have been through, you deserve some success."
Carol saw the glint of hidden romance emerging in Archies' smile as she replied, "Thanks, but you should stick around for the busy times. In the next few weeks, this place will become so well-known among the bikers I won't be able to manage on my own, I wondered if you'd be willing to stay for a while to help me? They're always willing to lend a hand for a meal, or a drink of beer; what I need is a man around the joint on a more permanent basis," she looked at Archie and gave a wicked grin.
He had not come here with any intention, but Archie got the idea he might fit in with this group of people. "I'm at a loose end, and I will take you up on your kind offer," he said, tipping the brow of his hat Carol's way.
She flashed her winning smile and replied, "I'll drink to that."
Oddballs like Archie find it hard to get accepted in society, he was never afraid to speak his mind, and this had brought him more trouble than he needed. But, if people didn't want the truth, why ask the question? Archie glanced at the patrons and wondered if any had ideas of moving on, for now, he was happier than he'd been for a long time. He didn't have the urge to keep moving anymore. Could this little motel be the place he was trying to find?
Archie wiped his brow with his scarf and looked out into the desert, "Don't you get lonely out here?" he said to the room, "there isn't anything but sand and dust as far as the eye can see."
Fred laughed and then replied, "Nope, no sir, we don't get lonely. We have each other, and we get on fine. We've got our reasons for being here, if you wish to talk about them that's good, if not, we won't bother you. We value our privacy and independent, Archie."
Archie winked at Carol, and said with a grin, "I think this is the place I'm looking for, Carol. I need my space, and I have found it here."
Carol smiled back, and running her fingers through her hair as she shook her head, she commented, "I'm glad to hear that, Archie. I think you'd fit in well with my crowd here. We're all a little off-key."
Archie picked his beer off the counter, and nodding he went out into the desert heat, "well, Archie, it looks like you might have found somewhere to hole up. At least for the time being, these folk are happy to let you be, and that's something you haven't known since you can recall," he muttered.
Behind him, a voice said, "Now if you did that in public, they'd lock you up for talking to yourself, but here, we don't take much to normal life. If you want to talk out loud, that's fine by us."
A little taken aback, Archie turned to see Jack smiling at him. "I keep running, Jack, but you can only run for so long before even that becomes too hard and you need to rest."
Jack Coles smiled back at Archie, and then replied, "I used to be a miner. One of the best I was told. Then one day there was a cave-in, and I got trapped in the mine for days, I lived on the mosses and filthy water, after that I started to see the ghosts of those who died in the cave in, and I decided they were telling me to get out, or I'd die like them. At the end of that shift, I quit the mines and swore never to go underground again. I spent years running from those ghosts. In the end, I concluded that I'd have to find a way to live with the memories of my dead friends, or go mad; that's why I came here to Carol's."
Archie patted Jack on the shoulder and said, "I won't say I know how you feel as I can't imagine being trapped and wondering if you'd see another day. But, I will say I have my demons, not only from crossing the wrong people but from the damage some of my articles have done. I knew people would be hurt but the truth needed to come out to save the many at the cost of the few who I did hurt. Lots of people think I go looking for trouble; the truth is that if I wasn't so dedicated to my work and people got hurt because I turned a blind eye; I couldn't live with the consequences of my inaction."
Jack winced at the pain in his shoulder, then commented, "You are a dying breed, man, not many reporters care about the truth so long as they get a paycheck these days. The world needs more like you, people who won't sway from the truth at any cost. I'm sorry your drive cost the lives of your family; that has to be a bitter pill to live with."
"Thanks, Jack, the worst pain is knowing that those responsible will never be brought to justice as they are too powerful. If I'd stayed where I was, I was heading into serious trouble with nobody having my back as my boss at the paper turned his back on me. In the end, I packed some CD's of gospel music and hit the road hoping I'd find some peace of mind out here with no worries other than my next meal and somewhere to get a rest."
Carol wiped a tear from her face as she came to the table, then she commented, "While you're here nobody will make you do anything you don't want to, and you can come and go as you please. I hope you can find some peace out here at the back end of nowhere, Archie."
The dry air was musty with the smells of the canteen, but nobody moved as Archie told his story. Carol was the first to move, when she said, "Anyone for a meal, it isn't much, only beans and grits as I haven't been able to get out this week. She paused, then laughed and said, "I'll need to get out soon as the bikers will be here next week, and we know they can eat a horse at each meal. Tell me, Jack, do you think you'll find the story you're chasing? The one to get the break you are looking for."
Archie paused to think, then said, "To be truthful, Carol, I think I gave up that idea as soon as I hit the road; now I am writing what I want to write with no thought of a prize at the end. When I was in contact with other writers, we discussed the subject of prizes, and we agreed that unless it's a big prize, it makes no difference to your work."
Fred swiveled in his seat and asked, "If you are not chasing a prize what is it you are after these days?"
Archie said with a smile, "These days, my goal is to get my work read; I spent so long chasing the rainbows that the chase spoiled the joy of writing for me, Fred." Archie glanced in Carol's direction and asked, "How do you get your fuel, I didn't see a town nearby?"
Carol replied, "We have an arrangement with a gas station in the city, we give the drivers a meal and a drink after their long drive, and we can get some fuel for our bikes and a little for the canteen. In the winter, not many people come this way, and that suits us. The closest town is about a three-hour ride away across the desert." Carol swallowed her last mouthful of the cool beer, then called to the canteen, "How long before we can eat, Mark?"
A man's voice replied from the canteen, "About another ten minutes, Carol, I found some old pork pieces to add to the pot; mind I've no idea how old they are as I haven't ordered pork for ages?"
Jack laughed and said, "Tenderize, my arse, you ain't had tried a stew until you've had one of Mike's, Archie. I don't know if it is true, there's a rumor the bikers use his meat for tires and the stew itself for fuel. I've never known anybody as adept at ruining a meal as he is."
Archie wiped the sweat from his brow and replied, "It looks like you can do with a cook here, Carol."
Carol commented from behind the bar, "I won't disagree with that statement, Archie; a change would be welcome, are you offering your services?"
"I do need to pay for my board and lodging, and I am a mean cook, not Cordon Bleu but I can fill your belly better than any chef could."
Carol winked and replied, "First of all, you do not need to pay for your bed, you are my guest." Carol paused to see the look on the faces of her clients.
Nobody said a word, but Jack winked back at her and nodded in Archie's direction, then he said, "That's fighting talk, Archie, those bikers are tough customers to please."
"Jack, they are like us, they'd rather have something filling than a fancy looking meal that leaves you wanting a meal. I never had any training, but over the years, I learned what fills a belly with the least ingredients and also pleases the taste buds. Cooking like that comes from living life as a freelance writer who needs to go out at a moment's notice." Archie paused, then asked Carol a question, "Carol, you're a ravishing beauty, have any of the bikers made a pass at you?"
There was a silent pause; then the canteen burst into a roar of laughter.
Archie asked, "What's the joke?"
Jack glanced in Carol's direction wondering if she'd tell the story, or if she would wait for one of the men to tell her story. After a short while, he saw her wink at him and give the nod, so he said begun to say to the story. "The joke is not do any make a pass at our Carol, but we always wait for the one who pushes his luck too much, and how hard Carol brings him down to Earth in front of his mates, do you remember the one called Hank from about five years ago, Carol?"
Carol paused, the laughed, recall him, I still laugh even after all these years at his pranks. "He thought the fact I gave him a free beer meant he could grope me when he wished, Archie, so we lead him on, and like a fish, to a lure, he came. I invited him into the kitchen; he didn't notice I was backing him into the freezer corner until it was too late; half an hour later he emerged shaking and embarrassed."
Archie laughed, and replied, "I didn't doubt Carol could look after herself; if you add in a wicked sense of humor you have an adorable mix."
Carol blushed a little and said with a wicked glance in his direction, "Oh my, Archie, are you making a pass at me?"
The room burst into laughter as he replied, "You can cut the innocent act, Carol, we know you get turned on by this game of teasing."
Carol looked around the round the room, then turning back to Archie, she commented, "Who said I was teasing you?"
"When did you decide I was worthy of your affections?"
"About five minutes after you came through the doors, most guys are not as polite as you, and I found that aspect of you so enticing and exciting."
"What about the others here, surely they have good points, why don't entice you?"
"When the men came, each man formed his code of behavior, and none have made any pass at me. We value the friendships we formed over the years, above the sexual tensions that were here in the beginning."
Stories of Spirituality.
Many people will say I earned my rep for writing ghost stories, but I say most of the stories are stories of spirituality because they are not intended to be scary - I have done a few that are intended to be scary (Old Church Ghosts, Sea Ghosts, and Holding Richmond).
Most of the stories are about souls trapped after their corporeal body has died, in some way they could be classed as Christian Fiction as they deal with the presence of the soul after death, though I didn't intend them as Christian Fiction stories.
In some ways, you could say my latest change in direction is taking back to the roots of my reputation as a writer, though the new stories - www.alsdominion.co.uk/the-reading-room/god-walks-these-dark-hills, www.alsdominion.co.uk/the-reading-room/why-me and www.alsdominion.co.uk/the-reading-room/the-reunion of Christian Fiction is more based on Christianity than Spirituality.
The curse in writing.
.Writing my last post - www.alsdominion.co.uk/the-reading-room/munich-beer-festival, I am reminded of the curse of a writer.
We cannot and should not be blamed for how a reader interprets our writing.
Like many writers before me and more to come, my stories have and continue to be misread by readers. When I write a story, that is all I am doing in my mind, writing what I think is an exciting story.
I am in no position to preach when I write a story with a Christian theme, I've had no formal training in Theology/Religious Studies, and I am no Biblical expert.
Some of my friends think I could have missed my vocation in life as a man of the cloth - www.alsdominion.co.uk/home/did-i-miss-my-vocation-in-life.
So, remember if you see a post with a hymn on it, I am NOT pushing religion on you; all it means is the title caught my eye for a post and the music is eye-candy to catch the readers, I do enjoy the music I put on here but I am not trying to convert you.
I am turning my writing to the dark side where anything goes, as I feel this could be what the readers are looking for.
As the Native American philosophy says "Do not condemn a man until you have spent a week in his life."
I write the story, how it is read can be far from how I intended it to be read as we all have different views through living our lives.
The day I was almost shot.
This month reminds me that I got invited to the Munich beer festival one year when I was on tour in Germany.
The Oktoberfest in Munich is seen to some people as a great social event; I am not one of those people. I am not against drinking beer, I wish I could at times, but my system won't allow the pleasure, not that I was a heavy drinker before I went to Germany.
You see the buxom maids taking vast mugs of beer around, what you don't realize is that over half of the jug is just foam. Serving beer like that in the UK would put the brewery out of business very quickly, not to mention risk serious harm to the bar staff for serving so little beer.
I have been to Munich. I went to see the 1978 European Cup final when Nottingham Forrest beat Malmo. Being almost shot by a German guard is my main memory of the day.
The concept of the attack is more than laughable looking back at what happened. I was standing behind a waist-high wall on a two-meter bank of mud. To get to the pitch, I would have needed to drop over the wall, cross a four-meter ditch, climb back up another mud bank of three-meters and then run 20 feet to the pitch. Who did the guard think I was? John Rambo?
If I had a wish to return to Germany, it would be to see the Wagner Ring Cycle in Bayreuth, but in my opinion there hasn't been a good rendition since the Pierre Boulez 1979-80 version.
The sequel to A Homecoming.
This is the opening to the sequel to my romance short story - www.amazon.com/dp/B075BJH2D2 and www.draft2digital.com/book/235628. I class the story as a relative success because it did sell three e-books at a time when my e-books were not selling.
Kim Altland, a Jewish writer who returned to Israel.
Adrianna Kucinski - Kim's friend and lover
Mark Wilkerson - Kim's school friend.
Hannah Holm - Kim's Danish friend and one-time colleague in the field.
Abir Moszkowicz- the former editor of the Jewish Express newspaper, and Kim's friend and mentor.
We left Kim and the lovely Adrianna waiting for a call from Hannah at the end of A Homecoming.
Hannah had flown to London to meet Kim. She arrived to be told by his editor, Abir, that Kim decided to stay in Israel. At a loss, she said her thank you and flew back; before arranging to have a well-earned break with an old friend who lives in Gavle, Sweden.
In Isreal, Kim and Adrianna are contemplating what to do, as Hannah said she would ring them when she arrived in Tel Aviv, but that wouldn't be for some time. Assuming Hannah didn't get another assignment in the meantime, or that they didn't go to Italy as they had planned and forgot Hannah was due to arrive.
Kim put the phone in the cradle and looking at his watch he said, "It's all in the air, love. We've no idea when Hannah will be calling. I hope we can be here for her, but we need to make our plans for the coming weeks before we go further."
Adrianna was in the kitchen doing some cooking, and replied, "As always, you worry too much, Kim. Of course, we'll be here for Hannah. Our plans are flexible, do you have anything in mind?"
Kim strolled across the room. His walk aided by leaning on various objects placed to give him support as his ankle was not healing after his accident at Masada when his tendon tore. He leaned on the doorjamb and said, "Other than going to the hospital to register with the doctor so I can get my medicinal needs, I have no pans. At some time, I would like to visit the hills around Haifa to get an impression of how severe the fire damage was last year from the firestorms caused by those terrorists, I saw the damages caused on TV, but you don't get the full view on the TV. I won't deny, love, seeing all the fires and seeing how people came from all over, including our enemies of old, to help us in a time of need brought me to tears. You can argue that the people who threw the bombs at the start did not envisage such horrendous fires, but I would argue against you. They know the ground is dried after the worst series of droughts in decades, and that the winds that cross the plains are hot and dry which would fan the flames. There is no way, to my thinking, that the fire bombers had not planned the fire damage. What they didn't figure is the help we got from our "enemies" as well as close friends."
Adrianna took a step back and replied, "Hold on, Kim, I'm on your side. There is nothing you need to prove. I support your views 100% and think the people who threw the petrol bombs along with the people who gave the orders should be brought to trial, but we know it won't happen. The best we can hope for is what we are seeing happening now. Now the US has a new president, Israel has a reliable ally at the United Nations. With Mr. Trump cutting the funds to the PA, and Mrs. Haley attacking the PA on all fronts, the West is seeing that Israel is not the enemy the Obama administration said we were. I can only thank the Lord that Mrs. Clinton didn't get in, or there would have been another World War not long after the inauguration."
"I'm sorry, love, it's just that seeing all the homes and businesses lost to the fires makes me so angry. People had fought against the harsh land to make our country prosperous, and for what? So, some youths can destroy years of work in a few minutes for some deviant pleasure. I read an account in Israel Today magazine of a family who drove through Bethlehem and managed to keep ahead of the blazing olive for a few miles. I've never been in that situation, but it sounded horrific. When I watched in horror as the flames encroached on Haifa, I could see the fire tenders were fighting a losing battle. They were too far away to do any good, and the heat was so intense that the water turned to steam in the air long before it got near the city. I hate to think what may have happened if the Americans hadn't sent their new supertankers in to waterbomb the flames."
Adrianna crossed the kitchen, and cuddling Kim; she said, "I know what you mean. I was out of town at the time, and when I returned, the roads were full of fire tenders and men who were worn out from hours of fighting the fires. The only thing as bad as what we had to endure was the oil fires in Alberta, in Canada. It was heart-breaking to watch those and know that a lot of wildlife would die in the flames. Our problem is the dryness of the land and the oils from the Olive groves, the problem in Canada is the area is built on an oil-field that was fueling the fires."
"From what I can ascertain from the few people I had contact with about my trip here this year. It would appear that there is a group who wish me to be the new voice for the Israel of the future; my record has gone before me. How much Abir knew about the group is in the wind, but I have my perceptions that he knows a lot more than he told me. He almost pushed me on this vacation when I asked for the time off."
"Well, in your words, love. You hadn't taken a vacation in several years, the only time you took away from the London office has been work-related. As for Abir, he's a wise man in many ways. I have friends like him, and people seek their counsel. Though we don't know what groups they have contact with they appear to have their ears to the ground and know what is coming before other people sense a change is in the air."
Kim smiled, then replied, "Wise men all, but not wise to cross them at any cost." Kim winced with pain, then said, "I'll need to sit down, love, my ankles are aching so much these days it's almost impossible to stand the pain; my painkillers are doing their best, but they are taking the edge off the pain, no more. Can you give me your arm, please, so I can get to the bed and have a rest?"
Adrianna helped Kim to their bed and watched as he eased himself onto the bed. "It's getting worse isn't it!"
"I won't lie. Some days it is all I can do to stand up for a few minutes at a time. The good thing about being a writer is I don't need to stand for long unless I need to go to a meeting with a contact."
Adriana smiled, the said, "On the subject of writing. Have you considered Abir's proposal for being the editor?"
Kim began to ease himself up on the pillows, even though this was a painful task; then he said, “I have given the offer a lot of thought. It would increase my profile, if not my rep as a writer to be the editor, but I am not after power. I could do the job as well, if not better than, most people at the paper.” He paused to let his thoughts gather.
Before he went on, Adriana said, “Do I sense a but approaching?”
He smiled, and replied, “Yes. If I become the editor, it will entail more office work and less work in the field.” He paused, then continued, “I'm selfish aren’t I. With my condition worsening, nobody will hire me as a reporter now. The job of the editor could be my opportunity to make an enormous contribution to the cause, and remain a writer as many papers have an editorial page.”
Adriana waited for him to continue his line of thought, then said, “So, have you made your choice?”
He glanced at her, then commented, “I do need a job and being disabled it needs to be one I can do from home, or at least sitting down. I won’t deny that I will miss my days in the field; they were my driving passion, but now there is a new challenge ahead.” Looking at the clock on the wall, Kim said, “I’ll phone him and tell I accept his offer in the morning as he’ll be out of the office.”
Adriana smiled to herself, seeing this Kim asked: “What’s on your mind?”
She commented, “I thought that as the editor, you could choose when you had your vacation to Italy easier. I will keep you to your promise; you know that!”
Kim beckoned her to the bed, and pulling her to him, he cuddled her in his arms and whispered, “I know you will, but you needn’t concern yourself; I want to go as much as you do. All we need to do is coordinate our trip with Hannah if that’s okay with you.”
Adriana winked at Kim, then said, “I’d like to meet Hannah; for one thing I wish to ask her how close you to were in the days before we met, love.”
There was a pause, then Kim blushed.
Kim took a breath, then commented; "Don't you think asking Hannah about our time together could embarrass her, love?"
Adriana smiled and replied, "From what I've seen of Hannah, which I admit is not a lot, I doubt much will embarrass her, love. She comes over as a driven lady with a strong personality, From what I know about you, that is your type of lady. It's easy to see why you are attracted to her, and the attraction is reciprocated I can sense that from her."
"Doesn't that worry you?"
"That other ladies find you attractive, not in the slightest, if anything it adds to your charms as I love what they desire. Besides, as they say, The way to find out if a person loves you is to give them their freedom; if they return, they love you, if the person returns you know they love you, and if the person doesn't then they were never yours to have. If you'd wished to leave there would have been nothing I could have done to stop you, and I wouldn't have stood in your way, but you are here, and I am aware you could leave now if you wished, but you stayed."
There was a calmness that engulfed the lovers, then Adrianna said, "have you thought about Abir's proposal?"
Kim held his thoughts for a second, he knew what he was about to say would come as a shock to Adrianna, then he continued; "Yes, I don't think being an editor is for me. I appreciate the offer, and I know Abir knows me well enough to consider I can do the task, but I don't see myself sitting as the judge on the work of better-qualified writers than me. I made my reputation as a hard-hitting investigative journalist, that is what I am good at."
"You appear to have made your mind up, but have you thought this job could be the next step for you? After all, a good editor needs to be a good writer, as you keep telling me. Abir is one of the best writers I've read in decades, and he's your mentor. What better praise to him, than for the pupil to outshine the master?"
"For me to outshine Abir would be a major achievement, he's gained such a huge rep in his time as writer and editor. The best I could wish for is to emulate his success; I could not surpass him."
"Ask yourself, why did Abir send me here?"
"The workings of Abir's mind had puzzled me since we met all those years ago when I was a raw recruit. He sees in me things that I fail to understand. He has better qualified, and more capable, writers on his staff but he's stuck by me through thick and thin. Even when I've come under attack for my articles from many sources, he's been there for me."
"Why do you think that is?"
"I think it's because he likes my style because I ask the questions other journalists shay from asking. In a way, I think he sees a younger version of himself in me, he came to the fore at a time when Israel was in flux and world opinion was against us, much like it was until recently, and still is in many European countries. I read that there has been a significant increase in applications from the UK for Jews to take an Aliyah in the last two years. That is one of the reasons I decided not to return to the UK."
"For what it's worth, I think you'd make a great editor; you have the foresight to notice a good story and the obstinance to stick with it at any cost. I never had the opportunity before to tell you, but when my agent told me she'd arranged our meeting I was delighted; for many years I've been an admirer of your work as have many of countrymen. Like them, I feel we need a new voice to let the world view Israel as not the enemy the media in the West shows us to be, and who better than you to fulfill the task?"
"A lot of people have faith in me, and my work as a writer, that is something I find both perplexing and daunting. Perplexing because other than a few stories, I have not had many sales for my books, and daunting because it places a lot of pressure on me to keep the high standards of my work up."
"That's true, but the quality of your work has never dropped all the years I've been reading it; if anything the standard has gone up despite the pressures to write what sells you write what you feel the public want to read. I think your problem is you feel the need to be validated. There are many people who you respect who wish you to succeed; I'm positive Hannah is one of them, as we'll find out soon enough."
Kim thought hard about what Adriana had just been saying, and he realized what she had said was the truth. Then he commented, "We may have been born in the same generation, but our outlooks are eons apart. You think like an Ashkenazi; you have a drive and a purpose that burns in your soul for success; that explains your success as a writer. I think more like a Sephardi. I am not so driven, my thoughts are more family-orientated, which probably explains my reluctance to take on this job offer from Abir, I lack the drive to think I can achieve what others think I could do."
Adriana nodded in agreement, then said, "I see you're keeping the weight of your left foot, is the tendon sore, love?"
He winced as he had to shift his weight from foot to foot, then replied, "Yes, I'll need to take a rest for a while, love. After that, we can discuss what we plan for the next week or two, as Hannah is busy."
"Okay, you take a rest on the bed, and I'll make a start on the meal for tonight as we decided not to go out."
Kim limped to the bed, and laid down taking the weight of his legs; he hadn't been dozing long when the phone rang. He rolled across the bed to reach for the phone, but Adriana beat him to it. After looking at the caller ID, She answered, “Hi, Hannah. How’s Denmark?”
She heard a laugh, and then Hannah replied, “Hi, Adriana. I wouldn’t know, I didn’t have time even for a shower before I got sent to London to meet Abir. He said Kim is staying in Israel, is that true?”
“Yes, it is true. For months, Kim has been uneasy about the rise in anti-Semitic views in the UK. I think that is contributing to his decision to stay here. I'll hand you over to Kim so you can make your travel arrangements. I'm looking forward to meeting you again; I have some questions to ask you about before we met."
"Well, you know I'm an open book, and I'll do what I can to help you two resolve your issues."
"It's nothing like that, Hannah, I'm just curious about your time together and how close you were."
There was a pregnant pause from Hannah's end, followed by a silence as Adriana handed the phone to Kim.
Kim took the phone from Adriana and said, "Hello, Hannah. From the frown on Adriana's face, am I to assume that you didn't get the rest you were looking forward to?"
"Hi, Kim, yes you're correct. Between flying to London to meet with Abir, then being sent on another assignment I haven't had the time to sort my break out. Abir said he'd offered you the job as the editor; is it true? He also said you are going to stay in Israel, is that true also?"
"I haven't chosen the job yet. I will probably stay here as the situation in Europe for Jews has become untenable. I can give you a clearer idea of my decision when we meet for our interview. When do you want to schedule the meeting for?”
“I have some time to take as I am overdue a vacation. I was going to take a trip over to Sweden for a weekend break with a friend in Gavle. We’re old friends from school and this is a regular meeting, but I have had to shelve that plan as I have the new assignment. One day, perhaps, I will get the opportunity to have a few days to myself but don't hold your breath. At the moment, I have no idea when I will be able to meet you. I apologize for not telling you sooner, but I only found out a day ago myself."
"I'm sorry that you didn't get your rest. I know how much the work means to you. You're like I used to be, you are driven to find the story. I can't see you turning down work, even if you're deadbeat and worn out as you are now. As for the information about our life together, you can tell Adriana whatever you wish as we've nothing to hide."
Hannah paused, then said, "I know, we had a hell of a time on assignment; mostly because all we had was the moment we lived in, I realize that is a hedonistic view of life, but when you never know if your next breath will be your last, what else can you do?"
Kim said, "I'll hand you over to Adrianna as I need to consider the job offer from Abir; I am unsure of how to approach the editor's job as I'm only a writer."
Kim handed the phone to Adriana, then Adriana said, "Hello Hannah, I don't mean to pry into your past with Kim; I am only interested in the side of his life I didn't know to try to understand him better."
Hannah continued, "Hi Adriana; you can ask what you wish to know, we have nothing to hide from you or anyone else. We infrequently met on assignments; the times were passionate and hectic because we never know if this moment was all we had. When you live the lives we did, you tend not to think of the future for it may not be yours to have."
"Thank you for your candor, did you love him?"
"That's hard to say as we were working together and living in the other's pockets, but we never thought of our tomorrows. The sex was tender and at times a little rough, but that is all it was, sex not love and we knew it. I can put your mind to rest if you're worried that Kim loves or thinks of me more than he does you, he doesn't; what we had is history, no more."
"I must admit the thought did cross my mind when I saw you last month, and his sudden outrage at my question asked in innocence. If there was something more between you, I'm sure he'd tell me. I think realizing he'll not be able to get around without a wheelchair now is beginning to filter into his consciousness now, and its' making Kim edgy."
"I am sure you're right, it's not something that crossed my mind, so I have no idea how he's coping, or if he will be able to cope as he was so active before the accident."
"I think this is behind his reluctance to accept Abir's offer; if he accepts the suggestion, he's given in to the truth."
"I agree; has Kim been given a timeline to reply to the job offer?"
"Not that I have Kim told me, I think Abir is waiting for Kim to give him a reply before he stands down. I think what is playing on Kim's mind is that he's always been on the sidelines when he was a writer."
"Yes, I got that sense when we were working, Kim's a great team player, but I never got the feeling he wanted to lead; even if his writing is provocative and edgy, like him. Do you think he's worried he'll lose that instinct if he becomes the editor?"
"Yes, I do, but I have the feeling that being the editor will add a new edge to his ability to see things other writers miss or avoid mentioning. From what I heard, you missed your vacation, Hannah; I am sorry to hear that."
"Thank you, Adriana, it is both a blessing and a curse; I do love the travel, but there are times when I wished I'd taken an office job with regular times."
Adriana giggled, then said, "Oh, yes, I can see you sitting at the desk typing orders from others from 9 to 5, Hannah."
Hannah laughed and commented, "Yes, me and regular hours wouldn't go well together I can tell you that; I'd be chomping at the bit to get free and live. Do you think Kim will take the job?"
"Despite his greatest fear - being in control - I think he'll take the job, Hannah. Before we had this disagreement, he was talking about the opportunity of being here in Israel as the voice of the state for the world. When he talked about that, I could sense an excitement in his voice."
Hannah had a moment's thought then she replied; "If he's thinking about the job, I have doubts that he'll accept it' if he wanted the opportunity, he'd have given Abir his answer by now."
Adriana stopped in her thoughts; she thought she knew what Kim was thinking, now she realized she had no real concept of what he had in mind; so she asked, "Why do you think that?"
"I can't tell you for sure, it's only a thought, but I got the impression from our time together that if he were offered Abir's position the idea of being in charge would cause Kim a lot of grief. He has no concerns about his work these days; he has come to accept that he is one of the best journalists at the paper; the problem arises from the idea of being a boss."
"I know, Kim has said as much to me; I thought he'd concluded that being the editor, and being here was the best way for him to continue working now he's disabled. I'll need to have a chat with Kim to find out what his intentions are, Hannah. I'll phone you later if I have some more information; Lehitraot, my good friend."
As Adriana put the phone in the cradle, she heard Hannah's reply, "Farvel."
Adriana put the phone in the cradle and walked back to the kitchen, Hannah's words running through her mind. She was thinking so intently on what Hannah had said, Adriana didn't hear Kim say, "Did Hannah ease your mind, love?"
When the words did register, she replied, "I'm sorry, love, I was thinking about what Hannah said about you; I never doubted your love for me, if that is what you mean. As I said before, I was curious about your friendship with her, that's all."
Kim hobbled to Adriana and hugged her; then he whispered in her ear" I apologize for being edgy just now; the offer from Abir is playing on my mind, and I'm getting nervous about making a choice that will impact greatly on our future."
Adriana smiled, then commented, "I can understand how you feel, you can feel assured what choice you make I will be with you all the way because I know that the choice you make will be the correct one."
"How can you be sure if I am not?"
"The reason is your indecision about the offer; if you weren't thinking of us, you would have chosen sooner than now, love."
"That's Hannah talking, isn't it."
"What if it is? I agree with her as she knows you almost as well as you know yourself from what the pair of you have told me."
"We did get close; it's hard not to get close when you realize the next bomb or bullet could be the last you hear. Now, I have another lady in my life and a new life to think over; Abir's offer is so inviting, and I can do it as well from here as I can from London, if not better. One thing is definite, that is whether I stay in Israel, or move to Europe, I won't be going back to London, there's too much anti-Semitism for me to feel safe in the UK."
"You said if you stay here, are you considering moving?"
Kim paused, he hadn't chosen Abir's offer; then he said, "I don't know, there are so many variables to account for, and I'm not sure if the job as editor is for me; even if Abir thinks I am the one to take the job."
Adriana could feel she was losing Kim, so she asked, "If you don't accept the editors' post what will you do?"
"I have several ideas for writing a story based on my travels over the years, or I may try my hand at a novel as people tell me that I am a good storyteller."
"Or you could be sensible and stop procrastinating and accept that Abir knows what's best for you, and take him up on his offer. I am certain that you'll be as good as an editor as you are as a journalist, you may not have the qualifications others have, but you have a knack for writing; that's something you can't get from any university."
"You all appear to be pushing me to accept the job, and yet, I am not sure I should as I can be controversial, to say the least, at times, and my views don't always agree with what the majority of people would wish to see in an editor."
"Love, let's cut to the chase now if Abir hadn't thought you were the man for the job, stubborn or not, he wouldn't have suggested it to you. What we need is a voice for Israel in the world, and you are the voice we need to hear. Despite what you think, Israel needs you to speak for her in the world's media, for too long the media has been on the side of the aggressor, now the tide's turning we need a voice to talk for us."
"What if I don't want t to be the voice of Israel? Perhaps, I want to be the voice of Kim Altland after all the years I spent writing for Abir and other editors."
"Ask yourself this question, is it the anti-semitism that caused you to choose to stay here, or do you have a reason that you're hiding from your friends?"
"I came here to answer some questions that my mystery lady had been asking me; I later found that Anna had died in a missile attack, but at the time of my decision I had no idea that my sister had died. The anti-semitism is one of the reasons I chose to stay, but there are other reasons that as yet even I can't put my finger on."
!In our opinion, you're running scared of the truth, that is you would be an excellent editor, but it would mean judging the work of writers who you consider are more worthy of the job. On the other matter, we're discussing."
"What other matter is that?"
"The trip to Italy, are we going?"
"You can, I can't stop you, but I changed my mind."
Adriana couldn't believe what she was hearing, "When did you make that decision?"
Feeling he was getting backed into a corner, Kim answered, "Last week, before Hannah called."
"And when did you plan on telling me the news?"
"I didn't as we had no firm plans for the respite break."
Amazed at the turn of events, Adriana replied, "How do you view our relationship, as you seem to be leaving me out of important decisions?"
"Oh, not even close friends? What brought the change on?"
"How says there is a change? I am the same person I have always been, a writer struggling with his persona of being famous, people keep giving me choices but whoever asked me what I wished? I'll save you the time and answer my question, nobody asked me, you all accepted I'd be happy to accept Abir's offer, nobody thought what do I think, and now you know, you're all amazed that I think I am not up to the job of editor."
In tears, Adriana replied, "I realize I don't know you well, but even after this short time; I can tell that something significant in your life, not the job offer is playing on your mind, love, please let me in so I can help ease your pain if I can."
In great pain, Kim rose from the seat and replied, "I can't let you know what is wrong' all I can tell you is I need some space; I'm going for a walk, and I don't know when I'll return."
Adriana wept as her friend limped in severe pain out of the door, and slammed it shut behind him. She hadn't known Kim for long, but she was deeply in love with this fragile writer and wanted to be part of his new life, but how could she break this wall he was building around him?
In desperation, she phoned Mark; Mark was probably the closest thing Kim had to family now his sister was dead; perhaps he'd confide in his school friend. Mark picked his phone up and looked at the caller ID, then he said, "Hey, Adriana, it's nice to hear from you again, how are you and Kim?"
"Hello, Mark, Kim is the reason I'm calling, I'm worried about him; he's cut me out of his life and has gone for a walk, the last time I saw him was out of the window catching a bus to Dafna."
There was a silence that felt like an eternity, then Mark commented, "I hope he's not doing what I fear he's doing."
"What do suspect?"
"For the last nine years, he's had a project in mind that involves a 25-year old mystery in the Golan Heights, and I am afraid he's chasing the ghosts now. I'll jump in my car and come over when we put the phone down, Adriana, I fear we'll need the help of Hannah too, to bring Kim back safe."
"Okay, I'll call her now, thank you for your help."
Adrian tried dialing Hannah's number, but it was hard tear-filled eyes, and shaking hand; finally, she began to calm and phoned Hannah.
Hannah picked the call up and said, "Hi, Adriana, are you and Kim okay?"
Through tears, Adriana replied, "I'm sorry to call you so late; I'm concerned over Kim, he's gone out, and Mark fears he's gone out to the Golan Heights chasing the ghost of a mystery that is over two decades old. But, I'm more worried because he's cut me out of our decisions; now he's making them without asking me. I think he's got a problem, but he won't ask for my help. I realize this is short notice, could you come, please? If Kim doesn't need your help, I do."
"I still have a couple of days of leave owing to me from all the days I never take; I'll see how soon I can get over to you, Adriana. What you say reminds me of one of our earlier assignments; I never got to the bottom of the issue, but I have my suspicions of what caused him to dash out. I know Kim well enough to know asking for help is the last thing he'll do, as that will be the same as showing he is weak in his mind."
"I did try to phone him, but he left his phone here which doesn't make me happy as I know he can't walk far if he had an accident, or worse, we'd never find him in the desert."
"I'll need to cut our chat short, Adriana, to book a seat on the next flight into Ben Gurion; keep your hopes up, and try to find out if Abir has any idea what is going on with Kim."
There was a silence on the line, then Adriana phoned Abir.
Abir's voice came over the phone, "Shalom, my friend, what can I do for you Kim?"
Adriana replied; "Abir, this is Adriana, I'm using Kim's phone as he has your number; he left an hour ago on a bus to Dafna without his phone. Mark thinks Kim's chasing the ghosts of a story that has been on his mind for some time; Hannah thinks it's more to do with wanting to be free that he's taken off."
"Adriana, what do you think?"
"I think at the root of the issue is your job offer; he doesn't think he's capable of doing the job."
"From what you tell me, you are all right, but at the same time wrong!"
"What do you mean?"
"You have all the pieces, but you are viewing the issue from the outside. As I see the problem, the question is not how Kim feels about my offer, more likely how he feels about himself as his life has changed. He left his phone, so we need to wait for him to return to us; we've had many talks in the studio about who should take over when I depart, and there is no doubt that all the writers consider Kim as my successor. Mark is right, Kim could be chasing a long-lasting mystery, Kim may view solving the mystery as his final work as a writer; the problem is Kim knows as well as anyone that solving a 23-year old mystery with no clues is almost impossible. The claustrophobia Hannah talked about is something I suspected for years; Kim is never happy indoors, even if it's raining he needs to be outside."
"What do you think is his problem, Abir?"
"I've guided you, Adriana, you now have the answer to your question if you think about what is happening to Kim."
"You mean that at the root of Kim's problem is not your offer, but the fact he won't be able to be as mobile as he wants to be."
"I'm sure Kim's problem is that he can't bear to see himself sitting in an office; he's always been in the field because he feels that is his strong suit. Other than being there when he comes back there is little you can do beyond what you've done already."
Meanwhile, in Dafna, Kim got off the bus, and his first thought was "Oh vey, where do I start? The mystery is two decades old, and there are no clues as to where the officer went Missing In Action after he left the base. The two most likely options rely on him walking into the desert; if he'd gone native and joined the Syrian tribes I'd never find him after all this time, and if he did step out and died out there, there is no way he'll get found if he hasn't got found by now. Perhaps, this is for the best, from what I learned the officer was not a good man; he was looking at a series of violations of military code; this could be his way of saving his family from disgrace, better to be MIA than be dishonorably discharged." He stood at the bus stop watching the people pass him, and thought, "It would be so easy to go for a walk and not get missed; the only thing beyond here is the unforgiving desert, you are many miles from the nearest settlement."
Adriana tried to keep her mind from being concerned about her lover, but the more she tried to keep her mind from thoughts of Kim, the more she thought of him out in the desert. She kept second-guessing herself on whether she should have called Hannah to ask about her relationship with Kim or had he been thinking of going on the trip, and her talk meant little to him? Adriana hoped that she would have the opportunity to ask him soon, the longer he was out, the weaker he was getting with the sun and humidity.
She thought about what their friends told her and realized that they were all on the ball with their remarks about Kim; this gave her a different perspective on her man, and what he had to contend with, it is hard enough when you're fighting outside influences, but to have to fight your mind must be awful.
The time passed slowly, and it wasn't until she got a call from Mark that Adriana began to realize how long Kim had been away. "Adriana, I had a call from a friend in Dafna a few minutes ago; Kim got seen entering a bus for Gonen."
"Why would he go to Gonen, Mark?"
"I can't give you a definitive reply, Adriana, but I think he's feeling the pull of Masada again, and he feels this could be his last opportunity to visit the site."
"I can see where he gets that idea from, once he takes the editor's post he'll have less free time."
The old man watched as the cortege passed his window, and muttered to himself "You'll soon be crossing the big river where your sins will be gone and your name cleared." After crossing himself, the old man returned to reading his Bible in peace.
Joe Hall spent his days in prayer for souls of the lost; there wasn't much else to do in prison waiting on death row.
The warder approached Joe's cell door as Joe sat down to read, leaning in he said, "It's a shame, he looked such a good boy. I wonder where he went wrong, Joe?"
Joe put his Bible gently on the shelf and walked to the edge of his cell, and then he began the story that led to this day.
"We didn't get much time together before his sentence was passed, but I did get a few details of the events leading to his death. From what I could glean, he came into town a few months ago carrying his saddle and looking for work. His life had been hard; his stepfather beat him until he had no option but to turn to life as a wandering saddle tramp; a modern hobo in a world he didn't understand.
He thought honesty and hard work counted, only to find they meant little to the people of a town run by a crooked law officer. From the start, Sherrif Jackson was on his back; he couldn't make a move without being watched. It was one of Jackson's boys who told Frank Casper that he'd come into town; Casper had no beef with him, but the boy needed to know who runs the town, so one day Casper took it upon himself to challenge the newcomer to a fight. As Casper ran to him, the boy drew his knife in self-defense, moments later Casper was gasping for breath. He looked around, but all he saw was people looking away; at this point, he knew his fate was sealed, he'd been set up and would take the fall.
The saddest part, other than his wrongful death, is the town wanted Casper dead, but nobody stood up to him. If they had, the boy wouldn't have come here and now be crossing the big river.
I think he paid the price for not being able to settle after his the punishments he endured in his childhood, in this age, people are wary of people who can't live by the rules."
The warder wiped a tear from his eye, and then commented, "What about you, Joe? You don't appear to be afraid of the big river crossing?"
"Warder, I made my peace with my Lord years ago, when he wants me to go, I will be ready."
A change for the better.
I received my copy of Premier Christianity magazine today, and for this reader, it is a vast improvement on last months issue.There is more about "real people" and very little on celebrities as last month's issue was plagued by celeb gossip; a matter I did bring up in two letters I posted to the magazine, I am not arrogant enough to think my letter changed the content of the magazine, only pleased to see less about the celebs and more about Christianity.
The only person I'd consider a celeb in this issue is Franklin Graham, Billy Graham's son, this posed the question was Franklin in the UK when I saw his father preach in Bristol in 1974?
I can't say I am for the new wave of Christianity with sermons being performed like rock concerts, but this is a new generation and if they can spread the Word of the Lord, Kudos to them.