Stunned for a few moments, Becky finally gathered her presence of mind and sprang up. Tearing down the stairs to the street level she searched for Ramona. The streetlights had already been on for a while but they didn’t reveal which way the girl had gone.
“Oh, Ramona,” she wondered, “where did you go?” Heading back upstairs she tried to think what to do next. Maybe Ramona would go back home tonight. She might try to check online for a doctor there or maybe she could get a referral from her own doctor. What to do?
Her ringtone abruptly sounded. It was Jeremy, the staff member from City Reach.
“Hi Becky, how’s it going?”
“Not good. Remember the girl I brought with me to the soup kitchen?”
“Yeah, she seemed real shy. Nice though. What about her?”
Becky sighed, “Well, she is pregnant and I’m afraid she might end it; soon!”
“Are you serious right now? Isn’t she with you?
“Well, she was at my apartment until I got home from work. Then she had a meltdown and flew out the door threatening to find a doctor. I don’t know what I should do.”
Jeremy thought for a second. “Want me to meet you someplace? We should try to find her.”
Becky agreed. “I think she might go to her house. Meet me there; 1015 East Granite Street. I’ll be there in fifteen.”
Ramona hurriedly walked to the corner where she turned left. She didn’t know where she was going and didn’t really care. She was only cognizant of this anger and deep hurt that drove her to get away; just go someplace, anyplace but here in this Podunk, small-minded town.
That thought lodged in her consciousness with a speck of hope. Maybe she really should go someplace else: a new life in a new city where no one knew her. They wouldn’t know her past; wouldn’t judge her now and she could make her own future without church busybodies telling her how to live. She could find a doctor in a larger city, take care of her problem and start over.
First she had to go home and pack some things. Then she remembered: her purse! She was in such a hurry to leave Becky’s she left it in the front hallway!
Continuing around the block she headed back to the apartment.
Becky and Jeremy arrived about the same time at Ramona’s house. “Did you knock yet?” he asked.
“No, I was waiting until you arrived. I may need your moral support.” Becky said.
“No lights on,” Jeremy noted. They peered into the living room window. “And I don’t see any shadows moving around either.” He said.
“Great!” Becky sighed and moved back to the front door. She rang the doorbell. No answer. She rang again and then again.
“Well, what do we do now?” Becky looked at Jeremy.
“Where else do you think she might go?” he asked.
“I don’t know. I’ve only known her for about a week, Jeremy. I saw her Dad at the mercantile store and then on the kitchen floor, unconscious. He is the only . . . oh, I know. Let’s call Pastor Marlowe. He would know lots of her friends and they could ask around; see if they can find her.”
“Great idea, Beck! I’ve wanted to meet him anyway.” Reaching for his phone he said, “I’ll search for his number.”
He found a Pastor Marlowe listed and handed the phone to Becky. She waited while it rang and then went to voicemail.
“Pastor Marlowe, this is Becky Moore, a friend of Ramona Beckett. I am wondering if you could help me find her. I think she may be a bit distraught and could be in danger. You can reach me at my number; 503.555.6162. Thank you.”
“Well, all we can do now is wait for him to call back. Other than that, I don’t have a clue where she could be,” Becky concluded.
It was now getting close to 9:30 pm. They caught a bus and headed toward downtown. Five or six minutes later they got off on Main. The streets were wet from a heavy mist. Diesel fumes from the departing bus mixed with the moist air in a familiar scent that describes most small to medium sized Northwest towns. The yellow/orange streetlights reflected off the dampness of every hard surface and magnified, leaving a glow that was both welcoming and mysterious.
Holy Grounds Coffee Company, Becky’s part time employer and the place she took Ramona after discovering her under the overpass last week, was in the next block.
“Jeremy, let’s go get some tea while we’re waiting for Pastor Marlowe to call back. I will tell you what I know about Ramona.”
“Right! Good call.” Jeremy agreed.
They ordered and sat down with mugs of steaming organic tea. Becky then related how she met Ramona just down the street a few blocks and everything up to when he called her a couple of hours before, including Ramona’s dream and today’s rant.
“Well, that is pretty sad,” Jeremy observed. “I have heard other people share similar stuff about that church. It will be interesting to meet the Pastor and see if he is really that . . . that harsh, I guess I might describe it.”
Becky’s phone interrupted their conversation. Pastor Marlowe’s voice asked, “Becky Moore?”
“Yes, Pastor? Thanks for calling back. I’m worried about Ramona.” She then gave a much shortened version of the last few hours.
“Well, what would you like me to do?” Marlowe asked.
“I was hoping you might check with some of her friends there in the church to see if they might know where she could be.” Becky suggested.
“You know, it’s hard to say. Ramona strayed from God and she’s gone into other friendships that her church friends probably wouldn’t know about. She could be anywhere. And I don’t want to get in the way of God’s disciplinary activities. What would that make me?”
Becky had a hard time with this last comment. She didn’t quite know how to respond.
“Well, I would be glad to call a couple of people if you could give me their names, Pastor.”
“If you want to call, that’s fine. I think she has made her bed though, and you can see what she did in it!”
“Yes, sir. Who can I call?”
Marlowe gave her three of Ramona’s friends from his church. Jeremy entered them into his phone as she repeated the names. Thanking the pastor, she hung up.
“You will never believe what he just said.” Becky was fuming. “I just can’t understand how a Pastor would write off someone and not even want to help.”
“There are those who believe that when you leave a church you leave God and His best ways,” Jeremy observed, “even if you don’t leave because of sinful activity. It’s like you can only serve God best in that church and by leaving it you have chosen to serve God at some lesser level, which is not acceptable once you have known a better way.”
“And what about Ramona? She didn’t leave because of that. She left because she felt like she couldn’t live up to the Pastor’s expectations, which she equated with God’s expectations. Oh! Excuse me. I need to call these friends before it gets too late.”
– To Be Continued –