This is a continuation of a fictional story I started several months ago. All episodes are available on this blog in the archives. The characters are fictional but certain events are in my own history and perhaps yours. Thank you for reading.
Ramona hurried back into the small town bus station with her suitcase and the small flowered bag that Edith had been carrying. The contents, a soft blue blanket and a box containing a baby pacifier, still left Ramona with a cautious hopefulness that somehow, some way this horrible experience could be rectified.
It was dark outside by now and the station was quiet with only a few main lights on. She checked for the next bus north and groaned when she read that no more buses were scheduled that night. What would she do? Sleep on one of these hard benches, she concluded. That didn’t sound fun at all but after finding a corner with some privacy she settled down for the long night ahead.
Wednesday night prayer meeting was well underway. Three hymns had been sung (in their entirety, except for omitting the third verse) when Pastor Marlowe got up to read the prayer requests to everyone.
“Sister Jacobs called in and requested prayer for herself. She has extreme pain in her left shoulder and really wants to be here on Sunday. Her grandson has been on her heart for weeks, too, as his parents seem to be going farther away from God. Please pray for them.”
“And don’t forget Ramona Beckett. You all know she has left the Lord and is careening down a path that will take her to certain disaster. I saw her father this week and he is so broken up over it. Pray that God will sustain him in his resolve to keep the faith. Pray that he will recover quickly from this heart attack.”
Everyone nodded with a knowing affirmation of the serious nature of Ramona’s recent failure. Several other requests were listed and then they all knelt down for the requisite time of petition and thanksgiving.
Near the back a tall, good-looking young man sat awkwardly, wondering how he could gracefully exit without drawing attention or conversation. “This is so weird,” he thought. “I sure made a mistake coming here!” No one had greeted him yet, although several young people glanced his way when they entered at the start of the service.
When he realized now that everyone had their faces buried in the pew he decided he could slip out relatively unnoticed. It did seem that they had some kind of ritualistic agenda that he didn’t understand and they weren’t about to include him anyway.
Outside on the sidewalk, Paul decided this church thing was a bad idea. Lately he had felt some strange feeling of . . . regret or something. Not guilt, mind you, just a strange uneasiness that something was missing, so he thought maybe it was church.
He couldn’t put his finger on it. Since he started high school, he had always lived life as he wanted and at full speed. A basketball star since tenth grade, he went on to lead the team as point guard, captain and then to the regional playoffs. Of course, the perks were there; keg parties, grateful adoring fans, and girls. Always girls. His charming personality seemed to get him anything he wanted, with whomever he wanted. Life was sweet; until just recently.
He ambled down the sidewalk, deep in thought. There was an empty, unfilled place somewhere inside that craved attention. For all the women he “conquered,” he should feel self-satisfied and in control. After all, didn’t he actually live the life most men can only fantasize about?
Suddenly, without warning, his consciousness snapped back to acute awareness. But it was too late! The law of physics will not allow two material bodies to occupy the same space at the same time; the truck settled any question about that.
Becky answered her phone. It was 9:30, Wednesday evening. Marcy was hysterical.
“Becky, Becky! Are you there Becky? Sumpin’ turrible bad, Becky. Come quick, sumpin’ turrible.”
“Marcy, what is it? Where are you? Are you OK?” Becky was alarmed now.
“Yeah, Becky, I’m OK but he isn’t!”
“Who isn’t? Is Jeremy OK?”
“Not Jeremy, Becky, him, some other guy. I don’t know who but he might-a got dead, Becky.”
“Well where are you, Marcy?”
“Uh . . . uh, on Main Street, just past that church what you said Ramona went to, just past.”
“Right! Wait right there; I’m going to come over. Is the ambulance there?”
“No, it just happened! It’s turrible bad, Becky. Please hurry. I’m gonna’ pray for him, OK?”
“Yes, Marcy. You pray and I’m on my way.”
Ramona drifted in and out of fitful sleep, if you could call it sleep. The bench was getting harder and less conformed to her body. She considered the possibility that even natural substances had conspired to insure that she would continue to be miserable.
Images of Edith kept floating by in her sub-consciousness coupled with sounds of snoring from some itinerant on the other side of the small station. Ramona pulled her coat more tightly around herself and over her ears to minimize the irritation.
“What” and “why” were the interrogatives that initiated her linear thinking. What did this bizarre experience mean and why had she experienced it. She had heard of visitations people have had from angels but mostly that happened to more deserving, spiritual people, not sinners like her. Edith drifted back into view, snoring with a pacifier perched precariously in her mouth, a blue blanket pulled up over her ears.
Becky ran all the way to where Marcy was. Red and blue lights flashed up the street behind her as she arrived on the scene. A light drizzle compounded the misery and drama of the late evening.
Marcy. Where was Marcy? Then she saw her; crouched on the ground next to a bloody heap, undistinguishable as a person at first glance.
Becky gasped. Surely this was the end for Mr. Whoever-he-was. As she quickly knelt down next to Marcy she could hear her simple prayers of intervention.
“Oh God, please let him live if he don’t know you. I know you so please listen right now. If he ain’t saved, don’t take him away ‘til we can get him saved. Amen!”
“Amen.” Becky echoed.
“Excuse me, folks, I need to get to him,” the paramedic interrupted.
“Oh, sure.” Becky pulled Marcy back from the near corpse. “Let’s stand back here, Marcy. We can still pray.”
“OK, Becky. He’s gonna be awright, though. God tole me. He’s gonna be OK. I don’t think he knows Jesus yet but he will ‘cause he’s gonna be OK, Becky.”
The paramedic team proved it’s proficiency by speedily and carefully loading Paul up on a field gurney and into the back of the ambulance. Minutes later he was rushed through the Emergency doors of the Hospital and into surgery.
Ramona jerked fully awake. What time was it anyway?
“Oh no, really?” she thought. It’s going to be a long night. Only 9:30! Her tummy felt really strange. No, it wasn’t the baby. She knew it would be too early for that: just a weird sensation. She would sure breathe a sigh of relief when some of this would start making sense!