Chapter Thirty Three, burn the evidence
After showering and coffee, Tyler had gone to work, and she hauled the box out to the back yard. She enjoyed the cleansing feeling of burning things she did not need. Tyler had to go back to Sedona the next week to finish his project. He was apprehensive, and so was Pauline.
“Make sure you at least text me every day, ok?” she insisted.
“I will. Unless I’m stuck in a cave somewhere.”
“Tyler Tervis!” she said in mock exasperation.
However, he was rattled. He did not want another close call like last time. He’s not even sure what really happened. How could they have teleported just by touching a cave painting? What was up with the Native Americans? The only one he had awareness of was the one who was a sorcerer’s apprentice, and had written several books, in Ixtlan. That was much later shown to be exaggerated, if not outright fraud, and yet it was a fascinating story. But how much of it was true? He had read all the books several years ago, and more had come out since, but he had not picked them up. He guessed he had lost the mood, preferring nowadays to focus more on practical matters. And now, he had teleported by touching one of their cave paintings. He wished he had studied a little harder in history class.
Pauline had been in a sweat lodge a few times. One with a small group of Native American friends, and two more at home in a larger group she had learned about. They had one Native American man who led the lodge, but most of the others were aging hippie women. They were a bit too New Age for her and she quit the group. But the lodge had become so hot she couldn’t stand it, and yet they stayed in it about three hours. How did they not fry their brains, he thought. She did say she had seen some mystical things in the first example, but did not really go into what they were. The local ones, he only remembered she had said when they emerged from the lodge, there was a single eagle feather lying on the ground outside. People got all excited about that but she hadn’t been sure why. She’s not sure they really knew.
Pauline had remembered and told Tyler that the people were jammed in there so tightly that they were sweating all over each other, and she had finally resigned herself to it. They could have sips of water from time to time, but probably not enough. So, the Indians were mystical. He would have to find out what the spiral symbol meant. It was going to be hard because there were so many but the Indians had never really had a written language.
It seemed like the sweat lodge could be dangerous, and while she had never been overheated, it was said to be well over 100 degrees F. in the lodge. I mean, think about it. Build a frame from branches. Cover the frame with several layers of blankets or animal skins. Dig a small pit inside the lodge in the center. Then, bring in rocks that have been heated in a fire for several hours. You would put them in the pit. Brush the rocks with sweet grass bundles to get the ashes off them. Then, when everyone is in place, pour some water over the rocks. The intense steam fills the lodge and things begin to really heat up. There are various rituals, drumming, chanting, and you might smoke a pipe.
The intense heat will, obviously, make you sweat, but it can make you hallucinate. She herself had seen flashes of light every time they hit the drum, which was impossible. Pauline learned much later that the heat could cause brain damage, and swore not to ever participate in a sweat lodge again. It was only two years later that she heard on the news that some people had died in a sweat lodge in Arizona because it was overcrowded and too hot. She had had a lot of close calls in her life anyway. If she were a cat, she might have already used up her nine lives.
He would have to just be more careful, he surmised, and not touch strange symbols. There were just so many things to learn about magic--not in order to practice, but in order to protect themselves.
Why was he thinking about sweat lodges at a time like this? He and Pauline stared into each other’s eyes. “I’ll miss you,” she said.
“I’ll miss you,” he said.
“Bring me some Trader Joe’s chocolate, ok?”
“You got it, babe!”
Tyler got out of the car and walked carefully inside the airport, turning to wave and blow a kiss. Pauline swallowed hard and blew a kiss back. “Father God, take care of him for me,” she prayed. “Keep him from harm and all kinds of physical and spiritual danger and bring him home and on time. In Jesus Christ’s name, Amen.”
She drove home and made a cup of tea. She sat in front of the window in back giving a perfect view of the back yard and the dark lush forest. It was the most relaxing spot in the house. She thought to herself about nothing as she looked out the window, and watched the birds and squirrels. Why did he have to go back there? she wondered finally. Just when you figured out what was dangerous, you were thrown right back into the midst of it. What an unexpected journey. No one ever signed up for this. But overall she was content. Her cats curled around her legs like big furry Sasquatch slippers. Their home was beautiful. And now they were fulfilling their purpose for God. She prayed again that Tyler would be unhindered by the evil demonic forces that sought to dissuade them from their new ministry.
Pauline already knew what her list of positives and negatives was going to look like, and she finished her tea and got up to work on it. Books, DVDs, coursework, talismans, clutter, on the negative side. Maybe that 25 extra pounds. She smiled to herself. Really if she quit eating sweets she would probably be fine. She could include being too busy. Even though she was doing good things, it made her a little crazy to be so busy all the time. She could often make it all work, but at what cost?
And what on the positive side? She needed to read and study the Bible, spend time in prayer, and reach out to others. Oh, and exercise. And she would spend more quality time with her dear husband. She smiled again.
This is it, she thought to herself. She gathered up books and DVDs she had been keeping for some reason. She put everything in a box and planned to burn it the next morning.
Overnight she had strange vivid dreams again. There was a huge bonfire, and she was throwing the books in. The fire blazed in brilliant colors of red and orange, blue and green. Horrific evil demons ten feet tall were dancing in the flames and seemingly in agony. She noticed as a book grew smaller as it was consumed by the flames, so did the evil demon. Amazing. Then she noticed that an evil demon had a chain around her and was pulling it tighter, pulling her into the fire! She fought and struggled but could not free herself. She screamed as the flames got hotter. The evil demon cackled to see her struggle, until finally he melted away in the fire and she fought her way free. She awoke in a sweat but with her resolve strengthened to light the fire.
No more evil demons appeared but she prayed for safety anyway. She couldn’t be making the evil demons happy. As the items burned, she did feel a great weight off her shoulders. It only makes sense, she reflected. If you surround yourself only with positive things, it was bound to make you happier.
The back yard had always been a great place to think. Today was no exception. She looked around at the fallen leaves and began picking up small sticks that had fallen. It was a sort of ritual she always had when out here, just tidying up, like in the house. Someday maybe the two of them could landscape the back, but for right now it seemed out of control! She threw the sticks she had gathered onto the fire and added some branches that had been piled up next to the fire pit, waiting for the time to take care of them. They provided shelter for birds and small animals, but there was plenty of that anyway. While she was out there, she prayed over the land. Father God, I pray that You would guard our property from harm and damage, and protect all who walk on it from danger. Please bless our land with flowers and deer, turkeys, rabbits, and other wildlife that we enjoy. In Jesus Christ’s name, Amen.
Meanwhile, Tyler had arrived in Sedona and was preparing for the completion of his project. The weather was fine, although there was a prediction of a rain storm much later that day. He was still getting used to Arizona weather. The dry heat in Phoenix was something to get used to. It could be 100 degrees and feel like 85, quite comfortable because the sweat just evaporated right off your body and you did not feel wet. However the danger in that was that you could dehydrate very quickly, and it was important to drink a lot of water, more than usual, every day. He was thankful that it was a bit cooler in Sedona, but the did have other extremes at times.
He said a quick prayer. He was learning. Father God, please watch over Pauline and keep her and our home safe. Allow her to enjoy her peace and quiet time and not worry about me too much to relax. And I pray that my project will end successfully and I can go back home to our sanctuary soon, safely. In Jesus Christ’s name, Amen.
Tyler felt a peaceful glow come over the room like an umbrella. He wondered at it for a moment, and finished getting ready to go into the city. The room was comfortable at the hotel, but there weren’t a lot to choose from in Sedona, and they were geared toward tourists rather than business people. It was certainly adequate. Snapping his laptop case closed he left the hotel. He threw in his umbrella just in case.
On the short drive in he looked up at the sky and the clouds were dark and swollen. It was a bit windy and the clouds scudded across the sky in response.
He parked his rental car at the office and got out. Walking inside he passed a pair of squirrels in a big hurry, climbing a tall spruce that stood near the entrance.
“Good morning Tyler,” said Eliot. “Are you ready to do this?”
“Sure am,” answered Tyler. “I hear there’s a storm coming?”
“Yes, I saw that on the news. When is your flight?”
“It is set for tomorrow at the moment. Of course I can change it if necessary. We need to get the job done.”
“Good man,” said Eliot. “Get some coffee and meet me in the conference room.”
Tyler did just that, helping himself to half an oatmeal bagel on the way.
Eliot gave him an update on how he felt things were going. The technician from Tyler’s company told his part and answered questions. Finally he showed a demonstration of the software which was supposed to do something to simplify the inventory process for the customer, which was a wealthy non-profit that aided other countries by coordinating donations from manufacturers. Apparently they did not mind spending some of that for expensive contractors from Tyler’s company. No matter. That is what they were in business for. Although sometimes Tyler wondered why there had to be so much overhead in a non-profit. He vowed silently that he would like to come up with a way to eliminate the corporate waste so that more money and help could go to the needy recipients.
The wind howled outside as they finished up.
“Looks like we might get something today,” said Eliot. “I think we’re all set here. Once we sign everything you may want to catch an earlier flight.”
Just then one of the office staff ran in. “It’s really starting to snow and the staff is wondering if they can go home and take shelter. This was apparently not unheard of in Sedona as they got sudden storms from time to time.
“Hear that?” said Eliot. “You may want to head out. Where’s that paperwork?”
Tyler had laid it all on the table at the beginning of the meeting. “If you could sign here,” he said. “And here, and here.”
When they were finished, Tyler picked everything up and asked one of the staff to scan the documents for him and put them on his flash drive. This way he could send it right back to the home office as soon as he got to the hotel.
It was indeed snowing hard. It was nothing Tyler had not experienced before, at home, but he drove carefully back to the hotel. First thing he did was to call the airline to see what the chances were of getting out early.
“Thank you for calling Interlude Airlines, a voice said cheerily. How may I help you?”
“This is Tyler Tervis, and I have a flight tomorrow from Sedona to Grand Rapids, Michigan. Any chance of getting out today? There is a snow storm coming.”
“Oh let me check that for you.”
She came back on the line much too quickly. “I’m sorry I just heard your airport is closing and your flight was cancelled. You had better hunker down until it is over.”
“OK I’ll call back to reschedule when it passes.”
“No need sir, I have already scheduled you on the next available flight.”
“Great--do you have my number to let me know?”
“Yes let me just verify it and we will send you an email as well.”
“OK, I guess that is all I can do.”
Tyler opened up his computer and plugged in. He might as well get some work done, but first he would skype with Pauline and let her know what was happening.
While waiting for the computer to boot up he called the front desk. “Looks like my flight is cancelled,” he said. I would like to extend my stay for a couple of days or until I can get out.”
“No problem sir. Thank you for letting us know.”
Now to let Pauline know. She would not be pleased but there was no other alternative but to wait out the storm.
He opened up the skype window and connected with Pauline.
“Are you done already,” she asked him, surprised.
“Yes--the good news is that they signed off on the project. The bad news is there is a snow storm and I’m stuck here.”
“For how long?”
“Could be a couple days I suppose. They cancelled my flight and of course that affects a lot of people. They really get backed up sometimes at this time of year.”
“Keep calling the airline to see if they can get you out sooner, ok? I know that sometimes if you call at the right time they can put you in. If you don’t call, you’ll wait for everyone else who’s in the same boat.”
“Will do, sweetie. Wish you were here with me.”
“So I could get stressed out?” She asked him, smiling.
“You know what for he replied.” They laughed. “So we could take advantage of the hot tub together.”
“Well as long as I have you on the line let’s say a prayer for your safe return.”
“I have been-but more couldn’t hurt, right?”
“Absolutely!” Exclaimed Pauline. “You have extended your room, haven’t you?”
“And there’s a restaurant in the beautiful hotel, right?”
“So your immediate needs are taken care of. That is great.”
They prayed then, missing each other, but comforted that each other was safe and in Father God’s care. They would be together again soon.
“So do you want to chat tonight?” Asked Pauline.
“Sure, what time? You should give me enough time to get dinner. Shall I call you when I get back?”
“Sounds good. Miss you.”
“Miss you too.”
Tyler sat in his room working as he watched the snow fall. An email about his expense report, he could work on that. An email from Interlude airlines about the cancellation, another one about the reschedule. Now, that was good news. They had booked him on a much later flight tomorrow. From past experience, though, he knew that could change if conditions did not improve. So he would take Pauline’s advice and keep calling the airlines, but not until tomorrow.