Chapter 5 Grace the Wild Card

IT TOOK A BIT for Sarah to catch on. “Now, that’s interesting. You’re saying that you don’t need so much of virtue if you have no loved ones to get hurt by your gambling?”

“Exactly,” Sky replied coolly, then seamlessly switched to another story. “Out there, after the last show at the Hot Box has ended, weeps a lovely doll named Miss Adelaide, whose 14-year engagement hopes and centers around Nathan Detroit’s giving up the gambling life. She had hoped to marry him tonight, but once again, it crashed.

“I’ve advised her to take Nathan for what he is, not for what she could make of him. Otherwise, fall in love with someone else, some normal people who shares her dream of a suburban house with wallpaper and book ends.

"But Adelaide threw it back at me. She said, ‘Easy for you to talk, Sky. Wait till it happens to you. Wait till you fall in love with someone you shouldn’t. What will you do?’ And her words continue to pierce me even now.”

“And why are you telling me this?” Sarah asked.

“Sarah, I have to admit I’m just as incorrigible as Nathan. I will not change. I will remain a sinner that’s most abhorrent to you. I will be a gambler for the rest of my life, as was my Daddy. So, forgive me but I will never be your strong moral-fibered and wisdom-headed guy. And to you, a virtuous young lady with a shining white soul, I wish good luck finding him.”

That was a strong punch in the gut. Had it been physical, Sarah would have crumbled at his feet. But it hurts just the same, as if some flame deep within had suddenly flared up, scorched her heart, and just as suddenly, burned down. Still, she managed to find her bearings.

“Well, let’s just hope that when your love comes along, she will be your virtue. And she will find adequate reasons not to bunch you up with the rest of your filthy gambling cronies. I hate to think of you running down the street away from the law for most of your life, but I suppose that’s not my business.” She stood up, picked up her cape, turned around, and got ready to leave.

Quickly Sky rose and moved closer, held back her cape, and said in a quiet voice that startled her, “But it is your business. I hope that when that happens, your Christian mission would at least offer me sanctuary. You know, sanctuary; the way old churches gave sanctuary to criminals a long time ago.”

Sarah, caught dumbfounded, failed to answer. Suddenly, Sky held her by the shoulders, and turned her around. Losing her balance, she fell into his embrace, with his lips meeting hers in a long, passionate kiss. Stolen, just like the first one. But unlike the first time, she did not struggle, she did not slap him. Instead, she held on to him tightly and afterwards burst into tears, her face deep into his chest.

“Oh, Sky, I’m so sorry I’ve misjudged you.” She reached to touch his face, his neck and shoulders. He is really here. “I’m sorry. You must think of me as a hypocrite, like a holier-than-thou Pharisee whom Our Lord was bound to dismiss. I’ve been such a snob.”

Then she stepped back, looked at him squarely and said as normally as she could, “Thank you for the wonderful time I had with you in Havana. Thank you for saving the mission from shutting down. And if you ever find yourself back in New York please do not hesitate to give us a call…”

Looking at her tear-stained face, Sky could not help but laugh to himself. My God, she has no idea how gorgeous she looks. “Sarah, I’m waiting to hear you say you’ll be my virtue. So would I be virtue to you, if the need arises. Nine times out of ten.”

“And how would that work out?”

“Well, let’s just say, if we believe. Jesus showed that one may suffer for the sins of another, and one may be blessed by another’s virtue. And there will always be grace acting like a wild card,” Sky released her from his embrace. “My parents did it. So will we. You might think it a stretch, but it does reveal the very heart of Romans 8:28.”

Sarah kept still for a long time. Grace acting like a wild card, what a lovely thought coming from an inveterate gambler. Then looking up, she gave him a most winning smile.

Sky reached for a folded towel on the bed, handed it to her, and pointing toward the bathroom, said, “Here, wash your face; we’ll go eat. There’s a small all-night café across the street from Mindy’s where they don’t serve dulce de leche."

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