Chapter Three: Let Freedom Ring.
The summer was definitely a bittersweet time for Anthony. He had his first girlfriend ever and the cost of getting her was his former best friend. Charles would not let the loss of Amanda go very easy and Anthony was always looking over his shoulder because of it. He did not want it to ruin any of the time he spent with Amanda and covered up his anxieties quite well. They were for the most part really happy together. More often than not he ended up just holding her because she did not very easily talk about herself.
Amanda’s impact on him was so great that he decided that he wasn’t going to hold back anymore. One thing he really wanted was to attend was the 4th of July celebration with Jonathan. He knew it wasn’t possible for Amanda to come with him but he wanted to keep the few friends had and show her that he wasn’t really afraid of Charles either. Anthony had no idea if the invitation to go was still go so he decided to write Jonathan a letter.
Greetings and Salutations, my friend. I hope you are enjoying your summer as much as I am. So much has happened since I got home that I don’t quite know where to begin. I suppose it would make sense to start with good news. I met a girl and we started dating. I didn’t really plan on this happening at least not this soon after leaving St. Andrews. I will explain more if the invitation to join your family is still good for the 4th. I would really like to experience a bit more of life outside of Jamestown and my mom has already agreed to let me go. I have a lot more I wish to tell you but on second thought I think it would be best if I waited until I see you. I hope all is well.
Amo Te in Christo,
P.S. You and your family are in my prayers my friend.
Anthony found himself filling his days by spending most of his time with Amanda and when he wasn’t by wishing she was there. Her nighttime visits to his basement bedroom happened frequently, in fact so often it was almost every night. Anthony knew Charles would eventually come back to do something but weeks have passed without as much as a peep. Amanda got less and less worried as time went on that Charles would actually do something. Anthony, always weary for another sneak attack, kept his eyes open anytime they went out in public. He knew they were safe at his house but all bets were off once they stepped out the front door.
The attack that happened at the mall was something that Anthony would keep playing over and over again in his head. The fact that no one was around when it happened and the eerie feeling that he was being watched were very suspicious to him. He couldn’t understand why it happened either; Charles was never the violent type. He was always more of a manipulator than anything. They did fight the day before but that should have been the end of it. The Charles he knew would have tried to ruin Anthony’s chances of being with her. Basically, anything to make himself look better and Anthony look bad.
It wasn’t long before Jonathan sent a reply letter. Anthony opened it without hesitation when it arrived in the mail. He felt overjoyed by the fact that Jonathan once again extended an invitation for him to join them. He was surprised how excited he was because he never gets excited for anything. The thought that having a girlfriend has changed him seemed ridiculous at first but the more he thought about it, the more it made sense. He examined his behavior over the last few weeks and realized quickly that she brought out extremes in his behavior that he had not known before.
He smiled as that thought entered his head. He sat on the bench outside the truck stop waiting for the bus to arrive. He didn’t much care for the idea of a 5 hour bus ride with a changeover in Fargo. He would soon enough be in Duluth which is where Jonathan will be meeting with him. They will spend the first night at Jonathan’s house then make their way to the lake the following day. He was so excited to see his friend again and to talk with him. Even though he would often avoid long conversations while they were at school, something inside him has changed. He liked the change that happened and he was going to enjoy it. He knew deep down that leaving Amanda was going to hard. They barely spent any time apart since their first meeting that day in the park.
He decided to say his goodbye to Amanda at her house rather than here. It seemed too cliché to do a bus station send off so he talked her out of coming here. He could tell in their final moments together that something was bothering her and she really wanted to say something.
“Hey babe, what’s on your mind?”
Her voice was low, almost a whisper. “Nothing really.”
“I think I can tell when something is wrong with you. I know it’s only been a month since we first met but I think you’re pretty easy to read.”
She turned her head away so that he could not meet her gaze and like always he let her. He never once forced her to do anything she didn’t want to do. She was trembling now and her voice got shaky when she spoke again. “I…I….I just hate being alone. I have been alone for most of my life. I never had any close friends and my parents work too much to spend any real time with me. You have been so good to me and I just don’t want to be without you.”
Anthony’s face showed his concern as he said, “Just say the word and I will cancel this trip.”
“No, I am not going to be that girl. I won’t keep you from having a life apart from me. I think it would be good for you to get some time away.” This time her voice was flat and even. It was like she convincing herself more than him. He had a bad feeling that this wasn’t what she wanted to say and he fought his desire to find out more. As always he let it go..
“I will be back in three days. I am going to miss you terribly. I want you to know that before I go because I need you to know how much I need you.”
She smiled. He loved seeing that smile. She loved him loving her smile. It seemed to be perfect, but not too perfect where it would seem too good to be true. He also didn’t say what he wanted to say. They both held something back. He wanted desperately to tell her that he had fallen for her completely. He wanted her to know how serious he was about being with her. He was afraid that if he moved too fast she would be scared away. She was afraid to let him in completely because her deepest secrets would scare him away. They kissed and after the longest embrace he could afford to give her, he departed.
He bought a newspaper on a whim because of the six hour bus ride ahead of him. He didn’t normally read the news because he felt it was all the same bull on a daily basis. There would never be peace in the Middle East, Washington would never learn to compromise across political lines and celebrities never stay married. All of this and more are nothing were a turn off for him when it comes to reading the newspaper. He was walking through the truck stop on his way to grab a Diet Coke for the road when he saw the paper’s headline.
Pope to visit New York & speak at The United Nations
He was interested in why the Pope would choose to speak there. He was the leader of one of the largest Churches in the world that recently had some dark shadows cast upon it. The scandals that have rocked the Church always made Anthony think of Napoleon Bonaparte. Napoleon said to the Pope at that time that he was going to destroy the Catholic Church. The Pope laughed at him saying “we have been trying to do that for 1800 years.” The Church does worse thing to itself than almost any other source and yet it survives. The Church has survived, schism’s, reformations, wars, internal fighting and much, much worse that this scandal.
Anthony opened up the paper to the article he was looking for. When he was the Seminary he was always up to date on the internal goings on in the Church. He never heard anything about this when he was last there. Usually the Pope’s schedule is set for major events such as these months in advance. He rarely goes anywhere on the spur of the moment unless it was an emergency action. He guessed that would be the reason why the Pope would go to New York on such short notice.
The bus pulled up as he was about to read the article so he folded the paper and stuffed it in his backpack. He checked his duffel bag underneath and took his backpack on board. He found a seat in the rear of the bus, got settled into his seat and waited eagerly for the bus to leave. He took a drink from his Diet Coke then retrieved the paper from his backpack. He scanned the paper for anything else that might be of interest and could find anything. He went back to the front page and quickly found the article he was looking to read.
New York- The Pope, the leader of the Catholic Church announced today that he will be speaking at the next session of the U.N. Security Council. The reason stated for his visit is because of the mounting tensions currently developing over the United States War on Terror. He will specifically be addressing the need for the world to come together on this issue. The recent attacks by Terrorists on civilian targets have brought on a renewed fervor to escalate the war. The Catholic Church, who has always been a staunch defender of those who cannot defend themselves, has always supported the War on Terror. Since September 11th the world has been irrevocably changed and the Church has responded with many statements regarding the Terrorists. The Pope has decided it is time for him to address all world leaders at one time. The Vatican spokesperson would not go into more detail than that at this time. The President has responded with mixed messages. The President as you know………
He stopped reading at that point because he wasn’t very interested in anything to do with the current president. Anthony was as Pro-life as any Catholic should be and this President wasn’t. There wasn’t much else that he actually agreed on with the current President. Not that they ever had a debate or anything but he would sure love to have five minutes alone to talk with him. His opinion of the president was the same for most politicians of today. Even those who claimed to be Pro-life were also in favor of the death penalty. He felt very strongly in the Catholic Church stance to protect life from conception to natural death.
The bus trip was long, more than a little a boring but he got to where he wanted to be. He got off the bus with rubbery legs from sitting for so long. It took him a few minutes to get his bearings back. He got his duffel bag from underneath the bus and made his way to the lobby of the bus station. He looked around the lobby in search of his friend and saw him entering through the front door. Anthony felt his spirits rise as he walked towards his friend. They shook hands and he eagerly followed Jonathon to his car.
Jonathan has had a car since freshman year but wasn’t able to use it at the Seminary. The rules there were very clear that no student except seniors or college students could use their personal vehicles. This rule did not apply when they were at home obviously. He often spoke to Anthony about his car, a 1970 Chevy Camaro. It was blue with black racing stripes down the center and along the sides. They climbed inside and instantly but not too seriously Anthony got jealous.
“So how’s your summer been, Johnny boy?”
“Pretty good so far. I assume from your letter that yours is going pretty well.” Jonathon said with a smirk.
Anthony was thankful it was nighttime because he blushed. “Yeah man. Her name is Amanda and the story of how we met isn’t necessarily the best.”
Jonathan raised an eyebrow, “I imagine that this story might take awhile to tell?”
“It is a little long yeah.”
“Well it’s a good thing it’s a half hour drive to my house from here. You think that’s enough time to tell it all?” Jonathon asked with a tone of curiosity in his voice.
Anthony nodded his and began to tell the tale of how he met Amanda. He laid out the story from start to finish with little left out. The little details he left out was the fact that she was coming into his room almost nightly to spend the night. Even though they were not doing anything inappropriate Anthony didn’t want Jonathan to get the wrong idea. It wasn’t very easy for him to have her so close to him at night. He guarded this secret selfishly like a kid who didn’t want to share a toy with anyone. Amanda was everything he wanted before he knew what he wanted.
“That’s one heck of a story there. I never thought of you as much a fighter. You were never one to back down from a good debate but this is something else man.”
Anthony felt a sudden rush of shame even though he was sure he did the right thing. “Well he hit her and would probably have done it again. The other time I was just defending myself.”
Jonathan stopped the car just short of the driveway to his house. He looked at Anthony for what seemed like an eternity. “I didn’t mean it that way man. Heck, I probably would have done the same thing. I have never had any love for a wife beater. You should be proud of yourself that you didn’t kill him, which any right minded person could be pushed into doing under those circumstances. I am glad you didn’t because you wouldn’t be here right now, but I most certainly understand the impulse.”
Anthony felt better immediately and even justified in his actions. Jonathan pulled the car into the driveway and parked it in what he told Anthony was his usual spot. They went into the house and Jonathan gave Anthony a quick tour ending with where Anthony would be sleeping. The guest bedroom wasn’t overly ornate like most of the house. Anthony couldn’t help but think to himself that his house was an attempt to show off what they have. The under decorated guess bedroom was either an attempt at not rubbing their wealth in too much or a means of showing guests they weren’t worthy of more. He was pretty sure it was the former and not the latter. Jonathan’s family was too religious to come off as being that kind of mean.
The morning came quickly and with no dream for the first time in a long time. Anthony was relieved to have slept that good. The bed was comfortable, the pillow soft and the blanket warm. Even in this room he was in a better place than his room back home. He went down for breakfast which was served on some really nice china and was kind of extravagant. Anthony felt a little out of place here but tried his best not to show it. Jonathon’s mother served eggs, bacon, fresh fruit and toast. Anthony can’t remember the last time his family sat down for dinner together when it wasn’t a holiday.
They set out for the lake cabin shortly after breakfast, taking separate cars because Jonathan wanted to show Anthony how his car handled on the highway. They talked about many things on that drive and it didn’t take them that long to get there. They settled into the cabin which to Anthony’s surprise was almost as big as their regular house. Jonathan had two younger sisters both still in Junior High School who shared a room here at the lake cabin but not back at their home. The date was July 3rd and this was going to be a very memorable holiday for Anthony.
Anthony was in his bedroom when Jonathan called for him. “Hey man we are going down the beach. You coming?”
“Oh yeah, be right there.”
Anthony had his trunks on and was ready to go swimming. “Do you have any sunscreen, Jonathan? I didn’t pack any.”
“Oh yeah, we got everything you need.” Jonathan replied.
The girls came out of their room giggling amongst themselves and saw Anthony as he walked down the hallway. They both looked at each other, whispered something then giggled even harder. Anthony took notice of them but was unaware of their whispering. They obviously thought Anthony was cute because of the way they were acting. Anthony decided not to make a point of saying anything to them. He didn’t want a scene. They all met down at the beach where they all played games and had a really good time.
Anthony felt for the first time in life that this is what a real family was like. His brothers were much older than him and didn’t have much time for him when growing up. His younger sister was nothing but mean to him. The only member of his family that he was close to was his sister Rebecca. She was always nice to him and listened to his problems. She recently moved away to Texas with her new husband. He didn’t know what it was like to be at a family gathering and not have one single fight take place. There were no insults flung nor any ill will felt directed at anyone for that matter.
Later that night, they sat around a bonfire melting marshmallows for s’mores. The girls continued to giggle whenever Anthony looked towards them. He thought they were awfully cute they way they seemed to be crushing on him. Jonathan’s parents instantly took to Anthony too. David, Jonathan’s father, was a custody lawyer in Duluth and because of his successful practice does a good deal of pro bono work. Anthony felt a great deal of respect for him. Clair, Jonathan’s mom, was your typical stay at home mom. She was a Susie Homemaker who was an excellent cook amongst other things. After the bonfire they all retired into their respective rooms for sleep. Anthony once again found a peaceful night without a single dream, or at least not one that he could remember.
The next day arrived all too quickly. They found themselves enjoying more time in the water and even did some fishing out on their boat. Anthony never got a chance to be on a boat before and found it most enjoyable. Anthony was never much into fishing either but was able to catch a decent 5 pound Walleye. It wasn’t huge by any means but it sure made him feel good to catch it. The day went by faster than he thought he should. That evening they met up with the rest of the Greenwood clan. Their beach front property was filled by so many people that Anthony felt completely lost in the crowd.
“Hey Jonathan, you got a huge family man. There has to be close to 200 people here. Geez.”
Jonathan laughed and when he composed himself managed to say, “If you think this is a lot you should see my mom’s side. There wouldn’t be enough room on this beach for them all.”
Anthony stood wide eyed imagine people standing in the water or falling off the dock because it was too crowded. This image made him smile and then he said, “Thanks for inviting me out here man. I didn’t think I would have this much fun but I was wrong.”
“It was a pleasure having you here. It was nice not to be here with only my sisters to do stuff with. By the way, I think they like you.”
Anthony was taking a sip of his Diet Coke when Jonathan made that last remark. Upon hearing the comment about the girls he instantly coughed into his drink causing some to spill out of his nose. He looked at Jonathan and they both broke into a fit of laughter. At that moment the fireworks show started lighting up the night sky. They both stopped laughing and looked up to watch. The bright colors and loud bangs filled the night air. Anthony was completely mesmerized by the sights. He has seen fireworks before but this was the first time in his whole life that he felt this content. All was right with the world at that very moment.
The next moment came and he was longing to see Amanda. She wasn’t there with him to enjoy this moment. He felt a sudden uncontrollable longing to have her at his side. Knowing she was there waiting for him to return was a comfort. It was nice to be wanted without someone expecting you to do them favors all the time. He felt that here too with Jonathon’s family. They accepted him into their home and treated him like one of their own. He smiled as he felt that his life has finally changed its course. He couldn’t help but think that his life was heading somewhere fast and the destination was a complete mystery to him.