Chapter 13 - Sorry to Disturb You...
The door to the house opened.
Standing on the front porch, looking slightly disheveled and mostly haggard, were Carol the Rock, Mary the Rejoicer, Okam the Faithful, and Harke the Herald. Harke impatiently pushed his way between Mary and Okam and addressed the greeter.
“Sorry to disturb you but we’re looking for a missing friend, a young woman who may not know who she is. I’m wondering, well, really hoping she might be here, with you?”
The greeter, a frail-looking, older woman, smiled and replied, “No, I’m sorry. I live here alone. But I think I know who you’re talking about.”
Harke’s face lit with expectation. Although it was the tenth, eleventh, or maybe even the twelfth place they have driven to, this was certainly the first time someone had heard about Lily.
“Please come in and we’ll talk,” said the old woman, who wore a long, brown shawl wrapped tightly around her shoulders. Leaving the front door open, she turned and slowly ambled back into her house.
Mary, Okam, and Harke glanced at each other in surprise of the offer. This was also the first time they were given any more hospitality than a ‘thank you’ or ‘goodbye.’ Carol though was unimpressed, right away she motioned to return to the car when Harke reached out and softly grabbed her arm.
“What are you doing?” said Carol, exasperated and glaring at his hand. “We don’t have time for this.” The angel, with her short blonde hair pulled back by a wide, blue headband, wrenched her arm away and added, “She’s not here, let’s move on and keep looking.”
“No, we’re not,” replied Harke, wide-eyed. “Listen to me.”
Mary and Okam shook their heads and sighed. He we go again.
It had been a constant battle between the beautiful, female guardian and the heartbroken messenger. Early on all agreed Okam would lead the group, but from the get-go he lost control as Carol and Harke butted heads. Carol took a very objective approach to the task, find the missing angel – in whatever condition – and return her promptly to Par Amor. Harke’s point-of-view was, of course, tainted by his deep love for Lily. It was not enough to find her, but to find out what had happened to her so she could be treated properly upon return. As a result, these two strong personalities clashed every hour of practically every day, arguably slowing them down in the process.
“This woman knows about Lily,” continued Harke, “we have to at least ask a couple of questions.”
“She thinks she’s knows her,” returned Carol. “So what? The Sweet is not here, let’s move on.”
“Carol,” interjected Mary, “what would it hurt? We might learn something.”
“From her?” said Carol skeptically. “I doubt it. What’s the word these cousins of ours use?” She looked up aimlessly for a moment and added, “Oh yeah, a shut-in. She probably hasn’t stepped out of this house in years.”
“I’m tired,” said Okam, while exhaling. He crossed his arms wearily and said, “I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’d sure welcome being out of that car for a while. Anyway, if we get a chance I need to use the bathroom.”
“It’s down the hall and to your right!” the angels heard from inside the house. “And I’m not a shut-in, I maybe old but I can still hear pretty good!”
Mary quickly glanced at Harke, who bit his lip trying hard not to laugh.
Okam gestured flamboyantly at the front door for the others to precede him, Carol shook her head and pushed her way in-front, doing so while grumbling under her breath through gritted teeth.
Almost single file they entered the house and walked through an appreciably long, unlit hallway. The walls were papered with designs of grape vines and vineyards, and the furnishings were dark and elegant. At the hallway’s end was the kitchen, and from what they could see black-marble countertops ruled throughout. But before they got any closer they reached a large opening on their left revealing a living room. Here they found, sitting quite comfortably on a fat recliner, was the well-hearing, old woman.
She watched the strangers enter as they idly inspected the beautifully furnished room. Leading the group was the stern-faced but gorgeous girl with perfect blonde hair. Dressed in a sleeveless, blue jumpsuit, the old woman wondered if the girl was an athlete of sorts. What a pity, she thought, as Carol stopped short of entering the room, such a pretty face with a bad attitude. Following her was the other woman, dark-haired and obviously older, her expression was much more approachable. Dressed almost identically to the bald headed man in worn jeans tagging along behind her, the only difference was the short-sleeved denim tunic she wore where his was long. The old woman noticed they were both attracted to the granite fireplace, the bald-headed man admiring the mahogany mantel caressing it with his hand. The way they stood next to each other, casually and comfortably, made her think these two were probably married. The last one to enter was the young man she had greeted at the front door. Also dressed in jeans but wearing a plain white shirt underneath a faded, brown-leather jacket, the young man looked nervous, or was it hopeful, as he walked dead-center into the sunlit living room. By the look of despair mixed with fear mostly in his eyes, the old woman thought, This girl everyone is searching for, he’s the one that loves her. Poor boy…
“Thank you so much for talking to us,” started the young man humbly. “My name’s Harke and my friends here are Carol,” – he pointed to the stern-faced woman – “Mary, and her husband Okam” – nodding in their direction.
Introducing herself on cue, the woman said, “Hi everyone, I’m Elise Robertson.” Suddenly she coughed, then straining her voice she added, “Please, please, sit down.”
Carol noisily took a breath of impatience that Harke ignored.
“No thanks, we just want to ask a couple of questions.” Harke took a step toward the woman, who then waved him off.
“Please dear,” said Elise, “don’t come any closer. I’m sicker than a dog.”
“Okay, I’m sorry to hear that. Uh, so you said you’ve heard of the young woman with amnesia?”
“I sure have,” said Elise, “probably everyone in a fifty mile radius has heard of her.”
“Really?” Carol said sarcastically. “I can tell you, it hasn’t been quite everyone.”
Elise smiled warmly at Carol and replied, “What’s her real name, dear?”
“Lily,” said Harke quickly, his heart skipped a beat, “Lily the—I mean, Lily Sweet.”
Elise chuckled making her cough again. Once she stopped, she said, “Oh, excuse me, I apologize. This darn cold. I’m only laughing because they’re calling her Jane Doe.”
“Jane Doe?” said Okam, he looked confused.
Mary softly touched her husband’s shoulder and said, “Jane Doe. That’s what they call people, women in particular, who have amnesia. When it happens to men they get called John Doe.”
“Oooh, I see,” replied Okam, smiling back at Mary.
Carol pushed away from the jamb she leaned on and walked fully into the living room, “Elise, do you know where Jane Doe is? Where we can go get her?”
“I was going to see her today,” said Elise, sounding disappointed, “but then I got sick. I had cancelled services today at the church so the whole congregation could listen to Jane, er, Lily preach. She gives some of the most wonderful, heartfelt sermons.” Elise pursed her lips and shook her head, she added, “At least that’s what I’ve heard.”
“You cancelled church services?” Mary asked curiously. “You’re a—”
“Pastor? Preacher?” replied Elise. “Yes dear, I am.”
“Lily is that good for you to cancel church?” said Mary. “Isn’t it more important to praise the Almighty?”
“Mary,” interjected Okam quickly, “it’s not our place to judge.”
“No, no,” said Elise, wrapping the shawl around herself tighter, “that’s a fair question. I can see your wife is a believer” – Mary looked knowingly at Okam and Harke – “I haven’t seen Lily preach in person, but some of my congregation has. They’ve returned with stories of a beautiful girl, gifted to preach. And it’s not only the topic of the sermon, but the way she delivers it, as though she’s talking directly to you. I’ve been told her words resonate in your heart, in your mind, maybe even in your soul. Normally I would never cancel a service, but for this young woman, from what I’ve heard, I think this one time I was doing a good thing.” Elise glanced down sadly at her footies, “I missed out today, had to get sick.”
“Yes, sorry again about that,” said Harke, cutting the discussion short, “but where were you going to see her?”
Elise coughed again, this time one hand on her mouth while the other lifted a finger signaling him to wait. After wincing she said, “Oh that’s starting to hurt.” She shook her head and looked at Harke, “Your friend Lily is preaching at the Presbyterian Church in Miracle, two counties from here. She’s been staying with the preacher, Jesse Fisher is his name, wonderful man. He lives right outside of town.”
“How do we get there?” asked Carol.
“Ah, let me see,” said Elise. “Just go back out to the main road, it’ll take you to ninety-two, then head north until you reach Miracle. Once you drive through town look off to your right, you’ll see a house on a hill, it has a tall, wooden privacy fence closing in the backyard that’s where Pastor Fisher lives. Should take about an hour, hour and a half if you get stuck behind a tractor.”
“Let’s get moving,” said Carol, taking a couple of steps back toward the hallway.
Okam and Mary started to follow as Harke said, “Thank you so much Elise. I’ll pray for you to feel better soon. No need to see us out, we’ll close the door.”
Carol, Mary, and Okam were in the hallway waiting for Harke when Elise had one question for them.
“Are you with the other group of gentlemen?”
“What’s that?” replied Harke, stopping beside the group.
“There were these other men, they were here earlier also looking for Lily.”
“Someone else was here for the girl?” said Carol, surprised. “Who?”
“Ah, there were three of them. One man looked wild, the other acted very serious, and only one of them talked. He was polite and well-spoken, but I was glad to see them all go.” Elise shuddered at remembering the men.
Carol turned and faced the other three, she spat, “Murmux.”
“How long ago were they here?” asked Okam.
Elise pondered for a moment and said, “It’s been at least an hour if not longer. Why? What’s wrong?”
“We need to leave now,” said Harke, panic in his voice.
“Alright, come on,” said Okam.
“No, we need to leave now,” said Harke, “we don’t have time for the car.”
“But we can’t…” said Okam, raising his eyebrows and tilting his head toward Elise.
“This one time I agree with the messenger,” said Carol. “We have no other way to get there fast.”
Okam looked at Mary for help but his wife simply nodded, ‘Yes.’
Elise watched from her recliner as the group of two men and two women argued not about leaving, but about how to leave. How else are they going but in their car?, she thought.
With no warning, a bright light from the hallway caused her to cover her eyes. After they adjusted she looked at the group and was shocked to find them glowing. A pleasant, golden-colored glow, an aura really, forming to the outline of their bodies.
Elise made eye contact with each of them, stopping at the woman called Mary. The woman smiled the sweetest and most sincere smile Elise had ever seen, she watched Mary mouth the words “Bless you’, and with that, Mary and the others disappeared in a gust of wind.
Stunned and alone once again (and all of a sudden feeling surprisingly better) there were sounds of papers rustling in the hallway and of hanging glasses tinkling in the kitchen when all she could think of was, God bless you too.