Chapter 18 - What was Once Lost...
The footsteps resonated on the staircase slowly and deliberately, a calm yet eager pace. The well-dressed demon in his silky-black suit and similar tie, with greasy slick-backed hair to match, approached the top of the steps calling for Lily the Sweet.
“Lily, oooh, Lily! Come out sweet angel!”
“You have something essential to perform, Lily! That’s your actual name, Lily!”
Still, no response.
Reaching the top of the steps Murmux carefully observed the upstairs’ surroundings. Almost immediately, the demon noticed a familiar glow from behind a closed door at the end of the hallway. With a smile growing wider-and-wider with each step the well-spoken demon began to single-mindedly approach the source of light.
“Bwahahaha!” cackled Blood-Ooze madly. He pulled the struggling girl along to the center of the back yard as his face oddly began to contort. Stench-Stye followed quietly behind, the father held close and tight. “Right here,” said Blood-Ooze, “this is where we’ll do it.”
“Please, let her go,” begged Jesse, the blood from his nose starting to dry, “she’s done nothing to you.”
Blood-Ooze laughed scornfully, “Hold him tight, Stench-Stye. I want him to watch as I tear her apart.”
“Oh my god, no!” cried Jesse. The pastor struggled against his stoic captor – it made no difference, the man kept him put with inhuman strength.
Missy wailed in fear as she watched the man’s free hand, his fingers, morph into sharp, black picks. Blood-Ooze reeled his hand back, a crazed smile stretched across his face—
Four people appeared from behind a blaze a light.
The heart is known to pump anywhere from two to four ounces of blood per each beat. For the amount of time it took each heart to beat and pump that much blood through everyone’s core muscle, everyone in that backyard froze. In the very next heartbeat everyone glanced at everyone else.
“Where—is—she?” said one of the four people, a man, the one that had hair. His tone sounded deadly.
“She’s upstairs, in the study,” said Jesse quickly, “in the room with that window.” He pointed with his head to a small casement on the house, above them, facing the backyard.
“Punish him,” said Blood-Ooze angrily.
Stench-Stye did so – the tall but thickly built man whacked the pastor across his face, crumpling Jesse to the ground.
“Please stop!” said Missy, starting to cry. “He told your friends where to find Jane.”
Jesse, on his knees, looked up at his daughter with a horribly bruised and bloodied face, he said, “No they’re not, these are angels.”
Right on cue, the man with hair and one of the women, the younger of the two, disappeared in a short burst of wind.
Then what followed happened so fast it appeared to transpire all at once.
The other man and woman instantly started to glow – surprisingly similar to Jane – then and there the clothes on their bodies changed, white tunic and loose-fitting pants, body-armor appearing on their heads, arms, torsos, and legs. Their transformation was complete when each stood at the ready with a large, round shield and a thick broadsword.
Blood-Ooze and Stench-Stye, much to Missy’s horror but to no surprise of Jesse’s, transformed into hideous demons. It happened in an instant – their clothes ripped apart from their bodies as they grew in both size and height – changing from tough-looking men into leathery-winged, evil-looking creatures.
Once the transformations were complete the stage was set, angels versus demons, the divine against the demonic – and a father and daughter caught capriciously in the middle.
“So they sent you two,” simpered Blood-Ooze. “This is just like old times, except for the newbie and messenger. They don’t stand a chance against Murmux.”
“Let our cousins go,” said Okam.
In unison, the husband and wife began to walk away from each other – Mary stepping closer to Blood-Ooze, Okam approaching Stench-Stye. Noticing this, the demons matched the angels step-for-step, keeping a comfortable distance between them as they pulled their human captives along.
“You know, I never liked you,” directed Blood-Ooze at Okam. Turning his attention to Mary, he added, “But you, you were such a pain. I really hated you.”
“Ignore him,” said Mary, to her husband.
Trying to control his feelings but beet-red in the face, Okam replied, “I know, I know. I’m asking the Almighty for strength.”
“Oh, please,” returned Blood-Ooze sarcastically, “if He hasn’t helped them” – the demon shook Missy placing the long spike of an index finger at her throat – “what makes you think He’s gonna help you now?”
“Stop antagonizing them,” hissed Stench-Stye, muscles flexing and tensing.
Moving faster than Missy and Jesse had seen from the demons, the man and woman were at once beside them. Each angel swiftly yanked their human cousin away from the demon’s clutch, tossing them aside as softly as they could. In the next breath the angels were on top of the demonic creatures, Blood-Ooze grappling with the female as Stench-Stye defended himself against the man.
The blurred movement of battle between the angels and demons ensued, father and daughter quickly running to a far corner of the privacy fence. It was there that they knelt, huddled, and held each other trembling, but tight. Missy cried with her head buried deep into her father’s shoulder as Jesse watch in awe at the clash between Heaven and Hell unfold in his backyard.
Murmux approached the door and reached for the knob, turning it, he pushed his way in and peeked inside. Immediately the demon saw where the light came from – a wide closet, the glowing contents of which hid behind a pair of slitted accordion doors – the shine appearing to rock back-and-forth, nervously. Stepping fully into the room, Murmux smiled and even chuckled.
Stupid angels and humans, he thought. In his clean and sharply pressed suit the demon motioned toward the door—
Murmux blinked and quickly shook his head, the demon’s eyes refocused from the blinding light and saw two angels – one male the other female. They stood at the opposite end of the closet from Murmux, the expression on their faces said everything – they knew exactly what the rocking light meant. Testing the situation, Lucifer’s begrudged third-in-command took a step straight to where the accordion doors touched—
“Stop right there!” exclaimed the male angel.
Halting his reach for the knobs, the demon slowly straightened up but hardly stepped back. Looking keenly at the angels and sizing them, realizing almost immediately what they were, Murmux relaxed just a bit and then addressed them in a calm and even tone.
“The audacity of a messenger angel, commanding me to stop. And you guardian, have you been taught to recognize who I am?”
“‘Who I am?’ Pfft,” replied the female sarcastically. “You’re a traitor now called Murmux, and I know every terrible thing you’ve done.”
“Terrible?” replied Murmux, feigning hurt feelings. “My gorgeous, young angel, not even the leader of the guardian cast knows of every dreadful deed I’ve performed.” The demon smiled and leered right back at the statuesque Carol.
“I don’t care who you are,” said the male firmly, “or what you’ve done. Just—
Murmux was about to laugh at the messenger when a small voice called out from behind the slitted doors.
“Who’s out there? I—I think I recognize the voice.”
“Lily, it’s me, Harke. Do you remember?” His heart sank.
Slowly, one of the accordion doors creaked open just enough for its contents to look outside. Still glowing, Lily peeked her head out and scanned the scene. To her right was a large and well-dressed man, if Lily wanted to leave the room she would have to go through him. She noticed the smile on his face grew wider when their eyes met, her spine shivered as the man barely rocked on his feet. To her left stood another man, and a woman, the light from the window in the background silhouetting them slightly. Even so, they were strangely familiar to Lily – especially the man. In his eyes she saw…caring? Concern? Opening the accordion doors fully, there she stood, barefoot and in her cream-colored dress, glowing a brilliant white and within mere steps from either man.
Harke quickly realized it was a mistake for her to become so exposed – the demon was but one lunge from reaching her.
“Lily, please, step back and close the doors.”
“No,” returned the glowing woman defiantly. “I want to know what is going on. Who are all of you?” – she looked down at herself – “Why in the world am I glowing?” – she then lifted her head at Harke – “And where are Missy and Jesse?”
“Listen,” said Harke tenderly, “just close the doors. Darling, we’ll explain all this—”
“Darling?” interrupted Murmux. Swiftly realizing what it meant, “Oh, I understand, she is your betrothed.” Murmux laughed heartily. “This simply gets better by the passing moment…”
While the well-dressed man continued to talk, Jane wondered in confusion over the other man’s words, those of the one called Harke, Is my name really ‘Lily’? Why isn’t it familiar to me? And what’s all this business about ‘darling’ and ‘betrothed’? Harke sounded familiar at first, but I don’t know him. Her thoughts readily turned to Missy and Jesse, Are they still downstairs? Are they alright? Maybe if these people get distracted, talking with each other, I might be able to slip out. Jane refocused in on the conversation to see where she might take advantage.
“…and don’t fret messenger, when I take her at this juncture I will personally maintain a secure eye on her, and I will ensure she is given superior regard.” The demon’s leer now turned to Lily, “Yes, beautiful girl that she is, indeed.”
Harke’s face dropped then turned deadly, “If you so much as touch her, you disgusting demon, I will kill you.”
Murmux grinned confidently and replied, “You will ‘kill’ me?” The demon’s hands then met before him, fingertips-to-fingertips, he continued, “Those are mighty boastful terms for a messenger. And not the category of speak your Lord would endorse, would He?”
“Calm down Harke,” said Carol. She tried to ease him by placing a firm hand on his shoulder and added, “The creature is trying to control your feelings, don’t let it happen.”
Pulling away in an irritated manner but keeping his eye on the demon, Harke replied, “Carol, I am not losing her again. This is gonna end right here.”
“What do you mean, losing me again?” interjected the white-haired woman, bemused. “Do I know you?”
Before Harke could answer, the pale-blue-eyed guardian, shortly cropped blonde hair sticking up from behind a headband, inched one step closer to the closet and addressed Murmux, “Why don’t you crawl back into the hole you come from. We’ll take care of the girl.”
“As much as I would like to grant your request,” said Murmux happily, “it simply cannot happen. For as you can see, I have also moved closer to the glowing bounty. One quick reach and voila we are gone.” In a relaxed manner the demon placed a hand on his chest and cleared his throat, he added, “Anyway, I assure you and my friend here—”
“Friend?” interrupted Harke. He was shocked and insulted, but quickly turned his attention to Lily to talk to her directly. Harke never got the chance.
What happened next occurred faster than any human could follow.
Stretching his mouth wider than physically possible, the demon spit out a long and thick and black snake. It shot straight at a Carol catching her completely off guard. The only thing that saved her was a fast-reacting Harke – snatching the snake a mere whisker from her face as he fell to the ground rolling and struggling against it. A half-instant later Carol and Murmux both sprang at Lily, who at the same moment attempted to run and escape.
“Are they still fighting, daddy?” asked Missy, her head still pressed deep into Jesse’s shoulder.
The pastor took a moment to answer watching with fear at the angels and demons warring. They moved so fast he was unable to tell who might be winning or losing. Except for those split seconds where an angel or demon paused, he could not tell them apart.
“It looks like it,” answered Jesse, shaking his head, “but I can’t make anything else out.”
“Why is this happening?” said Missy, still not looking up and shaking. “And how can this be happening?”
Jesse pondered his daughter’s questions.
Everything that had happened from the moment he found the young woman next to the trash of his church, to just minutes ago, before these demons arrived, was starting to make some sense: The incident when she strangely sounded like his dead wife, the phenomenal oratory skills, the insight into scripture – her glowing – it all had to mean something. The ‘how’ he did not even consider, it would probably remain a mystery forever, but the ‘why’ was altogether different.
The timing of her appearance was what he focused on. Just as he was about to give up on it all – the town, the preaching, himself – Jesse was given a reason to care. This pretty, white-haired woman practically appeared on his doorstep and needed help, his help, and for whatever reason (for he could have easily pawned her off on the social worker) Jesse actually cared. And for his caring he was rewarded. Jane’s appearance, though through some strife, brought Jesse and Missy closer together than they had ever been even before his wife’s death. Now, on the cusp of their newly re-found relationship this unbelievable circumstance occurs. As inconceivable to Jesse as it was, the white-haired woman was all-this-time an angel and the people he had imagined that missed and searched for her were not only those truly concerned, but others who had their own wicked reasons to find her. Why were demons searching for this angel? Whoever or whatever she was, she had to be divinely important.
The pastor was about to speculate out loud when—
The upstairs window Jesse had pointed out earlier, along with a good portion of the house around it, exploded in a shower of wallboard, wood, and glass.
The battle in the backyard between angels and demons stopped. Okam and Mary were beside each other, both breathing heavily, with the demonic monsters opposite them covered in sweat. As the dust which filled the air began to slowly float to the ground, clinging to everyone and everything, the demons turned to look at the gaping hole in the house.
“Murmux is gone,” said Blood-Ooze, “I can feel it.”
“Let’s go,” said Stench-Stye.
“No you don’t—” called Okam.
And with that the two leathery winged, black-skinned creatures vanished in a gust of wind. The yet settling dust where they had stood blowing wildly about in every direction.
Coughing and tossing aside the helmet she had worn, Mary said, “You okay dear?” She placed a hand on Okam’s back.
“I’m alright,” he replied, turning to look at his wife. “Mary, your face, you have a cut.”
Mary reached for her right cheek and pulled away a finger covered in blood. The creases around her eyes deepened from the wince, “Ah yes, Blood-Ooze got this swipe in early.”
“Are you hurt anywhere else, hon?” Okam started to inspect his wife, softly turning her.
“I’m fine, I’m fine,” laughed Mary. “That old traitor got a face full of shield at one point.”
They looked at each other tenderly for a few seconds and then hugged. They would have remained hugging a little while longer if it were not for the coughing they heard above their heads. Turning to look, they saw a dirty and disheveled Harke, still wearing the leather jacket, white shirt underneath, and jeans, and all of it now torn or charred. In his arms he cradled what seemed like the true-dead body of Carol, her right arm badly burned to almost the shoulder. Harke had noticed the alarm on Mary’s face and hedged her question.
“She’s not true-dead, just knocked unconscious. Do you see her arm?”
“Yeah,” replied Mary, her eyes growing with concern. “What happened?”
Harke stepped off the opening and slowly floated down to the grass. Okam and Mary walked to where he landed as Harke knelt and placed Carol softly on the ground. Still kneeling, Harke looked up with watery eyes and answered Mary.
“Lily was up there; she was hiding inside a closet and glowing. Murmux was up there too when we appeared. She heard me talking and I think she recognized my voice, but that was it. She opened the closet doors demanding to know what was going on. Oh, why did she?” Harke paused to rub his forehead with a sooty hand, leaving a black smear, he continued, “I told her to close the doors, but Lily wouldn’t. Carol tried to position herself, you know, to jump and grab her, but that stinkin’ demon’s no dummy. The next thing I knew he spit a snake from his mouth at Carol, I grabbed it falling to the floor and then the next thing I know, boom. I think I was dazed from it, but I do remember the snake just vanishing from my grasp.” Stifling a sudden sob, Harke added, “I looked around and she was gone. Carol was there but no Murmux, just gone.” The angel fell back into a sitting position, slumping, he moaned, “And I can’t believe it…Lily doesn’t remember me…” He began to cry.
Mary bent down to sooth him, “It’s alright Harke, we’ll find her again.” She looked up at her husband, eyes begging for Okam to agree. Quietly, Mary then tended to Carol’s arm. Kneeling beside the unconscious angel, Mary closed her eyes. At first a gel materialized, it spread evenly over the burn, this was followed by clean bandages that fit snuggly to complete the treatment.
Meanwhile, the tall and thin angel, his face even more gaunt from the fighting, poked his sword into the ground. Taking off his helmet to reveal a glistening, bald head, Okam dropped his head-gear to watch it idly roll away, at last he said, “Are you sure Murmux is gone? You sure he’s not a pile of burnt charcoal up there?”
Harke composed himself and answered, “I looked around, there was nothing. That demon’s taken her to Hell. I don’t even want think about it, she’s probably in the Deceiver’s hands by now.”
“No, listen to me,” replied Okam, “that’s not the case.”
“Huh?” returned Harke skeptically. “What makes you think that?”
“They know about her glowing,” replied Okam, “I’m sure that’s been reported. There’s no charred remains which means Murmux probably protected himself fully, unlike Carol who left her arm bare. So, Carol gets hurt and Murmux is gone, and remember what we learned about the last time this happened.”
Harke waited through Okam’s pregnant pause, eventually he said, “Well?”
“Lily teleported alone.”
The Herald gestured to reply then stopped.
Lily had disappeared all by herself and ended up here. Once again she glowed, once again a demon and this time an angel lunged for her, and once again she was gone – but where? And was Murmux with her? Unlike the last time though, this demon protected itself. Could it be that was all that was needed – and now Lily was in Hell? But the more he thought about it the more Harke realized his guardian friend might just be right. He had to be right, for Lily’s sake. So, if she’s not in Hell, then what?
“Alright Okam, where is she?” Harke challenged.
The answer came quickly, “Somewhere else on Earth. Remember, that’s what happens.”
“We need to go now,” said a standing and suddenly urgent Harke, “back to Par Amor and get a sense where Lily might have gone.”
“Hold on,” said Mary, turning away from a lightly moaning Carol, “we will, but not before we help our cousins.” She tilted her head in the direction of the pastor and his daughter.
The Herald closed his eyes searching for patience and nodded. Together the three angels walked toward the huddled pair – the man watching them approach as the young girl kept her face hidden, still buried into her father’s shoulder.
With the angels nearing, Jesse pulled Missy slightly away allowing the still shivering girl to raise her head and see the trio now standing above them, smiling, a sincere and heartfelt beam. The bald headed angel, the one addressed as Okam by the younger male, lent a strong-looking hand and helped Jesse stand. While Jesse stood up he helped Missy in turn, and once they faced the trio the pastor nervously stumbled over his first words to them.
“I, um, you guys, you three—I mean four” – Jesse quickly motioning to Carol, who was still lying on the ground where the younger male had placed her – “are all, ah…angels?”
“Yes, we are,” replied the widely smiling female. “My name is Mary, this is my husband, Okam.” She had placed a hand behind Okam’s back, then gestured and added, “This angel is Harke and our injured friend back there is Carol.”
“Will she be okay?” said Missy, glassy-eyed and barely audible.
Mary looked over her shoulder at Carol and then addressed Missy, “Yes honey, she will. We’ll take very good care of her.”
Placing an arm around Missy’s shoulder, soothing her, Jesse began to feel comfortable before these supernatural beings, “Obviously you’re all here to find Jane. May I ask why?”
“Jane’s real name is Lily,” replied Harke forlornly, “she’s my, my…” He glanced at Mary, who looked back at him smiling, then continued, “Ah, what I’m trying to say is that Lily has something special to do for the Almighty. The story is too long to get into now, but we came to find her and help her.”
Jesse watched Harke’s body language as he spoke. The way he talked about Lily earlier, after floating down from the hole in the side of his house, and just now, made the pastor realize this angel and Jane, or rather Lily, where involved with each other to some degree. It was certainly none of his business, but it was certainly something very noticeable.
“What happened in my study,” said Jesse, “the explosion, I guess she’s missing again?”
“Unfortunately she is,” interjected Okam, looking firmly at Harke, “but rest assured, we will find her.”
“But before we go,” said Mary, “we’ll fix this mess.”
The look of surprise on Missy and Jesse’s faces said it all. If these angels needed to find Lily now, staying here to fix the huge hole and its mess would take weeks if not months.
“Listen, I appreciate the offer,” started Jesse, “but I’ve just watched you and you” – the pastor had waived a finger at Mary and Okam – “fight two demons, then saw the side of my house explode, and just listened to you” – this time he pointed a quick chin at Harke – “tell me it was important to find, ah, Lily, right?” The angels looked at each other then nodded, Jesse continued, “Don’t worry about it, you guys just go. I’ve been meaning to do some improvements around the house anyway” – he glanced at Missy chuckling – “I guess I’ll start in the study, huh?”
Harke and Okam exchanged puzzled looks; it was as though they had asked each other, ‘What is he talking about?’ When they both stared at Mary for an explanation, she just laughed.
“Aha, I see,” said the smiling angel, “you’re all confused.” She turned slightly to address her husband and the Herald, “The dear pastor doesn’t want us to stick around and fix his house; he thinks it would take too much time.” Realization spread on their faces as Mary turned back to deal with Jesse, “Pastor Fisher, no worries, really. We’ll be on our way shortly. We can get this fixed very quickly.”
“You can?” returned Jesse.
“But first, your face,” said Mary, looking at the pastor carefully, “we’ll need to take care of that.”
Jesse instinctively reached for his nose and cheeks feeling dried blood and the pain from bruising. He winced.
“Don’t do that,” said Mary, shaking her head and smiling, “it only makes it worse. Put your hands down.” She watched Jesse comply then placed her hands on his face. Mary adjusted her fingers and palms just right, finally looking to the sky. After a second or two Jesse felt her hands increase in warmth, another second or two later she pulled her hands away and stepped back to reveal the pastor’s nose and cheeks.
“Dad,” said Missy astonished, “your face…”
“What is it?” asked Jesse.
“The bruising, and the blood, it’s all gone.”
Without another motion or gesture from any of the angels, and before Jesse could open his mouth to reply, dust started to float up, followed by small pieces of wood, glass, and wallboard. This was followed even further by larger and larger pieces of the broken house as all the material started gravitating to the gaping hole of the home’s second floor. It appeared to Jesse as though he was watching the explosion run in reverse, and the more it ran the faster it happened. The pastor and his daughter watched and gaped as the jagged hole repaired itself, until it was no more, and the second story wall and its window to the study were once again intact – looking exactly how it did before the blast, slight mildew and all.
“See, all done,” chimed Mary.
“Dad…” said Missy, wide-eyed, “what, what just happened?”
“You saw what I saw,” said Jesse, rubbing his face softly, “they’re angels.”
“Can we leave now?” asked Harke, sounding clearly impatient.
“You’ll find everything else, inside and out,” said Mary, still addressing the pastor, “is back in order. Just the way it was.” She walked away from Missy and Jesse with Okam and Harke in tow, and added, “Yes, of course Harke, but let’s get Carol.”
“I got her,” said Okam.
Missy and Jesse stood there stunned momentarily, then they quickly followed and caught up with the angels as the divine beings reached the other female lying quietly on the ground.
“Hey, I uh, don’t know what to say,” said Jesse awkwardly, “ah, I guess a ‘Thanks’ is in order.”
Okam bent down and carefully picked up Carol, cradling the beautiful angel gently.
“Now?” asked Harke.
“Hon, you ready?” said Mary, while pulling out the sword her husband had earlier poked into the ground.
“Yep, let’s go,” returned Okam.
“Whoa, hold on,” said Jesse quickly. The angels looked at him blankly.
“I’m sorry Pastor Fisher,” said Mary, “I hate to leave in such a rush, without any pleasantries, but you’re healed and you’re home is back together now, and like we explained, we really need to leave.”
“No, no, I understand,” said Jesse, “you need to go. But I was wondering, is there—”
“Is there anything we can do?” interjected Missy.
The male angels glanced at Mary, who in turned faced the pastor and his daughter with the sweetest and most sincere smile they had ever seen, “Yes you can, pray.”
In the blink of an eye and with a soft breeze the four angels were gone.
The church was filled to capacity – it was standing room only.
Everyone in attendance was here to listen to the preacher’s passionate words as they had done so for the last several weeks. But standing at the altar was the pastor’s daughter, newly minted as an elder, leading the congregation in the opening prayer and hymn.
Watching her joyfully perform the duties she had taken with so much want and heart, the pastor’s mind drifted to everything that had happened in the last few weeks to get here. In particular though, he remembered when the sheriff and his two deputies showed up at the house a short time after the angels had vanished…
From inside the home someone called for the pastor.
“Jesse, Jesse!” said the deep, male voice, as it neared the door leading into the backyard from the kitchen (the same door and outer screen which had been kicked out earlier and now was miraculously repaired.) “Hey, anyone here?”
“Tom!” called Jesse. “We’re out here, in the backyard.”
Sheriff Sanders and two of his deputies soon enough appeared at the door and entered into the backyard. The sheriff looked at the backyard and then at the house critically after motioning for his deputies to have a look around themselves. Not appearing satisfied, he stared seriously at Missy and Jesse for a moment.
“Pastor Jesse, Missy” said the sheriff, addressing them in turns, “is everything alright?”
Jesse passed a quick glance at Missy and said, “Well, uh, sure Tom. Why are you here?”
“You won’t believe this, but there are reports of an explosion or explosions coming from your house.”
“I got calls,” replied Sheriff Sanders, looking about the surroundings, “that described your house as ‘blowing up.’”
Missy and Jesse shrugged.
“Well, Tom, as you can see,” said Jesse, “the old house is still standing. Not sure what happened to make anyone think otherwise.”
“Are you sure they didn’t mean the Jones’ up the road?” offered Missy.
The sheriff looked at her carefully for a moment, “No, all the calls definitely said it was here.” Sheriff Sanders scratched his ear and added, “You’re still in your pajamas? Didn’t you go to church today?”
Missy was quickly thinking of a reply when the deputies returned to where the sheriff stood. Each one, to Jesse’s surprise, carried a helmet.
The deputy who wore mirrored sunglasses said, “We found these in the yard.” The other deputy handed his to the sheriff.
The sheriff began turning the shiny, silver metal in his hands—
“Hey, what is this doing out here?” exclaimed the pastor, reaching for and pulling the helmet gently from Sheriff Sander’s grasp. Jesse turned to Missy with the helmet in hand and added, “Well young lady, do you have anything to tell me?”
Missy quickly followed her father’s lead and snatched the other helmet from the sunglass-wearing deputy, “Aw dad, I’m sorry. This is why I didn’t go to church today. The friends that were over last night, I let them fool around with your helmets. We took them out here acting all stupid, and when they left, and they weren’t put back where you keep them, I tried looking out here but it was too dark. I stayed home this morning to find them but woke up late, and then you caught me in the yard looking around.” Missy’s eyes began to well with tears as she sobbed, “Oh daddy, I should have told you the truth!”
The pastor reached for his daughter and hugged her while the sheriff and his two deputies just stood there. After several moments of awkwardly silence Sheriff Sanders looked at each deputy in turn, both of them replying with a shrug and a head shake of their own. He watched the pastor continue to console his daughter and forgive her, eventually deciding he had seen enough.
“Alright Pastor Jesse,” said the sheriff, slightly exasperated. Missy and Jesse turned to look at the police officers innocently as Sheriff Sanders continued, “I don’t know what the heck happened, obviously it wasn’t here.” The sheriff motioned for his men to follow him as he turned to leave, “Have a good rest of this Sunday, pastor. Take care.”
The moment the sheriff and his deputies were out of sight, Jesse said, “Honey, may God forgive us. The lies…”
“Oh daddy,” said Missy, “I think He understands.”
“I hope so honey,” replied Jesse, “I hope so.”
They hugged again.
…That had been, what, two or three weeks ago?
The sheriff did come back though, this time trying to find out what had happened to “Jane.” It was explained she had gone, just left, no warning. Jesse even mentioned it happened the same day Sheriff Sanders last visited, but they did not realize she was gone until it was much later. The pastor had hated lying to the sheriff, and everyone else. It tore him at his heart, but really, who would actually believe their story?
Slowly, Jesse’s mind drifted back into the moment realizing Missy was just now finishing the prayer requests from the congregation. He prepared to stand, so he could take over and give his sermon, when he noticed Missy was not quite done.
“Before I call the pastor up here, my dad,” said Missy genially, “let me give you my own prayer request. This one’s for Jane.
“Although we don’t know where she went or what has happened to her, I have a feeling that she’s alright. Her love of God and His teachings were evident to not only me and my father, but to everyone here who had heard her speak. Some of you now know I was walking down the wrong path, hanging out with the wrong group of friends, and thinking the worst of all possible thoughts. I have my dad and the teachings of our church to help guide me back from the brink, but it all wouldn’t have happened if it weren’t for Jane. She reached out to me, literally, when I had fallen to rock-bottom. If she had not been here when she was, had not talked to me when she did…I, I hate to think what I would’ve done.” Tears started to streak down her face, which she wiped away. Missy looked at her father, who was also crying, then noticed many others in the congregation with teary eyes staring back at her too. Smiling widely at everyone, finally she added, “Jane, I don’t know where you are, or what has truly happened to you, but all of us here are praying for you. Praying you’re safe, that you return quickly to the ones who love you, and that all the while God is watching over you like an angel.”
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