Chapter 8: Battle Cry
Tuesday, July 20th, 2010
Nashville Central Hospital
Jeremiah lied in the hospital bed with his leg throbbing in pain and a stinging sensation coupled with it. With an IV drip hooked to his arm, he was being given doses of pain medicine to help him out.
Nurses had entered and exited room 492 to check on Jeremiah and make him as comfortable as possible. Finally, Dr. Mercer walk in with a chart in his had to give Jeremiah the news he was anxiously, yet fearfully awaiting. Dr. Mercer was a tall, mid-forties guy with olive skin and white teeth that not even bleach could accomplish.
“Mr. Washington, let me talk to you,” said Dr. Mercer.
Jeremiah pushed aside the food tray anticipating the next words that were going to come from Dr. Mercer’s mouth. “Go ahead Dr. Mercer.” Jeremiah gave Dr. Mercer permission to proceed as he winced in pain.
“Mr. Washington, without beating around the bush, the good news is the bullet barely missed a nerve according to the MRI. That means you avoided paralysis. You are very lucky in that regard. But we did have to do emergency surgery to remove the bullet from your leg.”
“Ok, I’m happy about that. And luck had nothing to do with it. But what is the bad news?” wondered Jeremiah.
“The bad news is the bullet did hit and tear your gastrocnemius, which is a part of your calf. This will take time to heal. I give it around three months. But in the mean time, you will have to have therapy to rehab your leg. And I will give you a cane to use to walk with while you are healing up. Right now, I just want you to get some rest. We will get you out of here soon enough. If you need anything, let me know.”
“Ok, I will. Thanks doc.”
“Dr. Mercer turned to walk away, but Jeremiah stopped him. “Oh, and doc, I’m not lucky. I’m blessed. More blessed than I thought I was. I realize that now.”
Dr. Mercer gave Jeremiah a bright smile and walked out of the room. Jeremiah sighed and looked at his injured leg. “I can’t believe this. I can’t believe I have a torn calf. And I have to walk with a can for three months? Wow.” Then he looked up at the ceiling and started speaking these words to the Lord:
“Dear God, I know I haven’t talked to you in a while. But Lord, I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. I’ve messed up.”
Still wincing in pain, Jeremiah continued as tears filled his eyes:
“I strayed away from you, but now I want to get back to you. You were my comfort, God, everything I needed. In the midst of getting shot, you protected me and my life, Lord. And I praise you for that. Thank you Lord! Now I want to recommit myself to you. You never turned on me, but I turned on you. Now I want to get back to you.”
“With each line of the prayer, Jeremiah’s voice became louder and louder. There was no ending, no amen. Just a cry from the same young man who seemingly had lost his world.
At the conclusion of the prayer, Jeremiah looked around the room. He was in search of a piece of paper, a napkin, anything he could write on. He finally found a good size notepad in the drawer next to the bed. He took a pen in his hand and began to jot down these words:
The battle arises, the enemy looms
Spread the fire, fan the fumes
But I stand against everything designed for my fall
Fight with God, build up this wall
Insist the protection
Resist the devil so wreckless
This is my loud battle cry
Shout it wide, shout it high
The enemy comes to kill and destroy
But all he talk is just noise
I don’t hear his empty, voided words
Just ready for the battle and prepare
A massive infrastructure
Creating mass destruction
Waiting to implode out from inside us
Yes yes, this is my battle cry...
I praise You, my weapon
In it now, the fight has just begun
Lord, disguise me
Grab my sword, ready to swing
Strength in Him, Phillipians 4:13
In my stance when the enemy comes nigh
Yes, this is my battle cry
Nothing to scare me from the war
The devil might bring it, but I bring it more
Why am I worried? He’s already defeated
He will fall when I shout “praise Jesus!”
The victory won, it’s already God’s
Stand tall, it’s already mine
Back down devil! I’m walking in Christ
Now I’m yelling my battle cry!
No defeat, in the hands of God
This, right here, is my battle cry!
He penned the last words, looked at the paper and gave a smile ha hadn’t had in months. He then decided to put the label of “Battle Cry” on the art he had just created. Jeremiah gave another look at the poem and decided to read it out loud. There was traffic of nurses, orderlies, and visitors traveling in the hallway. Some stopped in their tracks to hear what was going on in Jeremiah’s room. Others ignored it. But those same auditory spectators were impressed with what tickled their ears and approved it with quiet handclaps.
One of the audience members went ahead and entered the room to visit with Jeremiah. It was Michelle with a vase of flowers in one hand and a card in the other. She still had on her work clothes.
“Great job, Jeremiah! Glad to hear you do your thing again,” smiled Michelle.
“Thanks, but what are you doing here?” asked Jeremiah as he took the flowers and card from Michelle. “The way I brushed you off, I was sure you wouldn’t even speak to me again.”
“Jeremiah, you’re not going to get rid of me that easily. No matter what, I’m going to care for you and about you. Yes, I was hurt by how you came at me. I can’t deny that. But in the end I realized that you were hurt. So it didn’t get next to me like that. I just prayed for you. The best thing I knew to do. Now, Darius on the other hand, he…”
“Oh yeah, Darius. Right. I really messed up big time with him.”
“There’s always time to reconcile with him. As long as you two are breathing, there’s that chance.”
“Yeah, I know. I just need to talk with him and apologize for what went down. But first, let me talk to you, Michelle. Have a seat.” Michelle took a seat in the reclining chair next to the hospital bed. “First of all, let me apologize to you for how I acted towards you. That wasn’t me. I mean, my world was flipped upside down and I took it out on you and Darius, when I shouldn’t have. It was no sense in that. It’s just that I felt attacked instead of you all trying to be there for me. But now I know better.”
“Jeremiah, I accept your apology,” assured Michelle as she placed her hand on top of Jeremiah’s. “But also know I forgave you a long time ago. I’m not even thinking about that anymore. I’m more concerned with how you are doing now. How is your leg?”
“Well, Dr. Mercer said the bullet hit my gastrocnemius, a calf muscle. I will not be able to walk normally for at least three months. So I’m going to need rehab in order to get strength back in my leg. It still stings but not as bad as it did at first. Just got to stay on top of things so I can heal up. Pastor Graves came by earlier and hand prayer with me. I appreciated that.”
“That was nice of him. Do you need me to get you anything?”
“No thank you. I’m fine right now.”
“Ok. Just know that I will help you out and be here for you, Jeremiah. Whatever you need, I’m here.”
“I appreciate that, Michelle. I really do! Thank you for wanting to make that sacrifice. But I have something else to say.”
Michelle leaned over and showed distinct interest in what she was going to hear. “Yes?”
“Michelle, you have been my friend for a long time now. And you have been there for me just like Darius has. But there have been some things I have not shared with you.
Michelle had no clue what Jeremiah would say next, but decided to keep listening.
Jeremiah continued. “I think you are an attractive, beautiful woman, who shows a sense of care and compassion. But you also exhibit a spiritual side that I find amazing. You set yourself apart from any other woman I have ever come across. Your living reflects your raising and your diligence to God’s Word. Your mother should be proud of you. You have shown and taught me a lot since I’ve known you.”
Tearing up, Michelle shows gratitude towards Jeremiah’s sentiments. “Thank you for seeing those things in me, Jeremiah. It makes me happy knowing that someone sees you as a positive. I always say that your everyday living tells the true story of who you are. I’m glad mine reveals a good one.”
“It definitely does. And God will allow others to see things in you that you can’t even see in yourself. But I was thinking, opportunities don’t always show themselves twice. So, Michelle, I want you to know that I have had feelings for you for a long time now, but was always afraid to express them in fear of losing a friend. But now I look at it like this: Why not take a leap and become even greater than that? Through my mess, you never strayed. I’m impressed by that alone. But God showed me something deeper. He showed me that you are everything I need in a woman. So I guess I’m saying this…”
Jeremiah took out a piece of paper in that same notepad and wrote:
Will you be mine? Circle one. Yes or No.
He had drawn a heart on it and handed the note to Michelle.
Michelle sat lifeless for a second, except for a chuckle, then responded. “I don’t know what to say! I mean, as you already know from our fight, I have had feelings for you, too. I wanted to see what it would be like to be with Jeremiah Washington. I was so ready to give up on those feelings. Number one, you never expressed any interest in me. Number two, the day of the fight, I was unsure for a moment if I even still had those feelings. But that funny thing is, those same feelings really never seemed to fade.”
“So what are you saying?” asked Jeremiah.
Michelle took the pen from Jeremiah and circled “yes” on the paper. She handed the paper back to Jeremiah and said, “I’m saying that I want to be yours. BUT I want to take it slow.”
“You know what? I can appreciate and respect that. Besides, anything worth having is worth fighting and waiting for, sweetie,” Jeremiah grinned.
“You’re so right,” smiled back Michelle. “Oh, while we are on the track with happy news, let me tell you this. I’m quitting Maxine’s tomorrow.”
“Why? What happened?”
“Nothing happened, really. It’s just that the school wants me to enroll in an internship at Dexter and Bross as a marketing coordinator so I can be on the fast track to my career as a marketing exec. It actually pays decent money and I will be taking the rest of my college courses online. I’m excited!”
“That is wonderful, sweetheart! I’m so happy for you and proud of you. That is truly a blessing!”
“I know, I know. Thank you! God is surely blessing all the way around. New job, new man, and you seem to be doing better. Whew! God is great!” laughed Michelle.
Jeremiah laughed alongside Michelle. But the mood took a 180 degree turn. Jeremiah’s smile transformed into a more serious look.
“What’s wrong, Jeremiah?” asked Michelle.
“Um, what about your incident with that guy? Any new news from that?”
“Well, I did go to the police and told Detective Gray what happened. Unfortunately, they couldn’t charge him with anything in regards to that.”
“Are you serious? I’m sorry.”
“No, no, it’s cool. I am serious, but they did pick him up on other charges. Drug trafficking and other things. It was Trouble, the same guy that was outside the church with Deacon during your grandmother’s funeral.”
“Terrick?? It was him? You the one that got him arrested?”
“Somewhat. Is that a problem?” asked Michelle with a bit of disdain.
“No, no! I’m proud you finally went to the police. Although I do feel sorry for Terrick’s girlfriend, Toya and plus they have a child together. But Deacon did jump down my throat, thinking it was me that got him arrested.”
“He did? Is that why he shot you?”
“Yes, he did. And that’s not the reason. I wouldn’t go with him on that last run. That’s why he pulled the trigger. Wait…how did you know it was Deacon who shot me?”
“A young man named Jerrel told me. I don’t know how he knew to come to me. That’s who told me about you being in the hospital in the first place and told me that you had been shot in the leg.”
“Not sure how he connected you to me. But thank God he did! He’s a good young man, just about to fall into the wrong crowd. I’ll have to tell you that story one day. But I will say, he came to me to give him help. But in the end, instead of me rescuing him, he rescued me and my life.”
“Wow, really? He seemed a little rough around the edges. But he did seem to be a nice young man. Very polite.”
“Yeah, that’s him! Speaking of Jerrel, I wonder how he is doing.”
Jeremiah spoke his young friend into existence. At that time, Jerrel walked through the doorway of the room.
“Hi, Mr. Washington. How are you doing?”
“Hey, Jerrel! I was just talking about you. I’m doing well. How are you doing?” asked Jeremiah.
“Oh, I’m fine.” Jerrel turned to Michelle. “Oh, hi Miss Michelle. Didn’t see you sitting there. How are you doing?”
“I’m well, Jerrel. It’s good to see you again!” answered Michelle.
“Same here. How are you feeling, Mr. Washington?
“Oh, I’m feeling fine, Jerrel. Could be a lot worse. But thanks to you, it isn’t.”
“You’re welcome. I was just trying to help you out.”
“Let me apologize to you for the night I pushed you away. But I want to make it up to you. I want to take out some time with you and mentor you. Something like a big brother. As a matter of fact, when I get out of here, I want to give you a place to stay.”
“I would like that, Mr. Washington. You’re going to pay for me an apartment?”
“No. I want you to stay with me, Jerrel.”
“Oh, wow! I would really like that. Thank you so much, Mr. Washington! Oh, I have something to show you.” Jerrel held up a brand new, crisp Bible he had in his hands. “I brought it in the gift shop downstairs.”
“That’s nice, Jerrel! You be sure to use it!” said Jeremiah.
“There’s more,” said Jerrel. He pulled out folded pieces of paper from the Bible and handed it over to Jeremiah.
“What’s this?” asked Jeremiah as he opened the sheets of paper.
“That’s the poem that I told you had an impact on me. That’s “Re|Deemed”. I want you to have it back. You might need to read it someday.”
“Thank you, Jerrel. I think I will hold on to it this time,” said Jeremiah as he gave a wide smile. Michelle was in the background smiling at the same time.
“Good idea!” agreed Jerrel. “Oh, by the way, I brought company. I hope you don’t mind.”
“Who?” Jeremiah wondered
Jerrel went out to the waiting area in the hall to grab his accompaniment. The two headed back into Jeremiah’s room.
“Hey Jeremiah,” spoke the male voice.
“Whatsup, D?” responded Jeremiah.
“I didn’t know if you even wanted to see me. That’s why I stayed in the hall. I guess it’s alright though, isn’t it?”
“I don’t know, D. I think you should have stayed in the hall. As a matter of fact, what you doing in the hospital anyway? I really don’t need you here.” Everybody in the room was confused at Jeremiah’s statements. Michelle, Jerrel, and yes, Darius.
“Seriously? Ok, fine. I’m out of here! I have taken enough abuse from you already,” said Darius, enraged.
Darius turned to walk out the door until Jeremiah stopped him in his tracks. “Darius, wait man.” Jeremiah begins to snicker. “Come back here! I’m just messing!”
“Really?” asked Darius.
“Yeah, man. I guess it’s my way of saying I’m sorry.”
“That’s some way of showing it!” chuckled Darius.
“Come on over here, D. Let me holla at you.”
Darius stepped closer to Jeremiah’s bed. “Whatsup?”
“Man, I truly am sorry. I done you wrong and God convicted me about it. So I want to apologize and let you know that we are boys no matter what. You know I love you like a brother and I know you love me the same. And I know you was just trying to look out for me when I was in my rebellion stage.”
“Yeah, man, I was. I have to admit that I was hurt by how you treated me at your house. Then to not return any of my calls. That was so dirty.”
“Just forgive him, D,” said Michelle in the distance as she entered back into the room. She had exited to grab a cup of coffee. She stood in the doorway.
“Oh, hey Michelle,” spoke Darius. He took a deep breath as though he was taking a plunge into deep waters. “I forgive you, Jeremiah. You’re my best friend. I’m not willing to throw away years of friendship because of something silly. You will always be my brother.”
The two friends embraced as Darius leaned over to get to Jeremiah. Michelle stood, smiling and decided to walk up to Darius and give him a hug as well.
Then Jeremiah wanted to enlighten Darius about something. “Check this out, D. Michelle and I are going out!”
“Nuh uh! Really? When did this happen. Man, that’s cool! You going to have to give me the low down on everything. I’m happy for you two! But, can I give you some good news too? You know Erica? Well, we kinda got a little something going on right now ourselves!”
“I didn’t know you were in a relationship with Erica,” said Michelle.
“Yep. I kept it on the hush. But thanks to you, Michelle, we are an item. She is a sweet woman. She’s funny, can dance, and got some Word in her too! She’s actually a God send,” stated Darius.
“That’s great, man!” said Jeremiah. “You deserve someone who will be good to you and good for you.”
“Thanks,” responded Darius. “So, what about that leg man?”
“Oh, it’s fine. It’s still hurting and stinging a little bit. But the good news is that there is no permanent damage. The bullet struck my calf and tore a muscle in it. But I should be healed up in a few months. The doc has ordered rehab for me. But for now, I have to use either crutches or that ugly, ugly metal cane over there,” Jeremiah said as he pointed to the corner.
“No you don’t,” said a voice afar off. Walked in a woman about five-seven or five-eight, medium tone skin and hair cut in a bob. She appeared to be in her mid-to-late forties. She walked up to Jeremiah with an oblong package, gift wrapped to perfection. Everyone parted to make room for her.
“Aunt Erica! How are you?” asked Jeremiah.
“Hey, Jeremiah! I’m fine. How are you doing?
“Still in pain, but making it. What are you doing here? How did you know I was in here?” asked Jeremiah, perplexed.
“Jeremiah, this is for you.” Aunt Erica handed over the gift to Jeremiah. He unwrapped it to find a cane inside. But it wasn’t just any cane. It was Mrs. Emma’s walnut cane she used all the time. “The belongings were divided among the children. Mark (Erica’s husband) and I got the cane, which is very, very valuable. But we wanted you to have it so you can have a piece of Mama Emma with you. We were in town gathering the items when we ran into Michelle with getting something to eat. She told us about you being in here. I hope you don’t mind the visit.”
“Thank you for the cane. I sure can use it. And I don’t mind you being here. But I am a bit confused to why you would be here when you and the family snubbed me at the funeral. Plus, what are you doing with the cane anyway? You said the belongings were divided among the children. You’re not Granny’s child.”
“Jeremiah…” interrupted Michelle, giving Jeremiah a stern look.
“No, Michelle. I want to say this,” insisted Jeremiah. Michelle decided to back off. “You all didn’t want anything to do with me at the time of Granny’s death. Why was that? Have ya’ll became too important?”
“It’s ok Michelle. Jeremiah, let me explain,” pleaded Aunt Erica. “We were so hurt at the time. It threw us all for a loop. We wanted to blame you, because you were the one to take care of her every day. But it wasn’t your fault. It was just her time to go. But I came to the realization that we were in the wrong. We didn’t do our part in caring for Mama Emma. And we have to repent for that. Ask God to forgive us. And I want you to forgive us, Jeremiah.”
Erica carried on. “As far as the cane, I can’t tell you why it was given to Mark and me. Only Mama Emma knows why.”
“Ok. Where’s Uncle Mark?” asked Jeremiah in a cold manner.
Michelle cut her eyes towards Jeremiah as to say “you know better.” Jeremiah caught a glimpse of Michelle and retracted. “Alright Aunt Erica, I do forgive you and the rest of the family as well. No sense in holding grudges against each other. You all hurt me a lot, but….we will move beyond this, learn and grow from this.”
“Yes, we will,” said Aunt Erica as she gave Jeremiah a hug. “I’m glad to know that we can move forward and not look back.I’m so sorry Jeremiah.”
“Yeah, I’m glad too. I love you, Aunt Erica.”
“I love you too, Jeremiah. By the way, I have something else to give you.” Aunt Erica flashed a mailer envelope and passed it to Jeremiah.
“What is it, Aunt Erica?”
“Open it and see. It’s something Mama Emma willed to you.”
Jeremiah opened the envelope and there sat inside a wad of cash and a note. “Whoa! Where did all of this cash come from?”
“Mama Emma saved it over time. Didn’t believe in stashing cash in banks, so she kept it over the years. Read the note.”
Jeremiah read what the now said:
To my Grandson, Jeremiah,
I will this gift of money to you in a total amount of $60,000. It is a token of my appreciation of all that you have done for me over the years. You have taken care of me and I want to take care of you this one last time. Please, use it wisely. Make sure you put some back for a rainy day.
“$60,000?!” said Jeremiah in great amazement. “How did Granny save this much money?”
“She just put a little back here and there. Monetary gifts she got, she didn’t spend them, but decided to save them,” said Aunt Erica.
“So how did Deacon and his crew not get a hold of this? How was this missed by them?” asked Jeremiah.
“Mama Emma kept it in a very safe place,” said Aunt Erica. Who is Deacon?
“It don’t matter right now. Well, all I can say is praise God!” exclaimed Jeremiah. “This is an answered prayer! I can use this to pay on a couple of things. Just to think, I was trying to get this the wrong way. But God never fails to show up!”
Jeremiah allowed a few raindrops of tears to scurry down his cheeks. He was surely in a state of joy, which caused a domino effect. Everyone in the room, Michelle, Jerrel, Darius, and Aunt Erica, followed the pattern of praising God with Jeremiah. They had fulfilled the scripture in Romans 12:15 that says, “rejoice with them that do rejoice.”
Everyone had given Jeremiah company for a couple of hours. Then, one by one, everyone began parting. The last person left was Michelle, who tended to Jeremiah when the nurses were away. From Jeremiah’s battle cry came the determination to not be defeated at the hands of the enemy!