Fred ponders the significance of the question for a moment and then replies, “Because it feels right. Your mom has been telling me to go to church more often. I think Jesus will see us through to the end if I keep praying.”
Thursday, July 7, 2011
Written and owned by Greg Miller 2011
Chapter XXIII: The Path to Baby Smith
Fred agates over the dilemma, not knowing where he is going outside of a hospital is not helping his raging headache. Somewhere deep down he starts a conservation with something which simply feels right and light. How would Fred express his faith if someone asks him? What is faith?
I’m not alone. I feel a little light bubble within black chaos and disorder; it grows each time I connect with it. Within the light bubble is everything right. There is no gray, no dullness, and no blackness. All decisions and choices have an individual strand which is part of the greater tapestry. Destiny and free will coincide. Without one the other does not exist. There are many variant light colors depicting all people’s faiths and beliefs; I chose to believe in this one. We are all part of the greater conscience, the greater tapestry.
Fred’s headache subsides. He reaches for the light vibration. It doesn’t matter if it’s his imagination or if the vibration is a hallucination from lack of sleep. He doesn’t care. When he was at the gates of the white house he felt light energy coursing through his awareness when he prayed out loud into the bull horn. Fred decides the light vibration and small voice is connected to his God, to Jesus. The bubble is too rational and complex, he is simple.
Jesus thanks for being around. Can you guide us? I’m not having a good day.
He doesn’t hear a voice, but feels a vibration. It tugs at his mind. Fred’s mind threatens to overwhelm the little voice with its crud. He closes his eyes and prays harder. His mind shuts up. He instantly sees a new landscape in his imagination. He is a dark ball. In his limited understanding Fred symbolizes the dark ball as earthly materialism and his selfish desires. His priest refers to it as sin and temptation. Telling his mind to again shut up he is able to see the light bubble more clearly. The closer he gets to it the calmer he feels.
The moment ends as Kyle shatters the illusion, “Dad, we can cut cross through this block which will save us some time. Fred’s headache rushes back, his reverie is shot.
I need a cigarette. I need to learn to grasp those moments better. It’s a lot like fishing. Fishing sticks and beer! Maybe when I get Kyle and the baby home I can take a few days off and go fishing.
Looking around he catches his bearings and decides to tell his son to hold a minute. It’s time to smoke his last cigarette. They are on First Street NW. This knowledge doesn’t mean anything to him. Fred see’s star bucks. The doors are open and the walls still stand, it looks intact.
Do they sell cigarettes at Star bucks? I know they sell them in bars.
Fred knows it’s wrong to steal. He resigns himself to the notion that cigarettes are not going to be around after his last one. He isn’t going to steal anything; he doesn’t consider the utility belt from the Smithsonian theft. Fred’s hands shakes as he grips his last cancer stick. He doesn’t know why he needs them, but they certainly sharpen his focus for a short time. His son has an enough prudence to keep silent as he thinks of himself appearing regal. Fred dramatically takes a few drags. He decides to pray again.
Jesus, I can’t do this alone. Please protect and help those I love. Give me the strength to go on and save as many as I can. I know it’s wrong for to ask, and I know the Priests always says not to smoke, but if it’s alright with you, please don’t let me run out of cigarettes? I promise I will do whatever you want.
Fred softly swears as he ironically forgets to finish his last cigarette. It burns as he prays. The little light ball becomes a little bigger in his imagination. Opening his eyes he sees Kyle ten to fifteen away. His son pokes at the broken earth, his left foot kicks at a pay meter. The meter moves a few inches. Kyle kicks is a little harder while swearing the durability of the machine is child proof and will keep its quarters to the end of days.
Will Washington DC become the next sunken city of Atlantis? Are those people in the History Channel going to someday find the money meters full of quarters while digging for lost treasures of DC? Will they sell the American coins the same as how people buy Ancient Roman coins online? Freaky.
His son uncanny picks up his thought as he mentions, “Do you remember when Cousin Becky flaunted her roman coins back in 1999 after Christmas Dinner? I bet you the quarters in there will be worth something in the future if America gets destroyed.”
Fred remembers Christmas of 1999. His family hosted a large family convention at the Holiday Inn the same year his wife discovered online auctions. She loved online auctions and thought she was going to get rich off of them.
Without thinking Fred answers, “Your wrong smart boy. I might not know much, but gold and silver will never lose its value. Becky’s father, my brother Daniel, has a lot of gold saved up in case terrorists attack. For that matter I think he has enough food and water for us to consider going to his home after we get back to our home.”
Someone screeches in the distance. Fred sees a fairly large order Latino woman grabbing her purse back after a failed purse snatcher falls due to being clumsy. The street kid poorly blocks the bigger woman as she unrelenting pounds him with her fists.
His voice reminds Fred of the character named Screech from Saved by the Bell. The youth is dressed in baggy jeans making him appear to be a gangster. He rubs his right ankle as the woman grabs her purse back and hits with it. Again and again the purse hits the target. She alternately hits him with her left fist.
“Lady, please stop your hurting me!” His begging does not ease the woman’s assault.
She huffs and puffs, Fred can hear despair in her voice as she screams, “You son of a bitch! How dare you rob me?” Kyle walks pass them. Fred is going to do the same thing when the little voice in him tells him to stop this.
The kid yells louder, “Lady, please stop! Someone get her off of me! She’s hurting me!”
Fred stops. The teen covers his face as the woman escalates her violence. Normally Fred would have saluted the woman for standing up for herself but he’s getting the impression the teen really is going to get hurt. Fred closes his eyes. His imagination reaches out and he sees them as two bubbles. She appears to be radiant and yellow, her fury is righteousness. But she’s going too far. If this happens her bubble will turn a bad color. Looking deeper Fred sees the teen’s aura is green and black.
However the little voice tells him to look closer. Within the chaos beats a small light.
Jesus, what do you want me to do?
Fred gets the impression Jesus might end the violence by saying something profound. Opening his eyes he sees the woman is about to kick the crying lad. Fred finds his voice, “Lady, I think he learned his lesson, you can stop.”
She doesn’t listen, immediately comes down her right foot. Fred reaches for the woman as Kyle tells him to not get involved. He isn’t God but the little vibration urges him to stop the violence.
The kid screeches, “I am sorry! God please save me! I will do anything you want!”
Fred reaches out and says, “Lady, have some mercy. He’s begging God. Do you want to hurt him for real?” He reaches the ill fated dual as the woman is about to kick him again. He quickly puts his arms around the bigger woman and whispers, “Too much violence today, please stop. Jesus, please help these people.”
The woman stops assaulting her would be purse snatcher. She crumbles into Fred’s arms and proceeds to cry. She speaks quick Spanish, Fred can’t follow. The kid cries while shielding his arms around his face. The woman is not hurt but she smashed the boy’s nose really good. She gathers herself quickly and says something which sounds like it could have been something about her son or husband and trots off. Fred hears her curse the lad.
Fred looks at the lad and doesn’t really know what to say, “It wasn’t me who saved you, it was Jesus. I’m just trying to help people.” He then walks off. The kid yells after Fred if he can travel with them, him and his son say no at the same time.
Kyle soon gets them on New York Avenue NW. Fred grunts in response, he feels someone watch him and soon stops and looks back. The street kid is following but doesn’t menace.
The lad’s screechy voice drifts across the cluttered street as he quickly picks up his pace putting him ten to fifteen feet behind the Smiths. Kyle yells they don’t want to be bothered. The lad is less than a dozen feet away; his body is poised with a need to be accepted.
The homeless kid yells back to Kyle, “I can help you, where are you going?”
Kyle responds, “You’re a piece of shit, leave us alone or I will call the cops!” Fred and the lad look at Kyle in disbelief, Fred rolls his eyes at his sons bluff.
The lad kicks at some loose earth but doesn’t stop following, “Where are you going? There is a Tsunami coming and everyone is dying because the ground is shaking! Can you blame me for trying to make a dollar, I owe you my life, let me help you?” Kyle looks as if he wants to get violent. Fred steps in.
Fred closes his eyes and looks with his imagination. He is startled when he sees a small light radiate from the lads’ direction grow a little brighter. On the other hand his son appears to be a sick emerald green twined with dark blue. This vision shocks him and he opens his eyes.
Fred says, “Shit, I need a cigarette. Can you two stop arguing? We are going to the Washington Hospital Center. Do you have any advice?” He doesn’t feel threatened.
Kyle puffs as he responds like a child and not an adult, “I can’t believe you’re talking to someone like that! I know what I am doing, follow me!”
He looks at his son and rolls his eyes. “Kyle, listen to your dad. This stranger is a bad dude but sometimes you have to look at the best in people.”
For a moment Kyle holds his ground, so does Fred.
I can’t believe I’m arguing with my son over a street kid who tried snatching a purse from a woman. What’s wrong with me?
He is about to let Kyle have the victory but the small voice adds its two sense.
The lad represents the poor and needy. Don’t walk away, he sincerely asked for Gods help.
Not knowing why he mirrors his priest’s voice he says, “He who gives to the poor will lack nothing, but he who closes his eyes to them receives many curses."
He wins as Kyle flinches and looks away. He never lost his authority as Dad. Fred adds, “It’s from the Book of Proverbs 28:27.”
Kyle bitterly responds, “Why did you have to tell this person my name? Don’t you have any common sense Fred?”
Kyle slumps his shoulders forward and continues to walk. Fred briefly wonders what the back pack has in it but before he can ask the homeless lad steps forward. “I heard you want a cigarette? Would you like a Marlboro?” The lad takes out a carton from his own beat up back pack. He tosses it to Fred who completely misses catching it.
CIGERRETES! I can’t believe he is giving me cigarettes!
Fred rushes for the carton, it has mud over it but he doesn’t care. He doesn’t ask where the lad received the booty. This is a gift and isn’t theft. The homeless kid chuckles as he wipes the last of the blood trickling from his nose and says his name is Colon.
Kyle answers, “Whatever. We need to go dad.” He continues to walk East on New York Street NW.
Colon flippantly cries out loud, “You are going the wrong way. Military units are a half a mile up the street and they aren’t allowing people in or out. They stalled all traffic and people are getting frustrated. To the South I heard a lot of gun fire and traffic isn’t coming out. It has to be Martial Law, but I don’t really know.”
Without wanting too Kyle hesitantly asks, “What if we cut north from here? We will only have to go right a few blocks. Come on Dad.”
Colon answers, “The tsunami is coming. Something weird happened to Bryant St. NW. It’s flooded under water. You can’t go that way.”
Kyle fluttery replies, “I don’t believe you. That’s impossible!” Fred rips out a pack of cigarettes. He shoves half the boxes into his trousers and the others in to the utility belt. Five packs don’t want to stay down. He asks his son to put them in his back pack.
Kyle instantly becomes guarded but doesn’t know how to say no. After a moment of not being able to find a logical excuse he says sure. He adds he doesn’t want his Dad to go into his private belongings and to ask him to get the cigarettes when he wants them. Fred decides to put all the cigarettes in the back pack outside of two packs. He doesn’t want to know what’s in the pack until he has his grandson.
Colon tells them, “You guys are weird. Thanks for helping me; I will tag along for a time. I can show you how to get to the hospital. Follow me.”
Kyle doesn’t want to follow as he replies, “What’s to stop you from robbing or hurting us? Why are you doing this?”
Colon looks at him in disbelief, “Man, you saved my life. I asked God to help me and here you guys came. I owe you a debt. You have nothing to lose in letting me help and everything to gain.”
Fate gives credit to Colons point as two military choppers speed ahead. Soldiers can be seen in the distance, they direct people out of their vehicles. Deep down Fred doesn’t want to be stopped or bothered by police or military when he’s so close to reaching his grandson. The vibration in his imagination urges him to follow Colon. He finishes the new cigarette with a few drags and prays.
Jesus, please protect us from any ill doers and from any curses. I pray for you to direct me. Thank you for allowing me to have my smokes. I will do whatever you want.
The Smiths enter U.S. Route 29. The vibration reminds him of a passage from Ecclesiastes 5:18. Even though he knows it applies to drink and food he thinks it relates to his situation. He quotes the passage to Colon and his son as he finishes the cigarette, “Then I realized that it is good and proper for a man to eat and drink, and to find satisfaction in his toilsome labor under the sun during the few days of life God has given him-for this is his lot." Laughing he adds, “I think smoking is my reward. You know what? I think each time I smoke a cigarette in the future I will pray to Jesus. Maybe someday he can help me get off of them.”
Kyle replies, “Whatever Dad. You’re going to get cancer from them if the Tsunami or earthquake doesn’t kill us first.”
Colon innocently answers, “No man, you have it all wrong. Aliens are coming and they are going to suck our brains out.”
Kyle sounds like a broken record, “Whatever. Shut up and leave me alone. Dad, when did you become so religious? Why are you talking about Jesus nonstop?”
Fred ponders the significance of the question for a moment and then replies, “Because it feels right. Your mom has been telling me to go to church more often. I think Jesus will see us through to the end if I keep praying.”
Kyle tells his dad he doesn’t believe in God and ends the conservation with the all familiar ‘whatever’ when he asks why not.
Colon doesn’t pay attention to Kyle as he tells Fred, “The Francis Scott Key Bridge has been destroyed. The river surged up and then emptied to God knows where when the earthquake struck. Hundreds of cars with people inside went into the water and were washed away. I was walking nearby when it started.
Kyle interrupts, “Is that where you got the Marlboro thief? Did you rob a different old lady?”
Colon doesn’t fall for the bait, “I watched people drown in their cars. It sucked. I found two cartons at the side of the road; I don’t know who owned them. It’s not wrong to take something like that.”
Kyle answers, “Is that why it’s illegal to pick up a wallet? Even if you have intentions in giving it back, it’s illegal! You are a thief.”
After walking a block Colon continues, “Did you guys know I-29 used to be historical? There used to be a road running through Manassas National Battlefield Park. It was famous during the civil war. I love to camp there.”
Kyle responds, “Dude, I don’t want you around, can you please shut up?”
Colon sullenly replies, “Fine, but one more point before I shut up. I-29 used to be called U.S. Route 170. I’m done. Follow me if you can.” Colon darts ahead. Without thinking both Smiths pick up their speed as they crisscross through cars. The side lanes of the four ways are somewhat clear outside of a few random vehicles. Many vehicles still have people listening to music. Everyone ignores them. Many head towards the military and police. Some passerby’s tell them whatever gossip they know. Word of mouth is the strongest link of communication when telecommunications are down. After sprinting many blocks they come to Bryant Street. Colon kindly slows down when Fred needs a breather. He manages to not need another cigarette.
It’s weird; when I have a lot of tobacco I don’t need it as much. Thanks for giving me the bounty Jesus. Someday please help me get off of them. I don’t want to get cancer.
He looks a little closer at Colon. Colon is skinny, he doesn’t eat enough. Fred feels a little sad for the lad. Colon has blondish hair. Colon could have been handsome if raised under the right circumstances. His expressions and demur are very boyish. Fred wonders why the lad doesn’t go to high school. A block away they see Colon sprint. Kyle swears and stops but Fred walks faster.
Kyle says, “Hold on dad, it could be a trap or maybe he is finally ditching us.”
Colon reappears, he waves Fred over. Colon frantically explains, “Hurry help, I know this person, he needs our help!”
At the juncture of I-29 and Bryant Street is a eight car pileup. Someone hit their breaks at the wrong moment which resulted in many cars becoming a big metal carnage. In the midst are many dead and a few wounded. Fred hurries. A group of people are near a minivan. The minivan is crushed between a Chevrolet pickup and a station wagon. Among the group are teenagers and a catholic priest. Fred can tell because the priest is still in formal dress. He is dressed in black with a white stripe collar. Everyone is mourning. This small crowd is quiet as the priest draws in his last breaths. Colon is on his knees, he holds the priests right hand and kisses it.
“Father, what happened? I was coming back, I am so sorry for leaving this morning!” Tears run freely. Another street kid tells of the accident. The earthquake destroyed the church. They were heading off to another parish when the cars in front of them did what they see. They don’t know how it started.
The priest is still alive. His voice is full of love, but it comes out not strong. Earlier in the day the priest’s voice would have been full of splendor and a pleasing to hear. The voice rasps, “Colon, praise God. I was thinking and praying about you. Is Max or Sam here, I’m having a hard time seeing of late, what’s going on?”
The teens dragged his body out of the wrecked van hours before. They were at a loss of what to do. They were happy Colon showed when he did. Colon looks towards Fred for guidance. Fred is at a loss, he doesn’t even know where they are. The priest sounds rational as he tells everyone to come closer. Fred hears him ask, “Colon where is Sister Margaret and or Brother Schaefer?”
Colon looks around, one of the street kid replies, “Father, they didn’t make it. The earthquake got them. Colon, what do we do?” Kyle tells Fred they need to move on. Kyle doesn’t move, the vibration deep inside him which is full of light tells him to wait.
The priest looks deep within Colons eyes, “Colon my son, you can accept Jesus into your life, you’re not like the rest. You can be special.” Colon won’t let go. He tells the priest he is not going to die and he accepts Jesus into his life. The priest tells him to listen to his last words. His breath comes in quicker and is shallower, every other three breaths he coughs spittle mixed with blood. “Colon, I had a dream. We don’t have much time. Listen…” His eyes shut, for a moment Fred thinks he passed on.
His eyes reopen, the priest appears to be somewhere else, and his expression is distant. “I dreamed of this. I knew I was going to die today. The Holy Spirit came to me. Tomorrow you will see two suns, but I will see none. I have a mission for you, for all of you.”
Colon and the others huddle around the priest, they are devoted, and they are of one mind. Fred closes his eyes and sees with his imagination. The landscape is like the sky at night; it’s dark and goes on forever. Within the darkness he sees silver threads connecting various light bubbles which look like islands. He knows these islands are people, there is a large light surrounded by smaller lights close at hand. He knows it is the priest. He follows the thread. A white light is around the priest, it surrounds the group in a radiant light which instantly humbles Fred. He opens his eyes; he sees the priest as a holy leader and doesn’t doubt the words he hears.
The priest holy voice can be both felt and heard, “The era of false hood and misconception is coming to a end. Our lord Jehovah has commissioned you all with a mission. Do you accept?” No one wants to live in the world that is coming; they all focus on what the man says. All but Kyle, he doesn’t know where Kyle is at the moment.
This is important. Please Jesus, give me your direction.
The priest rasps, “I was trying to sleep and was distressed about how the church has been and was asking God to direct me. Then it happened. I saw it all in my head in one flash. I saw all of this. Colon, God has a reason for you. Two men are coming. One is bad and another is good. The good man is good with tool belt, I am sorry; I don’t know who he is. There are others with the man with the tools, but I couldn’t see them clearly.” Colon leans closer.
The priest continues, “The Seraphim came to me. They showed me you would come before I died. I saw a great water flood the land after the earth shook. The great eagles feathers are plucked, and the lion comes again!” Colon beseeches the holy leader on what his mission is to be, he swears to follow it.
The priest continues, “Man has been judged ill fitted for God’s grace. There will be three in half cycles of death and misery. You will wish to be dead. But don’t give up, things will get better. A new beginning will come and your souls will be saved.”
Colon startles and looks up to Fred, pointing he declares, “Father, is this the man you want me to help?”
The priest can’t see past the group, he continues without answering, “The rapture isn’t what people think, you have to be strong. Real change comes from within. A little of God is with all of you, it’s your duty to bring a better world. Help those who will bring in a new beginning. Your mission is to help the good guys and fight evil.”
Fred closes his eyes. He sees a brilliant light ball come to the group. It’s not the same light as the previous; this light has a different texture. It is pure. He wants to weep and sing in joy. His imagination sees it reach for the priests mellow light. The priest radiates a mellow orange and happily accepts the larger light. Just as fast the light shoots off into the distance with the priests mellow light. Fred opens his eyes. The priest is dead.
Fred’s inner voice quietly fills his awareness as the light vibration picks up intensity. He says out loud, “Heaven and hell is a state of existence. I saw angels come for him. He is saved. The proverb comes to mind that we don’t just get judged once though. If we are living at the end of times we all need to be saved according to Hebrews 9:27. Christ died for our sins, I think his words rings true, but we need to now ask how are we going to give back to the world?” Fred never in his life talked like this, the words simply flow.
Colon reaches for the King James Bible in the dead priests hands. Looking at his friends he says, “Look, the man has a tool belt and he saved my life. He is the one Father talked about!” The street kids murmur and look upon Fred with respect and a purpose. The little voice deep inside tells him to accept the bible. Without hesitating Fred takes the bible. He feels a jolt pass between where his hands and the old book meet. He feels his headache go away. Colon hands him the priests cross. Its heavy. Fred accepts. The lifeless object does not look lifeless. Fred doesn’t need to close his eyes to see a soft glow come from the simple wooden cross.
Kyle pops up screaming at Fred, “Are you crazy? What are doing now? You’re not holy in any way!”
Fred looks at his son who appears to not have any light and says, “Oh be quiet! We need to get to the hospital!” A new feeling of dread sweeps Fred, not knowing how he knows; he believes he needs to get them to higher ground. The threat of the tsunami feels too real. He slips the bible into his belt underneath his shirt. The leather binding is smooth and feels cool against his skin. The small light bubble in him is now a raging torrent.
Colin and the others swear their allegiance to Fred, they all ignore Kyle. Fred tells them they need to get to the hospital ASAP and it is Jesus they need to swear to. They all say they have and they will follow him to the end of the world. Kyle says this is simply ridicules and storms ahead of the group. Deep down Fred feels comforted knowing God is around. Whatever God wants he wants. He feels responsible for the teens that now walk with them.
Fred quickens his pace as he listens to Colon tell them if they stay on the current path they can get to the hospital in ten minutes. He says something weird happened with the lake ahead and they need to bypass it. One of the other street kids agrees with him. No one argues.