Chapter 22, 23, 24

Chapter 22 Ready, Set…

Shaman let me know that Detective Larsen had recognized one kid out of a bunch of young guys going in and coming out of the old church. He followed him to a bus station. They have a history of sorts and this kid is trying to get his act together. He said they watched some social action videos as part of a participation project. When the detective pressed him about who was in there; he admitted there were at least two guys still in there. One was in a room, he knew because he was shouting as we walked down the hallway pass the room. The other guy he saw from a distance as he was leaving. The young man described someone who looked like Keith. It was 10:00 and I was to hustle over there because we were breaking in tonight.

I parked about a couple of blocks away from Shaman and called him. He said the security guard comes out about every hour or so for a smoke. His last break was at 10:20 and it was 10:30 when I got there. I quickly told him about Savanah. He couldn’t believe it. I locked the truck and walked over to where he was watching. We then looped around the back of the church. We slowly made our way along the alley. We kept our baseball caps low over our heads and walked with our hands in our pockets. The cameras were probably not being monitored but were being stored. We couldn’t be sure where exactly one stopped and the other started but we felt like we were in a blind spot. We waited. We were about 20 yards from the back entrance. Shaman seemed desperate and I was glad I was here for him. We were about ready to break the law.

I quietly asked Shaman, “Do you remember when you found me in San Francisco that night?”

“Yeah, what a night, I will never forget it.”

“You have told me bits and pieces and I have heard you include it generally when you have given your salvation testimony. I don’t believe you have ever given me the complete picture. Tonight as I was searching for Savanah, I told myself that if you could find me that night I could find Savanah, and I almost did.”

“You remember saying ‘there is no God’ right? You went zooming into outer space from there. When you started running, I couldn’t keep up with you so I settled down where we had been sitting until the concert ended. You never showed up. They were done packing up the equipment. I had been doing circles around the concert area hoping to spot you. You know how you pray in those situations. Well I did and the next thing I know I run into a guy who is witnessing to some of the roadies. Turns out the guy had been a bass player in one of the groups. He had gotten saved and comes around to the concerts to talk with his old compatriots. He was a good guy and people respected him. I stood and listened to him, when he turned to me and said you look like you need God’s help. I laughed and everyone else laughed. I told him my story and he said you came to the right place because he knew where all the party houses were. We went to one house, everyone was shocked to see my new friend but they all remembered the ‘running man’ and you weren’t there. It was his confidence and grace that impressed me. He was his own man yet he managed to stay on good terms with everyone at the party house as far as I could tell. The next house is where we found you.”

“When you testified you added some bits.”

“When we started the search, we prayed. He asked me if I was right with God, you know how I would have answered. He didn’t press me, but I knew he knew I was about half right with God. You know what I mean, church kid’s dilemma. We found you. When he delivered us back to Golden Gate we prayed a prayer of thanking God for a miracle, because that is exactly what it was and I knew it. As he left his parting words to me were ‘God is going to show you something today, never forget He has your number’”.

“Then John called you.”

“Not exactly, I called my parents to check in, which I had been doing every day as you know. They were freaking out but were doing their best not to show it. My mom let me know that John had called that morning looking to talk with me, saying it was important. So important, that he gave her a number for me to call him back. When I realized you would be sleeping it off for a while I went to a pay phone and called him. Turns out he had done acid last night too. He seemed spaced still, but he let me know loud and clear that ‘there was no God’. It knocked me over. I told him about your experience and how you had said the same thing. We were silent. Then I told him about the guy helping me find you. I told him what he said to me and I told John in no uncertain terms that I am sure there is a God and I know LSD and every other drug has the ability to move a person to the dark side. Silence. He finally mumbled that I might be right and hung up.”

“You came back from that trip as a man of God. You were still Shaman but you were different and everyone knew you were different. You were Shaman the man of God. Thanks for staying my friend even though our paths diverged.”

“I knew that just like God had my number, He had yours.”

We heard the door opening and the security coming out for his smoke.

Chapter 23 …Go!

We casually walked towards the security guard as if though we were walking through the property to get to Broadway. He wasn’t concerned until Shaman said they have his son inside.

I said “Don’t move.” He froze.

“Quickly, how many people inside?”

He wasn’t ready to risk his life. He told us. Yes, two guests, probably heavily sedated and two staff workers. Both are playing on their computers, the cameras are running but they were not monitoring them. He gave us the layout. His card opens all of the doors. The church sanctuary is used as a large meeting hall. This backdoor leads to a hallway that skirts the sanctuary on the right and offices on the left. His key opens all of the doors. The two guests are in two rooms about halfway down the hall. One woman is at the reception office at the main entrance. The nighttime orderly, he is in charge of the guests, is in an office just past the two guests.

“Do you know the names of the guests?”

“Not really, I might have heard them, but it isn’t registering.”

“Keith. Ring any bells.”

“I don’t think so.”

“Your call Shaman, I am with you.”

“Let’s do it. I will stop at the orderly’s office. Hopefully you can get by without getting seen. Try not to show weapons.” I zip tied the guard and in we went. We quietly hustled down the hallway. No lights in the rooms. The next office door was open. Must be the orderly. We paused, tried to peek in, couldn’t see anything and Shaman gave me the go ahead. I hopped pass the door. “Abraham, is that you?” I am now running to the front desk. Her phone was ringing, she picked up as she was looking at me. “No I don’t think that was Abraham.” Her conversation ended. I couldn’t tell if she had a way of communicating trouble, but I didn’t notice any movements as she came from around the corner and accompanied me down the hall. Shaman had the orderly opening the doors. First kid, a wiry small fry and he immediately sensed what was going on and bolted down the hallway towards the back door. Next office a big football player, sedated, but not Keith.

“Let’s get out of here. They won’t call the cops they don’t want to explain why these boys were locked up. Let’s go.” Shaman led the way out the back again. We saw the wiry kid surrounded by gang bangers outside the back door. We turned around and ran as fast as we could to the front entrance. Shaman still had the key. It opened the door and out we went. The big kid was sticking with us. We went left up the hill towards the vehicle. Another vehicle pulled up and three or four guys came tumbling out. We instinctively split up. I went left and Shaman went right. The big kid kept running down the middle of the road.

I could hear tires screeching and car doors slamming. I was galloping through a neighborhood climbing from terrace to terrace. I was a couple of blocks up the hill when I decided to see if I could cross towards my truck. I heard shouting they spotted me. The shout came from further up the hill. I started making my way down the hill. At one point I saw a couple of guys making there way towards me from the top and a couple more guys moving my way from the church. I started moving along a fence line that separated one row of houses from the lower row. Eventually there was no room to walk so I was clinging to the fence as I went further into the neighborhood. It was a 30 foot drop so I was ready to jump down if I had to. I heard a wicked snarl and a bark as I felt the dog’s teeth tear at my hand. I was falling.

Chapter 24 Where Am I?

“How you doing Jane?”

“Enjoying the peaceful morning. Quite the change from last night. Did you boys have trouble again at my church?”

“Jane you know its not your church anymore. The city had better use for it.”

“What could be better than a church in this neighborhood. I’m blind but I can see that and so can you? How is your mother doing?”

“She’s getting better, thank you. They sent me down to ask you what you saw last night. I know you are not blind all the way and you see more with your poor eyesight than most people see with 20/20 vision.”

“You boys disturbed any sleep I might have gotten, but come closer and I will tell you what I saw last night.” He played along with a smile.

She softly sang a rap version of the Battle Hymn, “Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord…David gave me the beats, how do you like it?”

“I love you Jane, I will see you later.”

My mind was making sense of the conversation I had just heard. I was in a basement on a big bed that took up about the whole room. There was a computer  screen on a dresser at the foot of the bed. No closet, so things were neatly piled around the bed. The dresser drawers were useless since it butted up against the bed. My head felt like it was twice the size and my right hand was bandaged. My pistol, wallet and phone were gone. In the doorway was a big pit bull staring at me. I wasn’t sure if I should move or not.

I heard her open the door and come into the house, she was singing a bit in the kitchen with the water running and she came down the stairs of the basement. “Manny, don’t you bother him.” The dog looked away. And there she was, my angel.

“Well good morning my young man.”

I didn’t quite know what to say so I mumbled a good morning back.

“I’ll bet you are wondering how you found yourself to be waking up on that bed there. Do you mind if I sit for a minute on the bed to tell you?” She sat and positioned herself so that is wasn’t awkward sitting on the edge of the bed and twisting a bit to see me. Manny was immediately on the bed licking my face.

“Unique, Unique come get Manny out of here.” The princess arrived and with a command they were off. I adjusted closer to the corner so that she didn’t have to twist as much.

“You and your friends caused quite a commotion last night. They were out in force looking to find you guys. David, my son, let me know that they caught two young guys trying to escape the dungeon and one man who must have been breaking them out. You, they have been looking for all night into the morning. Manny was going wild through the ordeal just like every other dog in the neighborhood. David’s room is at the other end of the basement. He had his window open, making music with all of the sounds. We all heard Goliath give his roar, Unique cracked the door and Manny was out like a bolt going in the direction of Goliath behind us. Goliath sits up on top of a 30-foot wall and the two of them go back and forth with knowledge that they will never get close to each other. Unique and David went out to retrieve Manny and there you were.”

“I need to get out of here.”

“No I think this is right where God wants you Jack.”

She smiled the most beautiful smile and the unseeing eyes spoke a kindness that the years could never rob from her as she said my name. I felt a wave of emotion. No, she is playing with me, she has my wallet, that’s how she knows my name.

“We have been praying for about six months for Jack Strong and here you are.” Now I am confused, is she talking about the accident? Is she a prophetess are some kind of witch?

“Imagine our surprise when we looked into your wallet. Jack Strong. Your pastor used to be our pastor here in Seattle. I called him and told him you were here. He knew something wasn’t right, your ‘everything is good’ texts didn’t fool him.” This was Jane, sure I knew who she was. Unique, David; I knew the whole family.

“Unique, bring Jack’s things in here.” In she waltzed, placing my things on the bed. This gave Manny the excuse to jump back on the bed. Now it was the four of us. Jane asked me to tell her what was going on and the words poured forth and it felt like a load was being lightened on my soul.

About hansston

Pastor a church in Sparta.
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