The Good Shepherd
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The Good Shepherd Pt. 6
Lanterns flickered along the nicotine stained walls. Heavy clouds of smoke tainted with overtones of vomit wafted through the dark tavern. But the patrons, a raucous cheery bunch, seemed oblivious to the stench which itched the innards of my nostrils. Hunger drove us past the fumes to a dirty table in the darkest corner of the roadhouse.
I pulled out the bills Silhouette had handed me that last night in Winchendon. She had wrapped them in plastic and folded that into a linen handkerchief.
“Maybe this will still be useful where you are going Pastor,” She said.
When Oliver, posing as Virginia, had first suggested the escape I was dubious. Silhouette had been the one to convince me.
“Pastor, Tyson has taken over the town. He is the Bone Brothers only he wears a badge. He has to be stopped just like they did, but he isn’t going to listen to the gospel if that’s what your thinking. In fact he plans to kill you to make his point, that the Bible won’t work.”
She gave me that knowing look that said this was more of what she had foretold before the lights went out.
“Listen we maybe aren’t in the Tribulation yet but it’s gonna get a bit Tribulationish right quick. You’ve got to go and see if you can find help before Tyson turns on every God-fearing man and woman in town.”
“But my mother and Anna…” I began
She cut me off, ” I’ve already taken them to my house. We’ll be fine. You go.”
She touched my hand lightly, “I will be waiting at your house with supplies on Sunday night. Come around the back.”
That was Friday.
Sunday was the last time I saw her. By Tuesday we were in Leominster. Wednesday night we reached Acton and collapsed into the darkened booth at the back of the roadhouse.
Oliver sat with her back to the wall, face to the door. She kept her bag with the bowie-knife close by her side ready for action though I told her if she tried to use it on anyone I would step in. Our whole world is filling to the brim with death and violence. The last thing this lost realm needs is a church that answers violence with violence, death with death. It’s in these places of darkness that sacrifice and persecution become the shining gems of God’s kingdom power. If we should be attacked, persecuted or even killed I am ready to meet Jesus if only it means someone may see Him in me. That was something that changed in me when I met the Bone Brothers. I can see now what I couldn’t see by the glow of electric lamps. Nothing in this life matters unless somehow it fulfills God’s plan. So much of what I spent my life energy on before the black-out didn’t matter. I spent so much of my strength trying to avoid the things that probably would have made the biggest impact for God.
Silhouette had been right about the money. The barkeep evidently hadn’t seen a ten spot in several months. The clucking of chickens from the kitchen and the basket of canned goods and sacks of flour sitting beside the bar indicated his usual stock-in-trade. He gladly lightened us of three bills for our meals and drinks and then left us alone to regale his other customers with stories of the time before when cars ran and houses were warm. His story played like ancient history even though we were only a few months away from darkness’ origin.
Oliver hunkered over her bowl like a starving wolf guarding its kill. Her eyes focused from our dark corner across the room to the boisterous crowd, “Your money has attracted some attention.”
I turned and noted the man sitting at the table closest to the door. He sat on the edge of the crowd acting a part but sharing none of the drunken ribaldry that was increasing as the night wore on. His hair was oiled back in place and clipped neatly above his ears. He wore a grey tweed suit. A clean brown trench coat hung over the chair beside him. His shoes gleamed black with polish sans spit. He smoked a pipe. Faint clouds of cherry scent billowed towards us from his realm even as he scanned our shadow with deep intent.
I gazed at him refusing to remove my interest if he would not. At last he rose and came to the table.
He offered his hand,”Scott.”
A voice deep inside of me muttered, “Trust.”
“Not many people pay with money anymore.” Scott said.
“I’m imagining that’s because most people don’t have any.”
He smiled, “But you do?”
“Not much anymore; But then we really don’t need it now. We only have another day or so to travel.” I explained.
“He can help.” The voice in my belly said.
“Where are you coming from?” Scott asked.
I thought about withholding the truth. I didn’t know Scott. We couldn’t be sure he was safe.
The voice inside said “Trust.”
His eyes narrowed and he nodded slowly, “Where you headed?”
“Boston,” I said.
“Going to see them then are you?”
“What’s that?” I asked curious.
Oliver and I sat up at that. The noise of the crowd seemed to dull as the air distilled with tension and hope.
“You didn’t know?” He asked taking a deep drag on his pipe.
I shook my head almost imperceptibly. My eyes searched his for any sign of the lie.
“The lights in the city have been on for a month.”
My belly rumbled, “Trust.”