“A Well in Emmaus” Chapter One   Leave a comment

All Rights Reserved to the Author 11/23/2013

Chapter One

Kingdom Come

She stood before the safe, one hand beckoning, the other holding the cloth-wrapped bundle. Her face hid behind the veil, but her large dark eyes were sad and angry. Shane slid up the wall, bracing himself in the corner, scrubbing tears from his stinging eyes with the heels of his hands. Time had come.

It had been years since he’d thought about God, let alone prayed. His heart had been certain that there was no god. Yet a verse floated up from some long-forgotten Sunday School. “… your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”

“This is my kingdom come,” Shane whispered. “What I earned on earth and in heaven.”

Her eyes demanded his obedience and his legs complied. The safe was locked, but no matter; he knew the combination. The interior was dark, but he knew the contents. Four handguns rested on the main shelf. Guns on the right, clips on the left. Shane picked up the largest caliber, the 44 semi-auto. It was light. Unloaded! He always unloaded when he came home from a trip. His left hand moved automatically to a matching clip while his right thumb popped the release in the handle. The clip slid easily home and the gun felt right. Heavy. Final.

She stood to his left as she had that night, clutching the bundle to her chest. Shane raised the gun as if to fire at her, but then turned it, put the barrel up under his chin, deep in the curve of his jaw and pulled the trigger.

CLICK! The sound echoed through the room like a shot, but far quieter.

Not bang? Shane felt the blood coating his hands as he stared at the gun, bewildered why his life hadn’t just ended. The safety was still on, he hadn’t primed the first round. He thumbed the safety off and worked the slide, hearing the round slip into the chamber.

“If you’re going to do it, do it right? Don’t risk flinching, blowing your face off and living.”

Not his voice or hers, but it had a point. Shane stared at the barrel, tongue working at the thought of putting it in his mouth. Her eyes bore into his soul while blood stuck his fingers together. She wanted this.

“This is my kingdom come,” Shane whispered again. When you serve Satan, you reap the whirlwind. He raised the gun and opened his mouth to receive the barrel, ignoring the taste of carbon and gun oil, and pulled the trigger.

CLICK! The sound deafened him and yet he breathed. What the hell?

“We are … we are … the youth of the nation! We are … we are … the youth of the nation!”

The cell phone echoed out of the safe, the long unheard ring tone jarring Shane from head to toe. He flinched, dropped the gun, covered his head as he watched it drop. It hit the threadbare carpet, bounced then slid toward the bed.

Shane stared at the cell phone – a cheap LG that he hadn’t touched, hadn’t powered up, in years. After the ring tone (not of his choosing) cycled three times, the phone went silent. With shaking hands, Shane picked the distracting cell up. Jacob. A moment later the cell vibrated to say a text was coming through. Shane stared at it.

I’m praying for you! GPJ

The screen went black, like you’d expect from a discharged cell. What the hell? Somewhere on the other side of the house, someone began banging on the front door. Shane looked down at his hands. The blood was gone. He stared around his bedroom, recognized it as his bedroom. Not Ramah. She was gone. She’d never been here. I’m freaking losing my mind!

The banging continued and became more insistent. Shane swept up the gun, strode through the living room to approach the door with the gun behind his back.

“Who is it?” he called out and then ducked sideways in case they were not friendlies. You could come back from Mirastan, but you brought it with you.

“Abri la puerta, amigo!” Mike demanded.

Shane let out a pent-up breath and eased the door open to make sure Mike was alone before he released the security slide. He put the gun down on the battered coffee table while Mike closed and restrained the door. Shane dropped onto the sofa.

“What’s up with you, Ric?” Mike asked. “You look like crap.”

Mike wasn’t an introspective guy, but you could count on him for honesty and to cut right to the point. Shane dropped his head onto the back of the couch and sighed.

“Nothing’s changed,” he admitted.

“Nothing? You mean what we’re not talking about?”

Shane glared at him. Mike dragged one of the kitchen chairs onto the carpet and straddled it.

“It wasn’t your fault,” he began. He’d said that before. Shane’s answer retrod old ground.

“It was. What we did … what I did … you know it was my fault, as much as it was anyone else’s.”

“And, so you’re …???”

“Not sleeping, barely eating. It’s why I turned down the job. I can barely sign my name, much less fly an airplane, drive a truck and return enemy fire.”

Mike’s gaze settled on the 44. Shane watched as Mike picked up the gun, thumbed on the safety and ejected the clip. When he cleared the slide, a round popped out. Shane’s heart began to pound hard. He knew that gun. It had never misfired. Mike continued, dismantling the gun, looking over the pieces. While he worked, he talked.

“Maybe I’m insensitive, but they were shooting at us.”

“Not all,” Shane croaked.

“No, not all, but how were we supposed to tell friendlies from bad guys? When you’re in the storm, you deal with what comes flying your way and if people get in the way ….” He shook his head. “You sound like a man who might eat this,” he said, gesturing to the parts lined up on the edge of the coffee table. Shane flinched. Mike grew very still. “That bad, huh?”

“I just want to sleep without nightmares,” Shane whispered.

“Killing yourself seems like a treatment for that?” he asked, softly, like he was channeling Alicia, his wife of less than two weeks. Shane stared at the ceiling. Mike sighed. “Look, we both know you’re not Eric Faraday. Somewhere there’s a family. You used to talk about them. If you eat this gun, do they send your remains home in a box or do you just disappear off the face of the earth?” Shane turned his head to stare open-mouthed at his friend. Mike’s tough-guy attitude dissolved like sugar in the rain. “Yeah, that’s what I thought. Eric Faraday ain’t that other guy. You have a mom, a grandfather … people who care about you who get hurt either way, but if you just disappear ….”

Shane sat up, put his elbows on his knees and pointed to the gun.

“I had that in my mouth when you started knocking,” he admitted. “You think I should just go home and invade their white-picket-fence existence with my demons?”

Mike looked like he might shrug, but then he nodded firmly.

“Yeah. Mi espousa – she knows what I do, sort of, for a living. When I wake up at night slicked with sweat, she doesn’t ask. She knows. She just puts her head on my chest and breaths slowly and I go back to sleep.”

“You have nightmares too?”

“A few.” Mike shrugged like it was no big deal. “You should go home to that farm town in Iowa and let them help you.”

Mike didn’t know, couldn’t know, how complicated that plan was.

“You don’t know I’m even welcome there.”

“Why wouldn’t they? Familia – it’s always embrazo, even when you screw up, they love you. Es tu familia.”

Shane rubbed a hand over his hair. It was longer than it had been in years, starting to curl, to catch at his fingers.

“Tu es mi familia!” Shane reminded Mike.

“Yeah, we’re hermanos. That’s why I asked you to be my best man. But I’m war and you’re burned out. And friends don’t let friends eat guns when they can see the way forward for them.”

“If I go … you may never hear from me again.”

Mike scoffed.

“Like I’d hear from you again if you blew your brains out.” He made a “you’re kidding me, right?” face.  “There’s email, protected cell phones. And Eric Faraday will ride again, cause you ain’t even 30.”

Mike stood up.

“I’m making you some food and you’re taking a shower and then we’ll figure this out.”

Shane got up off the couch slowly, like pulling free of molasses. He took a step toward the bedroom and then looked back at the dismantled 44.

“I …,” he croaked.

“Right.” Mike swept up the parts to the 44 and preceded Shane into the bedroom. “You go take that shower. I’ll change the combination and then – well, you’re just going to have decide you aren’t killing yourself this week.”

“You make it sound so easy,” Shane said, anxiety clutching his chest as Mike put the 44 away and slid the security panel open to change the combination.

“It is,” Mike insisted. “It’s easier than dying and facing God with your suicide.”

Shane stared at him. Mike’s religious beliefs were shallow and ill-formed. He admitted once that he went to confession occasionally, but mainly to talk. He didn’t do penance and didn’t think he needed to. It was cheap therapy, in his opinion.

“Seriously?” Mike shrugged this time.

“I don’t know why I’m saying any of this. I sound like my abuela.” He thought a moment, running a hand over his close-shaven head, then nodded firmly. “I believe it.”

What if I don’t? Shane thought.

“And, you know, even if you think you don’t,” Mike continued as if reading Shane’s mind. “My abuela would say it doesn’t matter if we believe in God, because he believes in us.” He set the uncharged cell down on the dresser. “Anyone so screwed up that they’d leave their cell phone in a locked safe is too screwed up to be making big decisions like whether to commit suicide. Go take that shower while I reset the combination. Nobody’s dying here today.”

copy write reserved Laurel Sliney aka Lela Markham “A Well in Emmaus” 11/23/13

Posted November 24, 2013 by aurorawatcherak in Uncategorized, Writing

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