The Good Word
By Tony Wassom
It was such a beautiful day.
The two young men walked up the sidewalk past perfectly manicured lawns, the sun streaked through the springtime maple leaves and left patterns of majestic light on the path in front of them.
Robert, the older of the two, had an air about him not yet present in James. But, there was something else going on, within Robert, which gave him a nearly indiscernible look of complacency. Still, with their white shirts, ties, slacks, and rubber-soled black shoes, there was no mistaking the two young men were missionaries.
“I just don’t understand how you’ve become so cynical.”
James sounded both innocent and angry. The two were standing at the end of a drive, preparing to go up and knock on the next door.
“When you’re on your second mission, maybe you’ll understand.” Robert was looking more in his backpack than at James. “This is only your first week, and you’re more of a lamb than the people we are bothering.”
“What do you mean, ‘maybe you’ll understand?’ Look, I know I’m younger than you, Robert, but I’ll never lose my faith, like you have. I will spend extra time in prayer, asking for your understanding to return.”
“If it makes you feel better,” Robert snickered, “then, by all means.”
James was more heartbroken than worried. He had looked up to Robert, for years, and thought of him as an older brother. Now, James worried his role model was going down a path of eternal damnation. James pulled his backpack from his shoulders and began fumbling through leaflets. He needed to be ready to give his next testimony, but even more, he didn’t want Robert to see the tears.
“I know you think you know more,” James was still looking into his backpack, “but The Good Word still needs to be spread if we want to see a saved world. If I can save only one…”
“Oh my God!” Robert was louder than he intended to be. “Don’t even finish that statement: if you can save just one, you’ll secure yourself and another a place in paradise. We have had our heads filled with that bull since birth! What if The Good Word is wrong? Have you ever considered that?”
“No, I have not considered that! What is wrong, with you? Why did you even come on this mission if you feel this way?”
“Because you needed an experienced missionary on your first mission, and I didn’t want you poisoned even more than you already are. You’re like my brother, James, and I hoped I could help you see there is more than The Good Word.”
James had never heard Robert refer to himself as his brother, before, and he could barely speak over the lump in his throat.
“I love you, Robert, but I have to tell the elders this is how you feel. I have to let them know you are not appropriate for missionary work, and you may even…” James’ breath stuttered, “…may even need conditioning.”
Robert didn’t flinch. He had already made up his mind he would be leaving the order after this mission, so a trip to the ranch in the desert didn’t worry him. Still, he felt so much compassion for James, and he wanted to set his mind at ease. Robert knew what it was like to believe so strongly in The Good Word, to feel worried about loved ones who didn’t agree with his beliefs…to say goodbye to friends and family who refused to believe.
“It’s okay, James, you don’t need to speak to the elders. I spoke to them, before we left, and they felt this trip would be a good step toward renewing my faith. Maybe they were right. Let’s finish today’s trek, and I’ll call Elder Stevens for a session of renewal, over the phone.”
James looked up, smiling and relieved Robert was seeing his way back into the fold.
“Tell you what,” Robert continued, “how about I take the lead on this house so you can see how an old pro spreads The Good Word?”
“I would love to see you in action!”
The two strolled up the path leading to the front door. All through the flower garden were stones with Bible verses carved into them; a statue of the Virgin Mary sat in the mulch by the stone bench under the tree. Robert thought to himself this is not a house for a newbie, like James.
The curtains in the large picture window were closed and there was no sign of anyone being home. Robert nudged James and gestured to the small camera over the front door, indicating they still needed to have their game faces on, in case someone was inside. The two straightened their ties, finger-combed their hair, and smiled as they prepared to deliver The Good Word to another lost family.
Robert pressed the doorbell button, as he was opening the storm door, and gave James a little wink.
“Watch an old pro in action,” Robert whispered.
James looked at Robert with the same awe a younger brother always has for his older brother. Maybe he and Robert would share paradise, together.
Robert snapped to attention as the door began to open:
“Good day, fellow believer! We are here to…”
There was no sound.
James watched Robert’s head explode.
Smoke was pouring from the end of the shotgun barrel and James felt chunks of Robert’s skull pelting him like shrapnel. Robert’s headless body was rigid and standing on the porch until it finally succumbed to gravity and collapsed to its knees.
James found himself scraping gray matter from his eye lids as sound began to find its way back to his ears. He looked toward the front door and heard the pump of the shotgun just as his eyes met hers.
This is an adaptation of a screenplay opening sequence I did for a creative writing class, nearly two years ago. It was fun to see how far my writing has come as I edited and rewrote the story.
A Dating Moment
By Jennifer Kent
At breakfast, I can tell Gram really wants to ask me something. “What?” I ask a little nervous because I thought she was asleep when I got home last night but she very well could have been eavesdropping.
Trying unsuccessfully to hide her smile, she knows exactly what she’s doing to me, she picks up her tea cup, takes a sip then asks, “Who was that young man who dropped you off last night? I didn’t realize you had made any friends.”
“Thanks a lot Gram.” I say sarcastically.
“Oh, Honey, I didn’t mean it like that. You’ve just been so closed off since you got here.” I never told her why I suddenly decided to move here and go back to school. Dad and I thought it was best not to worry her.
Smiling now, and feeling my pulse return to normal I say, “His name is Landon and we met at the coffee shop across from the beach.”
“I’m happy for you. It’s about time you moved on from that ex of yours. He always rubbed me the wrong way.”
A little taken a back because she had never mentioned anything before I ask, “Really? Why’s that”
“Because he was so patronizing to you and well frankly, I thought he was a jackass.”
Of course it was at that exact moment that I took a sip of my tea, so I had to choke it down rather than spew it across the table into her face. When I can catch my breath I start to laugh and say, ‘Gram!”
Laughing as well she explains, “You know he was. I was glad when your father told me that you had parted ways.”
Hours later, as I finish getting ready for my date, I’m still shocked that I had no idea how Gram felt about James. Then again, if I’m being honest I guess I shouldn’t because my parents felt the same way. I check my lipgloss one last time, stand back to give my flowy, summer dress a once over then I make my way downstairs just in time to see Landon pull up at the curb. After grabbing my purse I step out onto the porch just as Landon is climbing the steps. “Hi.” I say as I close the door behind me.
Leaning down to kiss my cheek he says, “Hi. You look very pretty.” Nervous all of a sudden I search my brain for the male equivalent of that.
Smiling I simply say, “Thank you. You look very nice too.” And he does in his dark jeans and button down, light green shirt, rolled up to the elbows. The color does amazing things to his eyes.
Flashing a smile and a dimple I never noticed before, “Thanks. All set?” He asks as he extends his elbow to me. Such a gentlemanly thing to do. After we get settled in the car he drives towards the beach and the restaurant is just a block up from the coffee shop.
“I never knew such a cute little place was so close to my favorite coffee shop.”
Putting the car in park he looks over at me and says, “You mean my favorite coffee shop.”
Narrowing my eyes and smiling when he winks I concede, “How about our favorite coffee shop?”
“Works for me.” And with that he gets out, rounds the hood of the car and opens my door for me. I had no idea he was so old fashioned. I like it.
We merely step in the door and the host comes right over to us, “Your favorite table is ready.” And we are immediately ushered to the front corner by the windows.
“You seem to have a lot of favorite things.” I say as he helps me into my seat.
“Favorite places, sure. Now thanks to you I’m adding some favorite moments as well.”
He is so surprisingly sweet. I can feel the butterflies, that until yesterday, I thought had deserted me start to flutter in my stomach. “That’s very kind of you to say. How about you order for us both. You must have a favorite dish.”
Rubbing his chin he gets the waiters attention, “I’ll take that challenge.” He orders chicken marsala, and a linguini with clam sauce along with a bottle of red wine. “That way I have better odds of you liking at least one dish.” He says with an easy smile.
Laughing, I say, “Two very good choices. It just means we have to share.”
It amazes me that I feel so at ease with Landon. As we wait for our meals the waiter brings over our wine and Landon makes a show of swishing it around in his glass before tasting it. “I don’t know why people do that. I’ve just always wanted to try it.” Covering my mouth with my napkin I laugh so hard I snort. Landon laughs at that and I remember that James would have been upset about an outrageous display like that. And I would have paid for it in the privacy of our home. Not wanting to ruin the mood I immediately push that thought aside.
Instead I lift my glass and toast, “To turning funny moments into memories.”
“I’ll second that. Salute.”
If you'd like to send Jennifer a message, please email me at Tony@tonywassom.com and I'll pass your message on to her.
Torn: The Reason (Part VI)
By Jenness Jordan
Duncan was paralyzed. The bullet being lodged in the lumbar region of Duncan’s back and for a long time, made it difficult for them to remove it. The doctor told us that if he had been able to perform the surgery sooner, Duncan’s chances would have been better.
I felt paralyzed, maybe a bad choice of words, but that is how I felt. The feeling subsided as I looked down at Duncan, his face ashen. Wrapping my arms around, I told him that I loved him and everything would be alright. He pulled my arms off and turned away from me.
“Duncan, I know you’re upset, but please, don’t shut me out.”
“Please, just leave. I need to be alone.”
“I can’t leave you. You need me.”
I tried again to embrace him, but he just pushed my arms back.
“Vicki, just leave.” His voice got a little louder.
“Mr. McKrae, I know this is a bit upsetting for you, but I want you to know …”
“I just want everyone to leave, now!” Duncan shouted, his voice crackling.
“Get out!” He yelled.
Running out of the room and crying so hard, that my heart fell past my stomach and down to the ground.
He’s never been angry before or even raised his voice to me. Why won’t he let me be there for him? I understand that he’s upset, but so am I. Why can’t I ever be happy for good? Why does happiness only last a short time for me?
Hoping that a few days away would have given Duncan time to calm down and be more receptive to me, I returned to the hospital bringing along our dog. The one that he had given me in NY. Hoping that she might help cheer him up, which it did. His smile returned and it seemed that things might be going back to normal. Well, as normal they can be given the circumstances. Again, the happiness was short lived. We were in the middle of a heated embrace, when he told me to stop and get off him.
“What’s wrong? “ I asked, weeping a little.
“Just please, stop.”
“Why, don’t you like it?”
“How can I like it if I can’t feel it?” His voiced rose
“Don’t do this, Duncan. Sex doesn’t matter to me.”
“I can’t and I won’t. I love you, Duncan. I won’t let you give up.”
“You don’t have a choice. It’s over. I don’t want to be with you.”
Reaching down to his fingers, Duncan pulled the ring off that I had given him, just a few short months ago
“You don’t mean that, Duncan. You’re just upset about something that is temporary.”
This is not happening! This isn’t real!
“It’s not temporary and it doesn’t matter. Nothing matters anymore. If you truly love me, Vicki, then you will take the ring and forget about me.”
“I won’t take the ring back, nor will I forget about you. I’m not leaving, and I’m just as stubborn as you.”
“Vicki, I don’t want to be with you anymore, can’t you just accept it. This whole thing with us was wrong from the beginning.”
“What are you saying?”
My heart hurt. I could feel the magic that once with was us, slowly dissipating.
“I’m saying that I should’ve never been with you. It was all a big mistake. I should’ve left you alone when you were with Luke and we shouldn’t be here together now. I was wrong to go after another man’s girl.”
Not one tear filled or fell from his eyes. His face, sullen.
“Don’t you say that. You don’t…”
“Yes, I do!”
“No. Luke was not good to me, you even said so yourself. Things would’ve been worse for me if I’d stayed.” I cried
“I lied to get with you. How could things have gotten any worse than they are now? You are not the one paralyzed. So, just stop all of your stupid tactics and leave.” He ranted loudly as he threw the ring towards the door.
I stood frozen, devastated, and speechless. Nothing in me wanted to move except for some stray tears.
(Walk Away By Michael Bolton)
A nurse must have heard all of the commotion because she came in, grabbed Mishka, and then took us into another room. She left us there for a few minutes and then returned with my clothes and said not a word. I thanked her before she left and got dressed. On top of my world crashing down on me, I felt humiliated and embarrassed. These feelings began consuming me. Quickly grabbing Mishka, her stuff, and then headed for home.
Mom was right! If I had stayed home, we would still be together, and he wouldn’t have said all of those horrible things. Did he really mean what he said? It could be possible, others have lied in the beginning to me and then dumped me. I don’t want to believe it, but he looked so serious. He didn’t even shed one tear and no signs of remorse. This is beyond a nightmare, if that is possible.
For more information about Jenness Jordan, check out her site: jennessjordan. You can also reach her by email at firstname.lastname@example.org