03 A new start

The carpark outside Calvary Free Baptist Church in Dallas was slowly but surely filling up with cars. The weather was still very warm, and many had put on hats or caps to protect them from the sun. Calvary Free Baptist was a new work. Thomas Galveston had become a church planter, and he had managed to put together a small crowd for Sunday morning services. They were still waiting to decide when to start up Sunday evening services. On a good Sunday they could bring in about fifty souls, so there should be a basis there for starting up evening services on a Sunday. On Weednesdays they normally had a Bible study and prayer meeting, mostly for those who were committed to the cause of bringing more souls to Jesus. On a average Wednesday, they would number about twenty odd. This Wednesday, however, it was obvious that more than normal had decided to come away from their busy lives and visit the small church. When the meeting was supposed to start at 19:00, about thirty-five people had come to partisipate.

Susan Harrison sat at the piano, and Abraham stood in the pulpit. Everyone was welcomed, especially pastor Larry and sister Catherine. The congregation all stood up, and they started singing “Amazing grace”. Larry knew the words by heart. He peered around to see which faces he recognized from his earlier visits. He recognized the Edwards. They were stood way up front on the first row. Danny Clarke was a big coloured man who was standing at the back row, eyes fixed on the page of the songbook. Larry had absolutely no idea who Clareese might be. He recognized some others as well. An old lady sitting down in a wheel chair at the back was Mrs. Grey. On the second row was a family of four, the Shiltons. They had invited Larry and Catherine over for dinner about two weeks ago.

The congregational song came to an end, and Abraham Harrison told the crowd of the tragedy that had so suddenly torn away their dear pastor and his wife from them, allthough without the gory details. Larry wondered if the inspector had even told Abraham all the details. After a short appeal from Abraham of asking “pastor Larry” to take over the church untill a new pastor could be found, Larry was asked to come to the pulpit. He stepped up to the stand, grabbed the pulpit with both hands, and looked around.

“Dear congregation!” he started. “We are indeed sadened by the loss of our friends, pastor Tom and sister Nora. You have lost a dear couple who loved you all in the Lord and gave willingly and gladly of themselves, hoping to see you grow, both in number and spirituality. Catherine and I have known the Galvestons for several years now, and we also feel a great loss. We must all lift each other up in prayer, asking that the good Lord will comfort us and help us to move on. I don’t know whay the Lord has allowed Tom and Nora to end their lives like this…”

Lary held up one hand towards the congregation.

“They were so young…”

Tears started pressing on to get out, and Larry battled the tears as hard as he could. His voice cracked a bit. Then he bit his lip and continued:

“Catherine and I have been asked to take over the running of the church untill you have all decided on who will be your next pastor. We are willing to do this, but for everything to be handled decently and orderly, you, as a church, must vote for this. I understand that you have not had a business-meeting yet, so  here is what you need to do…”

Larry pointed out how to do a propper business-meeting. Abraham Harrison put the notion to the table that pastor Larry should take the leadership of the church until they could decide on a new pastor. Susan seconded the notion, and just about everybody voted for. No one showed their hands when they asked who was against, so it was called a unanimous decision. Larry then asked everybody who received councelling to please get in touch with either himself or his wife. He had allready printed up some notes with house address and phone numbers as well as e-mail address. These were distributed to the entire congregation. Larry then called for order.

“Dear congregation!” he said again.

“We have all been shocked by the news we have heard this week. In Psalms 90:12 we read ‘So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.’ We do not know when our days are at an end, but please, let us all fill them with godly wisdom!Let us stay close to the Lord and let Him lead us in these days of hardship!”

He lowered his voice somewhat.

“On Sunday we will have a memorial service for Tom and Nora! Then on Monday, at 10:00 AM, the funeral will be here at the church. Please come to these services. There will be many people here, so please allow enough time to park and get a seat.”

He let go of the pulpit.

“I wish we could have gathered here on a more joyous occasion, but… such is life! Before we go home, let us split up into smaller groups and pray for the services at hand. Pray that the police may receive wisdom to find who has comitted these atrocities in our community. Pray that the lives of pastor Tom and sister Nora were not in vain, but that this church that they planted will grow big and strong. Let us also pray that the Lord will be with each and every one of us in these difficult times.”

The room got busy, everyone trying to find some prayer-partners. Soon the church was filled with the humming noises of prayer…

David Edwards had let Rev. Hawkins know that he wanted to talk, but privately. Because of this, Larry and Catherine had asked Davis and Ellie Edwards to meet them at a McDonalds close by. They all got their order, then thay sat down to eat. They were remembering pastor Tom and Nora, and the stories went back and forth over tha table like a shuttlecock. When the food was digested, a short pause of silence set on the table.

“Well,” Larry broke the silence.

“We understand that the two of you were receiving councelling from Tom and Nora. Was it seperately?”

David Edwards looked about fifty years old, short grey hair covering his head. He had a stern look about him, probably because of his grey eyes and big square chin. He wore small glasses that made him seem like a strict teacher. His wife, Ellie, was a redhead. She was short and slim with blue eyes. Her red hair went all the way down to her waist. There was a certain sweetness about her, but when Larry started talking, it was like she froze.

“Well,” David said, playing with his straw.

“Everybody knows we went regularly to see the Galvestons, but seperately.”

Larry had just been to get himself a cup of coffee. He sipped the coffee.

“Why was that?” he asked innocently.

“David had an affair!” Ellie blurted out.

“I did not!” David shouted back.

Larry slammed his drink down.

“Please!” he said. “Try to contain yourself!”

He thought a little while.

“It is unusual to have mariage councelling seperately, but I can see now how that might have been advicable in this case…”

He drank a bit more coffee. David had a McFlurry that he was giving his undevoted attention.

“How long have you been seing Tom and Nora about this?” Catherine joined in.

“About two moths now,” Ellie answered quietly.

“Well,” Larry broke in.

“I suppose you both agree that the marriage is worth saving, or you would not still be doing councelling,” he concluded.

“We will set up a time for you to see us, but I want you to have joined sessions as soon as it is possible, okay?”

David and Ellie both nodded. Larry continued.

“I find the “he said this” and “she said that” very unproductive in councelling. We will find time for you next week…”

They sat down with their diaries and jotted down some times next Tuesday for councelling. They drank up their coffees and finished their icecreams. Then Larry insisted upon a short word of prayer. They prayed the Lord for guidance and wisdom, then they broke up and went their seperate ways.

Freedom was at home. Freedom was when the Hawkins’ came home and Larry could get out of his suit and tie and put on some casual clothes, and the same went for Catherine who was not that happy to wear a dress to every church function. However, this was Texas, and many people would think they were backslidden if they didn’t wear suit and tie and a dress to church. Larry put on jeans and t-shirt whilst Catherine put on a training outfit. They sank down into their recliners and looked at eachother.

“So,” Catherine thought, leaning her head on her left arm. “What do you think?”

Larry sighed as he reached for the remote controll.

“About what? I don’t know who the killer is yet, if that’s what you’re asking…”

“No, silly!” Catherine smiled-

“What did you think of the congregation?”

“I tell you what!” Larry said, swinging the remote around in his hands.

“I think we will have lots of work here! I will need to get a hold of the treasurer and secretary too. I need to see that the numbers add up in the finances, then I need to see what has been disgussed on their meetings to see if there is any problems under the surface here…”

Catherine got up again.

“I feel restless!” she admitted.

“I think I will grab a shower and have an early bed.”

Larry sighed again.

“I can’t sleep yet. Columbo is on the telly. I think I’ll watch that, then I’ll come to bed.”

“Okay!”

Catherine went upstairs as Larry turned on the telly. He was quite fond of crime-serie, and he used them to unwind. Still, this evening it was quite hard to settle down. He found himself thinking of what he had been dreaming Sunday night. Who were these men? And why did one of them have yellow eyes? Larry had read that in horror movies they often used coloured eye-lences to change the colour of the actors eyes. Could it be the same here, or was it just a dream – like had told himself earlier?

Peter Falk was turning around, asking the suspect some more questions when thje telephone suddenly started ringing. Larry turned the telly down and picked up the phone. A low voice was heard on the line.

“Pastor Larry?”

“This is Rev. Hawkins,” Larry answered. “Who is this?”

There was a short break with silence on the phone.

“My name is Gordon Roland. I teach Sundayschool at Calvary Free Bptist Church!”

Larry smiled to himself.

“Gordon. How are you, and why are you calling?”

There was a slight hesitation at the other end.

“I was getting discipleship lessons from pastor Tom. Do you think we could pick up where we left off?”

“I don’t see why not. I think we both used the same program. Was there twenty lessons to go through?”

“I… I think so…”

“Are you working or going to school or something? What I’m trying to say is; is there any perticular time you are available for discipleship?”

“Oh, I see!” Gordon replied at the other end.”

“I work a bit with my father, so I’m able to plan around it.”

“Good!” said Larry. “What about some time next Thursday?”

“Yeah… I suppose… What time?”

“Would you be free around 15:00?”

“I could be!”

“Good! But I’ll see you before then. I presume you’ll be there on Sunday?”

“I will!”

“Well, I will talk to you then. How many other Sundayschool teachers are there?”

“Two. Mrs. Grey teaches the youngest, and Hal Benson teaches the teens.”

“What about the toddlers?”

“Oh, we have a cresh! The ladies of the church has a roter…”

Larry smiled again – to himself.

“Ok, Gordon! I would like to see you three teachers as well as the secretary and the treasurer. Would that be difficult?”

“”I don’t think so,” Gordon replied.

Larry took a deep breath.

“I will talk to you again tomorrow, if Imay. Could you give me your phone number please?”

Gordon Roland gave it, and the young reverend wrote it down.

“Thank you, Gordon. I will call you tomorrow. Now it’s time to hit the sack. Good night to you!”

“Good night, pastor Larry!”

Larry hung up.

Columbo caught the murderer with his clever sense of deduction. The police arrived, and justice had been served.

Larry turned off the telly, then he walked arond the house turning all the lights off. He yawned and found that he was longing for his bed. As he started on the stairs, the phone started ringing again. Who could it bee who was ringing so late? A bit annoyed, Larry practically shouted down the telephone receiver.

“Yes?”

There was a strange humming sound in the other end, then a sharp voice cut through the air.

“Hello reverend! I trust I don’t destirb you at this hour?”

“Who is this?” Larry asked annoyed.

“That would be telling, now, wouldn’t it. I just called to let you know that we are keeping an eye on you, and if you meddle with things that is non of you business, we might just snuff you out like a candle…”

“What?” Larry shouted. “Who are you?”

A click at the other end told the young reverend that the phone call was over. Larry wrecked his brain. He had heard that voice before somewhere. With a sudden spark Larry’s recolection caused him to go pale. It was the voice from his dream! It was the voice of the man with the yellow eyes…

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