Fifty Shades of Illegal....

Sunday, May 31, 2015

The Cardboard Box Part II Chapter 22 "Secrets Unfold" ....by Julianna Rowe (Property of Diane Ogden)


The Cardboard Box Chapter 22

“Secrets Unfold”

                If Tom, Duke, and I could get to the garage before whoever was coming opened the garage door we could escape out the secret door to the hillside opening.  We flew down the stairs and into the garage just as someone manually pulled up the old rusty wide garage door.  We were almost through the escape entry when someone said.

“Don’t move.”

                My ability to have rational thinking had left the building.  Tom and Duke had made it through the secret door but I was left with what was surely the last of my 14 cat lives.  I knew Old Tom would take care of Duke upon my passing. Yet I wanted to know why I had to give my life for this old run down mansion with a jail on the second floor and ghosts up the butt on the third floor.   I remained still as a statue while Joe Don Waller faced me with a pistol.  I silently told God, his Angels, his Mother, and all the saints I could remember considering I was Lutheran that I dang straight didn’t want to die at the hands of that low life scum bucket creep. I also informed God & Co. I believed hadn’t been bad enough for these consequences in all my twenty some years.  Pretty sure I was somewhat in silent begging mode.   Joe Don was taking steps closer when in the door came Tilton Boyer.  If I had not had a pistol pointed at me I would have shouted something like; “Why am I surprised?”  Guess it was bad timing for such behavior.   Then low and behold behind him came Timothy Haines.  At that point I did say a lot.  Hell I figured what did I have to lose besides my life. 

                The losingest loser of them all, Joe Don Waller couldn’t keep his mouth shut.  He stated rattling off in poor English how he couldn’t wait to watch all the blood from my stupid brain spill out all over the floor of that place.  

                Haines told him to shut up and take me outside to finish the job.  His next instruction was to dump the body in the nearby river where the current would take me all the way to the Gulf.  No it wouldn’t but what was the sense in arguing with ignorance.  My soaked ass would end up stunk in a tree branch a mile down river and Joe Don’s bullet would be traced back to all of them.  I would die in vain.

                I instantly threw up in my mouth but I didn’t pass out as usual.  My brain seemed to realize there was no time for that. Actually I had run out of time.  Even if Tom and Duke crashed through the door to save me they would be instantly shot.  No, it was over.  I had gone too far by not listening to Tom.  God I hoped he wouldn’t blame himself.  And that is when I saw Reed out the corner of my eye behind finkface Joe Don’s vehicle.  Was he their backup or was he there to help me?

                I said, “Well if you’re going to kill me at least tell me why. “

                Badass Joe Don spoke up saying they didn’t have to tell me anything. God he was nasty. His hair resembled a D.A. you know? Combed back on each side to meet in the back and resemble a duck’s ass. I hadn’t seen that style in Wisconsin before I left. Heard in these parts it was called a “duck tail.” To add to that he had a pack of Marlboro’s rolled up inside the sleeve of his white T-shirt.  And then Ratfink Uncle Tilton interrupted Joe Don by starting to “sing” the whole story.  He always wanted to show off, be the big man he never got to be as a kid, and so he did.  As he told me the story of a tangled family web I could see Miles Reed moving closer up the left side of Joe Don’s vehicle….. I decided not to divert my eyes from Tilton for fear they would catch onto Miles.  God I hoped Miles wouldn’t be killed. God I hoped I wouldn’t be!

                I interrupted Tilton.  “What’s the big deal? I don’t care who owns this house or anything else about Pam or Jake or any of you.”

                Tim Haines asked me what I was doing there if that were the case.

                I didn’t really have an acceptable answer so I told a big lie.  Told them I thought the old place was cool.  Like a haunted house on Halloween.  I added they could make a bundle of money taking people through it every October.  Of course they just stared at me as Joe Don once again repeated how he couldn’t wait to watch all my blood drain from my stupid brain.  I decided to put out what I knew to move this party on.  I told Tim I came back because he had told me the staircase was behind the fireplace when in fact it was in the pantry.  So I knew there was a secret in the fireplace.  But I didn’t find anything so now will you please let me go.  No wait, I would like to know when Pam Hawkinson lived in this place.  And why……

                Tilton told me for once to shut up.  Obviously he wanted the floor and he got it.  He told me how he was Pam’s adopted father Emil Boyer’s brother.  Pam was his niece by marriage.  He said Tim and Jakes Dad had an affair with Pam’s mother. Thus, Pam’s adopted father Emil killed Tim and Jakes father in a jealous rage and then drove he and his wife onto the highway into a fast moving oncoming rig right there on that property.  The continued stress drove their mother to the insane asylum near Ft. Worth where she resides to this day.  We all felt we had paid a terrible price for the wrong doings of their parents and my brother so we forged the WILL and took over ownership of all bank accounts as well as properties.  Upon the death of her parents Pam was sent to live with an Aunt in Missouri.  We figured we would never see her again until she showed up here all these years later.  Said her aunt had told her she was raised here when she was a small child.  We figured we had to get rid of her before she figured out who we were.  Townsfolks and their gossiping and all.  So we took her in as family, got her into using some drugs and falling for Jake until we could figure a way to get rid of her.  She would run drugs to the younger Amarillo kids while we ran the larger operation. That is when you showed up in town putting a wrench in our plans. 

                I said, ‘But Pam caught onto Jakes lies.  She simply decided she couldn’t handle one more lie in her life.  Not one more con she told me.  I see now there were many secrets no one told her about.  All you grown men took advantage of a young woman for what?  An old run down mansion and a Negro Church?”

                Tilton actually laughed at me.  Told me the real estate business, the church,  Timothy’s fake legal status were all cover ups for laundering big drug money out of Chicago and St. Louis.  They used the mansion for drug exchanges and a possible hide out if necessary.  The church was also a great place to deliver goods on a cheerful Sunday.  As for Pam, she didn’t know too much.  She thought Jake loved her and they would ride off into the sunset together forever. Tim told her he had fake ID’s made for the both of them to leave the country soon.  Told her they had family in France.  Of course it was all a lie. It’s her fault anyway.  If she had just stayed in Missouri she would be alive.  Dear God they just blamed her for all the shenanigans they put her through that led to her death.  Narcissist bastards. 

                Joe Don hollered that was enough of this talk as he popped the lid off a Pabst Blue Ribbon beer can. God he was a scum bag. Damned if a scum bag was going to take me out.  I just couldn’t stand it one second longer.  I instinctively lifted my leg with some unknown force other than my own and kicked Joe Don’s Pabst Blue Ribbon to the moon.  He was still in shock when I kicked again this time his pistol flew out of his other hand.  God he was dumb as a stump.  The secret door hatch opened and Duke came out with a vengeance.  He bit and pinned Joe Don to the ground not to mention the blood pouring out on the cement floor.  I almost laughed but I was too busy being terrified.  Tom grabbed me and held me as approximately sixteen FBI agents swarmed out of every corner and door in the area.  It was then I noticed Miles Reed walking very slowly away from everything he has just heard.  Walking away from the daughter he never got to hold. He had been waiting for just the right time to pull her from that nest of criminals.  He had put her on the payroll as an undercover agent but her love for Jake overrode it all.   I believe if she had known Miles was her father she would have left Jake.  Or maybe not. 

Pam’s aunt had contacted him the past year with the truth.  He had moved to Amarillo to find his daughter.  He found her but instead of a happy reunion he found she had gotten into a serious drug dealing ring.  Miles did his best to keep track of her up to her last day on earth.  He was about to tell her he was her father when she gave up on life.  He also knew Tom and Duke were being held captive on the third floor of the mansion.  He told me later he was very sorry for that but he had to wait until he had more proof but he had made sure they were as comfortable as possible.  I asked him why he had interrogated me so long regarding Pam.  He said he wanted to know as much as possible about his daughter and how to help her out of the pit she had dug herself into.

                It was quite enjoyable to watch the FBI take Joe Don dufus out of there crying like a baby.   As well as Tilton who would never see the inside of his fancy schmancy sports car again.  Nor would he ever again have a reason to read a book on how to invest “drug” money.   But I will add the saddest of all was the quiet Timothy fake attorney Haines.  He was oldest boy, then man always in the background quiet and scared as a church mouse.  And now his family was all gone, either dead or imprisoned.

                Tom and Duke and I piled into my beautiful Pink Cadillac and just sat there.  I felt like I had run fifty miles and swam two considering I couldn’t swim. Duke was still running on adrenalin.  Tom……

                He said, “Miss Julie, youse very important to me but I jis caint take no more of all dis.  I tink I will jis work at da Rice Motel and be done wit it. I tank you fer all youse done fo me and my family. Now jis take me home okay?”

                I thought I would cry a river.  I had gotten the old man kidnapped, shot at, and above all so excited about his new church.  No one sang or spoke a word all the way back to Old Tom’s shack. 

                When I pulled around the corner to let Tom off I thought I may never see him again and felt it was an awful way to leave things.   Instead, there was Miles Reed’s car waiting for us.  Not sure how he knew we would be there but then I wasn’t sure how he knew Tom and I had gone to the Mansion either.

                Tom greeted Miles with a strong handshake.  Me, I was more walking with my tail between my legs.  Duke he was happy to be anywhere but that mansion.   Miles asked if we could sit and talk a spell. Tom and I agreed and we all sat in the torn lawn chairs outside.  Shamika made a batch of good old Texas ice tea with fresh lemon.  Miles started to talk and I interrupted as usual.  He stopped and waited the gentleman he was.  I asked Tom to give Miles the papers we found in the fireplace.  Tom pulled the folded papers out of his top pocket and handed them over.  Miles asked what it was.  Told me if this was FBI business it could wait.  Tom and I shook our heads in unison while Duke looked at me then Tom then Miles and then again.  Miles just stared at the document and note.  A tear ran down his tanned face as he told us he waited too long to tell Pam she was his daughter.  He never knew he had a daughter until six months ago.   Then when he did find her she was already wrapped up in the drug ring.  He said he was trying to free her from it when she fell in love with Jake.  Said he shouldda killed him.  She’d still be alive if he had killed the bastard.  Then he told Tom he had no use for a Pentecostal Negro Church or even for God anymore.  He would be signing over the property to Tom Baird as long as I paid the back taxes and repairs per city codes. 

                Old Tom took Miles by the hand and told him he weren’t takin’ no church unlessin’ Miles promised to come at least twice in each month.   Told Miles God didn’t kill his daughter.  God tried every way to save her.  In the end she made her own decision.  That she be watchin’ down on her Daddy and he expected Miles to make her proud.  Miles looked up and smiled at the old man.  Shamika said a beautiful prayer of Peace for Pam Hawkinson and her Daddy Miles Reed. 

                It was then my brain came back to me full circle.  I said, “Whoa, wait a minute, how did you know Tom and I were at the mansion.  Damn we almost got killed!”

                Miles actually laughed at me as he told the story of my Grandfather contacting Director Ferguson who contacted Miles.  He told us how Ferguson got him off his pity party and back into action.  You owe him a debt of gratitude Julianna.  Your Grandfather’s people discovered Tim Haines fake lawyer status as well as the property deed changes made illegally. Your Grandfather informed us you would not leave our fair city if this situation was not solved. That he feared for your life as this time you had gotten in a bit over your head.  We assured him we would not let you out of our site and we did not.    After a few laughs and a wish for a couple shots of C.C. I recalled something.  

“What were the jail cells for on the second floor of the mansion?” I asked.

  Miles said no one really knew for sure.   Talk from the old timers said it had something to do with the Spanish American War.  Then after that it was used during prohibition.  Said he'd seen pictures of Whiskey stills all over that property hidden in the woods. 

                “So Miles, do you think you might tear it down?”  I said.

                Miles smiled as he announced his plans to us. “No Julianna, I am going to renovate the old place and make it a home for wayward teens and young adults who have no family or have lost their way.  They will enjoy all the hidden staircases and tunnels.”

                In the days to come Miles received a new birth certificate from Pam’s aunt in Missouri.  It stated under Father:   Miles Reed. One would have thought he was just given a gold bar. I also got me a new pair of Pink boots while I did keep the old ones to remind me not to jump out of moving trucks ever again.  And a pretty pink western studded shirt to replace the one the bull may still have hanging on his horns out in that pasture!   

                I stopped by Tom’s on my way out of town the following Saturday.  In the yard of his old shack were at least thirty people from his congregation.  All ready to renovate the shack and his yard.  So many happy people in one place I wasn’t sure I wanted to leave.  Tom came over and gave me the biggest fatherly hug I had probably ever had.  He whispered in my ear he loved me and to keep in touch.  And then he said.

                “By the way, Miles Reed stopped by.  Told me to tell you he is naming the mansion, “The Pamela Reed House of Peace.” 

I was jumping up and down when old Tom stopped me and told me there was more. 

“The west wing will be named “Julianna Rowe West Wing.”   I bawled like a baby. In fact I think I bawled happiness almost all the way to Sante Fe.  And somehow I knew Old Tom would be right in there helping Reed with those kids. 

Friday, May 29, 2015

Corrections!!

I spent the past week reading Chapter One thru Chapter 21. 
I also figure I must have been possessed at about 13 or somewhere in there.
Run on sentences by the score.  Even I got lost a few times. 
That said, I have corrected.  Sorry for the confusion but my mind takes off and my typing fingers
     cant always keep up.   I usually edit later. 
Working on the ending! 

Monday, May 18, 2015

The Cardboard Box Part II Chapter 21 "Whose Your Daddy" ..........by Julianna Rowe (Property of Diane Ogden)


Chapter 21   “Whose Your Daddy”

I dropped Tom off at his shack. Couldn’t much call it anything else considering the sight of it.  I knew when the church deal went through his church “flock” would make sure Tom and his family had more suitable living arrangements.  My goal was to leave that entire drug dealing business behind me and get the sale papers viewed by someone other than Timothy Haines so I could move on.  I certainly didn’t want the old preacher signing anything that could have gotten him into any shady legal matters.  No I was going to make sure everything was on the up and up before I headed West.

After a good night’s sleep Duke and I had breakfast.  I then made the call to Granddaddy in Austin with a request for his people to look over the legalities of the church I had found for Tom Baird.  The church I was prepared to purchase and repair for him that is.

Grandaddy’s secretary put me right through to him.  Of course he asked me where I was and when I said Amarillo he immediately figured something was wrong.  Probably because time wise I should have gotten to Los Angeles already, instead I was only a few hundred miles from Austin heading back to Route 66.  I assured him I was fine but had been waylaid due to some ratfink planting drugs in my Cadi.  I realized after I said it I should not have said it.   Granddad about flipped his grey comb over as well as I could hear the familiar sound of the bottom desk drawer open and the bottle of Canadian Club hit the top of the desk. 

“Grandad, I am okay.  Listen to me now.  I met an old black man name of Tom Baird whose family was down on their luck. I tried to leave them all behind and drive onto Santé Fe but you know I couldn’t do it Pops.  They live in a run-down shack where his son is disabled and his daughter has a three year old.  To make matters worse the old man lost his job too.  He’s a preacher man Granddaddy and I found him the neatest outta sight little church you ever saw with a ready made congregation.”

Granddad abruptly interrupted my running on saying he wasn’t helping me buy any church for any old Negro man.  Furthermore…..

I quickly intercepted before he could say anything further.  “Granddaddy, you are not buying a church for anyone.  I am.  I need the expertise of your legal team to look over the paperwork so Tom Baird and I don’t get hornswoggled amidst a bad deal.  That is all I am asking regarding the church deal.  On the other hand we have found ourselves in the middle of some sort of drug operation in small town Amarillo, U.S.A.  Tom and Duke were kidnapped, Miles Reed the FBI investigator's vehicle was run off the road and then he was hospitalized.  T hen I found him sobbing at the cemetery over Pam Hawkinson's grave after she killed her lover and then herself basically in front of me and her uncle, the realtor selling us the church.  And …..”

“For the love of God Julianna, how the hell do you get yourself into these situations?  I want you to get your dog and put the Cadi on the highway and get the hell outta there today!  Do you hear me youngin’? Just look at the mess you’re in again.  Another God Damn cardboard box you’re able to crawl out of but you don’t.  It’s a cardboard box Julianna and I don’t want to see it turn into damn coffin.”  That is what he said in a loud crackling voice that ran through me as if it were God himself shooting bolts of hot lightning all around me with their tiny tributaries hitting my brain.

I was silent for what seemed minutes but of course was only seconds.  I didn’t know what to say considering I had already said too much.  Probably a result of the special brewed ice tea I had for breakfast.  Whichever the reason it was too late whereas I heard nothing on the other end of the phone line.  It wasn’t like Granddaddy to hang up on me but then I had given him quite a bit of stress the past month or so.  And then the deep southern voice of my Grandfather spoke.

“Send me the paperwork!”

“I meekly said, “Thank you sir.”  And we hung up.  I could see in my mind’s eye Grandad’s next steps as though I were sitting across the desk from him.  He unscrewed the cap from the jug of Canadian Club Whiskey, took out a shot glass, filled it to the brim, downed it and smiled.  And then he did it again.  I was wishing I could get away with that but I knew better.  He could hold his liquor from the years of practice whereas I never indulged to that degree of which I was thankful.

I made my way to the local Amarillo Post Office only to find it closed for lunch.  Simply dandy I thought.  Federal employees get to close the building for lunchtime.  They had much more power than other business’s and they pulled that bully card whenever possible, especially in the federal legal system. I did some shopping while the Fed’s ate lunch then returned to mail the copies of the church legal papers to Granddaddy’s office in Austin.  I had no idea how long before I would hear from either his attorney’s or he himself.  Guess it was time to settle in for a bit of Amarillo sightseeing.  Although so far my sight-seeing days in the fair city were nothing to write or call home about.  Fact was they had been rather frightening.

I shopped at almost every store on Polk Street, then 7th and 8th Street.  The next day I went back downtown to the Paramount Theatre and saw “Party Girl.”   During my shopping sprees Shamika babysat Duke.  He loved it there as well as it always lifted Shamonta’s spirits to the moon.  And of course I would bring a Cadi full of presents for everyone upon my return.  Tom had gotten his job back at the Rice Motel Restaurant and all seemed to be going smoothly for everyone.  I hadn’t seen or heard from Miles Reed at all nor did I make it a point to search him out.  I was dang tired of talking, hearing, or seeing, anything to do with drug activity, murder suicides, interrogations, or kidnapping’s, in Amarillo. Nope, I was shopping, sightseeing, and waiting for news from Granddaddy and or his legal people.  I had been in Amarillo for Thanksgiving and now we were headed for Christmas.  It was way past time for Duke and me to hit the road again.  Granddad had contacted me once since our initial conversation to let me know he had a trickle of good information for me but it required a bit more time. He had also spoken to Tilton Boyer who placed a pending sale on the property.  I did wonder how Granddad made that happen but I did not question it for now.

On Tom’s day off we had gone out to walk the grounds of his new church home.  Our visit that day to Christ the King Pentecostal Church was for fun, future plans, and of course some serious prayer.  I told him I also wanted to make a stop at the mansion.  Dear God and all his Angels and Mother Mary I thought old Tom would fall dead on the spot.  Why his brown face turned pale.  Never had I seen anything such as that, but then I hadn’t personally known very many Negro’s who fainted. 

As he leaned against one of the beautiful tree’s he said, “Is youse bored missy Julie?  I is show we can come up wit sometin betta and safa ta doo wit our time and lives.”  And he walked away from me.  That was the first time old Tom ever spoke to me in such a fatherly manner.  I was embarrassed at my lack of sensitivity for what I failed to recall he had been put through at that evil place.  Even Duke walked off from me with old Tom. 

I said, “Wait, I’m sorry.  I just thought we could, um, find out, um, investigate, and get some answers.”  Neither Duke nor Tom acknowledged my intentions in any way.  They just kept walking. “Fine then, I will go by myself after I drop you and Duke off at your place.”

Old Tom stopped dead still never uttering a word.  Just standing there like a dang statue. Duke did his usual looking back and forth at Tom then me, then Tom then me. 

At that instant Tom said, “Use yoer head child.”

I suppose he was right in hindsight, but as we all know I rarely did that until after the fact.  We finished our church planning visit I seemed to have ruined for everyone.  I was beginning to wonder if the church deal was ever going to go through, although Tom was becoming more acquainted with his congregation as the days and weeks passed.  They would meet him every Saturday night and Sunday morning at the Church.  They brought lawn chairs, musical instruments, some of the instruments were homemade and folding tables full of food.  Tom would stand on the steps of the church and preach as well as led the people in song.  It was truly exhilarating to be a part of. 

Duke, Tom, and I piled into my beautiful pink Cadillac and sat there in silence.  Finally Tom said, “Fine, goes to dat damn mansion ifin’s youse must!” 

And so we did.  When Duke realized where we were he started whimpering like a baby.  I felt as bad as I guess I should have.  Tom was equally unhappy with me as he attempted to sooth Duke’s fears.

Tom said, “Now youse goin’ to take to breakin’ in?  Youse breakin da law Julie! Anyways da doors gonna be locked so let’s goes home girl.”

I told him I wanted to at least try the door and when I did it opened.  I was smiling ear to ear like I had won something big.  Tom on the other hand was shaking his head saying, “Shit!”  I learned that day preachers cuss on occasion too.  I pushed the creaking door open. Duke started barking and Tom was still shaking his head is frustration.  I think he had stopped saying shit by then.  I told Tom I wanted to see what was behind or around the fireplace.  Pam had told me the hidden staircase to the third floor was behind the fireplace but it wasn’t.  It was inside the pantry.  Dang place was almost as eerie as my run in with the Ghost of the outer edge back in Illinois or was that Missouri?  Townsfolk said the ghosts of Tim and Jake’s Father and Pam’s Mother walked the third floor for years.  And now Pam and Jake were most likely stuck up there also.  Tom drew the line on going to that floor. He said no way would he subject himself or Duke to that horror ever again.  And I agreed. 

We got to the main floor kitchen and I began inspecting the fireplace.  Tom sat at the table with Duke hugging his leg.  In fact if Duke could have he would have been in Tom’s lap.  I pushed every brick on the face of that fireplace wall hoping for a magical door to open or an entire wall to move aside.  Nothing.  Then I moved to the walls where I pressed spots where there was no reason to press spots.  I kicked the fireplace, hollered at it, hit it, and begged it.  All the while Tom sat staring at me like I was a spoiled child who didn’t think before she acted.   It was with that realization I stood very still and listened to my spirit.  I did not hear anything, but I saw something in my minds eye.  It was a coal black square with a small metal ring in the center.  I turned and looked at Tom with unspoken wide eyed intention. 

Tom said, “What?”

I didn’t respond, rather I laid on the floor as close to the fireplace opening as possible and reached inside.  Closing my eyes so I could use my other senses to find the black coal colored square, and then I squealed like a greased pig in a rodeo race!  My finger hooked the latch and I pulled.  Tom realized what was happening and sprang into action shining my flashlight into the black hole of a possible treasure find.  The brick fell out from the wall and behind it was a metal box. I was able to pull it lose from its captivity and it fell to the floor of the fireplace as though it knew I was freeing its hidden mystery.  Tom grabbed it and set it on the table.  We both starred at it with some unearthly feelings.  Like maybe this wasn’t real. 

I said, “Open it Tom! Hurry.”  Although old Tom never did much of anything in a hurry, because he was slow, steady, and thoughtful, unless he was preaching.  And so Tom unemotionally pried it open and inside the box we found folded papers.  Tom carefully unfolded the papers and once again his eyes got big as saucers. 

I said, “What, what! What is it?” 

His mouth was hanging open and his eyes were still way too big to look normal as he handed the papers to me.   I took them into my hands, shone the flashlight onto the typewritten paper and read aloud.

State of Texas Birth Certificate

Mother:  Agnes Hawkinson          Father:  Unknown

Child:    Baby Pamela Jean Hawkinson    Date of Birth:  1-22-1940 and so on as a legal document read.  And then I saw the note attached to the birth certificate.  The note was the reason for Tom Baird’s eyes to bug out like he’d stuck his finger in an electrical socket.  The note read:  Upon my death please notify my daughter Pamela J. Hawkinson that her birth fathers name is Miles Wilson Reed of Galveston, Texas.  And please forgive me for never telling you the truth my loving child.

Behind the note and birth certificate was the deed to the mansion and the little white church.  They had been left to Miles Reed and Pam Hawkinson upon the death of Agnes Hawkinson.  

“Holy Shit Tom!”  I said.

Tom agreed this was a lot. to take in.  It was big.  Someone we’d known had been hiding a very big secret. Tilton said the mansion was owned by Tim and Jake Haines.  No wonder Jake was going to kill Pam.  They wanted to inherit the property.  But why?  It’s a run-down old prison where ghosts live.  And the church is a Negro church.  Something is still missing I told Tom.  Oh my gosh no wonder Miles was beyond grief when Pam died.  He must have known she was his daughter.  And here I thought they were lovers.  He interrogated me so he could learn more about Pam and keep his eye on Jake whose father murdered Pam’s mother for having an affair with his father.   And all that talk about Jake being a Frenchman must have been a cover up to keep me out of the loop.  I was not sure Miles was aware he owned the properties.  I was zoned out inside my head with all this new information. When I came back to earth I looked up and noticed Tom’s face had saddened.  He suddenly realized he may not get the precious little white church after all.   Tilton and Tim Haines must know my legal team will find out they do not really own the church.   We could be in danger once again.

And then we heard a vehicle coming up the gravel driveway.  My baby browning was in the Cadi.  We could either go up to third floor or race to the Cadi. Neither was a good option.  That is when I heard Preacher Tom say, “Shit!”  And I prayed it wouldn't be the last time I ever heard him say it.                                                                                                        






               

Sunday, May 10, 2015

The Cardboard Box Chapter 20 "Holy Rollin" by Julianna Rowe (Property of Diane Ogden)

Chapter 20

“Holy Rollin”





                Tom and I were still singing “Bringing in the sheaves” when I pulled the Cadi into the driveway of the most beautiful little church on earth.  To us anyway.   Tilton was sitting in his fancy sports car reading a book called “The Best Way to Invest." Money that is, which certainly set off a couple of alarms in my head.  

               Old Tom was beyond speechless to say the least.  I kept hitting him in the arm to get him to come back to earth.  But all he could do was turn toward me and stare. 

                I told him, “What are you waiting for, come on my friend, get out, let’s go have a see.”

                Tom told me he wasn’t sure he could walk just yet.  He was feeling a bit overwhelmed and that was my fault.  I should have given him more time to digest the church deal.  Tom had been struggling for a long time after the loss his wife, his job, then getting kidnapped all because of me.  I apologized for being so inconsiderate of his feelings and then I scruffled his hair and said, “Let’s go check her out Tom!”

                He smiled as we climbed out of the Cadi and walked ever so slowly across the beautiful green grass. The grass complemented the perfectly manicured bushes which hugged the sides of the building like a woman wearing a green velvet gown.  I could almost feel what Tom was feeling.  That little church viewing was like a birthing experience to him.  He had waited all his life for such a day as this one.  Yet there was a veil of fear it may not be real settling over his mind trying to steal his glory day.  I reached for his hand and whispered in his ear, “Don’t let satan steal your joy!”  

                Tilton unlocked the double doors of the little diamond in the rough church. He told us maybe we should leave the old dog outside.  Wrong answer!  I sternly looked into his light gray eyes and asked him if he was truly interested in selling this church he might outta let the dog come along.  Tilton made a sarcastic smacking noise with his thin lips and southern gentlemen charm as he agreed.  That means he really didn’t agree but went ahead anyway for business reasons.  

As we all entered the doors Tom held his hands high in the air giving all the glory to God and then he knelt on the red carpet praising and thanking God with a passion and heartfelt love like I hadn’t often experienced in my life.  I guess that is what people often called God’s love and boy was it rubbing off on me.  I wanted to fall on the floor with the old man but I held myself back for business reasons. Not Duke, he was down on the carpet with Tom praising God proudly.

                I turned to Tilton and said, “We’ll take it!  How much is it?” 

                I think old Tom almost peed himself on the nearly newly purchased red church carpet.  I really needed to stop doing that to him because he was older and could have a dang heart attack or faint and hit his head on a pew. 

                Tom abruptly stood up, eyes as big as saucers.  Have you ever seen a Negro get excited or scared?  Tom looked like he had plugged himself into an electrical socket.  I almost started laughing but decided not to for this was a business meeting after all.  I touched his arm and calmly urged him to relax I had it under control.  I asked him if he would mind checking out the rest of the church building as well as the plumbing and electrical areas while Tilton and I talked price. 

                Before Tom and Duke walked away, he said. “Messies Julie, how youse do dis?  I don’t has the monies to buy dis church or keep it up.  Maybese da people won’t like my preachin’ or my cala?”

                Again, I put my hand on his shoulder and said, “I guess I forgot to tell you Tom.  This is a Bible toten, tongue talkin’, Holy Ghost rollin’, Pentecostal shakin,’ Negro Amercian church! Now go check out the guts and see if she is worth taking on.”  Tom smiled me a smile the size of Alabama, that would be another Bible belt state. Then off the two of them went like two kids at a church Easter egg hunt.  This was what my travel was all about.  I had thought for a while I wasn’t going to get to enjoy the happiness of others but here it was in living color. Literally. 

                Tilton asked me if I was finished playing childish games and if so we could get down to business. I wanted to cold clock that arrogant you know what, but instead I told him we could call this a day and I would be contacting a different Realtor faster than he could say NO SALE.  He readily apologized before I decidedly told him I didn’t have very much money.  I had to squash all the fun I had been having which was opening me up for a price increase.  Actually Tilton said the only thing that was needed for purchase was payment of the back taxes because it had gone into foreclosure.  The bank owned it and they wanted it off their books.  It also needed some electrical and plumbing work of which I would be responsible.  The reason the yard was in such good shape was because the parishioners had taken turns keeping it up as well as the cemetery out back.  Again I asked him how much?  And I would like to do a walk-through also.

Then I said, “Wait a minute, why did we have to drive to the mansion to fetch the key on our last attempt to view this little slice of heaven if the bank owns this property?”

He answered in a calm business like voice.  “Miss Rowe, things have changed since our last appointment.  That is all I am allowed to share with you.”

My mouth was open so far he could probably see that little dangly thing in the back of my throat.  Obviously I wasn’t being cool but his response was just the pits of an answer.  It had only been days since the murder suicide at the mansion we still weren’t sure about.  We had gone there for the key to the church.  Now he says the bank owns it.  So whoever owned it must have died.  But it would go to an estate, not a bank I thought.  Did Pam own it?  Shit, maybe the mafia owns it!  I was so confused again.   Suddenly out of what seemed nowhere I heard a loud voice.  It was Tilton trying to reign me back in from the abyss of Amarillo-ville.  I had been in one of those self-induced trances that took me away from reality.

                “What?”  I said. “Jeez.”

                “Julianna, seven months of back taxes are owed.  At $152.00 per month times seven months, you can have this old run down Negro church for $1,064.00 cash.  Plus you are responsible for the utility bills during that period as well as the plumbing and electrical repairs which have been estimated to be close to $6,500.00.  Oh, I almost forgot it needs a new roof and there has been some vandalism in the cemetery from the local teenagers.  So do we have a deal?

“I will have to have my lawyer look at your paperwork on this so called deal Tilton.” I said with some reservation not knowing what reservation, but it was there alright.  The spiritual thickness in the air told me something was stinking.

“Sure, I can drop these papers off at Timothy’s office on my way home.” He said.

I wondered if that was what I smelled.  I sure didn’t want the deal to go sour.  Tom was so happy and I could just see Shamika sitting at the organ singing like the sweet little innocent flower from God she was.  Shamonta propped up at the front side pew for all to pray for all week of every week until he was healed of that dreadful disease. But what was that smell of deceit trying to take our joy.  Sulphur smell from hell it was. 

With controlled strength I said, “No thank you Tilton, I am having someone else take a look at the paperwork along with the building itself. Actually my Grandfather and the Governor of Texas, Jack Connally have the same lawyer.  I have a hunch this deal calls for some bigger guns than Tim Haines. And that is all I can share with you at this time Tilton.  Copies of the papers please?”

And this time I could see that little dangly thing in the back of his throat.  Funny how a couple dropped names can change things in an instant. It’s not something I use unless a last resort. I guess the old “it’s who you know” gets my vote this round.  And at least I wasn’t in jail this time when I had to use the Gov’s name.  Seems times were on the up and up for me maybe.  And then I quickly looked for a piece of wood to knock on or is that salt over the right shoulder?

Meantime Tom had been listening behind the baptism room door to Tilton and my conversation.  He hoped I didn’t mind.  Heck no I told him I was glad he listened.  I asked him if he smelled the same rat I did?  He agreed with a saddened face.  I assured him not to worry this was just a small fluke we had to get past along with several other flukes like  who shot at me? Who kidnapped him, who is Joe Ben Waller, and are Tilton and Tim Haines in cohoots too? So many unanswered questions.  And by the way, why isn’t the FBI protecting me dangit?  Suddenly I wondered if maybe they weren’t after all.  Remember the Johnny Law trooper outside of town.  He would have arrested me for shooting at Joe Ben if a rancher really did call that situation in.  Humm.  This time Tom put his hand on my shoulder and calmed the tornadic winds of my mind.

 Tilton said to stop by his office for the copies.  He would have them ready within the hour.  He actually left the key to the church with us so we could take our time checking everything out properly.   As a matter of fact he became more businesslike and kind hearted after my “little” name dropping showdown.  I won!  I won!  I always liked winning especially over an arrogant man or I should say person.

 I thanked Tom for his caring and suggested we get back to enjoying his new Church home.  I asked him what he wanted to call it.  He suggested maybe we should wait and see because there was that dead rat hanging close.  I told Tom no way Jose, this will be your new church.  If I’m lyin’ I’m dyin’!  Now let’s go call it home.  And so we did.  Tom stood at the podium telling me all about the Holy Spirit.  It was like he truly was home indeed.  I sat in the front pew with my arms outstretched to the Lord until they got too tired as he filled me with wisdom beyond what I had ever known.  It was then I knew Tom’s wisdom came from the heavens for sure.

As he stood with the pride of Christ he preached like he was preaching to the multitudes with the voice of ten radio announcers in unison.  Duke and I sat still as church mice taking in every word!

He preached on, “There is an endless river of love that flows from My Spirit who live inside of you. My river of living waters brings life where there is spiritual death, healing where there is sickness, peace where there is strife, forgiveness where there is sin, absolution where there are grudges. (II Corinthians 3:18)  My Holy Spirit exchanges beauty for ashes, restoration for disagreements and love where there is hatred.  My Holy Spirit, who is My river of living waters, constantly delivers life and love to everyone within whom He lives and with whom He comes into contact.  He cleans the vessels He lives in and He seeks to cleanse all people they encounter.  He is life, He is love, He is forgiveness, He is restoration and peace.  His presence makes peace with everyone. He is My life, the generator of My power. It is through Him that I created the heavens and the earth.  (John 7:38-39) It was through the power of My Holy Spirit that Jesus rose from the dead and lives with Me.  It is through Him that I created a new life within you.  It is through Him that I teach you, coach you, guide and direct you onto the paths which will cause you to inherit all of my goodness.  I am My Holy Spirit. (John 16:7-11)

    The power of My love enters into the life of a person through My Spirit. 

    My wisdom enters into your mind through My Holy Spirit. (Ephesians 1:16-17)

    My new spiritual life enters into the earthly life of a person through My Spirit who empowered Jesus, giving Him the power over death and all darkness. (Romans 8:11)

    My Holy Spirit reveals to My children all of the principles and keys that Jesus taught but the people are unable to understand because of the blindness in their minds.  (John 16:12-14)

     Come to My water and drink from the well of love, wisdom, knowledge, mercy, kindness, forgiveness and goodness.  You will be constantly renewed with My pure, unadulterated, clean Waters of life.”   

Tom continued, “Amen brothers and sisters.  Now let the Lord lead and guide you in safety and protection until we meet again this Tuesday evening.  Now everyone is invited for our Sunday PotLuck in the basement visuals room near the kitchen.  Feel free to invite your friends and neighbors to our friendly worship events Sunday mornings, Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday evenings.  Today is sister Esther’s 104th day of birth.  Let us all lead her in prayer to her 105th.  Now if anyone of you needs a hand laid on them for healing let them come forward at this time.”

I got up and Tom and I danced around in circles of happiness for a long time.  I told him I couldn’t wait to bring Shamika, her daughter, and Shamonta to see their new Church home.

Tom said, “There’s a rat.”

Tom, “There is a rat in every situation everyday of our lives.  This rat will be easier than most because I have “Rooster” people in high places who have large rat traps.  These little drug dealing peon’s have picked on the wrong Hen!” I giggled.

                Tom asked me why I hadn’t called my “roosters” sooner.  I told him I do not usually call on anyone. But this was a money deal and I really needed some expert help outside the Amarillo box of dutiful businessmen.

               After we checked out the kitchen and found someone had unplugged the refrigerator with food in it we added it to the replacement costs. The parishioners would have taken care of the inside of the church also but had no way of entry. The toilets were useable….they flushed anyway. The place needed some fresh paint and the love of the lost congregation.  I knew Tom would gather that flock like the shepherd he was.  God would bless his new Church for sure.  I seemed to have more faith in this deal than Tom did but then I knew he was understandably scared.

             We stopped at Tilton’s office for the copies of the contracts and yes mini Marilyn was present and accounted for in all her Hollywood red carpet glory.  I swear she had someone make her a likeness of the white Marilyn Monroe dress she posthumously attempted to depict in the small Amarillo Realtors Office that day.  She even had a fan blowing on high to make sure the dress blew all about her body when she purposefully passed it.  I was almost gagging in an attempt to refrain from busting a gut laughing.  Tom on the other hand was probably praying that personal rat away from her life.  Good Christian man that he was. We took the papers and left the building graciously.  I was faking. Tom was not.

            We were quietly cruising Polk Street toward Tom’s house when out of the blue said, “Christ the King.  We will call her Christ the King Pentecostal Church.  Miss Julie, I is perty sure dis  will be one of da first of her kind in da area.  We will renovate her wont we?”

            I said, “You dang right we will Tom Baird, Pastor and owner of Christ the King Pentecostal Church of Amarillo, Texas.”  And then Duke sat up and barked in his two cents.  Tom told me he may never sleep again until this is in the bag.  And I understood completely. 














Monday, May 4, 2015

"The Dyslexic Writer," Me!

Dyslexia is a shitty thing to have to live with. It comes in many shapes and forms.  I could go into depth but there is no need for that.  Simply put my brain gets scrambled sometimes when I visually look at something.  For instance the name Johnson might appear to me to be Stanley.  Bad example but hope you get it.  Fractions were a living nightmare.  And English class was even worse for me. My brain just could not understand grammar and punctuation.  It looked like scrambled eggs.


It started around 4th grade where I couldn't keep up in class.  The teacher would talk but only a few of his or her words were understood. Big blank spots.  I would try diligently to do my homework but I couldn't.  My mother would continually say, "What's the matter with you?"   Well I didn't think anything was until I heard that about a zillion times along with my teachers saying I could do it but wasn't applying myself.  They called me lazy. I sank further each year into lack of self esteem.  I was a pretty young girl so I fell back on that.  How'd that work out for me you ask?  Notsogood with low self esteem nothing works out so well.


High School!  Lord the load got heavier each year in all areas.  I was made fun of in my classes. Once by a teacher, he was the Social Studies and he taught Drivers Ed in H.S. forgot his name but never will I forget his face, who made me stand at the blackboard and draw apples and then erase one so I could see the answer.  Humiliation!  I started to skip school A LOT.....It was the only way I felt I could save myself from the pain. 


Why am I writing this?  Because I love to make up stories and write books.  But I lack the Grammar skills to do so.  I am not a wealthy person so I lack the funds to hire editors.  I have tried nursing homes asking for folks who may wish to feel useful again and edit for me.  I have tried assisted living homes, college students for a nominal fee.  I am trying to learn online and have discovered I was the Queen of Passive Voice sentences and run on's. The words then and than stump my buns every time.  I have Office Word so that helps quite a bit. 


My mentor of 35 years told me last night if I ever thought of publishing I better have someone edit my punctuation.  Okay!  Too late.  Again embarrassed as well as I thought of the hundreds of people that read my chapters who might be wondering were I learned to put so many comma's in. 


One of my clients is a Linguistics Professor who told me to blow everyone off and write like I write.  If you don't like where my paragraphs and comma's are.....just read the dang story anyway because I am pretty darn good at coming up with interesting yet simply stories.   My English teacher, Mrs. Covington, who resides in the heavens is probably rolling over and over but is jumping for joy at the least for my attempts at entertaining people with my wild imagination.  (A lot of the tales I tell are true even though I mark them as FICTION.)  You have to guess what is and what isn't. 


Thanks for your understanding.  God forbid I don't wish to be made fun of at this age for Dyslexia!
Been to that rodeo before....

Sunday, May 3, 2015

The Cardboard Box Chapter 19 "Revelations" By Julianna Rowe (property of Diane Ogden)


Chapter 19

“Revelations”

            I abruptly hung up the phone before Tilton or his looney secretary answered it.  My mind was off on a gravel road of its own again.  For instance, who owns the church?  In all the craziness of Pam’s generational murder suicide and Miles creepy weeping over her grave in a rainstorm like the lost soul he had surely become.  I had momentarily forgotten this trip to the church viewing could be a re-do of my last trip to the mansion.  The mansion I swore I would never lay eyes on again in this lifetime.  Back on that disaster of a day Tilton and I had driven to the mansion to obtain a key from the owner of the church.  Well captain obvious who owns the church?  Did Pam own the church?  Did Jake own the church?  Or did Tim own the church?  Heck at this point just about anyone could own the church as far as my mind could see in that vast ocean of possible unscrupulous peoples! 

            I decided Duke and I would stop at Tom’s this morning before finishing the call to Tilton Boyer for an appointment.  I needed some space from this situation before pursuing it further.  I stopped at the motel restaurant and got a dozen donuts for Tom, his family, and of course Duke and I. We all sat inside instead of our usual place on the shredded folding chairs out front.  It was so Tom’s son Shamonta could enjoy the conversation as well.  Tom’s daughter Shamika had a strong head on her shoulders.  She was a less emotional person then I therefore able to come to faster and wiser conclusions as well as speculate on a more level brainy playing field.  She could have been a great lawyer while I should have pursed a role in a soap opera for sure.  That way it would have played out on screen vs in my life.  Or so some would say.

            Tom and I had been talking shop while scarfing down donuts like they had the value of broccoli with no calories whatsoever.  Shamika had been very quiet the whole time.  Old Tom asked her what was on her mind?

            She said, “Something is missing here.  So Tim and Jake are no relation to Pam. And Pam is, excuse me, I mean was Tilton’s niece.  And Pam’s adopted father was Tilton’s brother.  And Pam’s mother had an affair with Tim and Jake’s father.  Do I have this right so far?”

            Tom and I looked at each other, then back at Shamika and shook our heads in doubtful agreement.

            Shamika continued. “So who is Pam’s real father? And come to think of it ya’ll, why did Pam always go to Tilton’s real estate office after work. She never went to any real home as I recall Daddy telling me.  Daddy never saw who kidnapped him but did say he and Duke were kept oddly comfortable.  One more thing.  Tilton Boyer is not some fancy big commercial real estate tycoon. So where does he come up with the money for such a fine office and car, not to mention he lives in a very nice home in a very nice neighborhood of Amarillo.  He makes sure everyone knows who he is.  I hate to gossip but what about that kooky Marilyn Monroe secretary? We girls at the church giggle when we see her walking about town in her wannabee low cut dresses and big red lips.  I should stop my evil talking as it is not of the Lord.”

            I quickly responded, “No, no, don’t stop Shamika you are on a roll.  We can use all the help we can get.”

            She continued. “I also noticed you have your car back Julianna.  Why?  Have they caught the criminals or are they using you to do their job?  Daddy says Miles Reed was in the cemetery grieving over Pam Hawkinson's death. Why?  Do you really think he was having an affair with her?  She was so much younger than him.  I thought he was tailing her as a suspect in the Amarillo drug ring.”

            Tom and I stopped eating donuts.  We must have looked like two kids wearing dunce hats sitting in the corner about   4th grade level.  Not to mention our mouths hanging open.  Even Shamonta was grinning ear to ear while drooling.  It was an effect of his physical condition although nothing seemed to affect his hearing from what we could see.  

            “What!” Shamika said. “What!”

             I stood up.  Thanked her.  Never did answer her what. Turned to Tom and said, “I gotta go!”

            Tom grabbed my arm saying he was coming “wit” me, no way was I going on this mission alone. He would not take no for an answer.  And so it was we left together that day.

  I recall noticing I needed to be more careful with my language as I was starting to pick up Tom’s southern Negro drawl and grammar issues.  Acceptable for him but not for a first class young white girl.

            My church secret would soon be out of the bag if Tom were with me.   But he was right; this was no drug fishing job for a young woman to do alone.  The dangers were obvious from what had already occurred. I still hadn’t taken the time to stop in the doc’s office and have those tightening stitches removed from my ankle. Not only were we dealing with a small time drug ring but a family history possibly behind it all.  The three of us, Duke, Tom, and I, piled in the pink Cadi after making the phone call to Tilton Boyer for a set up appointment.  Tom was sure-enough patient during my phone conversation with Tilton although I knew he was curious as to my reasoning behind it.  He was a good patient Christian man to say the least.

            Once settled in the car and driving out of town the radio was playing, “The Lion Sleeps Tonight,” by the Tokens. 

           

In the jungle, the mighty jungle

 The lion sleeps tonight

 In the jungle, the quiet jungle

 The lion sleeps tonight

Near the village, the peaceful village

 The lion sleeps tonight

 Near the village, the quiet village

 the lion sleeps tonight

 Wimoweh, wimoweh, wimoweh, wimoweh

 Wimoweh, wimoweh, wimoweh, wimoweh

 Wimoweh, wimoweh, wimoweh, wimoweh

 Wimoweh, wimoweh, wimoweh, wimoweh

Hush my darling, don't fear my darling

 The lion sleeps tonight

 Hush my darling, don't fear my darling

 The lion sleeps tonight!

            I looked over at Tom and quietly said, “Tom there is a lion sleeping somewhere in this jungle mystery.”  Maybe I am scared.”

            Tom went into preacher mode reiterating to me just what the song had said.  To hush now and not to fear for God is our peaceful village and we shall rest under his wings of protection.

            I thanked him but underneath it all I wasn’t so sure anymore.  Once again my mind set off to doing its hindsight thing.  Wishing I were back in Northern Wisconsin living with dead Fred instead of here in Amarillo looking for fast Freddie.  Or even with cowboy Billy in Houston living the rich life being the quiet accommodating southern wife.  Oh God no! Why did I always think I needed a man when obviously I didn’t and don’t. 

Duke gave out a bark for some unknown reason.  In fact barking like he was on a fox run was quite rare.  Then there ahead of us on the side of the road was a man walking alone.  The closer we got the more Duke went crazy barking.  I pulled over to ask him if he needed assisstance.  I thought Duke was going to go right through the window in attack mode.  Only time I had seen this was once when he was with Uncle Biggs in the big rig when they used to haul over the road.  I tried to calm Duke as Tom did also.  We told the young man it might be better if we sent help back instead of giving him a ride to which he agreed.  If I were him I wouldn’t have gotten into a car with a raging dog either.  Even if it was a beautiful Pink Cadillac.  As we drove away Duke was in the back window still attacking the stranger best he could through the window.

 
            Tom asked me what the heck I thought that was about?  I asked him if he recognized that young man.  Tom thought maybe he had worked at the Rice Motel’s front desk.   I commented how interesting that was.  Then I told Tom I bet that was the kid that took my car and my dog from the motel.  I betcha Tom!  I turned the car around in a fast U turn and headed back toward that young man alone on the side of the road in the middle of nowheresville.  This was my chance to get a little info back for a change and for sure.   I pulled my baby browning out of the glove box, added the clip and hit the gas pedal.  Tom asked me what in the world I was up to now.  I told him this was the perfect opportunity to find out what the hell was really going on.   I excused my language as I added the situation we had been in the past few weeks had been hell. 

            I pulled over to the side of the road opposite the man, got out, pointed my browning directly at him with no hesitation whatsoever while Duke was going ape shit crazy in the back seat to boot.  I supposed Tom was using his direct line to God at that moment to keep our butts safe. 

            The man-boy raised his hands in a gesture of white flaggin it and said, “Hey lady, what the hell? I didn’t do nothin’ ma’am.”

            I said with intimidating strength, “The hell you didn’t! You stole my car and my dog and I want to know why right here and now or I will either shoot you in the foot or let my dog lose on you or both. You see I have had it and you are the end of my I have had it list.  So I suggest you tell me why you took my car and my dog and right now!”

            He told me he didn’t know what I was talking about so I shot his foot.  Well not exactly his foot but so close I am sure the sole of his shoe was smokin’.  My Granddaddy taught me to shoot when I was barely old enough to hold a gun.  More like nine or so.  Duke actually stopped barking but Tom went into high gear and started speaking in tongues.  The man-boy on the other hand was crying.  Imagine that?  Dude is crying, scared of a dog, a girl with a gun, and an old Negro preacher man praying in tongues.  I almost laughed until I caught sight of the true situation at hand. Literally.  

            I said very loudly, “START TALKING!”

            “I was hired to plant the drugs in your Cadi.” He said with a trembling voice.

            “Keep talking, who hired you?  What is your name; throw me your wallet now!” I commanded.

            “Pam Hawkinson hired me.  My name is Joe Ben Waller. I never meant to hurt anybody.”  He slowly pulled his wallet out from his back pocket and slid it across the street. And then wouldn’t you know it.  Here comes Johnny Law Oklahoma State trooper toward us like a bat outta hell.  Shit how did he know what was going down here.  I jumped back in my car and we put the pedal to the metal and drove off like nothing ever happened.  We supposed someone saw us from the ranch house in the distance. Maybe had some binoculars going on.  The trooper didn’t stop us and I was betting Joe Ben Waller wasn’t going to give himself away either.  No matter I had his name and information for Director Ferguson.  Unless he was a bad guy too.  Good God everybody was turning out to be criminals.

            I asked Tom if he was okay.  He looked at me and told me never to do such a thing again.  I started laughing.  Told him I knew we were safe under God’s wings. And we found the sleeping lion.  All was good so far.  Then we both started laughing.  Even Duke figured I had handled the situation because he was all tuckered out sleeping it off in the back seat.

            Tom asked me where in tarnation we “was” going.  I finally had to come clean with him regarding my search for a church for him and that I had found one with a ready-made congregation.  We were on our way to view it with Tilton Boyer who was meeting us shortly.

            Old Tom just sat there speechless on the passenger side of my beautiful pink Cadillac.  I asked him why he wasn’t fussing at me and carrying on about how he can do it all by himself without any help.  Then I saw a tear flowing down the  tributaries of crooked wrinkles on the old man’s face.  I was silent.

            Old Tom said in his southern negro drawl, “Missies, youse come to da town for goodness. Youse helped my family more den anybody ever did.  And youse is perty as da day is long.  Eyes suspect youse sent by da good Lawd above. Is all I gots ta say fo now beside youse a good person Miss Julie.”

            I thanked the old man and we drove on.  This time we decided to sing us a hymn once again.

            A song inspired by Psalm 126:6, "He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him."

Sowing in the morning,

 Sowing seeds of kindness,

Sowing in the noontide and the dewy eve;

Waiting for the harvest,

And the time of reaping,

We shall come rejoicing,

Bringing in the sheaves.

Refrain:

Bringing in the sheaves,

 Bringing in the sheaves,

We shall come rejoicing,

Bringing in the sheaves,

Bringing in the sheaves,

Bringing in the sheaves,

We shall come rejoicing,

Bringing in the sheaves.

Sowing in the sunshine,

Sowing in the shadows,

Fearing neither clouds nor winter’s chilling breeze;

By and by the harvest,

And the labor ended,

We shall come rejoicing,

 Bringing in the sheaves.

Refrain:

Going forth with weeping,

Sowing for the Master,

Though the loss sustained our spirit often grieves;

When our weeping’s over,

 He will bid us welcome,

We shall come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves.

            If I hadn’t said so myself others would have agreed that old Tom and I could beller out a tune as good as some of those radio folks.  Lest I not forget Duke howling in the back seat like the hound dog he was.

            I had initially missed my turn to meet Tilton which had taken us too far out of town.   Surely that was an act of God for if I hadn’t missed the turn we wouldn’t have come upon our latest and much needed clue, Joe Ben Waller.  Could have also been because I got sidetracked listening and singing to the radio playing, “The Lion Sleeps Tonight.”  Maybe another clue sent by the almighty.  Humm, maybe Tom did have a direct line to God going on.  

And so it happened.  Old Tom, Duke, and I, drove on to meet Tilton Boyer and view the little church with the ready-made congregation.  Maybe it was going to be a great day afterall.