Chapter Twenty Two

Marty barked excitedly running scattering the chickens in their pen around the barn out to the driveway looking down the road. Sam stepped out of the barn just as Erica’s silver Honda turned the corner from the county road a quarter mile away. Marty barked, running in circles looking at the car and then back at Sam. Marty knew the sound of everyone’s rig and he was the official welcoming committee. He was not allowed to run out and greet anyone down the lane as they drove up and had been taught to wait until they got out of the rig before he approached the car. So he sat on his wiggling butt in great anticipation. When she opened the door he met her with a surge of dog love. “Hi Marty! I missed you too!” Erica said as she wrapped her arms around him.

“Hi honey, you’re home a day early?” Sam asked.

“Oh, I talked to my professors to see if I could skip tomorrow so I could go to the women’s conference at church with Mom and Linda. Mom bought me a ticket just in case I could get off. I sure don’t want to waste her money! Meadow Song is going to be playing there!” She said with excitement. “Can you believe it? Mom was saying that there has been such a surge in ticket sales to attend this surprise concert Pastor Mike moved the conference to the church’s auditorium.”

“Hmmm… really?” Sam thought back to his last conversation with Pastor Mike and getting enough funding for the parking lot and expansion project. I see what he is up to! He thought to himself. Robin had mentioned the upcoming women’s conference and he had made tentative plans with Corey to take a small excavator and Bobcat out to the property to work for the entire weekend provided the deal closed by Friday. It was conditional though. Robin told Sam that sometime over the weekend he needed to talk to Corey about Monica about their living accommodations. Sam reluctantly agreed. He felt that it really wasn’t his business to tell Corey how to live his life. Robin had argued that it was biblical, that an elder should go talk to Corey, and Monica should not be in a leadership position and living like this. If Corey didn’t adhere to the warning then a group of men from the church needed to talk to him, and if Cory still didn’t take action, then he would not be allowed back in the church. Robin had brought up the fact that Cory and Monica’s actions had even justified Ben’s recent change in direction and ultimately his walk with the Lord. Ben was a sensitive subject and the conversation petered out at the mention of his name. Ben’s disrespect towards his family still disturbed Sam. “I need to go check on the cows and calves”, which usually meant that he needed to go out to the barn and process everything. Sam had just walked into the barn when Marty’ announced Erica’s arrival.

After giving his daughter a hug and a kiss on the forehead, Erica popped open the trunk. Sam grabbed Erica’s suitcase out of the trunk and was following her into the house when his phone buzzed in his back pocket. Setting her suitcase down, he answered, “Hello?”

“Hey Sam, this Sheila at Valley Title Company. We have received notice that the owners in China have signed paperwork for the Jaykee Creek property. It looks like I will have everything ready by the end of the day today and you and your wife can sign the paperwork first thing tomorrow. There isn’t any reason why it can’t be recorded by noon”.

“Wow! You do very good work! I was skeptical whether you would be able to pull this off!”

“Yes, this isn’t normal but we do a lot of work with your lawyer and he is very good. I also wanted to tell you that everyone here at the office was very impressed with you and your wife and your offer to that missionary family. That was another reason why we were able to get this done so quickly. When we heard about your kindness and hearing of that little girl needed the money to get treatment, we all wanted to contribute something too, so we worked late last night to get this done for them”.

“Well thank you!” Sam replied.

“In fact,” she continued, “when your lawyer mentioned that you were also wiring an additional twenty five hundred dollars to help them, one of our girls here at the office approached the corporate office to see if they would match your generosity”.

“Oh wow! That was nice of her!”

“Yes,” she continued. “This is so crazy! The secretary she spoke with at the corporate office in New York happens to be a relation to the cousin of one of the missionaries. Their family has not been able to touch base with them because of the lack of internet access and phone service where they live is so unreliable.”

“Yes, we have had that problem communicating with them too.” Sam said. “It truly is a miracle that we were able to get this contract signed.”

Sheila continued, “Sam, the corporate office decided to double your contribution and fly the little girl and her family to Singapore for medical treatment”.

Sam stood there stunned, “You’re kidding me?”

“No, I am not!”

Sam remembered the note in the glass bottle up on the barren windswept hill buried under the rocks of the corner post for who knows how many years: And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.

Sam hurried into the house opening the door he hollered, “Robin! You are not going to believe this!”

Chapter Ten

As they were getting ready for bed Robin mentioned to Sam about the revival concert Heidi had shared before dinner.

“I can’t put my finger on it exactly, but something in my gut turned as she was telling me about this man kissing the pastor’s feet. It’s just weird. What really bothers me even more is the pastor implying that Muslims, Christians and Mother of Apostles all praise the same God. That is just not right, it’s deceptive.” Robin exclaimed.

Anything that is associated with that Mother of Apostles church turns my stomach. I was thinking about Reverend O’Riley the other day as a matter of fact, I was reminded of our last meeting.”

Sam had shared with Robin the abuse that had gone on with O’ Riley and his “penance for sin” that he had collected from his mom growing up, but Sam had never told her the complete story of how it ended; mostly because his actions that day had scared himself. All he ever told her was O’ Riley will never bother my mom again.

“What happened to make Reverend O’ Riley stop visiting your mom, Sam?” Robin pressed cautiously.

Sam sat on the edge of the bed with a big sigh and Robin laid down across the king sized bed propping her head up with her hand on her elbow.

“Geez…. Sam started, staring at the patterns in the bedspread. “It was early summer in my junior year.” Sam reflected. “I had been hired on with ol Callahan, off of Ten Mile Road, mending fences and working with the cattle on his place. We had moved the mother cows to the high country and on our way back through I stopped by mom’s place to pick up my gloves that I had forgotten and left at home. O’ Riley had not been around in a while and when I saw his rig in the driveway my blood boiled.

Robin sat up pulling the pillow to her chest listening to Sam intently. Sam stood up and began pacing back and forth across the bedroom staring off in the past.

“When I opened the door of the truck I heard a muffled scream coming through the screen door from inside the house and I lost it. O’ Riley was yelling “Repent” over and over. I grabbed the first thing I could and that was the whip that I had been using to separate the cows which was hanging on the gun rack. I remember telling myself to calm down as I ran towards the house but the anger surged up in me so fast. It was uncontrollable a blinding fury that I could taste in my mouth. I actually felt myself losing control and allowed myself to do it. I remember that it had been a long day and I was exhausted but it was like this unbelievable force of energy was shooting through my veins. I went in through the front screen door, down the hallway and caught O’ Riley with his pants down. His hand was on the back of my mom’s neck burying her face in the bed covers. She was crying, her blouse had been ripped off of her and her skirt was pulled up. He turned to me and gave me the meanest glare like I was infringing on his holy act of penance. I am sure that I have never been so angry in my life. The fury that came up out of me scared me, Robin, I really think I could have killed him.”

Robin was clutching the pillow tightly against her chest. Her knuckles were turning white in horror listening to her husband’s confession. She was trying to picture this scenario with the deranged Reverend, her sweet mother in law and Sam. She had never seen Sam lose his temper but understood how this would inflame him.

I took the whip and as hard as I could came down across his white ass. A deep red mark appeared instantly and blood came to the surface. He screamed in pain turning towards me swinging at me angrily and I hit him with the whip across the front of him as well. He fell over backwards trying to cover his nakedness and I raked the side of his face with the spur on my boot and stuck the butt end of the whip in his mouth. He was laying there gurgling and his face went from red to bluish purple. His feet were kicking wildly knocking over the lamp and the nightstand. He was grasping for anything and ironically found the bible that had been sitting on the table and threw it at me. Mom was pulling on my arm screaming for me to stop. When I realized that she was yelling at me I stopped and removed the whip from his bleeding mouth. If she wouldn’t have stepped in I am sure he would be dead. He was laying there gasping for air and I grabbed him by his sacrificial holy garments and drug the son of a bitch outside with his pants down around his ankles and dumped him in the front yard. I told him that if he ever showed up at our place again that I would finish this and kicked him hard in his naked welted white ass when he got up on his knees crawling towards his car.

Reliving the experience got Sam’s adrenaline pumped up. He was wiping sweat off of his forehead with a towel, “Oh my goodness, Sam! Did you ever see that horrible man again?” She asked gasping, “I can’t believe you’ve kept all this inside you for so long.”

“Mom and I stopped going to church after that. I ran into him one afternoon in line at the grocery store. Our eyes met and he looked down avoiding me like the plague. In fact he even walked out of the store. Seriously, he left his groceries sitting in line at the counter and walked out of the store. I heard later from an acquaintance at Mother of Apostles that he had requested to be transferred to a church in Salt Lake.”

Chapter One

The front tires vibrated on the wash board roads sending the truck sliding across the gravel into the oncoming lane. Sam’s heart raced as his three quarter ton pickup headed towards the ditch. Instinctively he let off the gas, his hands white knuckled with a death grip on the steering wheel. He considered how differently that could have turned out had he not taken the back roads through the desert on his way home. Having left the engineering firm early that Friday for the Christmas Holiday, he felt relief flood over him as he regained control. This was supposed to be a less stressful drive home but between the wash boarded roads and the ominous storm that was brewing he resigned to feel a different kind of stress than that of the holiday traffic. Thunder rumbled in the distance and the winds picked up blowing tumbleweeds across the sagebrush covered desert and over the road. The weather forecast called for a heavy snow storm that would arrive by late evening. Everyone had left the office early allowing him to also. He could use the extra time to move the animals into the barn and secure things at the farm, and maybe even spend an evening in front of the fire with Robin and their two kids.

Skies Are Not Cloudy All Day

Skies Are Not Cloudy All Day

Suddenly from out of nowhere a huge black cat with deep yellow eyes ran across the road ahead of Sam’s pickup causing his heart rate to climb, he slammed on the brakes in time to see five more cats following the black one, like a raiding party returning from a conquest. Sam wasn’t superstitious but a shiver ran down his back as the number six popped into his mind. Ten miles from any farm, in the middle of the desert with a violent storm looming on the horizon, was that a warning of some kind? Six. Satan’s number, how Sam had always hated that number, someday 666; the number of the man who was predicted to rule the earth, the mark of the beast. It would be the mark that would be given to every person in order for them to buy or sell anything.

He had first heard about 666 when he was a kid. His mom raised him to go to church every Sunday at the Holy Mother of Apostles Church. Reverend O’ Riley was the reverend, he was a curious one. He remember every time he saw that man it seemed that he had his hands together like he might have been constantly in the middle of prayer. He was always so pious and talked so quiet, so holy. Sam knew differently.

Sam’s dad had been one of those guys who had a girlfriend in every town. His mom finally got fed up with the rumors and divorced him. That was when Reverend O’ Riley started showing up. In those days divorce was a sin and looked down upon, the Revered stopped to sentence his mom with ‘penance’. “You’ll pay for the sin of divorce because God hates divorce” he would say with disdain. Sam was dismissed outside to play, but he could hear them arguing inside and his mom screaming “No, stop it!” Sam hated Reverend O’ Riley. He saw his mom’s pain after those visits. Late at night he would hear her cry and he saw her hunched over on her knees praying, pleading, in tears. A week would go by and mom would return to normal but then Reverend O’ Riley returned to break their peace.

The reverend was nice to his patrons, church would end and he would piously wait at the door shaking hands with everyone as they left, but Sam saw the other side of the man. He was angry and brutal behind closed doors, before, and often during services. What Sam hated the most about their church was being forced to kneel to confess his sins to Reverend O’ Riley, just to be in right standing with God. Sam wondered what made Reverend O’ Riley more holy than anyone else. Who did the reverend confess his sins to? He was deceptive, seemly holy in public but a vicious, ruthless and an angry old man behind the curtain. Holy Mother of Apostles Church caused Sam great anger and bitterness. He wondered if the head of the church was the same as O’ Riley.

The previous year, Sam watched the election of the Most Holy Bishop hand over the robe of the highest position in the Holy Mother of Apostles Church. It had been a most unusual transfer of holy power, not seen in hundreds of years. By Holy Mother of Apostles statutes, the Most High Bishop was replaced only in the event of death or excused from his position by a severe sickness. This time the previous leader had stepped down voluntarily and the church had agreed to allow the resignation, voting unanimously the transference of holy power.

Sam’s wife, Robin, picked up on the blatant contradiction of scripture during the election process, and it had infuriated her. For one man to claim to be the elected power by the church to stand between man and God for the forgiveness of sins was direct blasphemy against the one true God. When it was aired worldwide, across all of the networks on TV she was livid.

She discerned that the number thirteen conspicuously intertwined throughout the entire orchestrated event. The Most Holy Bishop of France had been elected on March 13, 2013 at 7:06 pm, which coincidentally had added to thirteen. He was 76 years old which again added to 13. She even noticed the exact times when announcements were made also coincided with the number 13. The first announcement was made at 2:13 p.m. and another at 8:13 p.m. Robin explained to Sam and the kids the prophetic vision from a bishop named Malachi in Scotland revealing every Most Holy Bishop all the way up to the last one, which would be the false prophet spoken of in Revelation. Sam had to admit that there were a lot of coincidences that lined up. And then there was the comet Pan passing over the earth at the same time as the election.

For days she had been infatuated by the election process and the coincidences surrounding it. The event had caused Robin to study scriptures intensely. Sam had never seen her so passionate about something like this before. Whatever it was, something had ignited her anger over the election. Sam had learned to trust her intuition. She turned a corner that day, passion emerged and she began diving into her bible, and encouraging him to join her. Several times he had come into the house to find her kneeling in their bedroom, praying. He never interrupted her but watched and decided to pocket the information for the time being, he was careful not to question the change. Sam was glad that he and his mom had left Holy Mother of Apostles when he began high school. He wondered if O’ Riley was still alive after their last confrontation.