What you will find here

This is a place to examine plans filled with hope; plans which promise a refuge from chaos; plans which will shape our futures. Veterans with and without PTSD, Pentecostal Presbyterians, Adjudicated Youth, and Artists-Musicians-Writers: I write what I know. ~~~ Evelyn

Monday, June 9, 2014

Excerpt from Close Your Eyes Chapter Three

          It took them thirty minutes trying to make sense of the lanes and rows in the cemetery.  Finally, they decided to just go right to left, south to north until they found the correct section.  The gravestones were gray marble, with blackened engraving; a large one for Hugh spanning two plots, and a small one with an angel carved into the head of it.  There was a bouquet of faded silk flowers between the two, and a tattered American flag on the military foot marker.

“Where’s Nancy Drew when you need her?”  Beverly stared at the tiny grave marker.


Beverly’s mouth fell open.  She was about to snarl at him when he burst out laughing. 

“You’re a little upset about this age thing, aren’t you.”

          “Not at all.”  Beverly knelt down and held herself steady on the marble stone.  “Nothing wrong with my doctor being an entire decade younger than me.  You’re a lot younger than most of your patients.” 

“You are upset about it.”

“Nonsense.  Once you’ve given me a physical, you can mow my yard and deliver the morning papers on your schwinn bicycle.”

“Ouch!  I’m going to go tell my mommy!”

“Can I help you?”  The sound of the old man’s voice startled them both.  It was the man from the café.

Beverly and Patrick looked up at him, speechless.  The man pointed at the marker, “Did you know the family?”

Beverly recovered quickly, “I’m fascinated by cemeteries.  I know that sounds weird, but each gravestone represents an entire life, lived to the fullest, or snuffed out in infancy.  Like this one.  This little girl was only nine when she died.  I can’t help wonder what she might have become, had she lived.  And I assume this was her father?  The military foot stone lists some very impressive medals.  Do you think he died during Viet Nam?”

Patrick blinked at her and closed his mouth.

“God in His wisdom meets out only a certain number of days to each of us.  The days should be used for His purpose alone.  Little Beverly was perfect, and it only took a few years on Earth for her to redeem her soul and be whisked off to heaven.”

Patrick put his arm around Beverly’s waist, drawing her protectively close to him.

“Now, this one here,” the old man pointed to Hugh’s grave.  “I figure God finally decided that no matter how many years Hugh spent on Earth, he would never come close to being saved, so God let Satan have him.”

“We didn’t mean any disrespect.”  Patrick tugged Beverly off the grave area.  “You obviously knew this family.”

He nodded, “My sister’s husband and child.” 

“Your sister?”  Beverly realized her voice was too high, but she felt she had to say something – anything.  This man was her uncle and she had no idea he existed before today. “Did she ever remarry –I mean, she was widowed very young.” 

“I don’t know.  I went to prison in 1970.  Never heard from her.  By the time I got out in 95, she’d disappeared.  Can’t say I blame her.”  The old man smiled sweetly.  “Going to prison was the best thing that ever happened to me.  I was a carpenter by trade before my arrest.  In prison, I found Jesus and was saved.  I took courses and got my college degree.  I came out of prison a new man; a real carpenter.  I’m Reverend Roman Ross.  Quite a mouthful, I know.”  He smiled again and stuck out his right hand.

“Dr. Patrick Eoghan,” he took the old man’s hand.  “And this is – my friend, Wanda.”

Beverly cringed at the obvious lie, but took the man’s hand, too.  “I was raised to believe that all are able to be saved.  Why do you have such a harsh opinion of your brother-in-law?”

“He was a killer.  He liked to kill.  He was good at it.” Roman looked down at his leather shoes and continued.  “He was the perfect soldier for any army.  He used to think Viet Nam was created solely for his pleasure.  He joined up at eighteen, at the end of the Korean Conflict, and they recognized his potential.  Teddy always thought that having their little girl would domesticate him.  Teddy’s my sister.  But it didn’t.  The day little Beverly died was –“ he shook his head.  “Satan couldn’t have created a worse punishment for Hugh.  That was the end of any hope of salvation for him.”

“I had no idea,” Beverly’s voice shook with repressed tears.  She glanced up at Roman.  “I mean, you look at these head stones, and you wonder about the lives they lived, but you never really know.”

“Just names carved in stone,” he agreed.  “I guess we both know that names are meaningless.”

Beverly stared up at him, but he didn’t drop his eyes.  Patrick stepped between them and stuck out his hand.  “Nice to meet you, Reverend.  We’ll leave you alone now.”

Patrick took Beverly by the hand and turned them away.

“Why were you here?  Really?”

Beverly turned back and blushed.  “We’re rose rustlers.”  She reached into her purse and pulled out a pair of snips.  “I collect tea-roses, which used to be popular in the late 1800’s, but are hard to find now because the hybrids have become so easy to sell.  So I stop at old cemeteries and take cuttings from any rose bushes I might find.  I take them home and I propagate them.”

Roman reached out and took the clippers.  Studying them, he repeated, “Rose rustlers?  Doesn’t sound legal.”

“I’m very careful.  Trimming the bushes is actually good for them.  Most old cemeteries are abandoned now-a-days.  I hate that the old tea-roses are dying off from neglect.”  She held out her hand to retrieve the clippers.  Roman hesitated, but then placed them in her palm.

“You ever feel like visiting a church, I’m the pastor at Beulah Pines Missionary Baptist.  Right down the street, past the post office and next to the fire station.”  His eyes seemed to plead with Beverly.  “Door’s always open.”

She nodded, afraid to try to speak.

Excerpt from

Close Your Eyes

© Evelyn Rainey

Available for publication.

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