Disasters reminded them all of the fragility and uncertainty of life. Cleansed by Fire. Chapter 5-2

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A VG Serial: Cleansed by Fire

Chapter 5 -2

Father Frank made a breakfast of scrambled eggs, toast and orange juice. Attendance at today’s Mass had been a little better than usual. Maybe it was because of the second church burning in less than a week. Disasters tended to remind people of the God they often forgot. Maybe it reminded them of the fragility of life, the uncertainty, the need to be ready to meet their Maker at any moment. Whatever, he was pleased to see a few more faces at the weekday Mass.

Wouldn’t it be nice if so many attended that he wouldn’t notice a few extra?

An image of the man in the Trans-Am popped into Father Frank’s mind. He felt certain the man was connected to the drug scene in some fashion. The priest had not expected drugs to be a problem in a small, east Texas town. In the last few weeks, he had come to the realization that drugs invaded every place now. Even Pine Tree.

One of the ministers in town told him of a report the police had on the drug problem. It hadn’t been made public but the minister knew one of the authors of the report. Father Frank couldn’t believe the numbers.

He bristled at the injustice. Before kids were old enough to understand the dangers, they were introduced to the highs, then enslaved by the addiction. How unfair. The kids were not to blame.

Those vipers whose only interest was in making a buck, no matter what the cost to others, were the real villains. They had to bear the full judgment for the evil they sold.

An image of Rick materialized in his mind. He had been Frank’s closest friend in high school. Although they went to different schools, they lived only a block apart. And while Frank was a star basketball player, Rick was a top notch baseball player with such a keen eye he never swung at a bad pitch, and seldom struck out.

They liked the same music, many of the same movies, and played long tennis matches during the warm summer months in Dallas. If a Cowboys, Mavericks, or Stars game was on TV, chances were good that Frank and Rick were watching it to­gether. When Frank needed a friend to do something with, or just to talk, Rick was there.

They went to different colleges and their frequent talks ceased. At the Christmas break, Frank learned that Rick had got­ten into the drug scene. By midterm, Rick lost his scholarship and dropped out of class. Frank tried to talk to him over the holidays but Rick was never available. A month later, Rick was dead.

He had been a bright student, a talented athlete and the kind of friend who comes along all too rarely. Before he was twenty, he was dead. The undeniable reason—drugs. Frank was depressed for months, almost dropped out of school himself. His dad convinced him to hang in there, work out his grief, and use it to do some good. Frank stayed in school, and vowed to speak out against drugs at every opportunity.

The telephone rang, interrupting Father Frank’s worry and mounting anger.

“Hello, Frank. This is Jack, over at Calvert Road Baptist. Or what used to be Calvert Road Baptist.”

“And will be again,” said Father Frank.

“You remember the old Grace Presbyterian Church, the one they used before building over on Water Street? I’ve just been talking with Reverend Wilcock there. They’ve been trying to sell the old facility but nothing has come through yet. They’ve agreed to let us rent it until we know what we’re doing. It’s a little small but I think we can crowd into it.

“And that gives us time to decide what to do—build, if that’s what we choose, or whatever. They’re being very accommodating, no long-term lease or anything. And the rent is reasonable.”

“Great. That’s not even far for your congregation to go,” said Father Frank, genuinely pleased. “What a blessing.”

“Well, I wanted to tell you, and also say how much I appreciate your offer. Perhaps we can work together on some ecumenical service or community project. It might be good for both congregations.”

“Good idea. We would be open to that. Give me a call when you get settled in your new home. And my offer for Prince of Peace to help still stands.”

 

Chapters of the serial are published on Monday, Thursday, and Sunday.

You can learn more about Cleansed by Fire and other James H. Callan novels on his Amazon Author Page.

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