He hadn’t given up on society. He shouldn’t give up on the church either. Cleansed by Fire.
July 4, 2013
A VG Serial: Cleansed by Fire
“What’s this?” Mike speared a crisp white vegetable stick and held it up.
“That is Jicama,” said Georgia.
“Okay. What is it?”
“I don’t know. A Mexican vegetable. Good, isn’t it?”
Mike popped it into his mouth. “Crunchy, anyway.”
Georgia had prepared dinner, and had worried over how to arrange the dining room table. She finally decided on fresh flowers from her garden as the center piece, good dishes but not her best china, and stainless flatware. No candles. Nice but not too special. Warm but not too romantic.
A moment later, Mike held another item on his fork. “And this?”
“Mango. Adds a nice fruity flavor to the salad, don’t you think,” Georgia said, beaming her best smile across the table.
“Actually, it is good. I didn’t think I liked mangos. But this is good.” He continued eating the salad for a minute, then added, “I don’t think I’ve had pecans in a garden salad before.”
“Well, that’s Texan all the way. Where were you raised?”
The main course consisted of pork chops, red cabbage, fresh asparagus and sautéed carrots. When they finished, Georgia suggested they have their dessert on the patio.
As they passed through the door, Mike leaned over and kissed her on the neck.
“Hey,” she said. “It’s still dinner time.”
“Well, I’m not on the menu.”
“But you have on such an intriguing perfume,” Mike said as he sat in a comfortable wicker chair. “It just drew me to you, sort of like a magnet.”
“Probably the cinnamon,” Georgia replied but the back of her neck still tingled from the brush of his lips, and she couldn’t contain the smile bubbling up from within.
Thirty minutes later, they still sat talking about things that shaped their personalities, each wanting to know even little details about the other. No moon added to the romance that crackled in the air but Georgia’s yard helped.
A small waterfall trickled into a goldfish pond that edged one side of the patio, providing an almost musical background. Roses and gardenias offered a heady scent. And somewhere near the back fence, a tiny bell tinkled so softly it was almost imagined rather than heard.
Georgia gave Mike a warm smile. She didn’t want to ruin the evening. It had been simultaneously relaxed and exciting so far. But she had to bring it up. It worried her. Without a doubt, in the end, it held more importance for Mike.
“Tell me again, why you quit going to church?”
Mike squirmed in his chair, looked down for a moment as if studying the material of his pants, before focusing on Georgia.
“I used to go every Sunday.” He chuckled softly. “Can you believe I used to be an altar boy?” The laugh ended abruptly and his tone became serious. “But after I joined the police, I began to see people, the world, more clearly. A great many of them were just plain bad.”
“Many more are just plain good.”
“Some are. Maybe most of those you come in contact with. But I see the general population. The drug dealers, cheats, child molesters, and thieves. People who abuse their spouses, or the elderly. The murderers. The line marches on and on. You can’t see the end.”
“Mike, you do not see the general population. You see, by and large, the worst side of humanity. Those misguided souls who, temporarily or permanently, have turned their back on God. It’s not fair to extend that to everybody, or even the majority.”
“Okay. Not the majority. But a goodly portion of the population.”
Georgia leaned forward, closer to Mike, hoping she could make him look at things differently.
“I know people make mistakes. We all do. Some are worse than others. But the fact that we have a police department, laws, judges and juries, means that the majority of people are good, God-fearing people who want justice. Who want a better world to live in.”
“I can’t see that the church is helping at all.” Mike shook his head. “Can you imagine how many people I pull in who go to church regularly? Who consider themselves Christians? In church on Sunday, abusing a wife on Monday. Are the churches doing any good?”
“Do we get a bad president, sometimes?”
“And sometimes, a bad administration?”
Again, he nodded.
“But you don’t propose we do away with the democratic government, do you? Does that keep you from voting?”
“It keeps some people away from the polls.”
“How about you?” she pushed.
“No. I vote. The only way we can change things for the better is to vote in good people.”
“I admit there are people who go to church who don’t follow God’s wishes. But we don’t throw out the system because of a few bad eggs. Some people consciously vote for a bad candidate, for one reason or another. Some of those candidates win. We don’t abandon the system.”
She gazed at the man sitting across from her, the man who had awakened feelings long dormant in her, a man who was becoming important to her.
“You haven’t given up on society. You’re still a policeman, trying to make this a better world. Don’t give up on the church if everybody isn’t perfect. The church helps, just like the justice system helps. Neither is perfect.”
For several minutes, only the distant sound of a car intruded on the atmosphere of the patio. Finally, Georgia got up.
“I’m going to climb down from my soap box and fix us something to drink. I may have gotten too fired up.”
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.