In the Silence

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CHAPTER TWENTY-ONE


Thursday morning all hell broke out at the Department. Scott and Kirk were sitting in front of Mr. Henderson's desk like two prisoners in the warden's office. Mr. Henderson ranted and raved, not able to believe how both of them had let David slip through their fingers. He mocked Scott's suggestion that David had some telepathic power  or some sort of supernatural help. But Kirk took the theory seriously; he had a feeling that David had been inside his van yesterday.

Mr. Henderson wanted results and knew how to get them. "Here's how it going to be. Kirk, if you find David McIntosh first you can do whatever you want with Scott's wife and family. And to make things fair, here is a morning report from the ATF. There's a name of a cab driver and a mechanic on it you might want to check out. Now, get out of here!"

Kirk stood with his back to Mr. Henderson, licked his upper lip, then smiled at Scott before he left the office. Scott had been threatened so much by Mr. Henderson that he was prepared. He had hidden an old hunting rifle in the attic. Before Kirk even got close to his family, he'd kill them himself. A bullet while they slept would free them from the torment of the likes of Mr. Henderson and Kirk. Only one thing was keeping Scott from already having followed through with his plan. Nobody was in the mobile home when he helped Kirk blow it up -- he hadn't killed anybody, yet.

"And for you, Scott," said Mr. Henderson, "If you can come up with a plan that flushes out David McIntosh, I'll call off Kirk. In fact, just between you and me, you can kill Kirk if you want." Scott got up and left. He did have one last plan, something he had been thinking about ever since he read the bomb report. It was cruel but it might work.

Mr. Henderson got up from his desk and fixed a drink to toast himself. Nothing or nobody could stop him; it was just a matter of time before he spread his power over the  world. It didn't matter -- who found David first. Mr. Henderson was planning to have Kirk and Scott killed anyway; he couldn't chance any loose ends.

David had become more than a pain in Mr. Henderson's side. Although the Department was again feeding false statistics over the wire service; just last night they tried putting out some trumped facts stating that 68% of terminally ill people wished they could end their own lives, but the virus caused another hard-disk-drive to crash. Mr. Henderson's euthanasia plan was meeting more opposition than anticipated. Each time the Department pulled data, such as the cost of keeping people in nursing homes, or how much money retarded kids within the school system were costing the taxpayers, something would happen with the Department's computer system. This was pertinent information to hand feed society, to help them vote and think from their pocket books. But somehow David's computer virus knew when and what information to attack.

After last night's computer problems, Mr. Henderson wanted David alive. He'd get David to remove the virus, even if he had cut him or his family apart piece by piece. Then it would be simple -- just keep putting the spin and false statistics over the wire service, make the ill-starred feel guilty about being a financial burden to society. They would start asking to die to save the last and only thing they had, their dignity. Mr. Henderson toasted himself with another drink. Not only was he powerful, he was wickedly clever. His plan would have the weakest, the poorest, the misfits of society asking to be destroyed. It was genocide hidden behind the words death with dignity.

Scott was at his desk, putting out a story over the wire service without Mr. Henderson's knowledge. It didn't matter. He was desperate. If this didn't work, he only had one option left; the option that was up in his attic.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The rays of the late morning sun had worked themselves around the corner of the building and shone through the hotel room window overlooking Main Street. Groggily, David rolled on his side. The cold steel of the 9-mm Luger jabbed him in the side. Astonished to still be there, he sat up and grabbed for the gun. Setting the gun on the night stand, his eyes slowly focused on the paper he'd written three lines on. It looks like I got everything right. I'll do it tonight. But then he remembered, Paul sick in the hospital.

After a hot shower and an unaccustomed shave, David packed the gun into the gymbag, picked up the piece of hotel stationery and stared at the three lines. The full name and city were right, but he was not sure about the scribbled over then rewritten address he had seen on the van's registration. This Kirk I. Smith doesn't know how lucky he was that I fell asleep last night. The rules of the game have changed now that I know where he lives, and I've got a gun too. I should wait and pay him a visit tonight, but that will have to wait.

  David neatly folded up the piece of stationery in thirds and slipped it between one of the bank wrapped stacks of money, and left the hotel room. He walked across Main Street and waved at Gus through the service station window as he got into his truck to head for California. Kirk was only five blocks away.

David made it all the way through Colorado and into Utah, only stopping for gas. Not quite to Nevada he stopped to eat dinner while the blinding sun sank into the desert. By 3 A.M. Friday morning David had reached the California border. Even with a three-hour nap he would make it to San Francisco sometime that afternoon.

Just past lunch, with Paul's room number in hand, David walked right by the hospital information desk and got on the elevator. The doors opened in front the giant brass mosaic and David walked down the hall looking for room 1433.  Peering into one of opened rooms a cold chill ran down David's spine when he saw three men laying on their death beds. Room 1433 had  DAVID MCINTOSH  written on the card holder. All over the door were orange warning stickers not to touch body fluids without taking the proper precautions.

Frightened, David froze in his tracks. I'm getting the hell out of here. I'll call Paul on the phone . . .  No, I've come too far. I just won't touch anything or anybody. I'll  breathe through my nose. David took a deep breath and pushed on the heavy door. That looks like Paul standing by the window reading a newspaper. David stood in the doorway letting his eyes adjust to make out the silhouette against the bright window.

When the door closed the image turned. "David! What are you doing here? I was just reading about you, right here in the morning paper."

"What do you mean, what am I doing? What are you doing? I called last Friday and they told me you were so sick and weak that you couldn't even talk on the phone. I just drove all the way across the country to see you."

"David, thank you for coming. I was very sick, but last Saturday when I woke up, the open sores on my legs were gone along with the ones in my mouth. The doctors can't believe it. A few of them are playing it up as a miracle, since most everyone now knows my true identify. They are letting me go this morning. No one can believe how fast I went into remission. But enough about me. What about this story? Does it have to do with that Clipper Chip?"

"What are you talking about?"

Paul handed David the paper. "One of the orderlies showed me it, this morning. He thought it strange that I had the same name of this guy in Colorado that is wanted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearm. You know, I still had to use your name because you haven't been here to get the records straight yet."

"Yeah, don't worry about it," David casually said as he scanned the article. The story tied him to the death of two ATF agents. It said that he had a small arsenal, had set fire to his own home and when the agents were investigating there was a booby trap that killed two ATF agents. Marcea's name was mentioned as a possible accomplice and was wanted for questioning. The latest picture of David, taken by an ATM security camera, was also in the paper. With the hat, dark glasses, and beard he really looked like a criminal. David read over the story twice before he returned the paper to Paul.

"Do you want to talk about it?" asked Paul.

"Yes, but not here," whispered David.

Paul didn't say any more about the Clipper Chip, but he did suggest that now would be a good time for them to straighten out the medical records. David was worried about Marcea, with her name being in the paper and all. He started looking around, knowing he could have been followed. They had a short conversation out in the hall and Paul knew a nearby place that would be safe for them to talk.  The M.H. de Young Memorial Museum in Golden Gate Park was only eight blocks from the hospital and was quiet and private. 

As they stood in front of an exhibit, David filled Paul in about the Department, starting with the night he took Marcea to the airport and afterwards seeing the two men plant dynamite under his home. He told Paul how he was on his way to California months ago but then saw an old military photo of himself in a casino in Reno and ever since had been on the road, staying out of sight. David held back about embezzling the $650,000 and about planting a virus in the main frame computer at D.O.S.

  Paul listened intently. Knowing the whole ordeal started that night they spent up on Mt. Antero, he started feeling partially responsible. If  I'd not chosen that place to tell David I was HIV positive, we would not have gotten stranded. David would not have had to use the Clipper Chip. Two men seemed to be watching them! Paul moseyed over to a bench and sat, while David wandered off pretending to looking at more exhibits. Inside a dimly lit room, David walked toward a glass display case and some lights came on. David's heart raced! Then he figured out that the exhibit had a motion switch on it. Bending over to look into the display case, David casually kept one eye out for the two men.  Standing there for the longest time, something right beneath the glass caught his attention. There were some old cloth scrolls in the case that looked a few thousand years old. For some reason David felt as though he was in a church or standing on holy ground. It was if he were looking upon some sacred papers, like there was an answer written right there before his eyes. He scrutinized the scrolls closer; they meant nothing to him, they were written in Greek. The only thing David could read was the small plaque explaining what the exhibit was.

When David read that the scrolls were found by a Bedouin sheep herder the same year that both Paul and he were born, he trembled. Reading more, he learned that this was a small representation of what is known as the Dead Sea Scrolls. David knew that this was some mystical message, some sort of apparition. He went to get Paul.

Walking up to the display, the motion sensor turned up the lights again. "Paul, look in this display and tell me what you think." David stood back, arms folded across his chest as he watched Paul examine the scrolls.

"David, I've been here before, just to see this particular exhibit. It's a great piece of Christian history. I am amazed that so mush of it was preserved by just being in clay pots. And I wish I had the time to study Greek, Aramaic and Hebrew," Paul said quietly, straightening up.

"Paul, look closer," whispered David excitedly.

Paul bent over again. "What am I looking for?"

"Paul, I think this must be a message from God or something. Here you are a priest and all. We came in here to talk and these Holy Scriptures are right here before my eyes."

"David, I knew about this display. That's how I knew this would be a safe place for us to talk. I was here two months ago. I don't think any of this would constitute a message from God. If you are looking for something mystical, examine the Bible. It's being written and rewritten over one hundred and fifty times,"  Paul paused and pointed at the display. "The truth's in God's words have the same meaning today as they did when these scrolls were written. Now if you want something mystical, think about that."

"Paul, look at the year these scrolls were found. It's the same year we were both born!"

Paul looked a little closer at the display. "I never paid any attention to that. You're right, it is the same year we were born."

"Don't you think that means something? Don't you think this is a message?"

Paul put his arm over David's shoulder to lead him away from the case. "David, you don't need apparitions to see the wonders of God. He's with you every moment of every day. That should be a phenomenon enough. Just last Friday, I had a dream that the same nurse who gave me the medal when I was in the veteran's hospital was standing at my bedside. I could even see her holding the medal in her hand. You know the one I gave to Danny. But David I knew it wasn't a vision. I know how you feel. I had to keep reminding myself the hospital had me on all kind of medication and that . . . "

When they got to the door Paul took his arm off David's shoulder. David glanced back at the display case and it got brighter but nobody was by it. I should tell Paul to look now. No forget it. He'll put it off as an intermittent motion switch. But maybe he's right about God being with me every moment.  I didn't freeze up on Mt. Antero. I barely got Marcea and the children to the airport before they blew my home up. Then I didn't get caught in Reno. A lot of unexplainable things have happened. Maybe I should put all my trust in God.  As the case dimmed, David turned his head back around and they exited the museum.

Paul had David drive them to the monastery in Napa Valley. He didn't say much besides giving directions. He was silently putting together a plan to help David. Driving up the long winding road through the vineyards to the monastery David sensed he was on holy ground; safe and protected. The grounds around the monastery were like a wildlife park, with overgrown shrubs and tall old trees. All the buildings were built of stone with heavy beams to support their tile roofs. It looked like a fortress. The ATF could never get to him here.

Behind the main building perimeter walls, David followed Paul down a long open corridor, each footstep echoing  off the stone walls. Stopping at a massive wooden door with old iron strap hinges, the word STUDY was hand carved into the wood. Once they entered the room, a thin man with  white hair immediately stood up from an old high backed reading chair. "Father Paul, it's so good to see you. And this must be your old friend you spoke to me on the phone about."

After being introduced to Monsignor Grant, David was left by himself in the study. He looked around the room. It had the feel of the Renaissance times. There was no desk, no filing cabinets, no computer, just some massive high back reading chairs arranged in the center of the room. Shelves were filled with old leather bound books. Inside a stone alcove hung a large icon of Jesus; directly in front was a podium with an old book opened on it. On each side of the podium were three foot candles on wooden stands. On the opposite side of the room a stone fireplace rose all the way up through the massive beams of the cathedral ceiling. David was reading some of the prayers in the opened book when the heavy door swung open.

Monsignor Grant came and sat in one of the chairs in the center of the room and motioned David to come over. "Paul has explained your situation to me and has gone to talk to Marcea. David, I think it would be best if you stayed here tonight. Then tomorrow the two of you should go back to Denver to the authorities. Paul told me about how you had to tap into that computer line. I'm sure Paul can help you explain things."

"Monsignor, I don't think Paul should try to help. I think a senator tried to expose these men and I think they killed him. It's too dangerous."

  "Does Paul know about this?"

"No. I haven't had time to fill him in on all the details."

"David, I think that is a pretty important detail. Don't you?" 

"Yes, I do. I'll tell him when he gets back. But I didn't drive out here to ask for Paul's help."

"I know. But I have a feeling Paul will help you no matter what the danger is. He sounded adamant about traveling back to Denver. My son, you can stay here until you get things straightened out." Monsignor Grant gave David a reassuring pat on the knee.

"Thank you, Monsignor. If I can just stay here a couple of days, I'm sure I can figure something out." Then David stood up. "If it's okay, I'd like to look around the grounds."

"Sure David. And don't forget to ask for God's help. I will pray for you."

David wandered around the monastery, unable to concentrate. He couldn't shake the display case from his thoughts. It was like the lyrics of a bad song echoing in his head. An hour later David returned to the big heavy door and pounded with the iron knocker. Monsignor Grant opened the door. "Yes David?"

"Monsignor, sir, could I talk to you?"

"Yes, come in. And please David, just call me Father Timothy."

Paul came in and went right to a chair. "Monsignor, I mean Timothy, today I think I saw a vision or something."

"That sounds interesting. Why don't you tell me about it."

"Well, Paul and I went to this museum so we could talk privately. We split up for a while, and when I walked over to this case the light came on. Inside the case were some old holy papers."

"David, are you talking about the twelve pieces of the Dead Sea Scroll that are on a temporary loan to the museum in the Golden Gate Park?"

"Yes. I could have walked anywhere, but I casually walked right to them."

"I know about that display. I have seen it myself. But I don't think there is any mystical meaning there. And you know, that light automatically comes on when you walk up to the case. It is to help keep as much light as possible off these old pieces of tanned animal skins that the Jews of Qumran wrote on," Monsignor Grant explained.

"I know. But the year they were found was the same year both Paul and I were born."

"My son the year those scrolls were discovered is also the year I was ordained  a priest. I didn't see a correlation or some hidden message way back then and you shouldn't now. God is not some magical thing you have to look for. His spirit is right here."

A look of disappointment came to David's face. "I guess you're right. It just seems to me that not freezing up on Mt. Antero, along with all the other things, that the scrolls had a message."

A smile lit up Monsignor Grant face. "David, there is a message there. But the message is in the silence of all these everyday little things."

Rubbing his forehead in confusion, David asked, "What do you mean 'in the silence'? Paul told me the same thing when we were on the mountain."

"My son, listen with your soul. You will find and hear His words there. Don't look for any great vision on your journey. Just listen. You will see God's miracles every day, every hour, every moment. Trust in him."

David shook his head side to side. "Monsignor, I'm sorry, but I just don't get it."

Monsignor Grant smiled. Resting his hand on David's head, he softly said, "Dear heavenly Father, may you continue to send your Spirit to watch over David. Guide him and protect him in the days to come. In Jesus name, I pray."

David felt chills run up his back, just like the day Paul held his hand over him up on Mt. Antero. This time he didn't shun nor ignore it; he accepted it by responding, "Amen." 

The next morning David was awakened at four thirty when the monks started their two-hour prayer and chanting session.  Half an hour later Paul knocked on the door and was ready to leave. Last evening, when Paul returned from seeing Marcea David had warned him of the full extent of the danger he was exposing him to! It didn't matter. Paul's mind was set; he was going to Colorado even if he had to go by himself. David wanted to thank the monks for dinner and letting him spend the night but there was ordered silence during mediation hours. He and Paul left without speaking a word to anybody.

On the road Paul offered his plan on dealing with the Department. David liked it. The testimony of a priest would be good, but they needed more. They were driving through Sacramento when David got the nerve to tell Paul that his plan was not enough. David turned off the radio. "Paul, we should have a little hard evidence on the Department before we go to the authorities."

Paul was silent for the longest time before he looked over at David and asked, "What do you suggest?" 

"I think your idea is good, but we need more. It will just be our word against theirs. I don't even know where the Department of Statistics is. All I have is a possible address for Kirk Smith. We need something concrete."

"I know you, David. You've got something up your sleeve. What is it?"

"Well, I've been thinking. Before we go to the authorities, we should get something on tape. I told you last night about the tape the senator gave me and what I think happened to him. It seems that this Mr. Henderson, whoever he is, is the one we should try to expose."

"David, are you sure? Don't you think my telling the story to the authorities will be enough? I'll make them promise immunity for you before I tell them where you are. What about getting an investigative reporter and having him there at the same time?"

"Paul, do you think I'd trust a newspaper? After my experience with sending them that report when I was in Nam? And look at the story they just printed about me. Not one word of truth."

"David, we'll have to trust somebody. But what's your plan?"

"I know that they want the Clipper Chip and I still have that. It's behind the seat in a gym bag. Somehow I turn the Clipper Chip over to them, after I plant a bug in it. Then we record them."

In deep thought, Paul didn't respond. With the morning sun shining directly on his face, he lowered the visor.  I can't do anything illegal. I'm a priest. I think there is more David isn't telling me. But as a friend, I have to . . . "David whatever you think. If we need evidence, let's get it."

There was silence in the cab as both reviewed what they were about to do along and all that had transpired over the last months. About fifty miles east of Sacramento they both flipped up their sun visors almost simultaneously, as though they were both thinking the same thoughts. David broke the silence. "Paul, I am sorry about that day up on the mountain, when you told me you were sick. I should have trusted you more. It wasn't any of my business about your past and I'm genuinely sorry for questioning your loyalty in being a priest. I hope you can forgive me."

At that moment Paul's last prayers were answered. "Thank you, David. You don't know how comforting your words are. Next time I'm ill and close my eyes, your forgiveness will light a glow within my weakened body. It will be easier to let go. I just can't tell you  how much peace you have just given me."

David slid his hand across the seat and grabbed Paul's hand and said, "I love you, Paul." No other words were necessary. A common bond was flowing in both of them and it now put the final seal on a lifelong friendship. David let go of Paul's hand. Strangely it wasn't a matter of David's compromising his beliefs. Instead it was a release from the burden of ignorance. "Let's get some breakfast," David said exuberantly with the renewed feeling of just letting loose of some heavy and cumbersome baggage.

"Breakfast sounds good to me," Paul said, sharing in the uplifting. 

At a roadside cafe they busted through the doors like two buddies on a hunting trip. The smell of bacon reminded Paul that he didn't miss the two weeks of hospital food. And for David, the monastery dinner of bread and soup, along with retiring at seven last night, didn't quite fit his lifestyle. He was starved. They took stools at the bar and both grabbed for the same menu. The tattoo of a golden shelled turtle on the forearm of the cook as he scribbled down their order was a give away. He was an old Navy man.

While they drank their coffee, Paul and David watched the cook crack eggs one handed while pouring pancake batter on the square grill with the other. Their laughter echoed off the empty walls of the small restaurant but tapered off as soon as breakfast arrived and they started stuffing themselves. After refilling their cups, the cook walked from around the counter to the front door, leaned against the door jam, lit up a cigarette and began blowing small smoke rings out the opened door.

David was spreading jam on his last piece of toast when Paul set his cup down and revealed a serious look. "David, I would like you to do one last favor for me."

"No problem.  What is it?" David asked between bites.

"I've got my funeral arrangement all laid out. My coffin is stored in one of the garden sheds at the monastery where I also have a plot picked out. David, I would like you to deliver my eulogy."

Dropping the piece of toast, David looked down at his plate. "Sure Paul. Whatever."

  "David, if you don't want to do it I'll understand. I just thought you could more or less keep it a festive event. I would like it to be like a wake. A little beer or wine would be good, and some food."

David looked up, directly into Paul's eyes. "I would be honored to say a few words at your funeral. And If you want it to be festive, I could get a keg of beer and we could party, just like the old days."

  "That would be good. Just don't get as drunk and rowdy as we use to. Some of my fellow priests and the brother monks might not understand," Paul said with a forced smile. "But then again you might have to watch out for a few of them," said Paul, now earnestly grinning.

"Paul, don't worry. I will make sure it's a good party."

Paul chuckled. "David, I know you will. At least if there's a beer chugging contest, you'll have a chance to win for once."

Standing up from the bar stool David shook his head with half a laugh. "Paul, you still have a sick sense of humor. I got to use the can. We'll hit the road when I get done."

The cook took the last drag off his cigarette, flipped the butt into the parking lot, then cleared off the counter on his way into the kitchen.

A few minutes later David returned, slapped Paul on the back and said, "Let's go."

"Okay, but I got to use the bathroom now," said Paul.

"I hope you can hold your breath," David said with a laugh.

As soon as the restroom door closed the cook leaned out the serving window. "I overheard you two. Is your priest friend sick or something?"  "Yes he is," said David.

"He's lucky to have a friend like you to laugh with," said the cook, coming out of the kitchen. "He's dying of AIDS, isn't he?"

Shocked, David answered, "Yes he is. How could you tell?"

"I can tell. My nephew died from that damn disease. I only wish we would have given him a send off like you were just talking about."

"I'm sorry about your nephew," replied David. "You know, it's never too late to have a remembrance party for him. I'm sure he'd have wanted that."

"You know, that's not a bad idea." The cook perked up

The restroom door slapped shut and Paul came over to the counter. "We'd better get a move on if we want to be in Salt Lake City by midnight."

David reached for his wallet. "What do we owe you for breakfast?"

"Nothing, it's on me," said the cook going into the kitchen with some catsup bottles.

In the parking lot Paul lost the coin toss and had to drive the first stretch to Reno while David slept. From Reno they took turns driving while the other tried to rest, but most of the time they talked. The long drive couldn't survive without reminiscing about that state football championship game. And the on-going debate over Vietnam being a right or a wrong war was finally put to rest. They had both served for the same fundamental reason -- freedom. After a needed night's rest in Salt Lake City, Paul and David made it to Colorado by dusk the following evening.

Just after midnight David circled the block around Bill's Electronic Shop three times. Most of the yellow crime scene tape had faded or had blown down and there was no van parked out front this time. After cautiously pulling in behind the shop, David said, "Paul, hand me the set of keys in the glove box."

Paul dug around in the glove box, then handed David two keys. "I will honk twice if I see anybody pulling up," said Paul when David stopped the truck.

In the dark David got out of the truck and used the small circular key to deactivate the alarm.  When he unlocked the rear door of the building, he heard the low buzz warning of the alarm system. In a panic he turned the circular key back the other way and the alarm went off! David twisted the key back. No good the alarm continued to scream out into the night. David busted the crime scene tape across the door and disappeared into the building.

  Paul jumped behind the steering wheel, backed up the truck up and got it in position for a fast getaway. The alarm continued ringing. Lights in nearby houses came on, while cars out front slowed down. Paul's hands tightened on the steering wheel, one foot was on the gas, the other on the brake. David ran out of the building with his arms full of mail and threw the packages into the cab. Paul pulled on the headlights ready to tear off, but David went back inside the building.

It seemed like an eternity before David emerged with a hand full of tools and dove into the truck. Paul floored it! Eight blocks away, David yelled, "Slow down! We don't want to get picked up for speeding."

South of Aurora they found a small, out of the way motel that looked safe to hide out in. David stayed in the truck while Paul registered. Inside the motel room, David spread the mail packages out on the bed  along with a soldering iron, other tools and the pink boom box. "Paul, what we're looking for should be in one of these packages. It is a small remote microphone about the size of a quarter along with a receiver that looks like a small transistor radio."

After Paul opened the fifth box, he asked, "Is this what your looking for? There's four gadgets in here."

David looked into the box. "This is it. I forgot Bill ordered two sets of these wireless microphones. We use to sell them to people who wanted to spy on their spouse."

"Nice. Sounds like a real trust builder for married couples," said Paul. "I'm going to go see if I can find a newspaper."

"Okay, see you in a minute," said David carrying the box and his tools to the round motel table.

When Paul returned to the room with a newspaper, David already had his laptop computer apart. Paul pulled up the other chair across the table and read the paper, not wanting to disturb David. After soldering the miniature microphone onto a metal shield, David reassembled the computer. "Testing one, two, three. Testing one, two, three," David said, while holding the receiver to his ear.

"Do you want me to go out in the parking lot to see if I can hear you?" asked Paul.

"Sure," said David. "Here, I'll plug in the earpiece."

Paul left the room. "Paul, can you hear me? This wireless microphone is supposed to work up to a distance of ten blocks and the battery should last over a week. You might have some dead spots, but just keep moving around till . . ."

Paul came back to the motel room. "There was a little static but  I could hear you perfectly all the way down the highway about a half a mile," he said while carefully setting the receiver on the table and picking up the newspaper. "It should work good for us tomorrow. We need to get those men on tape soon. You've really made it big time in the local paper. There's even a picture of where your home used to be."

David took the paper and read the story. In print it sounded plausible: that he was selling illegal weapons, blew up his own home to cover up an investigation and then set a booby trap for revenge that killed two ATF agents. "You don't believe this do you?" asked David.

"Are you kidding," replied Paul undressing for bed. "Don't you recall the analogy I used about the papers printing that thirty percent of priests are child molesters and/or homosexuals? I got that story out of a paper. I think one of the biggest problem in society today is the manipulating of the media by the press and television. The moral decay of society is being controlled by this powerful evil. This is one of the reasons I became a priest, to search out the truth. And let me tell you, the truth's  not all that prevalent in the press or news media. The thing that frightens me most is that most people don't even realize it. That's what makes the devil so strong. People don't think he's there."

"Geez, Paul. I never thought about it like that. It's kind of scary."

"It's really scary when you think about how many reporters or talk show hosts have convinced themselves what they are doing is right. Just like some of my friends who are still trying to convince others that this or that lifestyle is right. But it doesn't end there. Look at all the judges and lawyers who have manipulated and thrown aside the law. With all their so-called intellect they can't admit that civilized society is based upon the ten basic laws given to them by the most high supreme court. They shun talk like this as fanatical and will argue their point. Sadly, most of the time they know deep down what is right, but they convince themselves differently. At the end of time, let them stand toe to toe with God. In that moment they will not be able to hide or rationalize. There will be no excuses because God is truth, and truth is pure." 

"Boy Paul, how can I sleep after you talk like that?"

"Sorry, David. I didn't mean to scare you. Sometimes I get carried away, " said Paul crawling into bed.

"That's okay. I guess that's part of your job. Anyhow, we should try to get a few hours rest," said David as he shut off the light

"David, I didn't mean to sound like a fire and brimstone preacher. Whenever someone talks about the power of God, they should include the good news about his son." 

"And what is that?" asked David in the now darkened room.

"That through Jesus we all can be saved. Jesus loved us so much he died for us. Unlike in today's society where we are conditioned to love ourselves, take care of number one, and bend to all the other self- indulgences. Jesus let himself be nailed to a cross. It wasn't because he loved himself. But because his Father loved us so much He sent his only son to die for all men."

"Paul, I've never seen anything good about the crucifixion of Jesus."

"David, you have to look beyond life as we know it here on earth. Jesus's commandment was 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' David, I was taken in by the self-centered love yourself and do it for yourself philosophy. I was never free until I started living by Jesus's words. Today I would give my own life to any man for the sake of God."

"But Paul, I still can't see the good news of Jesus dying."

"David, Jesus didn't die, he passed through. He fulfilled God's promise to us. And look at what He said to the one of the criminals hanging next to him. 'I assure you: this day you will be with me in paradise.' What better news is there than that?"

David was laying in bed, listening with his hands behind his head. He had no answer. He couldn't believe how profoundly Paul spoke. The only reply David could think of was, "Awesome sermon, Paul."

"Thank you. Good-night, David."

"Good-night, Paul."

 

 

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