In the Silence

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CHAPTER TWENTY-FIVE

Monday morning David rushed off the elevator and made a beeline for Jobe's room. From the door he spotted the neatly made hospital bed with the small brass plate sitting in the center of the pillow. Slowly walking toward the bed, that overwhelming hurt of losing yet another friend, wrenched at David's heart. God, I still haven't figured all this out. Why is all this happening? It's as though the valley is too deep and too dark. I need an answer. All I can do is pray that Jobe's journey is now with You and that he has found . . .

"Jobe passed on late Sunday night. He asked me to have you put his name up on the mosaic," Terry said from the adjacent bed. "I never saw him as happy as Friday the day you baptized him. We read the Bible together and talked about God all the next day. He died at peace because of you."

"Thank you," said David, picking up the small brass plate and rubbing his thumb over the engraving of Jobe's name.

"No. Thank you. Nobody could get close to Jobe until you started coming down here. Sunday morning Jobe apologized to everyone. You gave him a new life and hope for us all."

Slipping the plate into his shirt pocket, David walked over to Terry's bed. "Terry, you're such an enlightened individual. Do you think your involvement with the live theater gives you a broader view on life?"

"I don't know if I'd put it that way. But I do remember when I played the part of the psychiatrist in the play EXQUUS, the act where the young boy pokes all the eyes out of the horses in the barn always made me think that . . . " Terry talked for an hour. Afterwards, David made his rounds on the fourteenth floor, visiting and taking orders for magazines and other items.

Three hours later, during lunch, David finally reached far inside himself and summoned the nerve to go down the hall toward the mosaic. He peeled the paper off the adhesive backing on the small plaque, found a spot amongst the mosaic and placed Jobe's name. Knowing that there had to be meaning to all this, yet tired of man's simplistic answers, David simply kneeled down and submitted himself to prayer.

The next day David returned to the hospital. He missed Wednesday but returned on both Thursday and Friday. The following week he went everyday and on Friday, just before noon, David remembered this was the day he'd promised Danny that he would visit. He left early to stop by the day-care and get Marcea's approval. Sister Madeline led him down the hall to the offices.

Marcea hardly looked up from her desk. While she was trying to think up an excuse to keep David from coming over, Bill stuck his head in the office. "How y'all doing, David? Marcea told us you're thinking about studying to be a priest."

"That's right Bill, I have been. There's a lot to think about, plus I've got to come up with the money for tuition. But, I'm sure things will work out."

"Yeah, I'm sure it will. It's hard to believe all the changes we've all had over the year."

"You're right about that. And just look what Marcea has done for herself, Ann and Danny."

"Oh, that reminds me." Bill was now looking toward Marcea. "Danny called when you were out to lunch with Tony. He wanted to know if David came by, could he invite him to dinner. It looks like you two can figure that out. Anyway, I told Danny I'd give you the message." Bill started back down the hall.

There was an uncomfortable atmosphere in the office. Marcea still had hardly looked up from the paperwork on her desk.

Bill returned, sticking his head back through the opened office door. "Oh one last thing, David. The FBI contacted me and said I was free to sell what was left of my business and equipment. I know you're not interested in it now, but is there anything you left there you want me to pick up? Me and the misses are headed back for two weeks to get the loose ends tied up."

"Thanks Bill. There's nothing back there I'm interested in."

"Okay. Let's get together when I get back," Bill said, leaving for the second time.

"Well, I guess you're invited for dinner," said Marcea in a monotone voice. "Danny will be thrilled."

"That'd be nice. How about if I come by about five?"

"I hope you don't expect anything fancy. I was just planning spaghetti." Marcea's tone was now almost unwelcome.

"That sounds good to me," David said as he left.

Marcea now wished that she didn't have the weekend off. She wasn't even that thrilled about going to the beach with Tony on Sunday. Men! They're more of a problem than they're worth. She finished up in her office and left for home.

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

Danny's constant questions grew tiresome, almost annoying. Marcea dumped canned sauce into a pot of spaghetti. She laid out some white bread on a cookie sheet, spread butter and sprinkled some garlic powder on top. The phone rang just as she was putting everything into the oven. It was Ann calling to ask if she could spend the night at a friends house. Danny left the kitchen while Marcea talked to the girl's mother.

Before David even pulled into a parking spot, Danny had the apartment door open. David hurried in with a grocery sack, set it on the table, went over to Danny, picked him up out of his chair and gave him a huge hug. Then they started doing high-fives and headed down the hall to Danny's room.

Marcea looked in the sack while she was still talking on the phone: On top of a deli prepared salad lay a bouquet of cut flowers. Next to it stood a bottle of red wine and a long loaf of French bread. In the bottom of the sack was a cheese cake covered with fresh strawberries. Marcea didn't know whether to be mad or pleased. She arranged to pick up Ann in the morning, then after hanging up the phone, tossed out the white bread and put the French bread in its place in the oven. Finding a vase, she closed her eyes and smelled the fresh cut flowers. All the time we lived together, David never brought me flowers. Now there's nothing between us and he does this. I should toss these flowers, then give him a piece of my mind. But it wouldn't be fair to Danny. I'll keep my cool.

Marcea got out a tablecloth, two candles and poured herself a glass of wine. While trying to spice up the spaghetti, David came into the kitchen. "I hope that it was okay that I picked up a few extra things. You know, meals at the monastery can get pretty boring."

"Yeah, it's okay. And thanks for the flowers," said Marcea not even turning from the stove.

"Danny sure is getting to know computers. I appreciate your letting me come over to see him."

"Well, he had a good teacher," said Marcea, turning around, taking a drink of wine and almost glaring at David over the top of the glass. "How'd you lose so much weight?"

"There's a lot that I can't talk about. But I was on the road in a different city every night, sort of testing different ATM machines and their security systems. I didn't have anything to do during the days, so I'd stop at athletic clubs and work out, swim, play racquetball, or whatever just to keep from getting bored."

"Sounds like a great job: Travel, play during the day, and lose weight all at the same time."

"It wasn't that great; there were some risks. But I think the biggest help was not coming home and plopping down on the couch in front of the TV with a six-pack. And now up at the monastery, if I even want a beer, I have to ride this old ten-speed bike fourteen miles round trip. But I feel great. I don't ever want to put the weight back on."

"Well, you might put a few pounds back on tonight with the cheese cake and wine you brought," Marcea said putting the salad on the table. "Why don't you go tell Danny to wash up for dinner?"

Soon David was pushing Danny to one side of the table to take the chair across from Marcea. "Do you mind if we say a blessing? I know we never did before, but it's just a habit I picked up at the monastery."

"Go ahead," said Marcea as she bowed her head.

"Bless this food, oh Lord. We give you thanks and praise. And thank you for all that you have done for us all over the year. In Jesus name we pray."

"And Jesus, please have David and my mom get back together," Danny added to the prayer.

"Amen," replied Marcea and David simultaneously, knowing that Danny meant well.

Dinner turned out wonderful. The wine took the edge off the tension and Marcea started telling David the whole story — how the convent was going to be sold and then about how the anonymous donation saved everything. David just listened quietly while Danny slipped off to his room.

After another glass of wine Marcea got up to serve the cheesecake and David glanced at the digital clock on the microwave. "It's past nine o'clock. I've hardly spent any time with Danny."

"Why don't you go see him in his room? I'll make some coffee."

"That's a good idea. I'll see if he wants some cheesecake." David was surprised to see Danny had gotten himself into bed. David went in and knelt down beside him. "Danny, is everything okay? I'm sorry that I didn't spend more time with you. Next time we'll . . ."

The coffee had finished brewing. Marcea was putting the remaining cheesecake in the refrigerator when she noticed there were no computer sounds or laughter coming from the bedroom. She went to investigate and just outside the door Marcea froze. She overheard Danny ask. "David, are you and my mom ever going to get back together?"

"Danny, I know you'd like that to happen. But I hurt your mom so terribly that I could never expect her to forgive me. It was all my fault when those men came to the house and took her away. That night when I took all of you to the airport, she tried to tell me how evil they were, but I didn't believe her. I even tried to blame her for what had happened. It's hard for someone your age to understand, but sometimes you hurt somebody so bad . . . well that hurt can't be forgotten."

"David, I think my mom forgave you that night we went to that healing meeting, the night I thought I would be able to walk. But it was mom who got healed. I could see it in her face. She's the one that got better. She loves you. Don't you love her?"

Marcea craned her neck, still listening in the hall.

"Danny, I love your mom more than any woman in the whole world. I didn't realize that when we lived together. But now she has her own life, and a new boyfriend."

"Tony's a jerk! I don't like him. I like you."

"I had my chance with your mother, but I missed seeing how truly beautiful she is. Now you have to give Tony a chance, just like you gave me."

"But I want you to be my father."

"Danny, I am your godfather and that will never change."

"But what if you find another lady? Will you still come and see me?"

"I'll never find another woman that I could love as much as I love your mother. That's one of the reasons I'm planning to become a priest. I'll always love her, just like I will always love you and Ann."

"I don't understand. Priests don't get married, but you love my mom."

"Danny, listen to me. You just have to accept certain things. Some things aren't meant to be understood. When you get older, you'll figure it out."

"I do understand. You're the one who needs to figure things out."

David lightly put his hand over Danny's mouth; it was late and senseless to go on. He then crawled onto the bed and laid next to Danny, wishing there was some clear-cut explanation to it all.

Danny laid his head on David's shoulder and did not say another word. Dear Jesus, I don't want to take David from You. I just know how happy he would make my mom. I never knew my real dad and David treats me normal. Couldn't we share him? Whatever You decide will be right. I love You, Jesus. Good night."

Once Danny dozed off, David carefully slipped his arm from beneath Danny's head, turned off the desk light over the computer and slowly pulled the door closed behind him. He immediately noticing how dark and quiet things seemed in the rest of the apartment.

Slowly walking into the front room, David's caught sight of Marcea standing next to the table. The only illumination in the room were the candles still burning from dinner. She was now wearing a red satin camisole and matching panties which shimmered in the candlelight. She reached up and one at a time pushed the shoestring straps off her soft rounded shoulders. The top fell to the ground and she stepped out of it, hands outstretched. The shape of her body was silhouetted from the two candles shining behind her. David fell to his knees as she approached, closed his eyes and drew in the scent of her perfume. While he kissed her stomach his strong hands massaged her firm legs then slipped up under the back of the satin bottoms.

Marcea rubbed her hands through David's hair as he started moving upward with his kisses. Her breasts throbbing and wanting, her whole body burned wanting him. Then, with a burst of strength David stood and gently pushed Marcea back. Leaving one hand on her bare shoulders he lifted her chin with the other, looked into her eyes and said, "Marcea, I can't."

Marcea pulled herself against David and whispered, "David, just stay this one night."

The smell of her perfume became more intoxicating, her hair so soft and smooth, and her bare skin so warm. David gently pushed her back, looked into her eyes, then bent over and put his mouth on hers. They kissed with a passion neither had known before. Marcea unbuttoned David's shirt, pulled it open and rubbed her hands through the hair and over his muscular chest. She worked the shirt over his shoulders and off. They were now flesh against flesh.

David's reached down behind Marcea and with one mighty lift she was up in his arms. She laid her head on his shoulder and could feel one flexed biceps against her side and the other under her legs. David carried her down the hallway, quietly shut the door with his foot and laid her on the bed. Their mouths found each other again and passion now boiled into ecstasy. Both were beyond the point of stopping.

Marcea started to kiss David's firm flat stomach while pulling out his belt. David's arched his back when she started to unbutton his pants.

Then the phone rang!

"Let it ring," said Marcea as she continued unbuttoning.

After the phone rang four times, the answering machine on the night stand picked up and they could hear the call. "Marcea, this is Tony. I thought you told me you'd be home tonight. Anyway, I'm calling to let you know how much I'm looking forward to Sunday and the special dessert you promised the rain check on. I thought I could fly us to my beach house to enjoy it. I can't wait to see you in a bathing suit. Oh by the way, the deal I was putting together is a go . . . "

David put his hands on Marcea shoulders and gently pushed her back, without saying a word he walked out of the bedroom. Marcea sprang from the bed and snatched her robe on her way out of the bedroom. David grabbed his shirt and his hand was on the front doorknob. She walked over to him and wrapped her arms around his waist. "Please don't go. Stay tonight. All the times we were together doesn't add up to how I feel about you right now."

David put his hands on both sides of her head and kissed her on the forehead. "Marcea, I know I'm nobody to talk, it's not fair to you and it's not right, not in God's eyes." David opened the door and left.

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

Sunday morning David helped get things ready before church, then took his normal position in the front pew. He only heard a few words of Monsignor Grant's sermon. But Marcea's words were still replaying in his mind. Even the scent of her perfume was still floating in his memory. David went through the motions of the mass, then sat alone in the pew while everyone left. The last thirty-six hours had been torture — the image of Marcea and the touch of her bare skin. All he wanted was her. I've come too far to do just what I want. God, give me the strength to avoid this temptation. It's so difficult. But I now know that it is . . .

"David, we need to talk," whispered a voice from behind and to the side of him.

He looked back to make sure he wasn't dreaming. "Marcea, what are you doing here? Aren't you supposed to be at the beach?"

"I broke my date," said, Marcea moving forward next to the pew. "David, you need to know that long ago I forgive you for everything wrong that ever happened between us."

"Marcea, forgiveness is asking too much. I saw the tape of what those men did to you. I was wrong not to have believed you that night. And finally I realize that it was selfish to have asked you to move in with me; all I did was take advantage of the situation you were in at the time."

"Our living together was a two-way street. I had other options. You're not the only one to blame there."

"Marcea, I'm not blaming either of us about that. Those were the best years of my life. But now we both lead different lives; it's better that we go our separate ways."

Marcea slipped into the pew. "That's true, we might be leading different lives but we're not different people. I still feel the same way toward you as that first time you asked me out for a cup of coffee when I was working at the club. Nothing has changed. Let's try to start over."

"It's not that easy. That tape. . . when Mr. Henderson and Kirk were forcing you to tell them about me." David swallowed and looked away. "I saw the look on your face when they threatened harm to Danny and Ann. I will never forgive myself for that. That time stopping-look of fear haunts me every time I see you."

Marcea sat down next to David and took his hand. "Listen to me. You need to go to a healing service. You have to forgive yourself. The night I attended one is the night I accepted that I was part of the sin. It was only after finding out that God loved me so much, and accepting his forgiveness, that I was able to forgive you."

David turned back and stared at Marcea. Her sincere words only made him want her more. Her beauty was more apparent now than ever. He wanted to reach out, to hold her, to be part of her and share his soul with her.

Marcea motioned with her free hand, then continued. "It's just like Christ up there on the cross. We betrayed Him. Almost everyone turned on Him, and yet his last words were 'Forgive them for they know not what they do.' Also, you have to look at the words in the Lord's Prayer: 'Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.' Total forgiveness only comes out of true love."

"Marcea, maybe you should have given the sermon today," It was Monsignor Grant. He put one hand on her shoulder and apologized. "I didn't mean to listen, just heard your last few words when I walked up. Anyway, David, we'll have to skip our brunch this morning. I have a noon meeting and need to get going. But why don't you and Marcea go to brunch? Maybe she could drop you back at the monastery?"

"I'd gladly give you a ride," volunteered Marcea.

"Thank you," replied Monsignor Grant, slowly starting back down the aisle, then stopping and looking back over his shoulder. "Marcea, you're absolutely correct, forgiveness comes out of love. If only people concentrated on the forgiving part more. There'd be a lot more people still in love."

David was frazzled, knowing that he couldn't trust himself alone with Marcea. And it was too late to say anything to Monsignor Grant. He was already at the back of the church. Larry the head usher was flipping up kneelers, working himself forward. "Larry, I was wondering if you and your wife would like to go out to brunch with us this morning?"

"Sure, let me go check with her," Larry said as he flipped up the last kneeler.

So Larry, Mandy and their daughter came to David's rescue by joining him and Marcea for brunch. Marcea and Mandy hit it off right away. Marcea had not met such a genuine woman close to her own age since leaving Washington. Larry's intellect and articulate use of words, almost intimidated David. They got into their own conversation and when Larry started explaining about the grace of celibacy, Marcea couldn't help trying to tune into the men's discussion.

When Mandy shared about the loss of their youngest daughter, Marcea shared her own feelings about when Danny was born. They weren't trying to comfort each other, or to lessen each other's sorrows. Just two women facing the pains of life, like standing at the foot of a cross. Finally, David finagled a ride with Larry and Mandy back to the monastery, still wishing to avoid being alone with Marcea.

Over the next five days, no matter how hard he prayed, he couldn't suppress the deep urges he was having for her. Larry's words about the "grace of celibacy" reflected even what Paul had once said: "Celibacy should be practiced by everyone outside of marriage."

David spent even more time at the hospital, which helped occupy his thoughts and he spent Friday afternoon looking around second hand stores for a used computer and modem.

Saturday evening he called Danny and after a few software patches they were on-line, talking computer to computer. Danny was happy they were connected up again, but really wished David would just come over, especially since they were living so close now. It was that closeness that had David frightened — the temptation of being around Marcea was hard to overcome.

It was the end of August and for five days the temperature made it over the one-hundred degrees mark. The sixth day of the heat wave was the hottest and by evening the temperature had only fallen a few degrees. The air was dead still. Too hot to sleep, David laid on top the sheets staring at the ceiling with his hands folded behind his head. I hope Danny accepts my excuses for not coming over. I could tell tonight, by what he typed over the computer, he wants a better answer. But I've got to keep my distance from Marcea.

David felt something in the room and turned on his side. The curtains gently started to dance as a midnight breeze just began to blow. The stillness outside was coming to life; the temperature was dropping rapidly and the smell of rain filled the air. Lightening flashed in the distance and he heard raindrops. Getting out of bed, David pushed the curtains to the side and stood in the now refreshing cool air. The breeze was quickly building into a strong wind and its force and fury turned the few drops of rain into a downpour.

David's almost hypnotic trance snapped when a bolt of lightening hit close by! The brilliant flash was followed by a huge, loud, rumble of thunder. Then he heard a thump and some odd wobbling noise coming from the closet behind him!

David sprang for the light switch, but the power had been knocked out! His heart at full speed, he could still hear something rolling around in the closet. He yanked open the louvered closet door and looked into the darkness. With the next flash of lightening he could tell there was something on the floor. He reached down, but even in the dark he could tell it was just a football.

Out in the hall one of the monks had a flashlight and told David that although lightening had hit a power pole, everything seemed okay. David walked back to his room and was rotating the football in his hand, feeling the leather strings, the way footballs were sewn together years ago. Carefully making it back to the bed in the dark, David set the old ball on the night stand and then let the storm's lullaby rock him to sleep.

The freshness of the wet ground evaporating under the morning sun filled David's room. Getting out of bed he stood at the window, inhaled the morning air and said a prayer. Looking toward the night stand to see if the clock radio now had power, David noticed the wide black-felt pen writing on the football. His eyes locked on the printing: 1966 STATE FOOTBALL CHAMPIONS. David picked up the ball and rotated it, looking at all the signatures. His name was on the white band, just where he had signed it over twenty-five years ago. Right above the strings was the name Paul Miller, followed with the MVP abbreviation.

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

Sunday after church David was telling Timothy about the storm and all that had happened. "Anyway, I hear something fall off the shelf in the closet! The power is out, I open the door then there's a flash of lightening and I get a glimpse of the football wobbling there on the floor. It wasn't until the next morning I found out it was the football from the State Championship Game. Can you believe it?"

"Believe what? That a football fell off a shelf. David, the thunder and the wind was shaking things up pretty good. Did you have your window open?"

"Yeah, but that's not what I'm talking about. How'd the football even get there?"

"Someone must have overlooked it. You know, that room was being fixed up for Paul. You know in the less private area for when he got sick and needed more care. Someone put it there, maybe even Paul."

"No, that can't be. Paul told me he had given it to his father the night of the game and never saw it again."

"David, Mr. Miller visited Paul a couple of times before he died. Maybe he brought it down to him."

"I don't think so. I think it's some message, that God wants me to continue on the same team that Paul was on. I'm sure, now more than ever, that God is calling me to be a priest."

"I'd caution you to stop looking for signs. There's more to it than that."

"Timothy, I don't understand you. Ever since I told you I wanted to become a priest, you seemed to be trying to talk me out of it. If I think I hear or see a message, you just sluff it off!"

"I just want you to be sure. I've seen many fellow colleagues renounce their vows because they later fall in love and want to get married. Do you really think that you can lead a celibate life?"

"I'm fairly sure." David, paused. "But the other night I almost slipped up; lucky thing the phone rang."

"Was this slip up with Marcea?"

"Yes. How'd you know?"

"That's as clear to me as that football falling off the shelf is to you. That's where I see signs."

"What kind of signs?"

"They're obvious. You and Marcea share something. But your personal life is none of my business."

"Sure, there was something between Marcea and me a long time ago, but that's over now. She has her own life. "

"Whatever you say David. But if you're looking for a message, look at the gift God gave to man to keep him from being alone. Then ask where Jesus choose to work his first miracle."

David sat silently. I know God created Eve for a companion to Adam. And I think Jesus's first miracle was changing water into wine, but where was that? Let's see, it was some sort of party or . . .

"David, you need a break. Do you have someplace you could go to get away from the monastery for a while?"

"Well, I was thinking about taking a bus up to Oregon to explain some things to Paul's parents."

"That'd be good. Then when you get back we'll continue this discussion."

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

Wednesday afternoon Monsignor Grant was confronted in the church parking lot by Marcea. She'd had been waiting there for over an hour. "Where's David? I need to talk with him. Danny just got this letter, saying something about going on a trip."

"I'm sorry. I dropped him off at the bus station this morning," Monsignor Grant said getting out of his car.

"Where's he going?" demanded Marcea. "Are you shipping him off to a stupid seminary to brainwash him that women aren't good enough for him? Just like your stupid church that has a Pope that can't make a mistake and teaches that women aren't as good as men?"

"Wait a minute, young lady. I never condemned the church you attend."

"Yeah, but we don't have a man that makes all these infallible rules against women."

"Now hold, on Marcea. The last so-called infallible rule a Pope made was in 1950, and that was the annunciation of Mary. I think this more than validates the point the Catholic church doesn't discriminate against women. One of our most momentous prayers is called the 'Hail Mary'. I'd suggest you get your facts in order before we debate this issue," Monsignor Grant said sternly.

Somewhat contrite, Marcea choose her words more carefully. "I didn't know that about the infallibility rule. I thought the Pope made them all the time; 1950 was before I was born. But, I did notice a statue of Mary in your church."

"Marcea, I don't think you drove all the way up here to find out about women in the Catholic church, or about papal infallibility. What's really on your mind?"

Marcea took a deep breath. "I don't want David to become a priest. I love him and I know he loves me. It's not fair. He shouldn't have to choose between me and serving God."

Timothy took both of Marcea's hands. "My dear child, on that issue you could be right; maybe priests should be able to marry. But I'll be long gone before that ever happens." Monsignor Grant paused, thinking of a dear friend who had traded the priesthood for marriage. "All I can suggest is that you put your hopes into prayer."

"But asking God for David not to become a priest, would be wrong — sacrilegious or something."

"Marcea, pray for what you want; let God figure out what's right. Just understand that sometimes God calls us to make sacrifices we may not quite like at the moment. I'll pray also."

"I just couldn't pray for that, with the shortage of priests and all. I should just start to accept it now."

"Marcea, pray from your heart; put all your faith in God's hands. Then whatever happens is because He wills it. Don't worry so much about what seems obvious. Even if there were only one priest left in the whole world, God's church will continue to grow. It wasn't that many years ago that one man brought Christianity to Israel and look how his word has spread throughout all the corners of the earth."

Marcea wiped a tear from her eye. "Thank you Monsignor. I feel better letting someone know how I feel. I apologize for the way I jumped at you."

"My dear, things will work out for you, and for the church. Trust in God."

Without saying say another word, Marcea went back to her car and drove off — ten miles down the road stopped the car. She had found the right words. Dear God, I do love David and I put all my faith in you. It's just that he would make such a good father to my children. With all my faith I do put my trust in you. I give thanks for all that you have given to me. No matter what happens, I will always continue to love you with all my heart. This prayer I totally yield myself to you, accepting whatever you . . .

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

David made it into Portland Thursday morning. Three transfers later on the light rail system and just before noon he made it to Mr. Miller's warehouse. As he came up the stairs to the second floor, his vision locked on the large oil painting of Paul being ordained. David walked over to it, noticing all the other awards and war medals. This stuff wasn't here last year. I should have called. It wasn't too pleasant the last time I dropped in unannounced.

"Could I help you?" asked the receptionist.

"Yes. Is Mr. Miller in?"

"No, Dean's out to lunch with his wife," said the receptionist, now taking a hard look at David. "Hey, I know who you are. You're David, the guy that showed up here last year, the day all the phones went dead. I'll never forget that day."

"Oh, why's that?" David asked, not sure if he wanted to really know.

"Because right after you left the phones started working again. But what was really strange is Mr. Miller let everyone have that afternoon off after he had me bring up all Paul's things from the storage room. The next morning everything was on display, just like you see it."

"Really?" David said looking back at the wall. "I'm sure Paul would have been pleased that his father is so proud of him."

"You bet he was pleased. You should have seen the party Mr. Miller had for him." The receptionist reached for a tissue. "I'm so sorry that he's gone, but I'm glad I got to know him at least."

"So am I."

There was some noise on the steps. Mr. Miller had Mrs. Miller on his arm and they both spotted David. Mrs. Miller ran to David and threw her arms around him. "Oh David. What you said at Paul's funeral was so . . . wonderful." Rose became emotional.

Mr. Miller walked over but held his composer. "It's good to see you, David"

When Mrs. Miller let David go, Dean put his hand on David shoulder and turned him toward the open office area. "Hey everybody, this is David McIntosh! He and my son grew up together. They're best friends."

Clapping filled the second floor. A few employees came up and shook David's hand leaving him dumbfounded. As the commotion ceased one of the salesmen took David aside. "I don't know who you are, or what you said to Mr. Miller, but ever since that day last fall when you showed up on your Harley. Mr. Miller has become a totally different person."

"I don't think that had anything to do with me."

"You must have said something," insisted the salesman. "Mr. Miller did a one-eighty after your visit. He went to a skeleton crew on Saturdays and we can now flex our hours for family events and other things. Dean is even sponsoring two soccer teams. The working environment around here now is like one large family."

"I still don't think I had anything to with all the changes, but it sounds great. I just hope Mr. Miller can afford all that."

"I'm sure he can; we just had our best profit quarter ever. Dean showed his appreciation by arranging a family picnic where he announced a thousand dollar bonus to each employee. Now quit acting like you didn't have anything to do with turning him around. You know David, you should be a counselor or something. You have some gift."

Everyone gradually returned to work and before Mrs. Miller left she made sure David was coming to dinner. She also invited him to stay through the weekend. Mr. Miller then led David into his office and shut the door. As soon as Dean sat down behind his desk, David blurted out, "I came here to tell you how Paul really died."

"David, please don't. You don't owe me any more of an explanation then what you gave at the funeral. Paul was a hero no matter how he died. It was you who made me realize that. So if you don't mind, I'd just like to let Paul rest in peace."

"That's fair enough. I just thought I owed you a better explanation."

"Thanks David. I'm sorry to cut you off, after you came all the way up here. But something's are just best left untold."

"That's okay, Dean. I needed a break, this is sort of a vacation for me anyhow." There was a long silence as both men searched for something to say. "Oh, I almost forgot, there is another reason I came up here," David said unzipping his gymbag. "Here is something that I think belongs to you." David pulled out the game football and handed it across the desk to Mr. Miller.

Another stillness came over the office as Mr. Miller rotated the ball, looking at all the names. Now Dean spoke. "You know David, if only I could live that one night over, things might have been different."

"I know what you mean. I think we all have one of those days or nights, one we wish we could do over. You do know that Paul forgave you?"

"Yes, I know." said Mr. Miller standing up from behind his desk, walking across the office and opening the door. David followed him out to where he placed the football on a shelf next to the MVP trophy. Dean stepped back, now almost watery-eyed.

David thought of asking how long it had been since Dean last saw the football, or if he knew where it had been all these years. But it wasn't important, instead he said, "It looks good there. It was meant to be right there."

Dean put his hand on David's shoulder. "There's one thing of Paul's I couldn't display that I want you to see. Mr. Miller led David down the stairs, through the warehouse and to the back wall where he pulled some packing blankets off the Harley. "It hasn't been moved since Paul parked it here last year."

David squatted down and studied the white fluffy clouds painted on the sky blue gas tank with the words HEAVENLY GLIDE pen-stripped through the middle. "I never knew Paul had a Harley. He must have bought it after I gave him a ride on mine. Afterwards he told me it was like gliding through heaven."

Mr. Miller watched David scrutinize every detail, rubbing his hand over the chrome in awe. Then the words, just came out. "Paul meant for you to have this. It's yours David."

 

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