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Those Three Words Crept Over King's Mountain


It was easy breaking into the church on East Main Street over on the West Side. The back window was flimsy and just waiting for Mike King to put it out of its misery. He was in and the entrance from that window led him right into the kitchen. That small kitchen smelled like cleaning products, mostly bleach.

King breathed deeply as his bony shoulders sagged. He was hungry, tired and covered in cob webs, and he was also ready to commit robbery. His life to date had been a failure.

Sister Teresa Keller was just as startled as King when she walked into the kitchen and saw the teenager standing there holding a gun to her face. For King it was an involuntary reaction that made him draw the weapon.

The gun he was holding was used in a liquor store robbery a few weeks back, and that gunman abandoned it behind an outside air conditioning unit. It was then that Mike King reclaimed it.

“I'm here for the collection money,” King said nervously.

Sister Keller moved closer to King until the barrel of the gun touched her cheek. “Why do you want the collection money?”

King bit his bottom lip, but he did not reply.

“You've done nothing to earn the money, so don't ask for it again.” Her words were firm and her face gave no indication of fear.

“Don't make me pop you sister!” He shouted as he squinted his eyes and clenched his teeth. “I got no time for your bull shit!”

“The money is not mine to give,” she replied.

Mike King was not joking, he knew he had it in him to pop her. He stepped back a little as his knees almost buckled and his mouth went dry. “Get me the money!”

She reached out and took his free wrist and squeezed it. Very calmly she said, “I'll pray for you.”

“I don't need you to pray for me,” he said as he yanked his wrist away and stepped a few feet back. “And get me the damn money, I'm not playing sister.”

“No, you are wrong. You do need me to pray for you. Surrender your will to Christ, and follow him wherever he leads. And you will never feel lonely again.”

“It's too late for me sister,” he said. “God turned his back on me a long time ago.”

“God would never turn his back on you. Give Him a chance. Don't be weak and fragile,” she said. “Lets start a renewed relationship with Him. Lets do it now, confess your sins to God.”

“You're crazy sister,” he said.

“I am who God made me to be,” she replied gently.

“You don't understand,” he tried explaining as tears found there way down his cheek. “My mother was an alcoholic and she died cold stiff drunk when I was eight. I never knew my father, but they tell me he was like that old song, wherever he lays his hat was his home. I eat three meals a week. I bathe in the Rooster River in the summer and a half way house in the winter. That's my life, and you tell me God didn't turn his back on me?”

King almost dropped the weapon, but instead readjusted his grip to make it tighter.

“But after what you went through,” she continued. “You bathe and you eat. That is God providing for you.”

“Providing shit! I'm providing.”

She spoke softer and continued smiling. “No, He has shown you a way. He is looking out for you. He knows your thoughts, and your needs. God wants you to be perfectly at peace in the world.”

“Living like this?”

“You're just frightened by the real world. You just have to go to Him in prayer and in the spirit of forgiveness. Then and only then, your sins would be forgiven. The Lord will forgive all of your transgressions.”

“My constant hunger, the poverty, all my situation?”

“They won't go away, but He will give you the strength to deal with it.”

“This gun will make them go away,” he half shouted.

“No, it'll just make the hole your digging deeper.”

Mike King took a good, long look into the eyes of Sister Keller. He saw genuine compassion staring right back at him. It was an expression he couldn't explain, but somehow trusted. He walked up to her and placed the gun in the palms of her hands. She put the gun in a top drawer near the sink and hugged King tight.

Sister Keller held King's hand and they prayed together.

“I'm hungry sister,” he whispered in her ear.

The only food she had to offer was a quick roll with butter and some tomato juice from a can. It was good enough for him as he sat at the table with tears in his eyes and thanked God for the meal he was about to receive.

“Bless you,” she whispered in his ear.

“I may not change,” he said.

“I know.”

“I may go back to my old ways,” he continued. “I'm still weak.”

“Give Him a chance.”

He nodded slowly.

“God loves you.”

Those three words Crept over King's mountain.


© 2016 Frank Atanacio