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Kevin's Homecoming - Chapter 9

Eddie is a Christian writer and has been a mentor to countless young people through God's ministry over the past 20 years.

It is impossible to face future challenges without dealing with past mistakes.

It is impossible to face future challenges without dealing with past mistakes.

Past

Brother Jamie walked among the children playing on the front lawn surrounding the south and east corner of First Baptist Church of Pine Springs. It was obvious that the pastor liked children. He smiled and patted some of them on the head. He approached Kevin, then only eight years old, who had a model of a church that he had assembled from pop sickle sticks. The little boy was showing his creation to some other children.

“What have you got there, Kevin?”

Kevin turned from the other children and tried to keep his surprise hidden behind his back for a brief time from the preacher. Brother Jamie waved to a young girl who had been called away by a parent. The boy then brought forth the model to present it with pride to Brother Jamie.

“I made it last night for you,” Kevin said proudly. “It’s a church like the missionaries built for the poor people in Africa.”

Brother Jamie took the gift with genuine admiration. “Well, thank you, Kevin.”

“I want to be a missionary when I grow up,” Kevin stated with the unfettered determination of an eight-year-old.

Brother Jamie exhibited a full awareness of the child’s purpose for his life. “Why do you want to be a missionary?”

Kevin seemed bashful to divulge his interest in front of the other children. “’Cause some kids never get to hear ‘bout Jesus, an’ I want to tell them, so they can go to Heaven, too.”

“That is a very good reason, Kevin.” Brother Jamie patted Kevin on the shoulder and asked with an encouraging smile, “Would you like to ring the church bell to gather the children for today’s Vacation Bible School? It will be your first chance to become a missionary for God!”

“Yes, sir!” Kevin shouted with uncontained excitement.

“Let’s go see Miss Jenkins.” Brother Jamie smiled as he lifted the model up to examine it more closely. “I want to get a picture of you and the very first church that you built.”

After the picture was taken and the model placed upon a shelf, Brother Jamie escorted Kevin to the foyer of the church. He showed the boy the rope that rang the bell, and then nodded with encouragement. The little boy grabbed the rope with a mixture of enthusiasm and a little fear, then he started ringing the bell. Children and adults began to gather at the steps of the church as the bell rang.

Kevin smiled with glee as he tugged on the rope. Brother Jamie chuckled when the boy forgot to let the rope slide through his hands and was lifted slightly off the floor before he landed safely back on the floor. Then the bell chimes began to fade away.

Present

Kevin’s hands wrapped around the rope as he reached up and tugged gently. Something creaked and groaned from the darkness as dust and debris fell from somewhere above, but no chime emitted from the bell. Kevin started choking and coughing as he backed away in disappointment. Some debris had fallen into his eyes, and he had to squeeze them shut. His eyes watered as he tried to blink out the debris, and he stumbled away from the rope. As he turned away, he staggered into Joseph Stevens, who was now a sheriff.

“What are you doing here?” It was obvious that Joseph had a solid dislike of Kevin. “Do you realize this is trespassing?”

Kevin, who was still partially blinded by the debris, did not immediately recognize the man or his position of authority. “I just wanted to hear the bell again.” He could detect the hostility emanating from the sheriff, though. “Brother Wayne said I could check out the steeple. It’s in dire need of repair.”

“You’ve seen it!” Joseph rejoined with a sudden and unrelenting, harsh attitude. “Now get going before I ticket you for loitering.”

Kevin took a step back and sized up his opponent as his eyes began to clear. Unmistakable bitter hate seethed within the sheriff’s eyes. The man had changed over the last ten years and seemed to have aged twenty more. When they had last crossed paths, Joseph was still a green deputy with a violent temper. Now the man, who was maybe five years older than Kevin, seemed much harsher. He had appeared taller to a sixteen-year-old boy face down in the mud, but now they were both of even height.

Brother Wayne approached both men from behind and questioned, “Is something wrong, sheriff?”

“I don’t need your help, Brother Wayne. I wasn’t doing anything wrong.” Kevin realized he dealt with the same type of jerk he had left behind in prison and took on a rebellious attitude to protect his interests.

Brother Wayne remained calm as he addressed the sheriff. “I allowed Kevin to check out the restoration project.”

Joseph glared at Kevin with accusative eyes. “I would not allow an ex-con alone around valuable property.”

Kevin expressed indignation. “I am not a thief!”

Joseph realized he had a chance at the upper hand. “Is that a threat I sense in your voice?”

Kevin understood how close he approached the breaking point. “I...”

Brother Wayne swiftly interceded between the two men. “Kevin was just looking over the project to see what work that must be done. He wasn’t loitering, trespassing,” he hesitated for an instant before adding, “or casing the church for valuables.”

Joseph deduced then that the preacher was going to protect Kevin. “You should keep your eye on him, Brother Wayne.”

Brother Wayne determined to stand in defense of Kevin. “I have my eyes wide open and what I see is a young man in need of a chance to prove to himself…and to others of his worth as a human being.”

Joseph glowered at Kevin. “Make one wrong move, Fletcher, and I will have you locked up quicker than you can blink your eyes.”

“I have done nothing wrong,” Kevin challenged.

Joseph turned toward Brother Wayne. “I am a member of this church,” he spoke with contempt as he continued, “but I will leave if you hire this man to do anything anywhere near it.”

The threat disappointed Brother Wayne. “Then I will pray for you and your family.”

Joseph started to say something else but then thought better of it. He glanced from Kevin to Brother Wayne, and then back, grating his jaw with such force his teeth almost groaned. He turned away from Kevin with a threatening glare and walked out of the church in a furor. Brother Wayne drew in a deep, troubled sigh and glanced at Kevin.

Kevin leaned back against a door post and gazed up at the bell tower. “I appreciate what you did, Brother Wayne, but you did not have to lie for me.”

“I am a preacher.” Brother Wayne countered in levelheaded enjoyment. “I am not supposed to lie.”

Kevin cocked his head with a bewildered expression. “What you just said...”

Brother Wayne nodded as he gazed up into the darkened bell tower. “I know how hard it will be for a man with your background to find work. You will need money if you are going to move on to Oklahoma. Therefore, I decided, pending a vote from the church council, to hire you to do some of the work for the restoration project if you are willing. You still have a few supporters from the elderly congregation.”

“I don’t know.” Kevin said with uncertainty.

“Just think about it.” Brother Wayne encouraged. “In the meantime, I think an old friend of yours has just arrived. Come with me.”

Brother Wayne escorted Kevin back into the sanctuary where Brother Jamie waited most impatiently. When the young man saw his former mentor, he nearly lost his adult composure. With the exceptions of Robbie Murchison and a distant love from Kevin’s teenage years, Brother Jamie stood as the most important person in his life. Brother Wayne could sense the strong, personal bond that existed between the two other men – a bond that time or life could never poison. That was the bond of mentor and disciple.

Kevin, who experienced real happiness for the first time in many years, just about ran into the sanctuary to meet his old friend. He stopped short of an embrace as the wall around his heart raised up and closed off almost all his emotional response.

“Brother Jaimie!” Kevin reached out his hand for a greeting.

Brother Jamie would accept nothing but a hug. “Kevin. How I longed and prayed for this day!” He continued to smile despite distressing over the obvious damage the young man endured from his incarceration. “It is so good to see you again.”

After an awkward pause accompanied by an even more uncomfortable silence, Kevin found himself letting his guard down for this one person and returned a second embrace. “It’s good to see you, as well. I’m finally a free man if you can call it that.”

Brother Wayne watched the two other men for a moment and then left them alone without saying anything else. It felt good to know that Kevin could be reached and there remained some hope for him. It would be an uphill sell, but perhaps with a word of encouragement from their former pastor, he hoped he would sway some of the older church council in support of his plans for Kevin.

Brother Jamie was curious and asked with a concerned expression, “Who took over the prison ministry when you left?”

Kevin found himself reluctant to let go of the embrace the second time. “Roland wanted to, but I have not talked to anyone since I left. I want to put all that behind me for a while.” He stepped back and wiped his moistening eyes threatening to betray his self-control.

“I can understand that.” Brother Jamie fished a handkerchief out to dry his own eyes and invited Kevin to sit on a pew with him. “I thought that Roland might want to. How are you doing now?”

Kevin tried to remain casual, but he could not hide his underlying pain. “I am out of sorts, Brother Jamie. I thought that people would have forgotten about me. In many ways, it’s worse than prison now.”

Brother Jamie had already detected the pain and tried to offer a measure of comfort. “Have you given any thought to what you can do about your future?”

Kevin hinted at his bitterness. “There is not much of a future that exists for an ex-con,” he felt positive that the man had witnessed the conversation with the sheriff, “especially in this town.”

Brother Jamie nodded his head in agreement. “There are some places that I know of down in Houston. They are called halfway houses. They are designed to help young men like yourself adjust to life after prison and could help you find suitable employment.”

Kevin began to withdraw into his protective shell. “I have seen men from the city. Houston would be a dangerous place for me right now.”

Brother Jamie sat back and closed his eyes. He knew that relocating to the city would have been a disastrous move for anyone who had grown up in small town America. He wanted to help Kevin, though, and produced an idea that he probably should have discussed with his wife first.

“Regina always thought highly of you, even while you were incarcerated.” Brother Jamie found himself almost pleading. He knew that if Kevin went to Oklahoma, he might be lost to the ministry forever. “You could stay with us.”

Kevin considered the offer as he turned to face the altar. “Do you remember the last day you and I stood together here?”

Brother Jamie’s reply was grim with the memory coming to the surface. “How could anyone forget that day?”

Past

It was stormy the last day that Kevin visited the First Baptist Church of Pine Springs. The boy sat with his entire family in the pew directly behind Robert and Judy Murchison. He did not want to be there – not on that day. He studied the handcuffs that bound him. Deputy Joseph Stevens sat directly behind him. He could feel the man’s glare on the back of his neck, probably in hope of a boy doing the foolish mistake of trying to bolt from the funeral of Robbie Murchison.

Kevin knew that it was unusual for him to be present at the service of someone he had murdered. Dad had pulled some strings with the sheriff, wanting his son to witness the misery he had put the whole town through. The judge had set his bail at a million dollars, making it virtually impossible for him to be released from jail until his trial. He was only sixteen. Where was he going to go if he did try to escape?

Nearly everyone in town had packed the pews full. They had come to mourn the loss of Robbie Murchison. Kevin could feel all the hate directed at him.

Brother Jamie stood precariously at the edge of an emotion breakdown as he prepared to give the eulogy for Robbie. “I often wonder why God takes the lives of our children, especially those that seem to have everything going for them.” He struggled to retain control of his emotions in front of his congregation. “Robert Emmerson Murchison, Jr. will always hold a special place in our hearts. I can still remember the day that he came forward to accept salvation from our Lord…and the day that I baptized him and his best friend.” He paused to choke back an errant sob that seemed to echo through some members of the congregation, including a sixteen-year-old boy struggling to remain stoic. “I can still recall carrying both of them down into the baptistery together.” He offered a slight chuckle as he wiped away his tears. “I am sure many of you can remember that day eight years ago when two little snaggletooth boys were literally cleansed of their sins.”

Further into the past

The baptistery was filling with water to be used that morning for the baptism. Kevin, who had recently turned eight, refused to go near the water with the other two. He stood at the top to watch for any adults that might discover what they were trying to do. Robbie stood on the steps leading down into the water and held his hands over his mouth to keep from giggling aloud. Mark emptied a giant, full bottle of dish soap into the water as it filled. The three boys tried their best not to be heard, despite their stifled merriment.

Mark chuckled as he poured in the soap. “I cannot wait to see the look on Brother Jamie’s face when he sees the tub full of soap bubbles! Get me the other bottle!”

Robbie felt both apprehensive and impish as he watched the water beginning to foam. “Momma says this will be the most important day of my life.” He produced the second bottle.

“I don’t think this is such a clever idea, Mark.” Kevin enjoyed participating in the trick, but he was fearful of the consequences.

“Why are you always such a wimp, Kevin?” Mark questioned spitefully.

Robbie was quick to defend his best friend. “Kevin is not a wimp.”

Mark sighed with exasperation. “It will just be like a bubble bath. Brother Jamie will not get mad.”

“Daddy will.” Kevin warned.

Mark gave a threatening stare to his little brother. “Daddy is not going to find out, is he?”

Kevin backed down submissively. “No.”

Mark made sure the entire bottle of soap was emptied into water. “Let’s get going before they call roll for Sunday school.”

The three boys clambered up the steps hastily, snickering and giggling as they did. The baptistery continued to fill with the sudsy water. In a closet in the back hallway, Mark opened the door and reached into a breaker box to pull a switch down. Robbie and Kevin continued to their class. Mark went back to the baptistery to make sure that the light switch did not turn the lights on. Grinning with mischief, he ran back through the hall and closed the door to the closet, leaving the empty bottles of soap inside.

Later, during morning worship, Brother Jamie stood at the pulpit finishing the opening prayer. He looked up and noticed there were late comers still wandering in that morning. The church congregation always seemed to swell with baptisms and funerals. He gazed down at the two little boys who sat with their respective mothers waiting on the front row.

Brother Jamie waited with reverent patience for the congregation to settle. When he was sure that everyone was present, he signaled the two mothers to lead their children into the back room to get ready.

“We have come to a special time in our service when I get the privilege of leading new believers into a show of their faith and belief in Christ as their Savior. What makes this day special is we will be baptizing two fine young men who just happen to be the best of friends.”

Kevin noticed the suds trailing down the wall behind the choir loft and an air of trepidation came to his eyes. He motioned to Robbie, who stared, and then gasped silently. Carla took Kevin’s hand while Judy picked up Robbie’s, and they stood up to go into the baptistery preparation room. ‘Ah’ and ‘adorable’ rolled softly through the congregation as the boys grabbed one another’s hand.

Brother Jamie closed his bible. “Miss Gloria will lead us in a hymn while I prepare for the baptisms.”

Brother Jamie turned to his own entrance to the baptistery as the organist began to play ‘At the Cross.’ Paul glanced to Mark as they opened their hymnals and began to suspect that something was up. The older boy tried to be too good, but found it difficult to keep a straight face.

In the baptistery preparation room, Carla and Judy dressed their boys in the baptismal gowns. Both women appeared immensely proud while both boys seemed nervous.

“Now you don't worry about falling into the water.” Carla said as she was pulling the gown over Kevin’s head. “Brother Jamie has done many baptisms over the last ten years. He has not dropped anyone, yet.”

Kevin still expressed his apprehension “but he could.”

Judy whispered in a soft, calming voice. “The water is not that deep, either. I was a little older than you when I was baptized. You can stand up and the water will come just above your belly.

“It won’t be like the lake?” Kevin fears began to ease.

Carla made sure the gown covered everything. “I will be right there on the steps…ready to jump in if you need me.”

“We can go together.” Robbie took Kevin’s hand expressing his loyalty. “That way you’ll know you’ll be safe.”

Judy stood up and listened as Brother Jamie opened the door on the opposite side of the baptistery. “It’s time for us to be down in the baptistery.”

As Brother Jamie descended a darkened stairwell into the baptismal waters, he was looking back at an assistant. Mothers and sons had already descended into the opposite stairwell and waited for him to enter.

Brother Jamie whispered with discretion while in the cautious descent. “Marvin, can you turn on the lights and open the curtains?

Marvin let his frustration raise his voice to a harsh whisper. “Something must have thrown the fuse. The lights are not working.”

Brother Jamie thought he could smell soap as he decided to go ahead with the baptism. “There should be enough light from the pulpit once the curtains open. I will have one of the boys ready when you get them open.” He finished the descent into the water. He wondered why he could not smell the chlorine normally associated with the water. “Mothers… I’m sorry about the lighting. Can you see well enough to send the boys out to me?

“Kevin nearly drowned in a lake when he was younger. The boys want to be baptized together at the same time.” Judy answered in a low whisper

“They are both small enough that I think I can manage both of them together if they hug one another when I dip them.” Brother Jamie encouraged them with a whisper. “Come on out, boys.”

“I can hold my breath if you will hold your hand over Kevin’s mouth.” Robbie offered.

Robbie and Kevin slowly made their way to the center of the baptistery where Brother Jamie waited for them. As the curtain was slowly drawn and the organ music died away, everyone quickly became aware of what had happened. The suds spilled out of the baptistery and trickled down the glass and wall before pooling at the back of the choir loft. Brother Jamie understood the look of horror on both boys’ faces, but his discerning eye quickly sought out Mark in the congregation.

Reserved laughter began to rumble through the congregation. Mark felt the weight of Paul’s stare as he tried to shrink down out of noticeable sight. The older boy knew that he was in deep trouble. Robert Murchison, Robbie’s father, sat on the same pew but was unable to keep his own amusement at bay.

Brother Jamie cleared his throat patiently as he guided Robbie and Kevin into position. He was not going to allow the situation to get out of control. The congregation slowly returned to reverence.

Brother Jamie remained stoic despite the bubbles that stirred up when the boys were positioned. “Robbie and Kevin have asked that they be baptized together since they are best friends. They have both come to me and expressed their belief in Jesus Christ as their personal savior… Do you now come to follow His example?

Robbie and Kevin both responded in unison. “Yes, sir.”

Brother Jamie smiled proudly at the boys. “Then today I baptize you in the Name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” He pulled them both together so that they hugged one another and prepared to dip them under the water. “When you accepted Christ into your hearts, you accepted his sacrifice upon the cross for your sins.” He lowered the boys into the water. “Thereby He allowed the blood that He shed for you to wash over you, cleansing away the sins that separate us from God.” He raised them up out of the water. “You are beginning a new life of eternal salvation…never to walk in fear of death again.”

Kevin started to panic. Brother Jamie caught him in a firm grip to steady and reassure him that nothing bad was going to happen. He ushered the boys to their mothers and then turned to face the congregation.

“Behold…there is still plenty of water left… clean water.” He paused to let the chuckles roll through his congregation. “Don’t wait until it is too late to take Christ into your own heart. Make that decision before you leave today. Brother Bill Harrison…could you please close us in a word of prayer?”

Forward in the past

The congregation was in mourning. Brother Jamie was at the podium. He waited reverently while the congregation settled back into a subdued attitude.

“Those two little boys sort of shed a new meaning on being cleansed by the Holy Spirit.” Brother Jamie said with respectful humor, and then drew in a deep breath as a more somber mood overtook him. “I cannot look upon this day and say that our community has lost a son. We have all lost so much more than that. The football team did not just lose one of their finest receivers.” He acknowledged a group of high school football players in letter jackets, most of the boys crying uncontrollably. “Our church did not just lose a brilliant young man who loved to read the Bible.” He looked to Kevin with loving, watering eyes. “Our community has lost two favored sons. The Indians lost two fine receivers, and our youth group has lost two dynamic leaders…one with a promising future in the ministry.” He finally broke down to the point that he could no longer hold in his tears. “I hope that someday you will find it in your hearts to forgive Kevin for this mistake just as I already have.”

Kevin watched in numb silence. There was an air of hatred beginning to surface in the group. Brother Jamie had to be helped down from the altar.

Bill Harrison stared at Kevin with disdain as he stepped up to the pulpit to finish out the service. He turned his solemn attention to the congregation. “Please join with me as we sing Amazing Grace.”

As the congregation began to sing, Kevin was unable to follow or show any emotion. He was still in shocked disbelief at all the events unfolding around him. Then it came time for the people to file by Robbie’s coffin for viewing while the organist played a somber tune. Kevin had to wait until everyone was gone. Joseph started to lead him out of the church without a chance to see Robbie one last time, but Brother Jamie intercepted them before they exited.

“Have a heart, Joseph.” Brother Jamie pleaded. “The boys were best friends.”

Joseph seemed hesitant. “He can have only a few minutes.”

Brother Jamie did not say anything else as he gently took Kevin down to the viewing. The boy slowed before they got close. He looked upon Robbie with extreme guilt as he approached.

Robert Murchison looked on from the family area, wrought with his own grieving. Paul and Mark stood close by the man. They also seemed interested in Kevin’s reaction. As the boy continued to approach the coffin, his eyes began to water. Brother Jamie sensed Kevin was about to break down. Paul looked on with disappointment while Robert Murchison watched with mixed emotions. Kevin finally allowed himself to mourn the loss of his best friend.

Brother Jamie realized no one else in the church would come to comfort Kevin, even his own family. Carla and Judy had collapsed upon one another in grief. The boy reached out to touch Robbie’s hand, and then buckled under the weight of his heartache. Brother Jamie caught him and escorted him to a pew. Joseph started to approach, but the pastor waved him off in fury. Kevin was merely a boy at that moment, who grieved alone. The pastor put a protective arm around the boy’s shoulder.

“Kevin! Listen to me!” Brother Jamie mourned with the boy. “I am here for you. Do not give up. I already know where they are taking you. I will come to visit you as often as I can. I promise you that you will not be alone, but you must be strong, now. Pray to God daily.”

Brother Jamie hugged the grieving boy and allowed him to cry out his pain. Finally, when Joseph approached to take Kevin into custody, the pastor felt reluctant to let the boy go. He watched as the deputy escorted the young prisoner away. A gasping sob escaped him as he gazed up to the cross above the baptistery.

Present

Kevin displayed a nervous smile. “They chased you out of town because you stood by me. I couldn’t allow that to happen to you and your wife. I know someone who might cause me problems there in Houston. A guy in prison who got out about six months ago has offered to help me out.”

Brother Jamie dismissed Kevin’s first comment with a wave of his hand. “I had been sensing that my time in this community was nearing an end, anyway. God moves people around when and where He needs to.”

“You kept your promise to me.” Kevin expressed sincere gratitude. “Thank you.”

It made Brother Jamie feel good, knowing that his efforts to lead Kevin in the right direction could turn out positive. “I have always done what I believed was right. I could not let you face prison alone.” He shifted his interest to the future. “Do you have a plan?”

Kevin was resistant to expressing his intentions. “That guy lives in Oklahoma City now and is going to help me out.”

“So, you will just get up and leave all of this life behind to start over in a strange city?” Brother Jamie asked with growing concern. “Oklahoma City isn’t that much smaller than Houston.”

Kevin nodded deferentially. “I will leave just as soon as I can restore Momma’s garden.”

Brother Jamie took a harder stance. “Do you think that would be like running away? By leaving do you think that would wipe away all the pain and horrible memories?”

“I wouldn’t have constant reminders.” Kevin recoiled. “It isn’t like anyone would care. Nobody wants me here. Not even my own brother!”

It disheartened Brother Jamie. It was the twenty-first century and small towns still held on to grudges long after punishments had been served. “I had no idea how bad it was for you. Would you like to prove your worth to others?”

Kevin turned resentful. “What use is that? I did something stupid when I was a kid, something that still bothers a lot of people even now. They hate me here.”

Brother Jamie searched his mind for a solution not making its presence known to him now. “Leaving is not the answer. You have reopened a wound to this town only because you were once a part of it. People do not like dealing with enduring pain. They would much rather force it out of their minds and out of their sight.”

“Maybe they’ll come after me with pitchforks and torches again,” Kevin added with sarcasm.

Brother Jamie placed both of his hands on Kevin’s shoulders. The young man started to shrug him away, but his loyalty and respect for his old friend and mentor did not permit him to do so. He glanced at Brother Jamie with aching eyes.

The pastor probed deep into Kevin’s soul with empathy for the hurting. “The point I am trying to make is that you will never be able to heal properly if you leave your home behind. The past will fester within your soul like an infectious wound until it destroys whatever is left of the Kevin I once knew. Fix the garden for your mother. It is a part of you that needs healing. Then I must beg of you to come and live with Regina and me so that we can help you overcome the problems ahead. Please.”

“I don’t know,” Kevin whispered. “I’ll consider it.”

Brother Jamie leaned back, but he did not release Kevin, who experienced a sudden loss for words. “Just think about it and pray over it. I must go now, but I promise you that I will return. You know that.” He patted Kevin on the shoulder again, and then stood up to walk away.

Kevin let out a long sigh as he gazed up at the altar in a moment of indecision.

******

Joseph waited in his cruiser for Kevin to exit the church. He watched Brother Jamie exit some thirty minutes earlier. He had liked that man once, but after the turn of events intersecting all their lives ten years prior, his respect had disappeared. He could not fathom in his mind what the pastor observed in Kevin Fletcher, both then and now.

He was about to get out and go into the church when the young man emerged. Free of the protection from the clergy, Joseph could finally confront Kevin and drive away all notions he might have for staying in Pine Springs. In his line of thinking, the ex-con did not serve enough time for what he had done to Robbie.

Kevin started walking away from the church. Joseph shifted the car into gear and pulled alongside the young man, slowing to keep pace with him. Kevin tried to pretend to ignore the sheriff at first.

Joseph made no effort to hide his hate. “Did you take the job at the church?”

“I don’t take charity,” Kevin replied bitterly.

“You don’t deserve it.” Joseph jeered as he badly aimed to find a reason to stop the man for questioning.

Kevin obliged him and stopped suddenly, forcing Joseph to bring the car to a screeching halt. The sheriff stepped out of the car and walked around to face the defiant young man.

Kevin tried not to get angry. “Why are you harassing me?”

“You can’t hide behind the preacher out here.” Joseph leaned into Kevin’s personal space with a half-cocked, self-assured arrogance intended to instigate an adverse reaction. “I see your kind all the time. I just want you to know your position here.”

Kevin did not back down as he glared at Joseph with defiance. “I know where I stand.”

“I’m just waiting for you to make the wrong move.”

“What then?” Kevin took a step forward before he restrained himself with his fists clenched tight.

Joseph noticed Kevin’s restraint and snorted derisively. “Don’t tempt me, Fletcher.” He lowered his voice to a menacing threat. “I would just as soon lock you back up right now.”

Kevin raised his hands in exasperation. “I have done nothing wrong.”

Joseph snorted again and turned to get back into his car. He paused to stare at Kevin with mockery in his eyes and a smirk, turning up one corner of his mouth. Kevin experienced both dumbfounded and angry for a moment. He wanted to lash out, but he managed to continue to keep himself restrained.

“You will.”

Joseph ducked back into his car. When he started the ignition, his foot was heavy on the gas pedal. The engine revved high, seeming to mimic the anger brewing in both men. The sheriff put the car in gear and sped away from Kevin with a flourish.

Kevin happened to glance up and saw Robert Murchison. The man, who sat in his truck, must have watched everything from across the street. He showed no emotion or acknowledgment as he put the truck in gear to drive away. Kevin watched the pickup until it turned off Main Street and disappeared behind a row of buildings. Bewildered, he resumed going in the direction of home.

Continue reading Kevin's Homecoming - Chapter 10

  • Kevin's Homecoming - Chapter 10
    Angel, the young boy that has taken an interest in Kevin, appears at the gate. To the man's surprise, the boy remembers when Carla maintained the once beautiful garden, having visited her some time in the past. He asks Kevin if he can help restore th