Nineteen years later
Two hours later, I locked up the office and walked past my secretary’s desk. She had already left for the evening, not bothering to tell me because of my “do not disturb” orders. The digital clock hanging above her computer showed 6:45 PM in a bright red glow.
Just enough time to make it to Jamie’s place, I thought.
As I drove the black Mercedes southeast on Broadway, I rehearsed in my mind various approaches I could use with Jamie. Each line of attack left something to be desired because my angel experience seemed so far out, almost too mystical for a preacher like me. I finally decided to play it by ear, hoping love truly bears all things.
I breathed a sigh of relief when I found a parking place just a block south of Jamie’s cedar-shingled condo. Vanderbilt University’s students usually consumed all of the parking spots along her street, causing them to be a rare find. But in spite of the inconveniences, Jamie loved the college atmosphere and considered the parking problems a necessary trade-off. I personally hated the parking nuisance so much that the two story townhouse had become a disagreement between us as to what to do with it after our marriage. She wanted to keep it whereas I wanted to sell it. We finally agreed to seek the Lord and pray about it. The answer had not yet manifested itself.
I knocked on the door and heard her muffled voice.
“Come in honey, the door’s unlocked. I’m in the kitchen.”
The first sense to kick in when I entered the foyer was smell. Her Chanel No. 5 always reminded me of the sexy reply Marilyn Monroe gave to the question of what she wore to bed at night: “Five drops of No. 5.”
Then, another smell strummed my olfactory receptors: fresh baked chocolate chip cookies – my favorite dessert. The aroma increased as I walked on the hardwood floors through the living room and into the kitchen where Jamie bent over the oven, removing a tray of cookies.
“I thought you might need some nourishment later tonight,” she said with a wink, setting the tray on the stove top.
She removed her cooking mitt and stepped toward me. Her yellow and white striped sundress provided a perfect contrast to the stainless steel appliances, white cabinets, and black granite countertops in the L-shaped kitchen. Her left hand caressed my cheek at the same time she snuggled close to me. We hugged and kissed, no longer trying to follow in Billy’s and Ruth’s courting footsteps.
“Sugar, wait till you hear the latest wedding details,” she whispered as she broke away. “It’s so exciting.”
“Okay, what?” I said, grabbing a hot cookie.
“Sweetheart, don’t. That’s too hot.”
Paying no attention to her warning, I stuffed the whole cookie into my mouth. I immediately blew out a deep breath while holding my mouth open.
“See, I told you,” she said with a laugh. Then, she wrinkled her nose and pointed at me. “Luke, why aren’t you dressed up? We’re going to the concert, aren’t we?”
I looked down at my khakis and old tennis shoes. In the excitement, I forgot about the Johnny Cash concert at the Ryman Auditorium and the two third row tickets in my wallet.
“I forgot – ”
“Sugar, you forgot?” she said. Her eyebrows formed twin question marks seeking an explanation.
I sighed and removed my cap, holding it in my hand.
“I had an unexpected visitor today.”
Next, I told her the whole account of the angel’s visit. When I finished, I put my cap back on and looked at her.
“Honey, what do you think?”
Jamie was not a championship caliber Texas Hold’em card player. Her face revealed her skepticism.
“Sugar,” she whispered, “it’s not so much what I think, but rather, what do you think? And what do you plan on doing?”
Her words hung in the air like the stench of cordite after the firing of a Winchester rifle.
“I plan on obeying the angel’s words.”
“Just like that! You going to throw your whole ministry away. How can you do that? And what about me? Don’t I have a say in this decision, too?”
“Of course, you do – ”
“It doesn’t sound like it to me!”
I nodded that I understood her point.
“Jamie, I love you. I know this is tough, but we can work through it with the Lord’s help.”
Jamie’s head swayed side to side as she meditated on my spoken words and the unspoken ones.
“Luke, let’s skip the concert and sleep on this. It’s too much for me to handle right now. Why don’t you stop by in the morning, say around 9:30? We can have a quiet breakfast together and discuss everything.”
Her eyes begged me to agree with her. What could I do? I leaned over and lightly kissed her on the cheek.
“See you in the morning, honey, I love you,” I whispered.
I turned and walked out, closing the door quietly behind me.
(The above is the fourth part of Chapter 2 for a new novel I’m writing, The Day LA Died, © Larry Nevenhoven, 2012.)
(Continued in Part 8)