It had been two and a half weeks since his imprisonment. He knew everyone was busy setting up a trial. These things took time. He had been through it once before. He waited patiently now. It was like time had ceased to mean anything to him. It was all the same anyway. There was no way out. There had never been a way out. One wrong choice made at the end of his youth had forever ruined his future. This was not how it was supposed to be. There was no justice in it. But no one had said life was fair. So much for the American Dream.
No one offered him a plea bargain. He would not have taken it if they had. He still had enough pride and resistance left to refuse to lie. He was innocent. If they did not believe him, that was their problem. He would go down with a harsher punishment because of it. The irony.
He had not accepted bail. Cynnie had offered the money, but what was the point? He could not face the town. He could not have them hate him again. Perhaps naively, he wanted to preserve his last image of Green Bay. He wanted to think back fondly. He needed something to hold onto. This would be enough.
At times he wondered if he should have run off to Minnesota. Perhaps he still could if he won the trial. He could start life over. No one would have to know about his past unless he wanted them to know. Or perhaps he could go back to Montgomery where he knew he would not be welcomed. But he knew neither of those were really an option. Not after what he had experienced in Green Bay. He knew where his heart lay. Somehow, he had come to love this crazy, football-obsessed town. He could not leave. Green Bay was the only place he ever wanted to belong.
Cynnie tried to talk to him again. He made her leave. But not before getting her to ask one of the policemen if she could take custody of Elva. He wanted his cat in the hands of someone he knew would take care of her. He felt an aching for her now. And for Cynnie. He was not sure which was worse. To lose both of them… He could not let himself think about it. It hurt too much.
Cynnie had said she had been accepted for a job in Pittsburg. He told her to take it. That was what she wanted, wasn’t it? An exciting life in a strange, new city. She could have it. It would be better for her if she was far away from him. He had to let her go.
Darko slowly sat up in his cell. His body was stiff and ached from lying on the cold, hard floor. He had never felt more miserable. He had never felt more alone. He had tried his hardest, but it had all amounted to nothing. He had failed.
He thought of God, and a flash of anger hit him. He suddenly found the strength to stand up. “I thought You were supposed to be here for me,” he said in a hard, challenging voice. “Why haven’t You helped me? What have I done wrong?” There had to be something. Something he was not getting. A reason he had been let down. A reason he had been left alone.
His anger slowly disappeared as he stood there alone. He began to feel something worse. He felt despair. He closed his eyes tightly, trying hard not to weep. He could not take this anymore. “I’ll do anything You want,” he said softly. “Just tell me what to do. I trust You.”
He heard a clear voice in his head that said: “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.”
It was the beginning of a Bible verse. He knew how the rest went. He spoke the words quietly, “Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.”
Understanding struck him like lightning hitting a tree. His eyes widened. He had always understood the holiness of suffering. That was how he was able to endure so much. In the past, he would read scripture daily to convince himself that all the torment he received would be worth it in the end. But he had been missing something. In the emptiness of the jail cell, he finally realized what he had gotten wrong.
Weakness… Darko had always despised weakness. It was something that needed to be overcome. He could certainly never let anyone else see his weaknesses. He did not need to give them any other reason to condemn him. He had spent much of his life trying to be perfect, for if he let anything slip, his torture would increase greatly. He could make no mistakes. Have no run-ins with a law. He had never even had a simple speeding or parking ticket.
He thought it was weakness that had caused him to fall. He previously thought he was strong enough to endure everything that came his way. But he was not. He was weak. He had fallen into despair because of that realization. But… He had missed the most obvious point of his faith in God.
Light tears streamed down his face. “Have I really been listening to You?” he whispered. “I thought I had it right…”
He had been wrong, though. It was obvious to him now. He knew the truth. He could not do this alone. He could not rely on his own strength any longer.
Darko closed his eyes and took a deep breath, letting it out slowly. He felt the tension in his muscles ease and his body relax. When he opened his eyes, his face showed determination. “Ok,” he said softly. It was time to let go of his pride. “I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I trust You, Lord. I will give You control over my life. Do with it what You will. Just give me a reason to hope…” His voice trailed off.
He turned in surprise when he heard the whistling of a bird. A robin was sitting on the window of the jail, looking at him curiously. It was the first bird he had see in months. It stood there for a minute before flying away.
Darko felt a tremendous peace wash over him. He felt serenity. Everything was going to be fine. He did not have to rely on his own strength anymore. He had not succeeded because he was too weak. He was human. But God could do anything.He was suddenly filled with hope. He knew what he had to do. He had to fight. Fight for himself, for all of the sex offenders who had been mistreated, and for the sake of justice. He did not worry. God would give him the strength and courage to complete the job.