Chapter Sixty Nine
Ted and Rita stopped at the final line of trees to look back at the shining spire of the little white church on the bluff. The blotched brown canvass of Tent City stood in relief against a field. They looked back as each one of the group pulled over alongside and waited. Rita turned away and motioned to Ted. “Yeah, I know. So much has happened. Exactly why we need to get away. Come on.” She opened her throttle and roared away down the road, long hair flying out. The others raced after her, up over the next rise, putting away what was behind, reaching for the open road.
The open road, good company, and great weather settled raw nerves. As miles sped by, their minds cleared. Old conversations became new again. They found their old smiles and easy going attitudes. In wisdom, they rode far enough that first afternoon, so they couldn’t go back. Secure in motel rooms without a phone or watch, they finally slept the deep sleep they needed.
Except Ted. Deep spine tingling events rolled through his mind. This is crazy man. We just got done with this…, now it’s back stronger than ever. What’s wrong with me?
In disgust Ted left the room and wandered down the empty corridor acutely aware of his surroundings as if each element had poignant significance. He turned past the freshly painted walls and acrid odor of new carpet and pushed the side door open anxiously, rushing into the cool night air in escape. He spoke up into the night air. “What’s wrong with me? I can’t stand it, the constant struggle, the never ending visions. When can I get a break?”
He lifted his hands toward on high. “Please God, just this one night? Stop the visions so I can sleep?” Man, this isn’t fair. Somehow I’m supposed to turn it all off and sleep, real good peaceful sleep. Help me God.
He pounded his fist against a tree in anger. This is supposed to be a ride to get away from it…, but it all came with me.
Ted shook his head and stumbled back to his room, sprawling down, heedless of the angel waiting patiently for him. “Ted. The answer you seek is here with you. God knows your need and has given you Solace.”
Ted tossed only once as Comfort and Sleep overwhelmed him…, until early dawn, then he stretched awake as if it was now time. Time for what? What’s going on?
Rita woke up early, rested and feeling a call. She got up and dressed wondering. What’s going on? She looked past the curtain at the faint gray light of dawn. It must be earlier than I thought.
She walked past the cluster of buildings, following a path in the partial lawn. She heard the murmur of a stream just ahead and walked toward the sound. A slight breeze waved the light brown hair that cascaded around her shoulders. She stretched as she stood by the stream. This ride is sure what I needed. I feel better, younger maybe.
Finding the grass too wet with dew, she sat down on a boulder to think and find her worship of God. She looked into the bubbling water for a word and found it. Thank you Jesus. Cleanse me of my sin and I shall be clear and clean for you Lord. Just as this stream flows from one place to the next, my life’s followed a course around some shady bends. Now, you’ve shown me a new course – following you.
She stood up and stretched again, then wandered along the side of the stream, kicking at small pebbles, not wanting the next subject. Lord, you know me, the real me inside, an’ how I love to rip up the road with these guys…, mostly Ted. I thought I was through with men after the hurt, the pain, the disgust, but now my heart is changing.
She stood up and walked away, back up the stream , looking first back into the stream, then up toward heaven. I mean Lord, I think all the guys are great, but what’s with Ted? First his visions, then his willingness to stand by me when I was confused, and vulnerable. He held me…, and understood, an’ I didn’t want it to stop. He seems so strong now, even in the middle of a throng of weeping people, he radiates Peace and Love. Oh God, I could love this man.
She stopped and turned around, putting her fingers on her lips and twisting them as was her habit. She heard a shuffling and moaning coming from around the bend. Curious but aware, she stepped toward the sound to find a sad and dejected Ted, sitting on her boulder, kicking at some pebbles. He looked up at her approach but then back down.
Rita felt drawn to him, so strong and secure, but now. What is this? “Ted, you’re scaring me ’gain. You look…, awful.” But I love you so. She stood back from him, twisting her lip, wondering…
Turning away from her but then hesitating and turning toward her, Ted noticed her soft long hair catching a glint of the early sun. “Yeah, well you look…, pretty!” Ted seemed to stumble on the word, embarrassed by his disclosure.
Rita looked down and away in deep blush. Ted stood up and turned into her, looking up to reveal swollen red eyes and his haunted, troubled look. He picked up her hands. Her long fingers fit well into his big hands. For a moment each stood, wondering …
Rita leaned toward him, drawn to him but afraid of her feelings too. Lord, Ted looks awful. He needs me. I know he does, but how do I know…
Ted’ eyes riveted on her face, then into her hazel eyes, finding brown and green and flecks of gray. Why didn’t I notice before? She’s more than pretty. She’s enticing. He noticed the slight curve of a smile, the twinkle in her eyes as she stared back at him. Ted wanted to reach out and hold her to himself – to kiss that smile.