Friday, November 9, 2012

Now Playing: Dangerous Calling 
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Dangerous Calling 1

Episode Three of Dangerous Calling

Episode Two concluded with:

Abner’s voice was also buoyant. “I’m afraid you’re a bit lost, preacher. The best trail to Antioch is back a ways.”
            “Would you mind drawing me a map? I’m afraid I have lost my way.” He laughed nervously. “It’s not good for a preacher to lose his way.”
            Fargo didn’t laugh, but Abner did: that made Jim Goodman feel good. Abner appeared to be the leader of the two men.

Episode Three

“We’ll do better than that, Reverend,” Abner said. “Fargo and me will ride into Antioch with you tomorrow.”
            “You’re being too kind, I can’t allow--”
            Abner cut him off. “My partner and me are just two saddle bums. Ridin’ from one job to the next. I hear tell there are some big ranches around Antioch. Maybe we can find us some work.”
            “You’re being very kind.”
            “No trouble attall. Fargo, fix Reverend Goodman a cup of coffee.” Abner pointed to a log beside the fire. “Take a load off your feet, Reverend.”
            Jim Goodman felt relieved. These two men obviously lived rough lives. They were crude but respected his position as a man of God. The words he had spoken to Amanda on their last evening together in Boston came back to him:
            “The West is full of ruffians and scoundrels. It is a land that can only be conquered by a man who is willing to look tough men in the eye and speak the truth in love. I am that man, Amanda.”
            The young woman had looked doubtful. “Are you sure this is the Lord’s calling on your life, Jim?”
            Jim Goodman stared at the fire in front of him. He had been sure, but for all the wrong reasons. He had just escaped flunking out of college with grades that were barely passing. Several professors had told him that they could not, in good conscience, recommend him for any position.
            But the Dean had shown more compassion. “The West may be the place for you, Mr. Goodman. The standards there are…ah…less demanding.”
            Dean Howell had written to Karl Larkin. Bishop Larkin had agreed to take on Jim Goodman on a temporary basis. After a few weeks Bishop Larkin had informed his associate pastor that the position was going to be very temporary. His demeanor had not been friendly.
            “Are the folks friendly?”
            The question yanked Reverend Goodman back into the present. “Ah…excuse me?”
            Abner handed the pastor a cup of coffee. “Are the folks in Antioch a friendly bunch?”
            Jim mouthed a thank you before speaking. “I’ve never actually been there. I’ve communicated by letter with the town’s mayor, Frank Dunning. But Antioch is a town that takes faith very seriously.”
            “Whatcha mean by that?” Fargo spoke as he placed the coffee can back over the fire.
             Goodman blew gently on the liquid in his cup. “The people there want to build a church. A beautiful church with stained glass windows and an altar made with the finest wood: a church that will stand for a hundred years or more. They think I’m the man to lead the project.”
            “I’m sure they’re right about that, Reverend.” Abner remained standing. He smiled down at the newcomer. “But…stained glass windows…the finest lumber…ain’t that gonna cost big money?”
            The pastor sipped his coffee, then answered the question. “Yes, but they have already raised most of it. I’m going to be responsible for ordering the windows and…”
            “Anything wrong, Reverend?” Abner asked. 
            Reverend Goodman took a long drink of his coffee. The warm brew settled in his stomach and felt good. “You know, I decided to ride from Dallas to Antioch instead of taking the train because I felt that I needed the experience. Needed to sleep under the stars and all that. Well, I got lost and, I’ll admit it. I was scared.”
            The pastor laughed whimsically. “But I ran into two good Samaritans. Maybe the Lord wants me in the West, after all.”
            Abner’s laugh was loud and harsh. He slammed a fist into Goodman’s neck. The pastor dropped his coffee cup and rolled onto the ground, gasping for air.

Monday: Episode Four of Dangerous Calling