Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Starting Today: Dangerous Calling 
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The Silent Child & Other Stories

Episode One of Dangerous Calling

Reverend Jim Goodman was lost in the wilderness. He gazed at the sky hoping to spot the big dipper or some such constellation which could help him find his way. The pastor saw nothing helpful. Heaven seemed to be mocking him with its twinkling orbs. 
“Some westerner I am,” He said to his horse. The pastor recalled the letters he had sent to Amanda back in Boston. Tales of how he was living like a dime novel hero, dealing with hard cases. Such tales would surely make her realize that he was a far better catch than Henry Yates the bank teller.
“A man shouldn’t lie to the woman he loves,” Reverend Goodman whispered. In fact, he had never dealt with outlaws in his position as the associate pastor of The First Methodist Church of Dallas. The main trouble he had encountered was with the senior pastor of the church, who didn’t like his assistant and had found a way to give him the boot.
Reverend Goodman’s thoughts flashed back to last Sunday. Bishop Karl Larkin had stood in the pulpit and smiled benignly. “Our associate pastor, Jim Goodman, has heard the Lord calling him to a ministry in Antioch, about fifteen miles northwest of here.” Bishop Larkin’s voice was as silver as his hair. “I’m asking the officers of the church to come forward and lay hands on Jim as we all pray for him.”
Goodman laughed bitterly. The church officers came forward all right, most of them smirking. They knew what was really going on.
Would Amanda be willing to marry a preacher with a church in a small, dusty western town? He had written her about his new “calling” a few weeks ago and repeated his plea for her to marry him. So far there had been no response.
Jim Goodman’s mind returned to the present. He spotted smoke coming from a distant grove of trees. Smoke probably meant a campfire, and a campfire meant people.
He rode briskly toward the thin wisps of smoke, grateful for a well- lit night. For the first time since leaving Dallas, the pastor felt a small surge of optimism. 
The pastor stopped his horse. This was odd. A thick line of trees ran in front of a stream. The smoke was escaping from inside the grove. He could spot a faint light. Why take a chance on building a campfire in a place where there was a good chance the fire could get out of control? They could easily have made camp in front of the trees.
Jim Goodman felt uneasy as he patted his horse. Of course, there could be several answers to his question, but one was obvious. He may have stumbled onto an owlhoot camp. The men were trying to conceal their fire because they were outlaws. An unusually bright night had betrayed them. Maybe he should ride on.
Reverend Goodman’s horse nickered. He could hear movement from inside the grove. He had no choice now, “Hello the camp!”
There was silence then a voice shouted back. “Welcome stranger. Ride in. You’re welcome to a cup of joe.”
The voice was deep and the friendliness artificial. Goodman wanted to spur his horse and ride off. But if they were outlaws they could catch up with him easily enough. Besides, he was hopelessly lost. Maybe the Lord had guided him to some friendly strangers.
Jim Goodman gently spurred his horse and rode into the camp.

Tomorrow: Episode Two of Dangerous Calling