“I’m going next door for just a little while,” Pastor Henniks told his wife.
“All right,” Sue said. “I’m going on to bed. Don’t be too long.”
He nodded at her and went out the front door of his parsonage and walked across the lawn to his church. He let himself in a side door and went directly to the sanctuary. The pews could hold about eight hundred people, and most Sundays they were filled. He turned on the chancel lights, leaving most of the room in darkness.
He knelt before the altar and stared at the gold-plated cross.
“Lord, I know I’ve done wrong. I’ve done more wrong than a man should, especially a man in my position. I’m sorry. I am so very sorry. Please, please help me. Don’t visit my sins on my poor family or on my congregation. They don’t deserve that. I know I’ve done wrong. But I’ll change, I’ll change. I’ll mend my ways if you’ll just take this cup from me.”
Stan and Peggy hadn’t taken any food on their trip, so they were hungry from the first day of being snowbound in the blizzard. On the second day, their carefully shepherded supply of cold coffee ran out; they couldn’t gather snow because the electric motors for the windows were frozen. On the third day they ran out of gasoline and could no longer even risk carbon monoxide poisoning to keep warm.
A few hours later, he confessed.
“Peggy,” he stammered in the cold, “I can’t die with this on my conscience. I’ve been having an affair with Lora. It’s been going on for almost five years. I even took her on the Acapulco trip, the one I told you the company wouldn’t let us take spouses on. And your mother’s diamond necklace? The one I said was stolen? I gave it to Lora. I’m sorry. I’m so very sorry.”
Peggy just stared at him, too bitterly cold to fully grasp the enormity of his words.
She awoke in the hospital a day later. Turning her head to her left she could see Stan in the next bed. She didn’t remember being rescued, but she did recall Stan’s confession.
She sat up in her bed and gingerly placed her heels on the floor. That didn’t hurt too badly and she hobbled the few steps to Stan’s bed.
“Stan?” she said softly. “Stan? Are you awake?”
He came to consciousness quickly enough when Peggy yanked out his catheter.
Once the screaming had faded to a dull whimper, she told him, “And I’m just getting warmed up.”
In the light of the full moon on a cloudless night, Ron walked to the middle of the bridge and put one leg over the guardrail, and then the other. He stood on a narrow catwalk meant for the use of painters and inspectors. Ron planned to use it as a launching pad, to launch himself into the deep waters of the Tondoscinewa River and end it all.
He took a deep breath, and released it. Depressed as he was, he thought perhaps he should get right with God before jumping. Of course, jumping itself was guaranteed to get on God’s bad side, and there was no point in asking for forgiveness and then committing the sin. So, no prayer.
Ron took another deep breath, thinking it would be his last. Then he heard the footsteps approaching slowly from the tree-laden far end of the bridge. He blew out the breath and wondered who was coming.
A stray piece of paper is more likely to be picked up if it’s light pink with cute artwork of a kitten and some handwriting on it.
That was the stray piece of paper Denise saw on the grocery store floor, near the customer service desk and picked up. Next to the kitten, at the top of the page, was printed: “Things CONNIE Needs To Do Today.” It was from the sort of notepad advertised in junk mail, and Connie had ordered some. There was, indeed a list of things to do:
1. Call Mom
2. Deposit check
3. Pay rent
4. Take movies back
5. Get haircut – Fran
6. Wash car
7. Go to work
8. Get CheezPuffers, Bloody Mary mix, rat poison
9. Meet Terry at hotel
10. Put rat poison in Terry’s drink
11. Go home, wash clothes & clean out fridge!