"A Shadow On The Street"

Chapter 1
Raven and Elizabeth

By papa55mike

We think we know what someone is feeling.

But do we?

A child's smile can hide a mountain of guilt and shame.

Her hearty laughter covers a breaking heart.

His confident stride conceals the crippling fear inside.

How many disguises do we use to mask a shroud of misery from others?

Put on any face you want, but no one can hide from my presence. I have a unique talent if you can call it that. It feels more like a curse to me.

My name is Lewis Bradley. I'm a former Pastor who one day began to see and feel what no other can. I know what a person is thinking. Their desires kept hidden from all-seeing their path for the future from the decision about to be made.

People have tried to explain my gift as reading Auras, the field of bioelectricity that surrounds all things. But that is a New Age belief, and there's nothing Biblical about it. It deals with Spiritism, a practice clearly denounced by the Bible, saying, "There is no light in them."

The light shines brightly within me. I feel the Lord has shown me it's a gift of prophecy from the Holy Spirit, fully developed as long as I use it in faith. Many people have tried to exploit my gift for personal gain. That's when I went into hiding. I'm known as the shadow on the street - a hooded figure that moves silently through the night.

It's hard to avoid people during the day, so I travel through the alleys in the cover of darkness. My hooded coat doesn't protect me from others, but it hides my knowing of a person's mood or thoughts. There are so many evil desires in this world. It burdens my soul continually.

Memphis is the 24/7 city of the Blues. It speaks of the music and the pain we carry along with us. I've always loved the people of this town. They're hard-working and very caring. It's challenging to dodge so many people downtown, so I drifted to a place in the ragged part of the city. No one looks at the other; gangs spread fear down the streets - my kind of place.

My best time to get supplies is right before daylight. The moon is parting the clouds, guiding my way. Tony's Grocery opens early for the people on their way to work. These people work in
 thankless jobs in the city. Janitor, cook, cashier, garbage collector, and bus driver. I envy their perseverance.

I've been visiting Tony's for a year now; he's the only friend I have in Memphis. It's an hour before sunrise when I walk into the store. Tony's dark brown eyes spot me, he smiles. "Good morning, Lew."

I feel that Tony's wife and daughter are feeling better; both of them have been fighting the stomach flu. "It's good to know that your family is feeling better, Tony."

"I can't hide anything from you, Lew. What am I thinking about right now?"

"Well, you have the Tiger's game playing in your mind, but there's also a thought about the redhead that just left. That cute butt will get you into trouble, Tony."

"You're amazing! How do you do it?"

"It's a gift from the Holy Spirit that might be a curse. All I have to do is be close to you. If I was across the room by the cooler, I couldn't feel a thing. I need two-country ham and biscuits. I'll get a gallon of milk from the cooler."

While Tony is making my biscuits, a young woman with blonde hair carrying a baby walks to the counter. She has on a blue Old Navy jacket and a fleece blanket wrapped around the baby. With a quiver in her voice, she asks, "Can I get a pack of Newport 100s?"

Tony smiles at her.
"You can if you have some ID and the money."

She shows Tony her driver's license and hands him a ten. The baby squirms a little and starts to cry. She picks up her change and cigarettes when I put the milk on the counter.

Her frightening thoughts make my body shudder in pain - a devastating beating by her boyfriend, along with his demands of selling the baby for five-thousand dollars. She knows he never wanted a child, but hid the pregnancy until the last trimester.

The young woman walks towards the door, and the link breaks.

I stop shaking and ask Tony. "How much, my friend?"

"That's eight-sixty-five, Lew."

"Here's a ten, keep the change."

"Thanks, Lew. See you in the morning."

I quickly exit the store to find that young woman. She's sitting at the bus stop breastfeeding her baby while trying to light a cigarette. Her hands are shaking uncontrollably.

I sit down and open one of my biscuits, pretending not to notice her. I know the bus will be a few minutes. Her thoughts soar into my mind again. The young woman's name is Raven, and the baby's name is Elizabeth. Both of them are very hungry.

"Would you like one of my biscuits, Raven? You have to keep your strength up if you're going to breastfeed Elizabeth."

She coughs out her first drag on the cigarette then asks, "How do you know me?"

"It would take too long to explain. I also know you don't want to sell your baby to those people. Is five-thousand dollars worth giving up your child?"

A tear falls from her eye. "Mister, you're freaking me out!"

"I don't mean to; I'm trying to keep you from making the biggest mistake of your life. Elizabeth will never be out of your mind. Every birthday will be a reminder of this sweet child that you sold for drug money. That's what Jonathon wants to do, isn't it?"

"Yes, it is," Raven's body begins to shake with fear. "He says that money can be turned into twenty-thousand dollars on the street."

"Selling heroin will ruin so many lives, including yours. Do you think Jonathon loves you?"

"I don't know."

"Wasn't it Jonathon that talked you into running away with him and selling your body on the streets? No man who loved you would ever ask you to do such things, Raven."

"What am I supposed to do now? I can't go home; he'll track me down and kill both of us."

"I know a place that will protect you and Elizabeth. Second Avenue Church Of Christ has a battered women's program that will place you and Elizabeth in a safe house. Jonathon will never find you there."

"I don't know."

"Raven, it takes incredible courage to break away from death's grip on your life. Do it for Elizabeth, and your undying love for her."

"Can I think about it?"

"You don't have that much time. Jonathon and his friends are coming for Elizabeth today. I want you to know one thing; Jesus loves you and Elizabeth with all of His heart. Don't give up your daughter to those evil men. He will save both of you if you let Him." The bus pulls up to the stop and opens the doors. "It's up to you, Raven."

Raven rises to get on the bus and turns to me. "Thank you for caring."

"You're welcome."

She boards the bus and disappears in a cloud of smoke.

"I did my best; it's up to you, Lord."

Author Notes Well, let's see if I can write two books at once. When I finish with the last chapter of Hammie & Sarabeth, I plan to start the final Gabriel Hope book titled: The Walkers.

Many thanks for stopping by to read.
Have a great day, and God bless.

Chapter 2
A Cold Morning.

By papa55mike

My trek to Tony's is brutal this morning. The temperature is fourteen degrees, with the wind howling down the alleys. Now, I'm the only person on Fourth Street. The little bit of snow and ice are no problem, but my prayers are with the many homeless who didn't find shelter and had to suffer outside through this frigid night.

Tony's sign is a beacon of warmth and food. The basic comforts all men crave. I notice the cigarette prices on the signs beside the door. "Eight dollars a pack to kill yourself. What a country!"

The warmth escapes when I open the door. It gently caresses my face. "Tony, I can't remember it being this cold three-weeks before Thanksgiving."

A young black man in a dark hoodie and jeans turns away from the counter then heads back to the cooler, pretending to look at the beer.

"I do. It was about fifteen years ago. The low that night was seven. Are you frozen, Lew?"

"To the bone." We both laugh. "Let me have a sausage, egg, and cheese biscuit along with a large cup of coffee."

"Well, are you splurging this morning, Lew?"

"I'm trying to keep the inner man warm. I'll get a half a gallon of milk from the cooler. I hope it doesn't freeze before I get home."

I walk to the back of the store while Tony gets my order ready. With a smile, I greet the young man. "Good morning, son."

He smiles a little. "Good morning."

When I open the cooler door, my mind fills with his thoughts. There's a young woman in a car across the street. Their daughter is asleep in the backseat. The gun in his pocket is a 9mm, and he plans to rob Tony. Now, I see blood on the floor. I turn towards the counter, and the link breaks.

I set the milk on the counter while Tony pours me a cup of coffee.

"Here's your coffee, Lew. I need to make some fresh eggs, and it will only take a minute."

"Thank you, Tony." I then whisper. "He has a gun and plans on robbing you."

Tony reaches for a button under his counter.

"Before you send for the police, let me talk to him."

"He'll kill you, Lew."

"That's a definite possibility." I turn to the young man and try to look him in the eye. Walking towards him, I wonder if it was my blood I saw on the floor. "It's a cold morning, Caleb. Why aren't you with Cathy and Amy across the street?" I hear Tony wrapping my biscuit behind me.

"What did you say?"

"I just asked you about your family. They sure will miss you while you're in prison."

"In prison for what?"

I watch his grip tighten on the gun in his jacket pocket. "You plan on robbing Tony. That's why you have that 9mm in your pocket."

His face hardens. "Mister, you just bought yourself a bunch of trouble." Caleb starts to pull the gun out of his pocket.

"Listen to me. If you pull that gun out of your pocket, you will spend the next ten years in prison. What will happen to Kathy and Amy then?"

His dark brown eyes peer into mine.

"I know that you were thrown out of your home a month ago. Since then, you've been living in your old car. It takes five dollars worth of gas to stay warm through the night. It's awful when you can't feed your family and have to live on one meal a day from the soup kitchen. I've felt that pain before, but it's not worth spending the best part of your life in prison."

Caleb eases his hand out of the pocket without the gun. I feel the thoughts of robbing Tony are fading.

"I want you to know that God hasn't given up on you." A thought comes to mind. "I usually don't do this, but I know a place where you can sleep in a warm bed. You won't have to worry about the police, or the gangs, busting in your old car. You can relax and know you're safe."

Caleb studies me. "Where's this place?"

"Three streets down, at the old Brown Shoe factory. I've rented part of the building. It has full bathrooms, a kitchen, cable television, internet, and warm beds for all. You are more than welcome to stay."


"If you're this desperate today, Caleb. What will you be willing to do tomorrow? I know that you're broke, and the car is almost out of gas. Please, let me help."

"But I'm a black man with a white wife and a mixed daughter. Nobody else wants to help us. Why you?"

"Because Jesus never cared about the color of our skin. He died to save everyone. The only color that matters is red, the blood He shed for all."

Caleb smiles. "So, are you going to preach to us the whole time we're there?"

I chuckle. "I'm usually a quiet person." I point to the door. "Why don't we let Kathy decide?"

"Okay." Caleb smiles, then leaves.

I put the half of gallon of milk back and grab a gallon. "You better make two more biscuits, Tony. I'll grab some cereal."

"Are you sure you want to do this, Lew? I know you love your privacy."

"Well, I could let Caleb rob you."

"Not today. Aretha is putting a beef roast in the crockpot." We both laugh. "I plan to be extremely hungry when I get home at seven."

I throw Tony a twenty. "Put the change on my account. I'll see you tomorrow."

When I walk out the door, a cold wind blows against an old blue Chevy Impala. Six pleading eyes welcome me into their car.

We pull behind the crumbling old factory. "Around the corner, there's a garage door. You can park in the building." I feel Amy's brown eyes study me. Understandably, Kathy is very apprehensive, I don't blame her.

I get out and open the large door, and Caleb pulls inside.

"This way, my friends." I motion towards a series of steel doors. The warmth inside greets the weary wanderers. "The bathrooms are on the right. The kitchen is through here. I have bowls and spoons for cereal, Amy."

Kathy speaks up. "I'll get them for her, thank you."

"In the cabinet on the left, by the sink."

Caleb asks, "What do you do here?"

"I look for opportunities to help. That's why I'm glad you decided to stay. You are welcome here as long as you need."

I hear Amy crunching her Fruit Loops, and Kathy asks, "Who are you?"

"My name is Lewis Bradley. A friend."

Author Notes With the help of my friend, giraffmang, I've fixed a few of the plot holes. Lew has lived in Memphis for a year now because he loves the people. The owner of the market he visits, Tony, is his only friend. Lew gets his breakfast there, every morning. I also took out some of the gloom and doom. I can add that later. I want to thank everybody who has already helped with this project!

Many thanks for stopping by to read!
Have a great day and God bless.

Chapter 3
The Price Of Unbelief.

By papa55mike

The night was dreary, but the rising sun is always a blessing through my window. I'm usually on my way to Tony's by now, but I have to be at the bank when it opens. The rent is due, and I'm never late.

I've been searching the internet for jobs in Memphis, which are down for this time of year. It seems the only places hiring are the big department stores for the Christmas rush. Great jobs, but they won't last long.

Caleb, Kathy, and Amy are sleeping in the bedroom down the hall. It was once the President's office; the sign is still above the large oak door. It has a bathroom and a fridge.

The door to the President's office opens, and Kathy sleepily ambles towards the coffee pot in her ankle-length purple robe. After pouring a cup, she takes a sip then intently turns to me. "I'm not getting close to you. Caleb told me you could read my thoughts if I did."

"I understand."

"Well, that's good." Kathy sits down across the kitchen table.

"I've been looking on the internet for jobs. The only thing I can find is Christmas work at the big stores. Most factories won't start hiring again until after the holidays."

"Thank you." Kathy brushes her long brown hair out of her eyes and tucks it behind her ear. She begins to study my face.

"I wish I could see your thoughts right now."

"My mind is full of questions." Kathy peers into her coffee.

"Ask away." I take a sip of mine.

"Caleb says that you were a Pastor. Why aren't you at your church?"

"I was a happy Pastor for twenty years at Main Street Church of Christ in Milan. That lasted until my wife decided she didn't want to be a preacher's wife anymore. I knew about all of her affairs, and so did most of the town. The Elders decided that it was in the best interest of the church that I resign. They didn't want a divorced Pastor. I guess they didn't care what Sandra did."

"Well, it wasn't your fault," Kathy's stare eases a little. "Is that when you came to Memphis?"

"Well, it took a couple of years of drifting before I made it here."

"Why did you stop Caleb from robbing that store?"

"Because I didn't want to see him throw his life away. I knew why he was doing it. It was his love for you and Amy. But all he needed was a place to stay and something to feed his family. I knew I could help him."

"What else did you see in Caleb's thoughts?"

"Blood, all over the floor." I sip my coffee again. "Whether it was mine, Tony's, or Caleb's, I don't know."

"So, you essentially saved someone's life," Kathy smiles.

"I would never say that, but I guess we'll never know. Caleb is lucky to have you in his life."

"Why do you say that?"

"Because you're a strong, beautiful woman who is not afraid to fight for what she has."

"Thank you. I have kicked my share of butt before. Including Caleb's, a couple of times. What's next for you, Mr. Bradley?"

"Call me Lew. It's whatever the Lord wants me to do. I do need to go to the bank this morning."

"I can get Caleb to drive you?"

"No, thank you. I need the exercise."


It's nine o'clock in the morning, and I'm standing in the alley at Third Street and Riverside Drive. The sidewalks are full of people shuffling off to stores downtown, or their office jobs while working their phones to death. I now see why China designed a particular lane in airports for people glued to their screens. They are oblivious to their surroundings.

The Regions Bank I use is down two blocks, and I'm waiting on a break in the traffic. I'm trying to prepare myself for the short distance I have to walk. There might be fifty people my mind touches along the way. "I need to focus on my footsteps and nothing else." I step in behind a small group and take my chances.

A few minutes later, I arrive at the bank. I have to pause beside the door to collect myself. "Why is everybody so focused on sex and themselves? I see why God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah," I whisper to myself. "If I didn't need the cash, I would do all of my banking online." After a few deep breathes, I go into the bank.

The young teller is very friendly, but it's all superficial. She has her mind focused on the fight with her abusive husband last night. How can people smile while they're so broken inside? Before leaving her, I say, "I'll pray for you and your husband."

For a second, she let her pain show.

After waiting for a break in the crowd, I start back home, dreading this torturous journey.

I see a man in a quality blue suit with an unbuttoned brown overcoat coming towards me. He has a black briefcase in his right hand. The power of his murderous anger flows far ahead of his body.

My body cringes when he walks by. His fury assaults my mind.

He has a gun in the briefcase and plans on killing his wife. He knows about her girlfriend and the apartment they share. If it were another man, he'd understand, but not another woman. His foul language batters my mind.

When the link breaks, I turn to get a good description. The man is about five-ten, two-hundred pounds with gray and black hair. He turns down Riverside Avenue, and I've got to find a cop before he gets away.

In Memphis, they have a foot patrol downtown. You can usually find an officer every few blocks, but I don't see one right now.

When I look down Riverside, the angry man walks right by one. I run towards the policeman and stop him. "Officer, that man is going to kill his wife. He has a gun in his briefcase. Please stop him."

The policeman rolls his eyes at me. "How do you know this?"

"You wouldn't believe me if I told you, but it's true. That man will kill his wife over the affair she's having."

"You didn't answer my question, sir."

I drop my head then say, "I saw it in his mind." Looking up, I see the man in the blue suit enter one of the apartments on Riverside Avenue. These lavish suites rent for over ten-thousand a month, which includes a beautiful view of the Mississippi River from the back deck.

"Oh, you can read minds. What am I thinking now?"

"I don't have to see into your mind to answer that one. You think I'm crazy. But in a few minutes, that man will shoot his wife. Her death will be on your conscience. Explain that to Captain Adams when you fill out the report."

The officer's shocked eyes find mine. "How do you know my captain's name?"

"I saw it inside your mind," I try to focus harder. "Your wife, Isabella, is expecting your first baby in a few weeks." It's difficult to find his thoughts with so many others around me. "You were so thrilled when you found out it was a boy. Now, you're worried, I'm right."

Suddenly, a lady runs screaming down the stairs. "I heard gunshots next door!"

The officer runs down the street a few steps then turns back to me.

In agony, I shake my head and turn for home.

Author Notes This is one of the main ideas I wanted to write about in this book. The frightening knowledge of a murder about to be committed, and how do you make someone believe you.

Chapter 4
The Homeless Network

By papa55mike

Looking behind me, I see the sun rising between the buildings. It's casting long shadows on the homes. I'm standing in front of Tony's Grocery, thankful that I have a friend like him. Tony accepts me for who I am and seems to know my pain. I push open the door with a smile. "Good morning, Tony."

"Well, good morning, Lew. I haven't seen you in a couple of days."

"I've been hiding."

"From the police, maybe?" Tony asks.

"Not necessarily. Are the police looking for me?"

"I read in the newspaper about the murder on Riverside Avenue. The paper said a man in a dark overcoat warned the officer on duty before it happened."

"The killer walked by me with murder blaring from his mind." I pause to check my feelings. "I told the officer what was about to happen, and he thought I was crazy. Then a woman ran screaming out of the building. I felt completely worthless."

Tony puts a warm hand on my right shoulder, and says, "You did the best you could, Lew. It's not your fault they didn't listen."

"What good is this gift if I can't get anybody to believe me?"

"The police believe you now, Lew. They have you listed as a person of interest in the case."

"Great! Have the police been here?"

"Yeah, I sent them in the other direction."

"I can't thank you enough, Tony."

"My pleasure, Lew. How is that family doing?"

"They're doing well. It's only been a few days, but Caleb has a job interview at Home Depot tomorrow. They need a crew to work through the winter, changing the store around. I've been praying for him to get it."

"I swear, Lew, you're just a beacon of light."

"I wish!"

We both start to laugh.


I feel something a little different walking back home this morning. Talking with Tony put a smile back on my face. "It's two weeks before Christmas and time to find some Christmas joy. I know a family that desperately needs Christmas."

I open the door to my office home; Caleb and Kathy are waiting for me at the kitchen table. "Good morning, my friends."

"Good morning," Caleb picks up his cup of coffee. "Lew, one of our friends, has a big problem."

"Is there anything I can do?"

Kathy gets up and pours herself a cup of coffee. "I hope so, but first, I need to tell you about the Homeless Network."

"The Homeless what?"

"There are over a hundred homeless living in the back alleys, behind restaurant dumpsters, sleeping in hidden corners all over downtown. Many are living in their cars as we did." Kathy sips her coffee then continues. "All most everyone has a cell phone. No one can call anybody with our unpaid bills, but we can text each other. We came up with the idea of the Homeless Network."

"It was Kathy's idea," Caleb sips his coffee.

"Whatever. We started logging in each of our numbers into phones all over downtown. When someone would hear about an opening at a shelter or a place with free food, they would text it to the next person that would share it with the entire network."

"That's amazing. I had no idea that many homeless are downtown."

"In a way, we are all like you, Lew," Caleb drops his head. "Hiding from others in disgrace."

Kathy takes Caleb's hand and says, "It was no disgrace what happened to us, sweetie. That's for another time." Kathy turns back to me. "Have you heard of the Vigilante Killer, Lew?"

"I don't watch the news, but I read about it on the internet."

"He took another victim last night." Kathy looks out the window. "One of the members of the Homeless Network saw it happen."

"If that person is an eyewitness, they need to go to the police."

"He can't, Lew. The killer is a cop." Kathy looks directly at me.

"Oh, then we have to get him here. To keep him safe."

"I was hoping you would say that," Caleb sets his cup down.

"How far away is he, Caleb?"

"Ten blocks. I can pick our friend up, but I need to do it without anybody seeing us, Lew."

"Where is he exactly? I know every alley downtown."

"Two streets from the courthouse on Crestwell Avenue."

"There's an alley that runs behind the pubs on Main. Have him meet you behind Danny's on First Street."

"Great, he'll only have a block to walk. Let me set up a time."

Thirty minutes later, I raise the overhead door and let Caleb pull inside. Once I close the door, a man and a young boy sit up in the backseat. Caleb gets out and says, "I never knew Terrel had a son, Lew."

"It's okay, Caleb. That's one less child on the streets tonight."

The man and his son slowly get out. You can see the confusion and fear in their eyes. "I don't mean to be rude, but my son and I haven't had a shower in a month. I won't talk about what happened until we get clean and something to eat."

I smile at them and say, "This way, my friends."

When they pass by me, I feel the intense determination to survive inside the father. There, in the back of his mind, I see the face of the killer.

The father and son have been in the locker room beside the kitchen for over an hour. Kathy and I are talking about what to do.

"We don't know if he's telling the truth, Lew."

"He is, Kathy. I saw the killer's face in his mind."

"What else did you see?"

"Well, his son's name is Earl. They're not from Memphis. Oakland, Tennessee, I believe."

"That's right, mister. We're from Oakland. How did you know that?" Terrel and Earl walk into the kitchen, looking completely different. Terrel is dressed in blue jeans and a navy blue tee-shirt. Earl has on a pair of khakis and a red polo. Both of them have their thick black hair combed back.

I get up from the table and reach out my hand for Terrel to shake. "My name is Lewis Bradley, but you can call me Lew. I want you to know you're welcome to stay here."

"Thank you, mister. But we're powerfully hungry."

Kathy walks up to Earl, and asks, "How old are you, Earl?"

"I'm seven, ma'am." Earl's southern drawl is priceless.

"What's your favorite thing to eat, Earl?"

"Oh! Peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I haven't had one in so long." His thick black hair falls into his eyes.

With a beautiful smile, Kathy pushes his hair back in place. "I'll make you a big thick sandwich. Would you like water or milk?"

"Milk, please, I'm so tired of water."

Amy hears her mother taking orders for food. "Me, too, mommy."

"Okay, sweetie," Kathy asks Earl. "Would you like to watch television with Amy?"

"Yes, ma'am!"

"Go ahead. I'll bring you two a plate."

"Thank you," Earl grabs Kathy and hugs her neck.

"That sounds fine to me," Terrel speaks up. "Do you have some pretzels to go with it?"

"Of course, I'll be right back."

Now that everyone's hunger is satisfied for the moment, Kathy, Caleb, Terrel, and I are sitting at the kitchen table with some coffee.

Kathy asks, "How did you two end up on the street, Terrel?"

"The same as most of us. I lost my job after my wife died two years ago, then we lost our house. We were living in our car until they found it."

"It always happens in stages," Caleb frowns.

"That's right, Caleb," Terrel smirks. "You're powerless to stop it unless you have a job."

"What about a shelter, Terrel?" I ask.

"If we go there, human services will take Earl away from me. He's all I have left."

I don't have to look inside his mind to see the pain. "Tell me about that night, Terrel."

"There's not much to tell you. Earl and I were hiding in the shadows beside a dumpster when this lawyer comes out of his office. It's right behind the courthouse. Earl was asleep in my arms when another man stepped out of the shadows. The lawyer seemed to know him. They laughed and shook hands. The lawyer waved and turned towards his car. The cop reached into his jacket - not his holster. Then he pulled a big gun out and shot him three times in the back. The weapon barely made a sound."

Caleb says, "The gun must have had a silencer, Lew."

"Probably," I turn back to Terrel. "What color was his uniform?"

"Khaki, the same color of Earl's pants."

"Then it wasn't a cop," Kathy smiles. "They all wear navy blue. I'd say it was a sheriff or an officer of the court."

"If we could get into their files," I shake my head. "I know they have pictures of all the employees."

Caleb laughs then looks at Kathy. "Do you want to tell them?"

"That's an easy hack, Lew," Kathy chuckles. "I can be in there in five minutes or less."

"What do you know about computers, Kathy?" I ask.

"I have a Masters Degree in Computer Science from the University of Memphis."

"And you guys were homeless?"

"It's because I have a felony record, Lew. I hacked a bank and got caught. I didn't steal anything. Just did it for the fun of it. After that, I couldn't get a job anywhere."


Caleb gets up from the table. "I'll get your bag of flash drives."

"Since then, I developed a file that wipes out every trace I go on the internet. It's never failed before, Lew. Can I borrow your computer?"

"Sure, the police are looking for me already."

"For what?" Caleb asks.

Before I can answer, Kathy turns to me and asks, "Were you the man that warned that cop on Riverside?"


"So that's it," Kathy shakes her head. "I knew something was wrong."

"Who is reading minds now, Kathy?"

She doesn't answer.

After Kathy installs two files and hits Google Search for a moment, she replies, "I'm in! We'll start with the courthouse. Fewer people to search through." Her fingers dance across my keyboard.

I stand next to her, watching different files pass on the screen in milliseconds. I can see inside Kathy's mind, and it's moving at the speed of light. "Your brain is on fire, Kathy."

"Who is reading minds now, Lew?"

I don't answer.

"Finally, the personnel files. We know it's not the judge or attorneys. So, let's start with the bailiffs."

Terrel sits down beside her and begins to study the screen.

"Here's the first one, Terrel."

"No." Kathy and Terrel begin to go over the files.

Caleb walks over to me and asks, "What do we do when Terrel finds the man, Lew? He's not going to the police."

"Then we bring the killer and the police here. Maybe we can wrap him with ribbon and a bow. A nice little present for the police."

Terrel hollers, "That's him!"

Caleb and I walk over to the computer.

I see murder playing out in Terrel's mind, and say, "William Davis. He's been a bailiff for twenty years. There must be a trigger somewhere?"

Kathy begins to look over the file. "It says here that Davis was recently on a three-month leave of absence after the murder of his wife."

Caleb says, "Bingo!"

"Now, we need to let the killer know his identity is breached and set up a meeting. I know I can get the police here by walking down the street, but I think there's someone that would want a chance at redemption. Do you know somebody that can pass Mr. Davis a note without him knowing?"

Caleb and Kathy both say, "Jack Johnston!"

"He can steal your underwear without you knowing it." Caleb laughs.

"Let me guess. Mr. Johnston is on the Homeless Network?"

"Yes," they both answer.

"Then he can slide a note in the killer's pocket without him knowing. It looks like I'm going to the bank again to meet an old friend."


The downtown foot patrol changes shift at six in the morning. I decided to be at the corner of Riverside and Third at seven. It will help me avoid a lot of foot traffic and plenty of time to get off the streets before the rush hour starts.

A cold wind blows off of the Mississippi River and billows around me. I'm standing beside the streetlight, watching the police officer I warned check doors while walking towards me. His eyes finally meet mine. "You know I can arrest you right now. Why didn't you answer our call in the newspaper?"

"I don't read the paper. Before you call for back-up, I wonder if you would like to meet the Vigilante Killer?"


"Maybe I should talk to Captain Adams. Why don't you see if you can get him down here?"


Darkness has enveloped the warehouse except for one emergency light directly above me. Since this is my plan, and I didn't want to put Terrel in any danger, I decided to meet with Mr. Davis myself. I made sure in the letter that, if he didn't show, I'd go straight to the police. "It's exactly eight o'clock. Let's see if Mr. Davis takes the bait."

I hear the sound of the door open slightly then reclose. A tall shadow slowly moves towards me. The figure stops outside the light. All I see are the tips of his polished military boots. "Good evening, Mr. Davis."

"Are you the man who sent me the note?" He finally steps into the light. Mr. Davis is a tall man in a perfectly pressed uniform with a dark overcoat draped over his broad shoulders. His dark hair has streaks of gray around his temples.

"Yes, I sent the note."

"You're a brave man if I am the killer."

"No, I'm not," I open my Bible and continue. "Mr. Davis, I want you to know that you are a loved man. Jesus will forgive you for all the lives you've taken. Ephesians, chapter one, verse seven, says, we have redemption through His blood, for the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace." I close my Bible. "Your sins started with the deaths of those two gang members that robbed and killed your wife. Then it was Prosecuting Attorney, Jimmy Patterson. It wasn't his fault the evidence got thrown out on a technicality. I guess that made the Lab Tech next in line. Then it was time for the Defence Attorney, Doug Richards, to die. That's when I came into the picture."

"How do you come into the picture? I've never seen you before."

"I saw you shoot Doug Richards three times in the spine. He was dead before his head hit the asphalt. My guess is, Judge Roberts is next on your list. That should finish the task you started."

"It's still your word against mine."

"No, I think the gun in your overcoat will give the police all the evidence they need."

"It would, but they will never get it, and you will never tell anyone. I guess I'll have to add another name to my list." Mr. Davis reaches inside his overcoat.

The warehouse lights suddenly penetrate the darkness. The characters in this play dramatically increase. Walking towards Mr. Davis is Judge Roberts behind Captain Adams and three Memphis Policemen. Working the lights is Terrel and Caleb.

Mr. Davis collapses to his knees. Through his tears, he says, "I failed you, Bessie."

I kneel beside him and see his murdered wife's face inside my mind. "No, Mr. Davis. The only person you failed is yourself. I want you to know that God will forgive you for what you've done. Please, remember that."

Mr. Davis looks into my eyes and says, "I will."

Author Notes We need to remember that God will forgive us for our sins.

Many thanks for stopping by to read!
Happy Holidays and God bless.

Chapter 5

By papa55mike

The digital clock on my computer flips over to midnight. It is now December Twenty-Third, or has my grandpa would say, "Christmas Eve, Eve." What a cantankerous old soul he was, but he loved people in a big way. Grandpa never met a stranger. For me, I avoid people like the plague.

The facts Kathy introduced me to the other day were staggering. A hundred people or more are living on the streets in downtown Memphis. I wonder how many are women and children? How do they protect themselves in the cold, snow, and rain? What keeps them from becoming hopeless? No wonder the pain is so extreme in Caleb and Terrel. Both of them feel like failures. I'd call them survivers.

There must be something I can do for these people. Any small step could change their lives. Even if it's just showing them someone cares.

I slide out of my office chair and get on my knees. "Father, Your majesty fills my life. Please show me a way to help these deserving souls. Let me show Your undying love for them in some way. In Jesus' name. Amen."


The coffee pot always starts perking at three-thirty every morning. I'm channel surfing my way to TBN; the nighttime commercials are always entertaining, but I see why they're not on after five o'clock.

I stop at a Food Giant commercial advertising a complete turkey dinner for ten people, and it's under forty dollars. A ham dinner is only thirty dollars. The dinner includes large pans of sweet potato casserole, green beans, dressing, rolls, and two pies for dessert. So, I can feed a hundred people for around four-hundred dollars.

I fall back to my knees. "Thank you, Father. Your guidance is astonishing. In Jesus' name. Amen!"


I pour my third cup of coffee at five-thirty when Kathy comes out of their bedroom. "Do you ever sleep, Lew? I heard you up at midnight."

"Since I received my so-called gift, I don't sleep much. Maybe three hours a night."

"Wow," Kathy sips her freshly poured coffee. "When did you acquire your gift?" She sits down across the table from me.

"I don't remember a specific moment that something happened. One Sunday, I was praying with a man who came to the Altar to receive the Lord, and suddenly I saw he was lying. He did it to get his wife off his back. I prayed with him, though."

"What happened next?"

"Well, I was greeting the congregation after service and began to see what people thought about me. Including my ex-wife, Sandra."

"Was there any good in their thoughts, Lew?"

"A few."

"I see why your gift is such a burden."

"The Lord gave it to me for a reason, Kathy. Maybe it was to save you and Caleb?"

Kathy's eyes begin to tear up. "Well, you certainly did that."

"Let's talk about you for a minute," I drink my last bit of coffee for the day. "Tell me about your felony conviction."

"According to the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, and the Fed's, I hacked the Region's bank computer to steal money. But I didn't. I wanted to check the balances of my friends to find out who I could borrow money from; they said I caused twelve thousand dollars worth damage. I got off with a five-thousand-dollar fine and two-years probation. It could have been much worse."

"We can get that charge reduced. I'll start looking for a way after the first of the year. How long ago was it?"

"Three years ago. We paid every dollar, Lew. Caleb worked, and I was a babysitter at home while pregnant with Amy."

"That was right before you became homeless?"

"Yeah, Caleb lost his job, and the downward spiral started." Kathy has a puzzled look on her face. "Why didn't you remarry, Lew?"

"How could I do that to another woman. The pressure would be enormous. Do you have any secrets hidden from Caleb?"

"A couple," Kathy shakes her head. "I see your point."

"Kathy," I get up and pour me an extra half a cup. "Is what you said about the Homeless Network true? A hundred homeless people live all around downtown?"

"The number 103 sticks in my mind, but I'd have to check my phone."

"Does that include the children?"

"No, I'd add at least thirty children. Why are you asking?"

"Because the Lord has put it on my heart to help them in some way. I was thinking about having a Christmas dinner for all of them here. We have plenty of room."

"You're going to cook that much food?"

"No," I chuckle. "Food Giant has a great deal on a meal that serves ten people. I was planning on ordering twelve of those meals if you, Caleb, and Terrel will help me. I'm so glad Terrel and Earl stayed with us."

"Me, too," Kathy wipes her eyes again. "You have the biggest heart, Lew. Of course, we'll help you."

"Great, let's talk about it when everybody gets up."


It's becoming a familiar scene at the kitchen table with all of us gathered around. Caleb, Kathy, Terrel and I are drinking coffee or water discussing the day's events, or sharing the dreams we all have. It's the closest I've been to a family in many years. The only difference is, they're at one end of the table, I'm at the other.

Terrel scoots his chair a little closer. "I can't believe you want to feed all of those people, Lew."

"Let me ask you a question, Terrel. If somebody would have done this for you and Earl last Christmas, would it have given you hope for the coming year?"

"Yes," Terrel wipes his face with his hands. "I remember last Christmas, so well. Earl and I were wandering the streets. I knew we would have to struggle to find a meal, and there was no present from Santa for Earl. You're right, Lew, I was utterly hopeless."

"That's why I want to do this, Terrel. If this meal gives a few people the hope to continue their struggle, then it's worth doing."

"Well," Kathy sets her bottled water down. "We're going to need more than just the food. There's plates, spoons, forks, glasses, and drinks to buy. What about tables and chairs?"

"I'm going to Tony's tomorrow morning, and I'll pick up all of that there. Besides, I think Tony will want to donate something. I think there are enough tables to serve everybody, but we'll have to sit on the floor to eat. A Christmas picnic."

"Believe me," Caleb nods. "That won't bother anybody."

"Great. So, Caleb and Terrel will pick up the food at noon, Christmas Eve. Kathy and I will set up the tables outside the office. The dinner will be at five. To avoid the majority of people, I'll work the kitchen warming the food up, and you guys will get to serve everybody. I want to pray with all of them before we start."

"You better!" Kathy laughs.

"I have a surprise for the kids. Caleb, in the back of that closet in your bedroom, is a long box with a big tote beside it. Can you bring them here?"

"Sure." Caleb sets off on his journey.

Kathy leans over to me. "What are you up to, Lew?"

"You'll see."

Caleb walks out with a face full of joy. "It's a Christmas tree!"

Earl jumps up from the television. "Did you say we have a Christmas tree?"

"Yes, Earl. I think we have two deserving families yearning to decorate this forgotten tree. I'll boil some water for hot chocolate."

The spirit of Christmas begins to fill the room.


The walk to Tony's is a little brisk this Christmas Eve morning. The wind is channeling down the streets. I have my overcoat pulled close, and there's nobody out at six o'clock. The cold wind follows me in the front door and blows newspapers around. "Merry Christmas, Tony."

"Well, Merry Christmas, Lew. Somebody is full of the spirit this morning."

"For some unknown reason, I bought Christmas presents for a few people. One of them happens to be yours. I didn't wrap it because I don't know-how." I give Tony a watch box. "I heard you say you broke your watch."

Tony slides off the top of the box. "What a beautiful pocket watch. Thank you, Lew. I didn't get you a thing, and feel ashamed."

"Well, I can use your help. I have a few people coming for Christmas dinner this evening. I need plates, forks, spoons, cups, and drinks for a hundred and forty people."

"A hundred and forty people! Boy, have you changed, Lew. What brought this on?"

"Christmas, I guess."

"Let me guess; you're doing this for the homeless?"

"How did you know, Tony?"

"I read your mind. You have already taken in two families from off the street. How are they doing?"

"Well, Caleb has been working for a week. Terrel starts on his crew the day after Christmas. What a blessing that is!"

"How do you plan to carry all of this home? I'm thinking fifteen two liters, five gallons of tea, and a couple of gallons of milk."

"I have a hundred bill for it all if it can be delivered. I'll carry all of the utensils and cups. You better add some napkins. I hope you have some coffee and breakfast ready. I'm hungry!"

"I always close at noon on Christmas Eve, and it will be a pleasure to deliver the stuff. Let me make you a biscuit, and I'll start gathering all of this up."

"Why, thank you, Tony. I'll pour us both some coffee."


Quietly, I close the door to the old shoe factory, then try to imagine this massive room full of needy souls in fellowship. Let's take this evening to build a heavenly hope in each person. Maybe I see too much in this, but I serve a powerful God. I hope we sing some Christmas Carols.

I stop at the office door to enjoy the tree everybody decorated yesterday. The silver and blue glass spheres glisten in the flashing lights. Kathy mentioned that Amy has never smiled that much. She cherished every ornament put on the tree.

"I hope Amy's joy spreads to all of us."

Slowly, I make my way through the office door with all of the packages from Tony's. Sitting all of the bags on the table, I begin to feel the warmth of family in this room. I don't remember feeling this happiness in my life.


It's two o'clock in the afternoon. Caleb and Terrel left at eleven-thirty to pick up the food. "I wonder what's taking so long, Kathy?"

"Caleb texted me; they just left. It took them forever to load it all up!"

Ten minutes later, we hear the overhead door open, and Caleb pulls next to the office and gets out. "Lew, do you realize how much food you bought. They rolled all of it out on big moving dollies. I have a trunk full of turkeys and hams. In the back are thirty-six oven pans full of dressing, sweet potatoes, and green beans. That doesn't count the twenty-four pies and twelve boxes of rolls. I hope everybody shows up, or we'll be eating Christmas dinner for a month."

Kathy laughs. "We're talking free food. They'll be here."

"How many have you heard from?" Terrel asks.

"Eighty-five, so far."

"Well," I pick up two pans marked sweet potatoes. "Let's get it all in the kitchen."

Both families pitch in. Earl and Amy, start carrying the rolls and pies.


The first of our guests for the evening begin to arrive at four o'clock. They're thankful to be out of the cold rain that started to fall. It's incredible how many of them Caleb and Kathy know personally. There's not one person that hasn't hugged them both.

It's been a steady stream of people through the door. Families have spread blankets out everywhere. It reminds me of a concert in the park.

Caleb has everyone singing Jingle Bells in four-part harmony. What a beautiful voice he has.

Kathy and I begin to bring out the first hams and turkeys to thunderous applause. Kathy puts her hand to her ear while begging for more praise. We continue to fill the tables with food.

We're finally ready to start. Kathy holds up her hand; it becomes instantly quiet. I see the leader insider of her. "Our friend, Lew, wants to lead us in grace."

All eyes turn to me. I've never seen a room full of joy like this before. There's a beautiful smile on every face. "Let us all pray. Father in heaven, thank you for Your Son, who was born on this night. He came into this world to love us back to redemption and bring us all into a joyous, overflowing life in His grace. May we all have homes next Christmas. In Jesus' name. Amen."

Caleb holds up his hand this time. "We want the kids first, then the wives. All of the men will have to wait, including me."

The children quickly line up at the tables.

We're on the last of the turkeys and ham, but there's still plenty of vegetables. I start bringing out the pies already sliced. The first in line for pie is a young pregnant woman who might be eighteen. She looks ready to deliver at any moment. When she passes me, I see inside her mind. Her water broke this morning, and the contractions are increasing. Eight minutes apart and growing closer. Now, I see her squatting beside a dumpster with her boyfriend delivering a stillborn child. The young woman wraps the child in her sweater and places the baby in the trash. I drop the pan I'm holding with the link breaks.

Kathy runs over to me. "Are you all right, Lew?"

"Yeah, I need to talk to you in the kitchen." She follows me. "The pregnant girl that walked by me. Do you know her?"

"Yeah, her name is Cindy."

"Well, she's in labor right now. Cindy will deliver her baby on the street tonight, but it won't survive unless we get her to a hospital."

"What do you want me to do?"

"Go talk to her, and I'll call an ambulance."

It took ten minutes to talk Cindy and Jimmy into going to the hospital. Kathy had to tell them what I saw before they decided to go. All of this worry about the hospital bill could have killed their baby.


The rain stops before the guests start to leave. I'm standing in the door of the office watching Caleb, Kathy, and Terrel hug our last guests before they headed to where they were staying. I wish we could do more. They deserve it.

Kathy walks up to me, grabs my hands, and smiles.

I see the love inside of her, thanking me for the joy we shared tonight.

"You're welcome, sweetie."

Caleb, Terrel, and Kathy wrap their arms around me.


My digital clock on my computer flips to midnight again. It's Christmas Day. I take the two presents I've kept hidden and slowly put them under the tree. It's not much - a doll for Amy and a truck for Earl.

"Santa didn't forget you this Christmas."

Author Notes I don't know why I have a Christmas story in most of my books? But I do.

Many thanks for stopping by to read!
Have a great day, and God bless.

Chapter 6
Warren Sledge

By papa55mike

Today is not the typical weather for January. It's sunny and warm instead of cloudy and cold. A beautiful blessing, but I feel something is about to change, just like the Tennessee weather.

I'm a block away from Tony's when I see two Memphis Police cruisers parked across the street.

"I see it now. I hope Tony is all right."

Before I push open the door, I stop to prepare for the worst.

A thought comes into my mind. "This isn't about Tony. They want me."

I push open the door, and in my usual tone, "Good morning, Tony."

"Good morning, Lew. We have a couple of guests this morning."

"I see that. How are you, Captain Adams?"

"Just fine, Mr. Bradley. I'd like you to meet Detective Holloway." He starts to walk towards me.

"Captain, unless you're here to arrest me, please stay there."

He stops. "We're not here to arrest you, Mr. Bradley. We desperately need your help."

"With what?"

"Have you heard of Warren Sledge?"

"No, sir. I haven't."

Tony speaks up. "I have, that's one evil man. It's been all over the news."

"He's right, Mr. Bradley." Captain Adams wipes his brow. "Two days ago, we captured him on video kidnapping a young girl. Yesterday, he made a mistake and came out in the open. Detective Holloway arrested him, but no sign of the girl. He told us that he buried her in a grave alive, and she only has forty-eight hours of air. If he's right, we only have ten hours left to find her."

"What can I do, Captain?"

"We need you to read his mind and find out where he buried her. I know that's asking a lot, Mr. Bradley, but you're our last hope. The clock is ticking away on her life."

I start walking to the back of the store, wiping my face. "I've seen so much evil recently, Captain Adams. It rips at my soul. You don't know what a burden it is to carry. But God will give me the strength to continue. I'll do it on three conditions."

"Anything you want, Mr. Bradley."

"First, I want to ride alone in the backseat with you driving. Second, I want the halls of the station clear on the way to meet him. Third, only you and I will talk to him."

"Mr. Sledge's lawyer will have a fit about the last one, but we'll work it out."

"Can I get some breakfast before we go?"

"Yes, sir. My treat."

"Tony, I think a tenderloin and biscuit and a large cup of coffee will do fine."

Tony looks me in the eye, and with a quiver in his voice, he answers, "Anything for you, Lew."


I've always wondered why they put the Greyhound Bus Station right next to the Memphis City Jail and Police Department. If you timed it right, it would make for a quick escape.  

Captain Adams slowly pulls into the parking lot.

I guess I'm trying to avoid the situation at hand. My fear is beginning to swallow me, but I refuse to be afraid - if God can save her life, who am I to say no.  

He pulls into his parking spot. Captain Adams radios ahead that we have arrived. The halls are clearing while we exit the car. "Mr. Bradley, you can wait in my office while we arrange things."

"Thank you, sir."

Captain Adams leads me into the building. While following just behind him, I feel the desperation inside of his mind. He's searching for where they went wrong in the investigation. The problem is, they didn't allow for the evil in Sledge's mind. "Right in here, Mr. Bradley. I'll see that you're not disturbed."

"Come get me when you're ready."

He slowly closes the door.

I could spend the next few minutes going over the awards that fill the walls of the office, but I need to strengthen myself for the battle ahead. I sit down in a leather chair, then bow my head in silent prayer, gathering power from the Holy Spirit. "This may be the greatest battle I've faced."

Fifteen minutes later, Captain Adams sticks his head in the door. "We're ready, Mr. Bradley."

I take in a deep breath, then exhale. "Let's get this thing over."

Walking down the hall, I feel the eyes of many upon me behind closed doors and drawn curtains. They're curious to see the man, and if it works.

Captain Adams stops at the door and turns to me. "I want you to know; there is no way he can hurt you."

"I understand."

He opens the door and walks in.

Warren Sledge is not who I thought he would be; I expected a lecherous older man with drool rolling from his chin. No, he's a handsome man who looks like he could teach Middle School. His brown hair is perfectly trimmed and he has a slight five o'clock shadow. Dark brown eyes peer through expensive glasses. They have him chained to the floor and the table.

He smiles when I walk into the room. "Who is this, Ben? Somebody who will get me to talk?"

"No, Mr. Sledge. I'm a Pastor sent here to save your soul."

"Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha!" His laughter is evil and sarcastic. "You're wasting your time, Preacher. I have no soul!"

Slowly, I sit down across from him. My body shudders when his depraved mind invades me. "I agree with you, Mr. Sledge. You have no soul." He's always thinking about every detail of the rape of this child. "She's alive, but not buried. He raped her many times then left her crying on the bedroom floor."

After a moment of silence, Mr. Sledge begins to holler, "Nooo...Get him out of my mind!" He begins to jerk and pull at his chains. Blood begins to seep from his wrists.

"I see where she's at now. There's an old trailer in the thick woods half a mile behind his house. The trail starts in the right corner of the fence. It leads you to a pond then curves to the left." The pain worsens in my mind. "She's not the only visitor to that place. Graves surround that trailer." I quickly get up to break the link and lean against the wall, gasping for breath.

Mr. Sledge screams, "Get that man away from me!" His wrists continue to bleed while he rips at his chains then screams like a deranged mad man. "Aaaaaargh!"

Captain Adams opens the door. "This way, Mr. Bradley. Do you remember the way to my office?"

"Yes, sir."

"I'll join you in a minute." He turns, then hollers, "Sergeant!"

A man pops out of the room beside ours. "Yes, Captain."

"Get that putrid piece of flesh back to its cell. I need all Forensic Teams, the Swat Team, and an ambulance. Round them up. We roll in five minutes!"

The excited man answers, "Yes, Captain!"

"I'd like to go with you, Ben. I know the way, and it will save a lot of time."

"Thank you, Lew."


I've never ridden in a Police caravan before; it's quite an experience. With sirens blaring, we careen around the corner then straight into Sledge's driveway. Cruisers pull in around us then block the street at both ends. The Swat Van pulls beside the house. Police officers in black uniforms pour out. Each is carrying an AR-15 and clearing the way.

I point to the fence. "The path is on the other side of the fence."

Ben screams out an order. "Swat, clear that fence away."

Three officers spring into action, cutting the fence and peeling the wire back.

Once it's cleared, I take off trotting down the path. "This way!"

We quickly find the pond then turn to the left. The trees thicken along the path; an eerie silence fills the air. A rectangular shape begins to appear in front of us. The trailer looks rusted and dilapidated with leafless saplings lining the trail to the door. The peeling tan paint and blackened windows create a sinister look.

I look at Captain Adams, "It might be booby-trapped, Ben."

He barks out another order. "Swat, clear that door."

Two officers place a small explosive by the doorknob. With a nod, they blow the door open. The entire team flows into the trailer. There's another boom inside the mobile home, then we hear. "All clear. She's alive!"

A collective sigh fills the air.

Ben drops his head and wipes the stress from his face. "Paramedics, let's move!"

I drop to my knees and pray. "Thank you, Lord, for her life."

A few minutes later, they exit with the girl on a stretcher. What a beautiful young woman with long blonde hair, how he defiled this innocent child - pure evil still exists.

My head begins to spin when I stand, and I grab a tree to steady myself.

"Are you okay, Lew?"

"Yeah, I guess I've had enough. Can I go home?"

"Yes," He turns to a young officer. "Johnson, escort Mr. Bradley home."

"Yes, Captain!"

Ben turns back to me. "I can't thank you enough, Lew."

"No need to, Ben. She's alive! That's all that matters."


Officer Johnson drops me at the front door and waves. Walking in, I feel the evil presence slipping away. My body feels completely drained, and my head is throbbing.

Both families greet me when I walk into the kitchen.

"Where have you been, Lew?" Caleb asks.

Before I can answer, the world fades to black, and the cold floor greets me.

Author Notes This story is another reason I wrote the book. To step inside an evil mind. What are the consequences of that act? We'll see.

Many thanks for stopping by to read!
Have a great day and God bless.

Chapter 7
God Moves In A Powerful Way

By papa55mike

Officer Johnson drops me at the front door and waves. Walking in, I feel the evil presence slipping away. My body feels completely drained, and my head is throbbing.

Both families greet me when I walk into the kitchen.

"Where have you been, Lew?" Caleb asks.

Before I can answer, the world fades to black, and the cold floor greets me.

Chapter 7

My eyes flutter open, and I'm on the long leather couch in the living room. A pillow caresses my head, and I'm covered with a blanket. The last thing I remember is walking in the door then blacking out. Slowly, I start to sit up. My head still pounds a little.

Amy and Earl are watching Nick Jr. when Amy hollers, "Mom, Uncle Lew woke up."

Amy crawls into my lap and lays her head on my shoulder. Her simple thoughts leap into my mind. What a blessing, no evil desires. "Were you worried about me, Amy?"

"Oh, yes. Mommy and daddy, too."

"I'm better now you're with me."

She raises her tiny face and kisses me on the cheek. "A kiss fixes a booboo."

"It certainly does. Thank you, Amy."

Kathy walks in, then sits down on the end of the couch. "Are you loving on Uncle Lew, Amy?"

"I kiss him, booboo." Amy slides out of my lap then back to Nick Jr.

"I called Tony. He told us the police were waiting for you this morning. It's been all over the news about how they suddenly found that missing girl. No mention of you, though."

"That's a good thing."

"What did you see, Lew?"

"Every evil thing he did to that girl is now etched in my mind. It will take a long time to heal from this battle."

"Did you say, battle?"

"Yes, the battle between good and evil. Satan versus us."

"Don't you mean Satan versus God?"

"No. Satan is nothing but a whiny voice to God. That's why he attacks and condemns us continually. It's all he can do. He knows he's a defeated foe and wants to take as many with him as he can." My stomach growls. "I guess I'm hungry. Where's Caleb and Terrel?"

"They had to be at work by four. Supper is almost ready." She gets up then heads back to the kitchen.

"Thank you for all you do here, Kathy."

"No," she turns and smiles. "We owe you more than we can ever repay, Lew."

"Do me a favor. Don't try."


I wipe my face while sitting down at my computer. It's almost midnight and time for my silent journey through the night. The joy of two families sharing my home is a true blessing from God. I see the love shared between the parents and the children. A Godly love that helps me battle the evil inside my mind. 

I never told anybody about the incidents that changed Sledge's life. He was beaten and sexually abused by his uncle for many years, the same things he did to that young woman. Those events warped his mind into the evil sadistic man he became. It's how that curse spreads throughout time. I hope it stops here.

A weather alert appears on my screen, and I click on it. Severe cold temperatures are hitting the midsouth starting tomorrow night. The thought of Jimmy and Cindy with their tiny newborn baby fills my mind. What will they do when the temps drop to zero? How will my homeless friends find shelter from the bitter cold?

Deep in thought, I slide out of my chair, grab a bottle of water then start a journey around this massive building. Quietly, I close the door behind me.

I hear the wind begin to pick up from the south ushering in the storms that will bring those frigid temps behind them. "Show me what to do, Lord."

They built this factory in the 40s in an L-shape. The material would come into the warehouse on one end, shoes out the other end. I love walking the building at night to quiet my mind and hopefully hear a word from God. 

The vastness of this factory makes me feel small in comparison. I think about the time the workers spent here making a living for their families. What happened to them when the factory closed? Hard times, I would imagine.

A whisper from the warehouse. "Shh, a man is coming."

I walk into the warehouse and see movement in a dark corner. "Whoever you are, it's okay. If I can help in any way, please ask."

Three figures stand in the darkness. A female voice says, "I'm sorry to trespass, mister. We were looking for a place to get out of the cold. We'll leave the same way we came in."

The Lord's voice explodes in my mind. "Here's your answer."

"Please don't." I smile at them. "It's warmer this way. Follow me."

At first, they don't move, and then I hear the woman catch a sob. They slowly walk into the light. An older woman leads two young women towards me. "We heard about you, mister. Everyone says you're the kindest man they ever met. I believe them." 

"Ma'am, what I'm doing is sharing God's love for you. He longs for you to be happy and whole."

The lady looks to be in her sixties with dark brown hair and big brown eyes that have seen many hard years in her life. The young women seem to be in their teens. Their tattered clothes and thin jackets would make them victims of the frigid weather ahead. "This way, my friends."

We slowly make our way towards the office with me staying several feet ahead of them. I don't have to see inside their minds to find their pain. "What's your name, sweetie?"

"My name is Delores Compton. These are my granddaughters, Katlyn and Kayla."

After a few minutes of silence, we make it to the office. "Would you guys like to come in?"

"No, sir. We'll be fine, right here." They begin to settle in next to the office.

"Okay, I'll bring you some pillows and blankets." I've learned in helping people to let them take it in as they need it.

I come back with three blankets and pillows then begin to pass them out, keeping my distance. The girls are stunned when I hand them a blanket and pillow. I can tell they aren't used to kindness in their lives. "Be sure to stay for breakfast in the morning. Sleep well, my friends."

I close the door then pray. "Thank you, Lord. For my answer."


It's seven-thirty when Kathy and Amy come strolling out of the President's office. Amy runs towards me, climbs in my lap, and nestles her head against my chest. "Good morning, sweetie."

"Amy loves you, Lew. That doesn't happen very often. She guards her heart."

"The feeling is very mutual." I kiss Amy on the forehead. 

"Will you watch Rainbow Warriors with me, Uncle Lew?"

"I will in a minute, but first, I need to talk to mommy."

"Okay." Amy crawls out of my lap and picks up the remote.

"What's up, Lew?"

"I got a weather alert last night. We have a brutal cold front heading this way. They're talking about temps near zero."

"Oh, my goodness!"

"I want to offer the Homeless Network a place to keep warm. We have plenty of room. All we have to do is turn on some heaters. That 140 people will fit in here again. Have you heard from Jimmy and Cindy?"

"Yes, the hospital got them into a shelter."

"That's great news! Praise, God. What organization feeds everybody, Kathy?"

"Most of us went to First Baptist Church, downtown. They have free breakfast and supper at their soup kitchen."

"I wonder if they will help us feed them for a day or two?"

"I think they will. I know Miss Sonia well. I went to college with her. You have that look in your eye, Lew."

"I think it's incredible how the Lord brings everything together. By the way, we have three guests outside the door."


"Delores and her two granddaughters. I can't remember her last name. I found them in the warehouse last night."

"Do you mean Delores Compton?"

"Yeah, that's them."

"Caleb and I haven't seen them for several months."

"I told them we would feed them breakfast."

"Of course. Let me see if they're awake." Kathy peeps out the door. "No, still sleeping, but it's great to see them."

"Old friends, Kathy?"

"Sort of, we liked to watch out for everybody on the streets. It's good to know they're okay."

"You're starting to sound like me."

"I guess you rub off on people, Lew." Kathy heads for the kitchen.


Kathy put out the text to the Homeless Network at noon. We had guests arriving before one o'clock. I went through this section of the factory, turning on heaters and checking windows. We need to make sure no wind gets in with the wind chills below zero tonight. 

We then put out an urgent text for anybody having extra blankets to please bring them to us. I sent Caleb and Terrel to Wal-Mart to buy as many of those two-dollar fleece blankets as a hundred dollars could buy. I thought the kids could cover up with them. 

Kathy walks out of the office, saying, "I can't thank you enough, Sonia. Yes, he is one of a kind. It will be good to see you. Bye." She turns to me. "Sonia is bringing the church's food truck here for supper. They're also bringing a bunch of blankets. You're something else, Lew."

"It's not me, Kathy. The Lord is bringing everything together. It starts with one person caring and trusting God."

Caleb and Terrel come walking in with huge smiles and several large Wal-Mart sacks. Caleb says, "You're not going to believe what happened."

Kathy asks, "What?"

Terrel speaks up. "We were loading a cart with the fleeces when the manager walks up and asks what we're doing. Caleb told him we were getting these blankets for the homeless. He pulls a twenty out of his pocket and gives it to us."

Caleb takes over the story. "By the time we loaded the cart, six more workers came by and donated what they had. We ended up enough money to buy seventy-five blankets!"

Kathy catches a sob then looks at me. 

I just smile. "Well, we already have some guests. Let's start passing these out to the children."


It's four o'clock, and most of the guests have arrived. The thunderstorms roared through about an hour ago, and now the frigid north wind is starting to blow. 

Caleb, Kathy, Terrel, and I are sitting around the kitchen table when I ask, "What's the story about Delores and her granddaughters?"

"Well," Caleb slowly answers. "Her daughter brought them over to spend the weekend so she could go party with her boyfriend. Delores hasn't seen her daughter since. That was six years ago, wasn't it, Kathy?"

"Yeah, the state wouldn't let her adopt them without the parent's consent. They couldn't live on just her check and lost their house a couple of years ago."

"I guess everyone living on the streets has a story like that."

Terrel smiles. "Yes, we all do."

Kathy gets up. "I'm going to check on the kids."

"How is work going, guys?" I ask Terrel and Caleb.

"Great," Terrel answers. "The boss came by last night and told both of us he wants to make us full-time. Mr. Travers loves the way we work."

Kathy hollers in the door. "Hey, Lew. You need to come here."

We all get up from the table and walk out the door. Standing by the outside door are three gang members from down the street. I've seen them a couple of times.

"I'll handle this. You two keep everybody back."

Slowly, I walk to the door. Big hoodies cover their faces. I stop in front of them. "Have you guys come by to get warm?"

The leader pulls out his gun and puts it in the center of my forehead. 

Gasps fill the air.

"No, cracker! We're here to run you out of town. We own this street; you're on our turf."

His thoughts invade my mind. "I see nothing but fear in you. You live by it. You're actually afraid to pull that trigger."

"I'll blow your head off, old man!" He screams at me. His spittle splashes my face.

"I know a man that can help you with that fear." I smile at him. "His name is Jesus Christ."

"What does your God have to do with this?"

"Everything! He brought you here to save your soul."

"My soul ain't worth saving!"

"It was before your father killed your mother. You were looking out the window when he shot her three times in the chest. She died in your arms. You still remember her blood all over your hands like it was yesterday. I want you to know, Kebon, that your life is worth saving. You don't have to live in fear anymore."

Kebon's lower lip begins to quiver while he lowers the gun to his side. "Let's get out of here." The three of them turn to leave.

"When you're ready, Kebon, I'll be here for you."

Kebon turns to me before leaving. His eyes connect with mine. It's not fear I see, but extreme grief. When I turn around, wonder fills every face.


It's after one in the morning. I'm sitting outside the office with my Bible in my lap, thinking about the love God showed out here today. All of these people would be freezing outside if it wasn't for the Lord, prompting me to action. Once we took that first step, He moved in a powerful way.

"Thank you, Father."

Author Notes I can't imagine the pain and suffering the homeless endure on frigid nights. Let us pray for them to find peace and a home.

Many thanks for stopping by to read!
Have a great day, and God bless.

Chapter 8
Ronald and Julio

By papa55mike

We've had typical Tennessee weather this past week. It started Sunday and Monday with temperatures near zero, and today, we might reach into the sixties. 

It was a spiritual experience having all of my homeless friends in for a visit during the brutal cold. I've heard so many stories that would break any heart, but what I admired was the perseverance of each one. Despite everything against them, all of them are determined to rebuild their lives.

How can you not love that?

Since Caleb and Terrel worked late last night, and don't have to work until Sunday night. I decided to get breakfast at Tony's. It will be quiet in the office this Friday morning. 

Pushing open the door, Tony turns and greets me. "Well, good morning, Lew."

"Hi, Tony. It's been a while."

"Yeah, I'm going to sue Kathy for being such a good cook. She's killing my profit."

"My goodness," I start to laugh. "Maybe you need to hire Kathy to cook?"

"That's an idea."

"No, I like your biscuits better. Speaking of which, I'd like a tenderloin biscuit. I can get my coffee." I step behind the counter and pour a large cup.

Tony starts to make my biscuit. "I know one thing, Lew. For someone who wanted to hide from humanity, you sure have become popular. The whole neighborhood is talking about what you did Sunday and Monday. How many people was it?"

"Just a few friends. It was only 143, counting the kids."

'Yeah! You're hiding from humanity," we both laugh.

Tony hands me the biscuit. "Thank you. It looks delicious."

"By the way, Lew, you got a letter yesterday."

"Someone sent me a letter here?"

"Yeah, I almost threw it away. It doesn't have a return address, but it looks handwritten." Tony digs around the cash register. "Here it is."

I sit my coffee and biscuit down and examine it like it's going to blow up. "There's only one way to find out what's inside." I slide my finger inside the envelope and tear open the top. The letter reads:

"Dear sir,"

I am begging for your help. My son, Ronald Hernandez, has been convicted of murdering a man. I know in my heart that he is innocent. I feel an injustice has fallen upon him. He is not the killer but refuses to speak up for himself. 

I know you have recently worked with the police helping them to solve certain cases. I cannot tell you where I heard this. Please, will you see my son and talk to him. Maybe he will listen to you. If not, he will spend the rest of his life in prison for something he didn't do.

Sincerely, Maria Hernandez

"Tony, have you heard of Ronald Hernandez?"

"Yeah, he's a young man who was convicted of murder last week. I think his sentencing hearing is next week."

"Well, this letter is from his mother. She swears he's innocent."

"Don't all mothers?"

"Yeah, I guess so, Tony."

"Something tells me you want to find out, Lew?"

"God sure is leading me that way. If I can work out the logistics."

"Be careful, Lew. Remember what happened last time."

"Thank you for caring, Tony. I will. Now let me finish that biscuit. Can I get some more coffee?"

Tony laughs, "Sure, Lew."


Back at home, I pick up the phone. "Good morning, Memphis Police central office."

"I'd like to talk to Captain Adams. My name is Lewis Bradley."

"One moment, please."

After a few clicks on the line. "Good morning, Lew. How are you?"

"I'm doing fine, Ben. I need a favor, my friend."

"Of course."

"What can you tell me about Ronald Hernandez?"

"Well, it was an open and shut case. The officer found him with the body. The gun was lying beside the victim."

"Was it a robbery?"

"That's what the prosecuting attorney said, even though we never found the money. I brought that up to the defense, but he never used it."

"Has Ronald Hernandez said anything about this?"

"Not a thing, Lew. He wouldn't make a statement, declined to speak at the trial. He convicted himself by his silence. The only people he has spoken to are his mother, brother, and sister-in-law when they visit him."

"Boy, none of this adds up."

"I know, Lew, but we did our jobs then handed the case over to the Prosecuting Attorney - even though there were still three questions in my mind that never got answered. What happened to the money? Who wiped the fingerprints off the gun? Why has he kept silent?"

"You always do everything you can, Ben. Can I talk to him?"

"Absolutely! I'd love to know the truth. It will be this afternoon before I can arrange it. Do you need me to send a car?"

"No, I think I've got a ride. Thank you, Ben."

"Not a problem. I'll call you later."


It's early afternoon, and I guess I'm a victim of old age. Caleb, Kathy, Terrel, and I are laughing at Amy doing some kind of dance to an annoying song called Baby Shark. Amy dances to it with perfection, matching every move in the video. It reminds me of something from the early 1990s called the Macarena. I didn't get it then, and I don't get it now. But laughter fills the room.

I hear the phone ringing and pick up the cordless receiver. "Hello."

Captain Adams answers, "We should be ready in about thirty minutes."

"Thank you, Ben. Let me confirm my ride." I place the phone against my chest. "Hey, Caleb, will you do me a favor? I need a ride to the Police Headquarters."

The happy mood falls through the floor, and concern fills every face!

"Sure, Lew. But what's this all about?"

"Don't be alarmed, my friends," I smile. "I'm going to talk to Ronald Hernandez. If he will talk to me."

Kathy steps forward. "Are you sure, Lew? Do you remember the last time?"

"It's not like that this time. Warren Sledge is evil incarnate. Ronald is a lost kid who I think is innocent, and so do a few other people. We want to know the truth."

Terrel walks over to me and puts his hand on my shoulder. "We want you to know, Lew, that everyone in this room loves you. We're worried about you."

"Thank you, Terrel. It means a lot to me." I reach out and hug him.

Caleb hugs and kisses Kathy and Amy. "Let me get my keys and jacket."

"I'll be there shortly, Ben." I turn to my friends. "Thank you, all of you."

We start towards the door when Kathy says, "Caleb, don't leave him."

"I won't, sweetie. See you in a bit."

I seem to be lost in thought until we pull into the parking lot. Caleb and I didn't speak a word until we get out of the car. He looks me in the eye and asks, "Are you sure you want to do this, Lew?"

"Our Lord is a God of Justice. If I can help in any way, then I need to."

"I understand."

I press the buzzer, and the voice asks, "Can I help you?"

"My name is Lewis Bradley. I'm here to see Captain Adams."

"Yes, sir," the door buzzes. "Come on in."

"After you, Caleb." I feel the worry in his mind. 

Ben's office is close to the entry, and he steps out when we turn the corner. "Hi, Lew. It's good to see you."

"Same here, Ben." I stop a short distance away. "I want you to meet Caleb Bell, a dear friend."

"A pleasure to meet you," Caleb reaches for and shakes his hand.

"Same here. Ronald is just down the hall, Lew."

"Caleb, you can wait in Ben's office. We'll only be a few minutes."

"You know I can't, Lew. I promised Kathy not to leave you."

"Is it okay, Ben?"

"Sure, but sometimes it isn't pretty. I warned you."

"I understand, sir," Caleb smiles.

We walk down the hall to the room where I met Warren Sledge. Vivid memories fill my mind, but I quickly cast them down.

Sitting there at the table is a small, broken young man. His body looks like it's carrying the weight of the universe. His black hair is disheveled, and his eyes peer at the floor. 

I walk over to the table, and he doesn't notice I'm in the room. Caleb and Ben lean against the wall. Another officer is sitting behind Ronald.

"Your mother is worried about you, Ronald." I pull out the chair and sit down. "She sent me a letter, begging me to talk to you." His thoughts begin to fill my mind.

Ronald raises his head. "It doesn't matter what she said in that letter. My life is over."

"I know you didn't kill that man, but you know who did. I see it in your mind. It's a record that plays continually. You walked up right after it happened then argued with the killer while blood pooled around the victim's head. He snatched the money then ran, but not you. It was you who wiped the fingerprints off the gun when you heard the sirens in the distance. Who are you protecting?"

"You know everything, tell me."

"I can't. You've blocked the killer's face out of your mind. All I see is a shadow running away."

"I'm done talking to you."

"You don't have to tell me, Ronald. Let me see his face in your mind."

Ronald hollers, "You don't hear very well!" He stands then kicks the chair out from under him, breaking the link. "Let me out of here."

I nod to Ben, and the officer takes Ronald from the room. Glancing over at Caleb, I see the shocked look on his face.

"Well, I got two of your answers, Ben."

"No, you got three answers. We know Ronald didn't kill that man. Did you see anything?"

"Only a pair of black Chuck Taylor's and ragged bluejeans."

"Every teenager in Memphis has those."

"Ronald knows him, Ben. He's close to him. Do you have the address for Maria Hernandez?"

"Yeah, but it's in a bad part of town."

"It can't be much worse than where we live, can it Caleb?"

"Probably not."

"All right. I'll alert the patrol car that you're coming so they can keep an eye on you."

"I appreciate that."

The drive over to Maria's house takes us out onto Highway 51, which leads to the casinos along the strip in Tunica, Mississippi. The only businesses out here are pawn shops, bail bondsmen, and liquor stores. We turn down Cantrell Street, and the houses look like they're held together with baling wire, and old cars sit on cinder blocks. Prosperity avoided this neighborhood like it had the plague.

"You sure haven't said much since we left the police station, Caleb."

"Let's say; I have a new appreciation for your gift. I've never seen anything like it."

"Yeah, that's why Ben warned you." 

Caleb pulls up to a small house. "I think this is it."

We both get out and walk up to the house. Daffodils are blooming along the porch. I reach up and knock on the door. A young woman with a baby in her arms answers, "Can I help you?"

"Yes, my name is Lewis Bradley. I'm here to see Maria Hernandez."

She turns and says, "Mama, there's somebody is here to see you."

Maria comes to the door. She's a short, stout looking woman with dark brown eyes that have seen too much pain. "Can I help you?"

"Yes, ma'am. Did you send me this letter?" I pull it out to show it to her.

"Oh, yes! You are the man who helps the police. Did you talk to Ronald?" She steps out on the porch.

"I tried to, ma'am. He didn't say much, but I think as you do, he didn't do it."

"What can we do now, Mr. Bradley?"

"We can find the killer. Can I meet your family, Mrs. Hernandez?"

"Yes, Rosie and Julio, come out here." Rosie steps out on the porch. Rosie is a tall woman with blonde hair and must be the sister in law. "This is Rosie and my grandson Jayden."

I reach out to shake her hand. "It's a pleasure to meet you." Her thoughts fill my mind. It's not her.

Maria hollers, "Julio, come out here!"

He slowly walks out on the porch. He seems disoriented, and his eyes don't look right - the pupils are tiny. Julio keeps his long sleeves pulled down, and he's wearing black Chuck Taylor's. I hear Caleb gasp.

I reach to shake his hand. "It's nice to meet you."

He barely smiles and shakes my hand. Julio's thoughts fill my mind. I see the argument he had with Ronald, then he snatches the money and runs down the street. 

"Mrs. Hernandez, I want you to know that we are close to catching the real killer." I look Julio in the eye. "It's someone who Ronald knows well." I won't take my eyes from Julio's. "We're hoping for the killer to come forward to save his bro..."

Maria speaks up. "Mister, I can't thank you enough for all you have done."

"It's my pleasure, ma'am. Can you walk to the car with me, Julio?"

He hesitates. Maria says, "Go with him. He's trying to save your brother."

We slowly walk to the car. Caleb, Julio, and I lean against the vehicle. 

"Can I see your arms, Julio?"

He quickly shoves his hands in the pockets of his jeans.

"That's why you killed that man. To get the money for a fix." Julio's bottom lip begins to quiver. "Now, you're committing a second murder by letting Ronald take the blame." 

Julio's tears begin to flow down his face and drip off his chin. "He wouldn't give me the money, then said he was going to kick my butt. I don't remember pulling the trigger, and he just fell. Ronald had followed me but didn't get there in time. I had to run. I have a wife and a son."

"You did until you stuck that needle in your arm. That evil habit forced you to kill that man. Come with us, Julio, and end this now. Tell the truth and lift that enormous burden off your soul. Please, for your mother's sake. Hasn't she been hurt enough?"

Through his sobs, Julio says, "Okay."

All three of us get in the car and head back downtown.


Two hours later, Caleb and I leave the police station to start back home.

"I have a headache, Caleb. I'm so exhausted."

"I can't quit thinking about Mrs. Hernandez, Lew. What will happen to that family now?"

"I talked to Ben. He's going to try and get the charges dropped on Ronald, but he's still an accessory to murder. He'll probably have to serve some time. I agree with you, Mrs. Hernandez lost both of her sons today."

"What can we do, Lew?"

"All I know to do is pray. I have something I want you to do."

"What's that?"

"I want you to take us home, then hug Kathy and Amy and tell them you love them."

Caleb smiles. "I can do that."

Author Notes We press on to chapter nine. Me and the Holy Spirit that is.

Many thanks for stopping by to read!
Have a great day, and God bless.

Chapter 9
A Race To Save A Family

By papa55mike

End of the previous chapter.

Two hours later, Caleb and I leave the police station to start back home.

"I have a headache, Caleb. I'm so exhausted."

"I can't quit thinking about Mrs. Hernandez, Lew. What will happen to that family now?"

"I talked to Ben. He's going to try and get the charges dropped on Ronald, but he's still an accessory to murder. He'll probably have to serve some time. I agree with you, Mrs. Hernandez lost both of her sons today."

"What can we do, Lew?"

"All I know to do is pray. I have something I want you to do."

"What's that?"

"I want you to take us home, then hug Kathy and Amy and tell them you love them."

Caleb smiles. "I can do that."

Chapter 9

For the first time in many years, I had to take pain pills to get any sleep. The headache I had yesterday refuses to stop throbbing - now, the tips of my fingers tingle when I start the coffee. My left side seems sluggish and stiff to move. What's happening to me?

With a sudden involuntary twitch of my head, the symptoms subside.

I study my hands then raise them over my head. They still work. I have no idea what just happened. A doctor's visit is out of the question. If this condition returns, I need to take some steps to make sure everything is covered. 

Oh, no. Someone left a newspaper beside my computer. I remember the last time I saw a paper, the future was plastered all over the front page. Later that day, the mayor was gunned down. I didn't believe it would happen and never tried to stop it. I refused to look at a newspaper again, and it's also why I won't watch the news. 

I can't control myself. The more I try not to read the headline, the more my eyes draw towards it. My headache returns when a headline arrives on the paper. 

City Councilman, Aaron Gray Murders Wife, and Son! Officer Horace Lang shoots Gray. At 12:48 this morning. Aaron Gray stormed into his home on 3215 Stonecreek Drive. Murdering his wife, Amanda, then vacating the house with his son, Anson. Officer Lang arrived when the suspect placed his gun against the boy's head. The officer demanded Gray to drop the weapon. Gray then fired, killing his son. The officer fired one shot, killing Councilman Gray.

I look at the digital clock on my computer; it's only 12:13. I've got thirty-five minutes to stop it from happening. I could call the police, but they will never believe me. Caleb just went to bed; I'm not bothering them. Yeah, call a cab, if I can get one out here?

Do I still have Yellow Cab on speed dial? I press 16, and it starts to ring. A gruff dispatcher answers, "Yellow Cab." It sounds like I woke him up.

"I need a cab to the corner on 16th and Central, the old Brown Shoe Company. It's an emergency!"

"And pigs need wings to fly, ain't happening, mister! Not in that neighborhood."

"I've got a two-hundred-dollar tip for the first cabbie to get here."

"That will get somebody there in a hurry. Be waiting outside, please."

"Not a problem." I hear a click, then a dial tone.

There's a food timer sitting on the counter. Glancing at my computer, it says 12:18. I have exactly thirty minutes to stop the destruction of a family. I set the timer for thirty minutes, grab my coat, and collect five, one hundred dollars from my desk drawer. 

There are no stars in the night sky, which enhances the darkness. The streetlight seems dim even though I'm directly below it. I check the timer; there's still twenty-seven minutes. 

Two headlights penetrate the darkness. The motor screams as the cab races down the street - then slams on the brakes. The cabbie rolls down the window. "Are you the man with an emergency?"

"Yes, sir!" I open the door and jump in.

"I don't move until I have the cash." I hand him two one hundred dollar bills. "Okay, where to?"

"3215 Stonecreek Drive. We need to be there in twenty-five minutes."

"I'll have to break several traffic laws to get there on time."

"I think another hundred will cover that, don't you?"

The cabbie smiles in the rearview mirror. "You better buckle up and hold on, mister."

"Yes, sir!" He has a strange thing on his head. It looks like a woman's hair bun. Who knew?

The cabbie puts it in gear, and with smoking tires, he spins the cab around then soars down the street. He then pulls onto I-240, a bypass around Memphis. "We'll take 240 over to Poplar Avenue. It will be getting through all subdivisions that will take time."

"I trust God and you that we'll make it on time."

The driver glances at me in the mirror. "I like you, mister. There's a hint of crazy in you."

"You have no idea, my friend."

"What are we on the way to do?"

"Stop three murders."

This time, his dark green eyes meet mine in the mirror. "Then, we need to get going!" He speeds up ninety miles per hour.

The Poplar Avenue exit is up ahead. "Hold on, mister." The force of the turn pins me against the door. "Get ready for the slalom ahead."

"I hope this cab can ski as well as soar?"

"With me behind the wheel, Betty can do anything." The tires squeal while we round corner after corner after corner. Then finally. "We've got a straight shot for a few minutes."

Betty, the cab, is racing down Parkway Boulevard. I check the timer, we've still got ten minutes. Thank God, my headache has eased a little. "What's your name, my friend?"

"Riley Matthews. What's yours?"

"Lew Bradley. It's nice to meet you, Riley."

"Same here, you better hold on, Lew. Here we go again."

Betty careens around another corner. "Two more turns, and we should be at Stonecreek."

"I wonder why we haven't seen police?"

"All of them are working an accident on Sam Cooper."

"How do you know that?"

"I have a police radio under my seat." 

"Smart thinking!"

Riley slows Betty down when we turn onto Stonecreek Drive. "What was the house number again, Lew?"

"3215, it should be in the next block."

Riley stops at the four-way, then slowly down the street. "Here it is, Lew."

"Stop before you get there." I check the timer; we still have five minutes.

Riley parks Betty, I get out and walk to his window. "Here's your other hundred, Riley. I can't thank you enough."

"Not a problem, Lew. I was bored, anyway. I'll stick around to see how things turn out."

"You're a good soul, my friend."

"I wish you would tell my wife that." We both laugh.

Walking into the yard, I feel a powerful sense of dread. It begins to press on my mind. "I'm stopping you tonight, Satan." Suddenly, I hear a car door slam. A man appears on the sidewalk with a determined posture, and I can feel his rage from here. He doesn't see me standing by the large tree. The security lights trigger when I step on the sidewalk in front of the house.

Councilman Gray stops in his tracks. "Who are you?"

"Nobody important, but I'm here to stop you from murdering your wife."

"What are you talking about?"

"I want you to know that you will never make it out of the front yard without killing Anson. Yes, your son."

The lights come on inside of the house. I hear the front door unlock then turn when the door opens. "Please, Mrs. Gray, stay inside. Let us work this out." She sees her husband then slams the door. I turn back to Aaron. 

He pulls out a large gun then points it at my head. "I will not let her take him away from me!"

He's close enough now for me to read his thoughts. "All of this rage is about the affair you had with your secretary. Your wife has already forgiven you. Aaron, you need to deal with your guilt. Forgive yourself." I hear sirens blaring down Stonecreek. "You know she doesn't want this divorce." 

Two Memphis Police cruisers stop in front of the house. Both officers get out with guns drawn then walk in our direction. "Lower your weapon, sir."

"It's all right, Officers. Let me talk to him." 

A needless shot fired from a patrolman, and time seems to change. Slowly, I dive in front of Aaron, knocking the gun from his hand. It's like I can see the bullet coming for me, but I can't move fast enough. My left shoulder erupts in pain. I collapse to the ground. 

Faces surround me from above. Their thoughts begin to fill my mind until the darkness takes me.

Author Notes We're heading down the home stretch with this book. A couple of more chapters.

Many thanks for stopping by to read!
Have a great day and God bless.

Chapter 10
The Secret Of Lew's Gift

By papa55mike

End of the last chapter.

A needless shot fired from a patrolman, and time seems to change. Slowly, I dive in front of Aaron, knocking the gun from his hand. It's like I can see the bullet coming for me, but I can't move fast enough. My left shoulder erupts in pain. I collapse to the ground. 

Faces surround me from above. Their thoughts begin to fill my mind until the darkness takes me.

Chapter 10

I'm mostly awake, but my eyelids must weigh a ton. I can hear beeps and small motors running. Strange whispers drift my way through a cloudy mind, but I only recognize one voice.

It feels like I've been in a pit with demons raging all around me. The battle was fierce, with claws ripping my flesh, trying to keep me there. But a giant hand reached down and gently put me in a comfortable bed. An unearthly voice said, "Rest, my son. You have done well."

I'm trying to force my eyes open. Where am I?

I hear footsteps drawing close, and a hand entwines with mine, and it slowly rises. I feel the back of my hand, caress something soft.

Light begins to filter in through tiny slits. There's a face with a gentle smile. Tears are falling from her dark brown eyes, creeping down her cheeks then dripping off her chin. Kathy catches a sob and says, "Hello, sleepyhead. We were hoping you would wake up today." She rubs my hand against her cheek again. I feel the warmth of her tears.

All I can manage is a faint whisper. "Where am I?"

"Baptist Memorial Hospital, they rushed you to the Trauma Unit after the officer shot you." Kathy catches a sob. "You know, Lew, I never knew my father. I'm the product of a one night stand. In the few months I've known you, you became the father I never had. I wanted to tell you, but I couldn't. When the call came in, I thought we had lost you. Before another moment passes, I want you to know that I love you, Lew." Kathy kisses my cheek.

"I love you too, Kathy. I'd be proud to call you, my daughter." It's all I can do to keep my eyes open.

"You get some rest, Lew. We have a lot to talk about."

The last thing I see is Kathy smiling and wiping her eyes.


The smell of strong coffee kicks my brain into activity. My spirit begins to soar when the aroma of Seattle's Best #5 hits my mind. My eyes blink open, and the bright lights hurt. When the glare eases, I find Kathy sipping a cup of coffee. "I would do anything for a cup of that."

"I perked it at home and brought your cup." Kathy pours me a cup, raises the bed, then hands it to me.

Before grabbing it, I gaze at my right hand for a second; it's not tingling now. Slowly, I put two fingers through the loop then place my thumb at the top of the handle. Raising the cup to my lips, I sip the warm nectar of the bean. "I might make it."

"Lew, when did the headaches start?"

"Before I answer that, what happened to the Gray family?"

"Well, the police didn't charge the father with anything as long as he went to rehab. He has a severe drinking problem. What did you see, Lew?"

"He was going to kill his wife and son, and then the officer would kill him. What was the officer's name that fired?"

"Horace Lang."

"Well, I guess Horace had to shoot somebody."

"How did you see this, Lew?"

"It was the next day's headline in the newspaper left by my computer."

"Is seeing the future part of your gift?"

"In a way, yes." Another gulp of coffee. "We'll talk about that at a later date. You're bursting with something to tell me."

Kathy bites her lower lip. "A lot of things happened after you got to the hospital. They brought you in, you were screaming about a tremendous headache, and your body was rigid like someone paralyzed. Did you feel that before, Lew?"

"Something very similar, when I reached to start the coffee that night, I could barely move my left side. Suddenly, it stopped, and I could move again."

Kathy looks at the floor. "It all fits."

"What does?"

She squirms in her chair. "While they had you knocked out, they ran an MRI on your head. It seems you have two massive brain tumors in the top of your skull growing into your brain."

"So, that's it!" I start to laugh. "Finally, the question answered. I've always wondered what changed in my body to give me this gift."

"I don't understand, Lew?"

"It helps me to understand another piece of the puzzle." I study her face for a moment. "What else did the doctor say?"

"He's going to talk to you about sending you to New York. Many people want to study your mind. You're a medical marvel."

"Did the doctor talk to you about it?"

"Oh, I called him bad words, Lew." Kathy's voice gets a little louder. "Things I hadn't said since high school. I called him everything but a prostitute. If I'd about thought of it, I probably would have. They had to call Security to restrain me and threatened to throw me out of the hospital."

"I take it you didn't agree and threw a fit?"

"It was a doozy. Amy would have been proud."

"Please don't make me laugh; it hurts." I finish the cup of coffee. "In a way, I agree with him, but it's not what God wants."

"I'm glad." She takes my cup with a beautiful smile. "Do you want some more?"

"Yes, please. There are still a few more questions."

"Like what?"

"Like, how is this condition going to affect me, and is it going to take my life? If so, how long do I have?"

"He won't tell me those things. Are you afraid of dying, Lew?"

"Heavens no, there's nothing to fear, and I'm looking forward to the rest."

"Well, we need to get you some breakfast. I'm going to push the nurses into letting you go home tomorrow. The doctors won't talk to me."

In a sarcastic, southern drawl, I ask, "I wonder why?"


I finished my hospital supper, and a lovely lady has taken my tray. The nurses have been filling me in on what Kathy has been doing every day. She's here promptly at six in the morning and checks on my condition at the nurse's station. Kathy then proceeds to bug the crap out of them for the rest of the day. When is the Doctor coming by to see him? What was that test they ran? She continues this process all day until she leaves at three to get Caleb and Terrel off to work. The nurses were thrilled when I woke up!

I see the door crack open and someone peers inside. I guess the coast is clear. A large man with grey hair, thick black glasses, and dressed in a doctor's jacket walks in with a big smile. He carries a tablet in front of him. "Good afternoon, Mr. Bradley. I'm Doctor Robinson." He stops at the foot of my bed. "After talking to Mrs. Bell, I'll respect your gift and stand right here."

"Thank you, Doctor. I have several questions for you."

"I'll bet you do. Go ahead."

"What exactly is my condition?"

"In layman's terms, you have two parasagittal tumors in the upper part of your brain. One in your frontal lobe and one in your parietal lobe, they are almost the size of ping pong balls and growing. Your tumors are different, though. They have branched out into your neurons, like tiny fingers, and have activated a large part of your brain. Most people may use twenty to thirty percent of their brain's capacity throughout their lifetime. You are using almost ninety percent. In theory, those tumors have enhanced your mind greatly."

I start to laugh then ask, "Do you believe in God, my friend?"

"No, I don't."

"What is the chance of this happening to anyone, one in a billion?"

"Your condition, Mr. Bradley, I'd say higher."

"That's God. Satan tried to destroy me with these tumors, but God used them to give me a unique gift to share with the world."

"That's an interesting way to look at it."

"Can you operate?"

"Mr. Bradley, I don't think there's a surgeon in the world today skilled enough to operate. Those fingers have entwined themselves throughout your brain."

"How will this condition affect me going forward?"

"Well, Frontal lobe symptoms consist of sudden weakness, paralysis on one side, confusion, loss of reasoning skills. Parietal lobe symptoms include seizures, loss of touch, motor skill deficits. There are also vision problems, hearing loss, dizziness, and massive headaches to deal with daily."

"Don't you think medication can help with a lot with that?"

"I can recommend some things."

"I need to hire a person to help me, and I have someone in mind."

"But Mr. Bradley, you can help the world by letting us study you. From you, we can learn the secrets of the mind. You'll receive the finest care in the world."

"I understand, Doctor. But I would rather be with the friends that I call family. I can do a lot of there, too. Will this condition take my life?"

"Eventually, yes."

"How long do I have, Doctor?"

"A good guess would be a year or two, but nobody knows."

"In that case, the Lord and I have a lot to do. When can I go home?"

"I'm sure the surgeon would like to look at you again, and I'd like to get another MRI. Let's say, tomorrow afternoon."

"That sounds great!"

Author Notes The research was amazing on this one. Warning! Stay off of Youtube for brain surgery. Just saying!

Many thanks for stopping by to read!
Have a great day and God bless.

Chapter 11
The Shallow Minds of Bigotry

By papa55mike

Warning: The author has noted that this contains the highest level of language.

The sun is slowly setting behind some clouds, and a few pink rays peek out - an extra evening blessing after getting out of the hospital. I loved the care, but it will be great not to have a visitor every two hours.

Kathy is quietly driving down Poplar Avenue on the way home. Amy is watching Earl play a game on Kathy's phone.

I ask myself a question. Why am I so at peace with this family? The Bell's must be a blessing sent from God. He healed my pain through them and gave a great family the chance to be whole again. I want to do that for all of my homeless friends.

Kathy turns onto Central Avenue, 16th Street is three blocks down. "You sure have been quiet back there, Lew."  

"I'm taking in all of this silence. Hospitals may not be loud, but they're never quiet."

"I remember when Amy was born." Kathy smiles. "The beeping never stops."

"I'm glad they took that cast off my shoulder. I itched in so many places that I couldn't reach. The brace is perfect. I can't wait to take a shower."

"You mean you didn't enjoy those sponge baths from those gorgeous nurses?"

"I was so embarrassed. I'm way past being turned on."

"Yeah, right!" Kathy laughs. "You're still a man." She sees someone standing on the corner when she turns into the parking lot. "I wonder who that is?"

"It's Kebon; he was the one who put a gun to my head at the Christmas dinner. I guess I hit a nerve."

"Do you think he wants to talk to you, Lew?"

"Let's say; he's building up the courage to."

Kathy stops at the overhead door and beeps the horn. Caleb's smiling face appears at the window then the door opens. Kathy pulls in and parks. The family gathers when I get out.

"I'm glad you're home, Lew," Caleb shouts. "Maybe things will get back to normal, and Kathy will stay home."

Kathy pokes him in the side. "Normal, you had to work a little more. That's all."

Terrel walks up. "They never stop, just an old married couple. How are you, Lew?"

"Great! I'm home."


Kathy has supper ready when I walk out of the bathroom, all clean and spiffy. We all sit together at the table as the family we are. Well, I'm at one end, they're at the other.

It's hard eating peas with one hand, but the meatloaf is delicious. That's when I realize I forgot my meds. "I just remembered. We need to go to Wal-Mart in the morning to get my meds."

"That's no problem." Kathy smiles. "Amy and I will get them. I have a list for Wal-Mart anyway. Why don't you tell the guys about the sponge bath the buxom blonde nurse gave you? I'm sure they want to hear about that."

I smile at their curious faces. "Absolutely not! Since you became my daughter, Kathy, this is a side of you I've never seen."

"But you still love me."

"Yes, I do."

Caleb turns to a confused Terrel. "I'll let you know in the morning."

"I'd appreciate that, Caleb."


Kathy buckles Amy into her car seat.

I look back at my beautiful daughter. Her Minnie Mouse buns are perfect this morning - they match her Minnie tee shirt and tutu combo. "Wal-Mart, mommy?"

"Yes, my darling daughter. To Wal-Mart, we go!"


Turning into the parking lot, I look for a parking space somewhere close by, but no such luck. After finding a cart, I use disinfectant wipes to clean it off. "No germs for Amy."

We finally load up, and Amy's dark brown eyes sparkle when I step in front of the cart. "Fast, mommy, fast."

I start revving the cart up. "Vroom, vroom, vroom!" We start running towards the entrance while Amy cackles.

I notice an elderly white couple getting out of their car looking at us with total disdain on their faces. I've seen that look many times before. The sight of a white mother and a black child still disturbs a lot of people in the South.

When Amy and I go to the store, we make it an adventure. 

"All right, Amy. First, to the pharmacy, we'll fight the dragons off with our lightsabers on the way. Ready?"

Amy gets her Jedi look. "Yes, mommy." She holds her hands in front of her, then adds the lightsaber sound. "Beuuum!"

We fight our way to the pharmacy, "Boom, Pow, Aaargh," to the smiles of every Wal-Mart worker we pass on the journey.

"Now, to the freezers. We'll have to battle the Yetis for our Friday night pizzas." 

The Yetis attack, "Aaaah!" They almost get us, but we manage to get our pizzas safely. I shake my head, when I notice that older couple glaring at us from the end of the aisle.

"It looks like aliens have invaded the coolers, sweetie. We have to sneak up to get a gallon of milk and two packs of bagels." I hunker down in front of the cart and slowly walk in that direction while Amy sits up tall to keep a lookout for Stormtroopers. 

"Finally, honey, this is our greatest challenge. We need hamburgers from the meat section. That means a deadly conflict with Cow Vader. There he is by the chicken!" 

Amy shoots. "Pow, pow, pow!" 

She wounds him with her laser pistol while I spin around and get the bacon cheddar patties from the freezer. I take off running while Amy covers the rear. "Pow, pow!" We barely escape with the groceries, and our lives then start the final journey to the checkout. 

Standing in line, the look of pure joy on Amy's face is worth me being silly for a few minutes. She holds out her arms and puckers her lips for a big kiss. How can I not oblige her? "Give me some slobbery sugar, girl."

After that loving kiss, I hear a disgusted sigh from behind me. There's no need to turn; I know who is standing there and refuse to give that couple a chance to offend me.  

That's when I hear a female voice from behind me ask, "How can you kiss that little nigger?"

Well, there's go that chance. The cashier stops what she's doing and looks at me while grabbing the intercom.

I slowly shake my head no, then turn with a big smile. "This little nigger happens to be my daughter, who I love dearly."

The man decides to add his two cents now. "You sicken me! How dare you lay with that kind of man. You're a disgrace to the white race."

The cashier calmly calls over the intercom. "Security, code red, register two." 

"Oh, it's worse than that," I calmly reply. "I married him. In case you want to know, we had sex last night. It was amazing!"

Both of them recoil. The man answers, "You're a piece of filth."

That's when a large, black member of security asks, "Is there a problem here?"

I quietly answer, "No, I'm a happy camper." Amy grabs my arm.

The security guard looks at Amy and me then sees what's going on. He turns to the older couple. "Well, I see an empty register. We can check you over there with no waiting." He begins to usher them three aisles over to rigorous complaints.

We finally get to the cashier. She starts scanning our items, then says, "I would have slapped them both."

"I learned a long time ago, that's what they want. Then you become the filth those people see. It's not worth it."

The cashier smiles. "You're a better woman than I am, sweetie."

She hands me the change when the older couple walks by scowling at us.


Amy is playing a Baby Shark video on my phone while flawlessly car seat dancing to the song. I notice an old car that seems to be following us. I swear it was behind us on Winchester Avenue before I turned onto Poplar. 

"I'll bet that old car turns onto Central with me. I can't believe they followed us home."

I wait until the last second to turn and didn't use my signal. I was hoping I could lose that car, but no. I can see the old couple fuming in the front seat of their Oldsmobile. The car is about the same shade of gray as their hair.

When I pull in to the parking lot, I stop short of the overhead door and turn to Amy before getting out. "Sweetie, you stay in the car until I come and get you."

"Okay, mommy."

I shut the door, walk around the car, and wait for them to see me. It takes a minute for them to pull in and stop. The couple gets out, but only the man walks towards me. "How dare you disrespect us in that store."

"Why shouldn't I? You gave me no respect at all. I was a worthless piece of filth to you." Somebody is walking this way from the corner. It's Kebon! He walks over to the car and stands by me.

The man asks, "Is this your nigger husband?"

I hear the overhead door open behind me. "No, I happen to be Kathy's nigger husband. What is it to you?"

I can tell Caleb is angry, and somebody might get hurt. These people aren't worth jail time. "Hey, Lew!"

"I'm right here, sweetie." Walking by Caleb, I say, "Let me handle this. I know how to deal with them."

With a big smile, I greet them. "Good morning, brethren." I reach out to shake their hands. "My name is Pastor Lewis Bradley." I'm close enough to feel the bigotry stewing in his mind.

The man smiles. "It's a pleasure to meet you, Pastor. Are you mentoring this small flock?"

"No, they live with me. These are my dear friends who I love deeply."

"How can you live with such evil people?" The man snarls his question.

"Well, it's a matter of perception. I believe what the Apostle Paul said in Galatians 3:28; There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male or female, for we are all one in Christ. When I was in the pulpit, I always added this phrase. There is also no black nor white, nor brown or tan, nor American, Asian, or European. When I look at my friends, I don't see the color of their skin. I see the love of Jesus."

"Do you condone this wickedness?"

"I am sorry to say this, but the only wickedness I see is the hatred in your heart. I bet you're an Elder at your church?"

"That's right! I've been an Elder for forty-nine years."

"With this much hatred in your soul, how can you be? Where is your love for others? The love Jesus freely shared with everyone. I want you to know that I will pray for you to find the true love of Jesus Christ."

The shocked husband starts to say, "Wel..." They slowly get back in their Oldsmobile and drive away.

Caleb walks over to Kebon. "Thank you for standing with my wife." He reaches out his hand in friendship. 

"Nothing but a thing, brother. I've seen that kind, a thousand times." He turns to me. "I love what you did. You made them see their hatred for what it was."

"I pity them, Kebon. They're blind to the love that surrounds them."

Kathy speaks up. "All right. We need to get these groceries inside, and I'm starving." She turns to Kebon. "Would you like to join us for lunch, Kebon?"

"Nah, I have a few things to do. Maybe next time."

Kathy reaches her arms around his neck and kisses his cheek. "Thank you."

I walk over and shake his hand. "See you soon." I see many questions in Kebon's mind.

"Yeah, you will."

Author Notes Several years ago, I experienced this problem at Wal-Mart with a two-year-old friend named Jaydon. His mother was working Saturdays at the time, so we would take Jaydon to the stores with us. While Wanda got the food, Jaydon and I would play all over the Wal-Mart while picking up the other stuff we needed. Some of the evil looks on people's faces were quite stunning because his skin color is a lot darker than mine. Wanda and I would get some awful looks while standing in line.

Many thanks for stopping by to read!
Have a great day, and God bless.

Chapter 12
Lew Reveals a Secret.

By papa55mike

The walk to Tony's this morning is unusual without my immense coat. My shoulder brace won't work with it. So, I have on this light jacket. The morning warmth is refreshing. We have had a cold spring along with frost and a hard freeze on April Fifteenth. Two days later, we are in the sixties for lows.

I open the door to Tony's, and he says, "I'll be right with you."

"Hi, Tony."

He turns around and smiles. "Well, good morning, Lew. I haven't seen you in a while. What's with the brace?"

"Oh, I got shot in the shoulder by the police. I've been in the hospital, so I couldn't get by to see you."

"What were you doing, robbing a bank?"

"Not exactly, I was keeping a family from destroying itself."

"The things you do for people, Lew."

"I'm spreading the love of Jesus, Tony."

"I hope it doesn't get you killed!"

"We all have to die sometime. According to what the doctors found, my time maybe sooner than I thought."

"What did they find, Lew?" Tony walks over to the counter and sits down beside me. I feel the concern in his mind.

"The cause of my gift. It seems that I have two brain tumors in the middle of my head."

"Those tumors gave you the power to read minds."

"Well, I believe Satan tried to destroy me with those tumors, but God took them and gave me the power to help people."

"Can they operate?"

"No, I'm afraid that's out of the question. I'll have to deal with it."

"I bet that was a shock?"

"Not really, Tony. When Kathy told me, I laughed. I always knew there was a reason, and it was a relief to find the answer."

"Did the doctors tell anything else?"

"Like how long I have to live? Yeah, a couple of years. Some other things could happen, like a stroke, or possibly a heart attack - where the tumors are is a critical part of controlling my body." I feel a sadness in Tony. "Don't feel sad, my friend. I've lived a full life, and I'm a long way from finished."

"Well, if there is anything I can do to help, let me know."

"I'd say a tenderloin biscuit and a large coffee would do for starters."

"It's on the house, Lew!"

"That's what I'm talking about."


The rising sun is warming the day rather nicely on my walk back home. When I walk into the parking lot, I see Kebon sitting on the bench behind the bus stop with his head down. I usually don't push people into talking, but this might be the right time for Kebon.

Slowly, I walk over and sit down on the bench beside him. Kebon doesn't see me. "I think it's going to be a beautiful day, Kebon."

He turns to me with a smile. "I never thought about the day before. It was always the night that called to me."

"Are you waiting for the bus?"

"No...Sitting and thinking."

"Let me tell you a story that only a few people know. There was a boy who had just turned nine right after his mother married a man with two much older sons. His stepbrothers paid very little attention to him until late one night. They came into his room, molested him in his bed, and made him swear not to tell, or the brothers would kill his mother. It happened every night that summer until his mother walked into the room in mid-act. For some reason, the boy felt guilty for being caught. The mother and her son moved out the next day. They never talked about it, and the son always thought he was responsible for them leaving. The son carried that guilt for several years, and it began to swallow him. One day, the son stumbled across a verse in Isaiah 61; it talked about giving me beauty for my ashes. What that means is giving God all of your pain and guilt, and He will give you back something beautiful in return."

Kebon's eyes find mine. "That happened to you."

"Yes. I gave all of that shame and guilt to God. It freed my soul and opened my heart so I could love again."

"What happened to the boys who abused you?"

"I never heard anything else about them, but I forgave them for what they did. I even asked God to forgive them."

"Do you think about what happened?"

"It used to be a record that played continually in my mind. But once I gave it to the Lord, it slowly began to play less and less. Today is the first time I've thought about it in many years."

"I still see the drunken anger in my father's face when he pulled the trigger. The blood was pouring from my mother while I held her head, and her saying how much she loved me for the last time. It's like it happened yesterday."

"Kebon, that's the pain keeping in you in bondage. If you ask God to come into your heart, He will begin the healing process. It won't happen overnight, and there's nothing easy about it. A simple prayer begins this long journey to healing."

"Is that what I've heard people say, getting saved."

"Yes. In Isaiah 53, it says Jesus died on the cross carrying our grief and pain, and by the stripes from the cat o' nine tails on His back, we are healed."

"But I've done so many wrong things."

"Once you have given it all to God, not one of those things matter anymore.  God takes them and remembers them nevermore. He removes your sins as far as the east is from the west."

"What do I have to do?"

"Repeat after me, with all of your heart. Dear Father, I come before You as a sinner asking for forgiveness and repenting of my sins."

Kebon repeats. "Dear Father, I come before You as a sinner asking for forgiveness and repenting of my sins."

"Please cleanse me with the blood of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I will follow Him for the rest of my days. In Jesus' name. Amen."

And again he says, "Please cleanse me with the blood of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I will follow Him for the rest of my days. In Jesus' name. Amen. That's all I have to do?"

"No, that's just the first step on a long journey. I have something for you if you want to come in."

"How about this afternoon. I want to think about what just happened."

"Kebon, please remember one thing above all else. God loves you with all of his heart. If you can truly accept that love, it will change your life."

"Thank you, Mr. Bradley."

"It was my pleasure. Call me, Lew, everybody else does."

Kebon smiles and slowly walks away.


The talk around the supper table this evening is delightful. Terrel and Caleb both made full-time at Home Depot on days. They start Monday. What a wonderful blessing. I guess it's time for me to share my news.

"Let me see if I can add another blessing to this joyful occasion. First, I need to explain why I don't like newspapers." I stand up and start walking like I'm preaching. "Several years ago, I started playing the stock market using my gift. I would find the days market on the internet then look in the newspaper to see what was going to soar that day then buy-in. I also knew when a stock was going to fall, and I'd sell before it happened. During this time, I amassed a small fortune."

"Just how much?" Kathy asks.

"Let me tell you why I stopped first. One day, I bought a paper at Tony's as usual and brought it home. But when I opened the newspaper, a headline flashed across the front page. The Mayor of Memphis would die at noon that day. A Memphis drug cartel was going to shoot him and several advisors. I didn't believe it would happen, so I did nothing about it. The only problem was, it happened just like the paper said it would. I thought God was punishing me for using my gift for financial gain. So, I repented for my sin and never looked at a newspaper again."

"Here's the funny thing, Lew," Caleb adds. "We can't figure out how that paper got in here. None of us brought it in."

"That's easy." I  smile. "An angel brought it here so I would save the Gray family. He also brought Riley, the cab driver, into my life. What a character."

"I remember him," Kathy says. "He came by the hospital a couple of times to see you, but you were still in a coma. You still haven't answered my question, dad."

"Let me tell one more thing. I have a dream for this building; it involves buying it and turning it into a homeless shelter for all of our friends. I'm so tired of seeing good people on the streets while this enormous building is empty. To do this, I need to hire an assistant: someone who has terrific computer skills, a driver's license, and somebody I can trust. The job pays a thousand dollars a week. Are you interested, Kathy?"

She spits her mouthful of water all over the table. "Are you kidding me?"

"No, sweetie. I need your help to do this."

Tears begin to rim her big brown eyes. "Absolutely! Will you answer my question now?"

"All the accounts I have in Memphis banks total a little over three million dollars."

Earl walks over to Terrel and asks, "Daddy, is Uncle Lew rich?"

"It looks like it, son."

Author Notes The verses I used were Isaiah 53: 5 "But he was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him, and with His stripes, we are healed."

Isaiah 61: 3 To give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness.

I hope to release chapter 13 very soon.

Many thanks for stopping by to read!
Have a great day, and God bless.

Chapter 13
The False Prophet

By papa55mike

Kathy sits down at the table, then sips her coffee. "Well, since I have the guys off to work, what's on your agenda for the day?"

"A couple of things." I smile. "First, we have to buy you a car. Second, we need to buy this place."

Kathy chokes on her coffee for a second. "Did you say we're buying me a car?"

"Well, to be truthful, I already have. A 2017 Jeep Renegade Latitude with four-wheel drive and all the extras. It's a lovely midnight blue, and there's even a place to charge your phone."

"And how did you do this, Lew?"

"There's this cool site called Carvana. You do everything via the internet, and they will deliver it to you. The sweet-sounding sales lady said it would be here around ten-ish."

"How much are the payments, Lew?"

"There are no payments. I've already paid for it, with the tax, tags, and title included. The insurance is through State Farm, and it's all in your name."

"Wow! I guess everything is 24/7 now." Kathy sips her coffee. "Have you made an offer on this place?"

"When I first moved in, they offered it to me for nine-hundred thousand. That was four years ago; I figure we can get them to take seven-hundred and fifty-thousand for it. The real estate market is down right now."

"We'll throw them a bone this morning. The more important question is, did you take your meds."

"Yes, I did. I love the way you put my meds in that seven-day organizer. You take good care of me, Kathy. Are Amy and Earl still asleep?"

"Yeah. With school out for the summer. I thought we'd let them sleep in this morning."

"It must be wonderful to be a child."


It's early afternoon, and Terrel is watching something on television involving superheroes, and Amy is asleep for her nap. I'm reading in my Bible while Kathy is on the internet, making an offer for this building. She's been quiet since the car was delivered, then we splurged and went to Sonic for lunch. Their cheeseburgers always make me sleepy.

I'm starting to nod off when Kathy turns around. "The offer on the building is made. I'm sure they will make a counter-offer. I set the price at six-hundred-thousand. Knowing we can go higher."

"Great job, I like the way you low-balled them."

"Lew, I've been thinking. Are you sure you want to buy me this car? I checked on Carvana, and you have seven days to return it for a full refund."

"What would I do with the money except give it to someone else. I'd rather see you have it, and God would, too."

"Well, it's the best thing anybody has ever done for me."

"If Caleb had the money, he would have done the same thing. Besides, a father wants his daughter to have nice things."

"I guess that's one of the many things I missed out on without a father."

"By the way," I need to change the subject before we both start crying. "Have you seen Kebon around?"


"I'm beginning to feel that something is wrong."

"Is it your gift?"

"Maybe, I led Kebon to the Lord the other day, and I wanted to give him an old Bible to read. But I haven't seen him since."

We both jump when the phone rings. We still use the landline beside the computer. Kathy answers the phone. "Hello...yes, he's right here." Kathy hands the phone to me. "It sounds like the police."

"Lewis Bradley."

"Hi, Lew. Ben Adams here."

"I haven't talked to you in a while, Ben. What can I do for you?"

"You know I always come to you with strange things that happen. I sent you a security video in an e-mail taken a couple of weeks ago. It shows a man shot six times in the chest; then, after a few minutes, he gets up and walks away. Not long after that, a video surfaced on the internet of the same shooting, and it's tied to a new church that claims a risen Saviour as its Pastor. I had Forensics take a look where the shooting happened, and they found nothing. Please, take a look at it for me."

"I sure will, Ben, and call you back." I turn to Kathy and ask, "Can you check my e-mail and see if there's a video there from the police?"

"Yes, sir." Kathy turns around and logs in. "Yeah, it's here."

I get up and walk over to the computer. "You don't have to watch this; it contains a man getting shot six times, then he got up and walked away."

"It can't be worse than the Walking Dead. I don't see what Caleb loves about that show."

"Great point. Play the video."

The video starts with a lonely figure strolling down the sidewalk. Suddenly, fear grips the person - the shots ring out - he slowly collapses to the pavement. After a few minutes, the man rises like Dracula coming out of his coffin and walks away.

Kathy looks up at me and says, "That's the worst acting I've ever seen."

"In what ways?"

"Let me slow the video down, and I'll show you." Kathy clicks on a menu that I didn't know existed. "Now, it will run at half speed." The video starts. "Watch, the shots don't match his movements, there and there. He's too late with both of them. See how he falls; the man is protecting himself on the way to the ground. Anybody shot that many times would fall with a thud."

"Maybe you're working for the wrong person."

"I'm sure Captain Adams and his staff already know this. What was the other thing he asked you?"

"He asked me about a new church that has recently opened claiming to have a risen Saviour for a Pastor. See if you can find it."

"I'll start with Facebook, Lew, that's where most kooks are the boldest."

I walk over to get another cup of coffee, and the center of my head begins to throb a little. 

"That didn't take long," Kathy exclaims. "Risen Saviour Church, it's down Winchester Avenue, right past the strip clubs."

"An interesting place to put a church. Click on the page, let's see what we got." There's the video playing with the graphics, Risen Saviour Church, slowly fading in and out. Then a picture of a proud and handsome man behind a podium, preaching with a glint in his eyes. "Well, he knows how to market himself."

"Do people fall for this crap, Lew?"

"By the hundreds! All you have to do is tell them what they want to hear. That there is no penalty for their sin, and they can live any way they want to. Have you ever heard of Jim Jones and the Jonestown massacre?"


"I know, it happened a long time ago in 1977, but Jim Jones was an influential spiritual leader who persuaded his followers to move to Guyana and establish Jonestown. The man was a lunatic; he had his followers murder Senator Leo Ryan and his aides who were there visiting and investigating Jonestown. He then talked the entire town into killing themselves. There were over 900 lives lost. Now, I'm not saying this guy is crazy. But something is going on there."

"I take it you want to find out?"

"Not really, but I know the police have their hands tied on this one. Unless this Pastor breaks the law, he can preach what he wants to."

Kathy looks at the screen. "Well, there's a service tonight a six. Let's take the family."

"I say, we leave the family at home, and you and I go see this so-called Saviour."

"A special, father, daughter thing," Kathy giggles.

"If you say so."


The fading light of this cloudy day is the perfect setting for visiting the seedy side of town. The neon light of the strip clubs flickers into existence - the alluring glare of perverted sexuality and greed. 

Suddenly, my head begins to throb, and the index on my left-hand curls in a gruesome way. I feel my toes drawing similarly. What's happening to me? I won't let Kathy see my fear, but I'm feeling the muscles tighten on my left side. A sudden snap inside my head. The symptoms subside a little.

"You're extremely quiet over there, Lew."

"I'm enjoying the ride in your new car." I force a smile. "It's astounding the multibillion-dollar industry that flourishes out of the act of intercourse."

"Have you ever been a strip club, Lew?"

"No, I haven't watched any porn either. In college, I had some Playboy centerfolds shoved in my face by some football players, but that's it."

"I think we're here, Lew." Kathy smiled while she parked the car. "This reminds me of the Omni-New Daisy on Third Street. They took a run-down old theatre and turned into a punk rock venue back in the early nineties and it's still open today. I would sneak in as a teenager to join the mache pit."

"The more I learn about you, Kathy, the more I'm amazed." 

Now comes the fun part. Let's see if I can get out of the car and walk. My toes have uncurled a little - hopefully, it won't affect my walk. When I stand, I force myself to straighten. The first step is a strain, but then the pain eases. Take small steps. Yes, thank you, Lord! Help me unveil this false prophet.

"Why are you walking like an old man, Lew?"

"Oh, my back is a little stiff. That's all."

Kathy hooked her arm in mine. "Come on, Dad. Let's go and expose this idiot."

"It will be my pleasure, ma'am." I'm glad she's beside me to lean on. The symptoms seem to calm with each step.

"At least they could clean the entrance, Lew. It's how you make your first impression."

"Don't you see, Kathy, they are."

"Aaah, filth shows filth." Kathy smiled.

When we walk through the door, a mountain of a man in the biggest blue suit I've ever seen looks us over while walking by. His dark blue eyes glare at us. I feel in his mind that the police want him for questioning. We must have passed inspection. 

The inside of the theatre is more decrepit than the outside. The worship team consists of a loud rock band screaming into the microphone. I have no idea what the words are.

We sit down behind the crowd, and Kathy nudged me. "Look at the front row. I haven't seen that many blondes in a row since high school. Look at how short their skirts are."

"They're here for spiritual support, sweetie."

"No, I've seen that look before, they want to get in his pants after everybody leaves." Two of the extremely young members of the congregation turn to glare at us. "Did you call Ben back this morning?"

"Yes, he has two units close by, ready to move."

"I'm beginning to like him."

The band finally finishes their song, and there's movement at the side of the stage. Excitement builds in the small crowd, and they rise in applause for the young man who confidently strides towards the podium placed in the center of the stage. He's dressed in a stylish suit with every blond hair perfectly placed, and his smile gleams at the young girls in the front row.

Kathy leans towards me and whispers, "Have you noticed how cheap this looks. The stage is awful, one spotlight, and the sound system barely works. If he's going to be a rockstar preacher, he needs to up his game."

"Well, you have to start somewhere."

We see the power of his presence when he extends his arms, and there's total silence. Before he says a word, he smiles at us. "My children, thank you for your praise. It warms my heart." His southern drawl is perfect. "Many of you know my story, gunned down in hatred, then rising with God's hand upon me, and being both physically and spiritually born again with a new message of hope to spread to my followers. I am the reborn Saviour of the world, sent here by my Father to cleanse my followers of their sin."

My skin begins to crawl at the blasphemy he's spouting. Kathy looks at me, and all I can do is shake my head.

After a quick sip of water, the risen Pastor continues his sermon. "We are writing a new history of the church, redefining what sin is. Setting a standard for the church of the future."

I turn to Kathy. "That's all I can take. If that big guy moves a muscle, call 911." 

Now, let's see if I can stand up. Slowly, slowly, yes. 

"Son, I hate to interrupt you. But I'm Pastor Lewis Bradley; I want to plead for your life."

"What do you mean, sir?"

"My friend, I've been a Pastor for over thirty years, and the blasphemy you spout is unbelievable! You claim that you're the son of God!"

The young man's face begins to contort in anger.

"In Bible times, they would have stoned you to death for saying that. Do you know the penalty for false teachers leading God's people astray? Using your filthy desires to pervert the teachings of our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ."

I see the big man move towards me out of the corner of my eye. "My large friend, if you take one more step, I'll have the police here in a minute or less. I'll bet you don't want that." He stops.

I turn back to the preacher. "If you knew your Bible, you would know by reading the book of Jude, that the Lord utterly and swiftly destroys false teachers. God will wipe out you and your entire family with His wrath! I'm imploring you to renounce this nonsense, get on your knees, and beg for forgiveness. If you continue, you will take all of these people straight into the Lake of Fire with you. It's up to you!" I turn to the audience. "You people need to run out of this evil place like it's on fire!" Slowly I make my way to Kathy. "I'm finished."

Her open mouth changes into a sly smile. 

Before we make it to the door, the Pastor erupts, spewing venom with every word. "You and your generation are the ones going to burn. We have the favor of the Father now." The crowd rises with a sense of deep sadness and begins to exit. "No, my followers, they're the enemy!" 

That's the last words we hear.

Kathy and I don't speak until we're in the car. "You look sad, Lew."

"I feel sorry for them. Those people were searching for the truth, and what they found was all lies. Now, their shattered dreams may cause them never to know our true Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. All because of him."

Author Notes In this chapter and the others to come, I've put Lew's thoughts in italics to show what he thinks while his body changes due to the tumors.

Many thanks for stopping by to read!
Have a great day and God bless.

Chapter 14
The Beginning of the End

By papa55mike

The end of chapter 13.

Lew turns back to the preacher. "If you knew your Bible, you would know by reading the book of Jude, that the Lord utterly and swiftly destroys false teachers. God will wipe out you and your entire family with His wrath! I'm imploring you to renounce this nonsense, get on your knees, and beg for forgiveness. If you continue, you will take all of these people straight into the Lake of Fire with you. It's up to you!" I turn to the audience. "You people need to run out of this evil place like it's on fire!" Slowly I make my way to Kathy. "I'm finished."

Her open mouth changes into a sly smile. 

Before we make it to the door, the Pastor erupts, spewing venom with every word. "You and your generation are the ones going to burn. We have the favor of the Father now." Most of the crowd rises with a sense of deep sadness and begins to exit. "No, my followers, they're the enemy!" 

That's the last words we hear.

Kathy and I don't speak until we're in the car. "You look sad, Lew."

"I feel sorry for them. Those people were searching for the truth, and what they found was all lies. Now, their shattered dreams may cause them never to know our true Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. All because of him."

Chapter 14

I have awakened into a nightmare. The last thing I remember is coming home from the Risen Saviour Church and lying down on the couch. Now, the world is completely dark, and a thousand voices surround me. I feel like every mind in Memphis is invading my brain.

A dim light begins to shine. I wonder if it's an angel coming to help me, then it morphs into the kitchen light. The doctors said that my vision would be affected in strange ways as the tentacles from the tumors continue to grow in my brain. 

But the voices continue to grow louder. If I can focus one, maybe the others will quiet. There, it seems to be Caleb dreaming. He runs his hand down Kathy's nude back. No, I don't want to see Kathy in that way!

I need to find another voice. "Please help me, Father!"

Four men are walking down Central Avenue, and they're talking about Kebon. No leader could ever walk away from the gang alive, knowing what they know. It was last night, around midnight. They finally caught him coming back to his grandmother's house. Before he got to the porch, the four of them stepped out of the shadows with their guns firing. Kebon collapsed on the porch steps when the last shots rang out. The men start to walk away when his grandmother comes out of the house. One of them turns and says, "Mess with us, grandma, and you're next."

She screams at them. "I fed all of you at my table, and this is how you repay my kindness. The Lord will strike all of you down and avenge me!"

A cool breeze blows through the trees, flowing down the street, and my mind follows. The voices start to fade.

The light in the kitchen grows brighter, blinding me. What is happening, Father? Is this the end? Something snaps inside my mind, and the process stops. Slowly, I reopen my eyes. I'm lying on the floor with sweat pouring out - the cold floor feels terrific against my cheek. I must have fallen from the couch. My body still shakes from the pain. When I roll over to my knees to stand, I smell the urine on the floor - my right hand shakes, reaching for the counter to pull myself up. Somehow, I manage to grab the edge, but my left side is not responding. 

A sense of peace envelops me when I feel arms wrap around my chest, and I rise with ease. There is a heavenly presence with me.

My breathing eases when the pain subsides a little. Questions begin to fill my mind. Is this the beginning of the stroke I've been waiting on? Who was the presence that helped me? Will our plans to help the homeless fall apart if I'm not here? No, Caleb and Kathy are too strong for that. Do I have the strength to turn on the coffee across the room?

Slowly, I turn, but my muscles seem very weak. I make it two steps to the desk, dragging my left side - I can't move my left arm at all. The doctors told me about this partial paralysis. They said it would happen before I became completely paralyzed. 

I lean my body against the counter. My shaking right index finger reaches for the power switch. I finally click the coffee pot on, and the rich aroma begins to rise. It takes all of my strength to pour some in a cup. I steady my right hand to take a sip. I hope it's not my last.

I still don't hear any voices, but they'll return. After another sip of coffee, my brain seems to explode, and the intense pain roars throughout my body, causing my eyes to tear. I dump the coffee on the counter, and the cup falls into the sink. In the reflection of the spilled coffee, I watch my face's left side begin to fall then feel the muscles tighten in my left arm and leg as before. I hear the ligaments in my index finger snap while it twists like a pretzel. Not only do my toes curl, but my left ankle and foot curve inward, causing me to fall on my left side, and the pain is excruciating.

I've got to get up; they can't find me like this. I'm becoming a deformed monster.

My left side is completely useless; I'll have to depend on God and my right hand. I grab the silverware drawer and slide it open then begin to pull myself up. When I make it to my knees, my stomach turns, and the coffee reappears on the floor. I've left Kathy three awful messes to clean up.

Again, the invisible arms lift me to a standing position. "Thank you, whoever you are."

I have to get out of the office where we live and find a hiding place in the warehouse. I remember a custodian closet near the loading dock. It's dark and very secluded there, even in the daytime. But I need to make it to the door first. 

I step out with my right leg a little then drag the left leg to it. It will be a slow process, but with the Lord's help, I'll make it. 

It takes me six steps to make it to the door. After I slowly drag and pull myself out the door, I come to a sudden realization. To use my right hand, I have to cross the building - the distance looks daunting in my condition. I look up and pray. "Lord, your...humble servant."

That's when I feel a supernatural arm embrace my waist, then an unseen hand takes my right arm and lovingly wraps it around broad shoulders. The invisible presence begins to lead me towards my destination while I start to weep. The joy of knowing that the Lord is always with me overwhelms my soul.


Several hours later, Kathy's internal alarm clock tells her that it's five-thirty, and time to start the day. "I hope Lew has the coffee done." After a quick visit to the bathroom, she slowly lumbers into the kitchen. Kathy smiles at the bold aroma of Seattle's Best #5 that fills the kitchen. 


It has taken me three hours to make a five-minute journey. I see the darkness in the corner of the building that I need to hide the monster I've become. If this is the end, I don't want to be remembered like this. My unseen friend gently guides me to an old office chair in the darkness. Slowly, I collapse into the chair then reach out my right hand. ", my...friend. I will...never forget...this." It's so difficult to talk with only half a mouth.

I feel the warm embrace of a loving hand in mine.

The voices begin to return, but I focus on Kathy's mind. She just walked into the kitchen.


Kathy suddenly stops; she feels something wrong. That's when she notices the spilled coffee and the overturned cup. There's vomit on the floor, and she smells urine in the air. Kathy checks the door for Lew's jacket. It's here, but where is he?

Kathy opens the door, then frantically begins to search the building, hollering, "Lew!"

Author Notes In the last chapter, I started putting Lew's thoughts about what was happening to his body in Italics.

First thing, I want to apologize for not having this book already finished. I planned to have it done two months ago. But I must admit that we live in a different world. Since March, when all the schools closed down, Wanda has doubled her babysitting service. Plus, my special granddaughter, Shynoa, has not been to school since. Her immune system isn't strong enough. Looking back, that was a good thing. Her school was only open ten days before shutting down for COVID. So, my writing time has dwindled away. But, I will not be undaunted. We will finish Lew's journey.

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Have a great day and God bless.

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