Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Zebulon - Day 214 - Historical Fiction

"You mean I won't have any troubles or problems any more?" Claude asked me.

"Oh, I didn't say that, at all. But, He will help you deal with them, so that they won't be overwhelming to you. We all have problems, but they become lighter with Jesus to stand with us and help us know how to solve them. He can help you to control that temper of yours, so that life will become sweeter for you and those about you. Most importantly, he will give you a sense of inner peace. Admit that you are a sinner, believe that Jesus died for your sins, and arose from the dead,  and confess that belief, and He will give you that forgiveness, then you will belong to him. I don't know exactly - how - it happens, just that it does. Are you willing?"

Claude looked at me with tears flowing from his eyes, and then took my hand with both of his in what seemed like a death grip.

"Oh, I want to! I want to!"

Then, I watched as his pride crumbled, and he gave over, confessing his belief, then he looked into my eyes and smiled. 

"It's true! I feel wonderful! I know now I can make it! Oh, thank you, my friend! I can't wait to get out of here and talk to my sweet wife. My wife...I am so ashamed of how I have treated her, plus trying to kill myself. How do I ever tell her how truly sorry I am?"

"Well, my friend. I believe actions speak louder than words, don't they? Why don't you give me her phone number so I can contact her. I'm leaving town tomorrow, but I still have time to talk to her, if you wish."

"You're leaving tomorrow? But I wanted to talk to you a lot more!"

"I'm sorry, but I really must. I believe God is urging me to do so. You can talk to Reverend Butler down at the church close to you. He is very nice and a really good man, a strong believer. You will like him; in fact I told him how much you need to talk to him."

"Thank you. Here is my mother in law's phone number," he replied, rattling off a number to me. 

I prayed with him before I left and shook his hand. "Don't forget to read your Bible. It is your guidebook. Without it, and daily prayer, it is easy to lose your way in your life's journey. God bless you, my friend." 

So saying, I left and headed for the boarding house. I had a very important call to make. 

(To be continued) 

Monday, December 30, 2013

Zebulon - Say 213 - Historical Fiction

Deciding to get a cup of coffee while the policemen were checking on Claude, I informed the desk nurse and went in search of some. I found the small hospital cafeteria and decided, since I had not yet had lunch,  to get a slice of Apple pie in addition to the coffee. 

With their purchase in hand, I headed for a table and sat down. I knew I could be in real trouble if the two did not believe me. I certainly realized they had no inclination to like me or trust my word. 

Bowing my head, I asked God for guidance and thanked him for my food. I knew He was caring for me and trusted that he was going to protect me, according to His will. 

The pie was soon gone, and I was finishing a second cup of coffee, when I spied the two officers heading my way.

"Well, Mr. O'Hanlon, it looks like you are off the hook for the shooting of Mr. Wilson. He is going to recover, it seems. He was able to speak briefly with us. He missed his vital organs by about an inch. It seems he considers you as the only one who cares what happens to him. He wants to see you before you leave town. The Doctor advised you see him before you leave. We are going to take our leave of you now. Keep your nose clean, you hear?"

"Yes, sir. Don't worry about me. Goodbye."

They left and I hurried back to admitting to locate Claude. They told me Claude was in 201 and I headed there to see him. He lay with his upper body somewhat elevated, wearing a hospital gown. His color had returned mostly, but was still paler than normal. 

When he saw me quietly entering his room, he looked at me with a question in his eyes. I understood perfectly. I had  seen that same question on the faces of many of my army buddies. 


Sometimes it was why another friend of theirs had died; other times it was why did his girl get married while he was fighting overseas. So many questions for which we had no answer.

"Why did you save my miserable life? You know I had nothing to live for. My wife and child are gone; I have no job; I can't seem to fit into civilian life. I can't even kill myself right, it seems. Why am I still living in this miserable world."

"I believe God is giving you another chance to make something of your life. He is a God of second chances, after all. Please let me pray with you. He wants to change your life, but you need to place your trust in him, Claude."

"How do I do that?"

"Many years ago, Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, took on all the sins of everyone and sacrificially gave up his life for all who would believe in his sacrifice and accept that gift of forgiveness. If you will believe with your heart and accept His gift, He will forgive you, and you will have eternal life. Then he will guide you through your life if you look to him for that guidance."

"You mean my life will get easy?"

"Oh, no, not necessarily easy, but He will give you the courage and help you need as you need it. Also, you will be His adopted brother, a son of God. You will be able to take all your cares and troubles to Jesus, and he will always be there to listen. Would you like to accept Jesus as your Savior? Can you believe with your heart and soul and mind, that He gave His life for you?"

I could see him struggling with all I had shared with him.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Zebulon - Day 212 - Historical Fiction

"Well, well! Who do we have here? Seems like things happen to people who come in contact with you, Mr. O'Hanlon! Maybe we need to take you down to the station for a little conversation."

"Surely you are joking, officer. I had nothing to do with what happened to either Miss Emmaline or to Mr. Wilson."

"Well, why don't you just tell us how you came to be involved with Mr. Wilson. I gather that is the name of the gunshot victim?"

"Yes. You see, I first met him a couple of days ago when he and his wife were in an argument. He was quite abusive to her. I discovered he is a veteran just recently back from Vietnam and can't find work. He has been discouraged and drinking doesn't help. His wife and little boy left yesterday to go to her mother's. I guess that was the final straw and was all he could take. Yesterday I invited him to go to church with us today. When I went over this morning, I looked in the window and saw him on his couch with an empty liquor bottle on the coffee table and simply assumed he was sleeping it off."

"Hmmm. That makes for a pretty good story, but how do we know you didn't get into an argument with him over his wife. Maybe you were sweet on her and thought he didn't deserve her! Beating on her and all that. Tell us how the shooting took place. Say, maybe you beat him up first! 

You better just stay here until we take a look at the victim. Just take a seat over there, O'Hanlon. We'll get back to you after while. You were a friend of that do-gooder, Finley, I understand. You one a them Bible-thumpers, I bet. Yah!"

Well, it didn't take a genius to see I was not going to have an easy time with those two knuckleheads. My only hope seemed to be the recovery of Claude Wilson. I had been alone with him a couple of  times that morning."

(To be continued) 

Friday, December 27, 2013

Zebulon - Day 211- Historical Fiction

She came running, along with her children. I sent the kids back and urged her to come on in. 

"Apparently, Claude tried to take his life with a bullet, but he failed and is hanging on by a thread. He is unconscious, however, and we need to get him to help. First, though, we need to pack the wound with some clean cloth, so we can keep it compressed when we move him. Could you look in a bedroom here and find a clean sheet, perhaps?"

She hurriedly left the room and spoon returned with one that looked well-worn and soft. 

"Perfect! Since he is still in a half sitting position, we can wrap it around him, underneath his shirt and pull it tight as possible. I'll carry him out the front door and lay him in the back of your station wagon. I'll sit in the back floor of your wagon, the kids can pile in the front seat next to you, and off we go to the hospital."

Without even considering, I had taken charge of the situation, and surprisingly, she did not question my directions.

"Where did you learn all this first aid?" she wanted to know when we were all on our way to the hospital.

"You seem to forget where I spent the last four years," was my reply. "I saw more than my share of bullet wounds, shrapnel bits, and bomb explosions."

Katy's eyes were round with awe as she stared at me over the edge of the front seat. 

"Katy, how many times have I told you to sit down while we are in the car? Now sit down; I have to keep my eyes on the road."

"Mr. Zeb, did people shoot at you?" Katy spoke, even though she could not see me."

"Of course, they did, you dodo," replied her brother. "That's what they do in a war!"

I had to smile at his response, even though it made me a bit sad that young people had to be so savvy about the things we as humans choose to do to one another.

Within minutes we were pulling up to the emergency room doors, and I was soon carrying Mr. Wilson into it. It seemed to be a madhouse, apparently with the people that had been in the wrecks already there in triage. Nurses were attending them, and looked at me with Claude in my arms.

"He has been shot and is in dire need of attention," I explained loudly, for the din was at a fairly high level. 

We stood at the nurses receiving station. The nurse began asking questions about name, address, and of course, insurance. I couldn't believe it. The man was maybe dying, and she thought those questions were important? 

I answered them to the best of my ability, and then she asked how it happened. I told her I didn't see it happen, but found him in his home, wounded, and his neighbors and I brought him in.

"You understand this has to be reported to the police, since he is a gunshot victim."

"Yes, ma'am. I know. I have already called them once, but please, can we put him on a gurney? He is beginning to get heavy."

"Yes, of course, I see an empty one, now."

I gladly lay my burden down and then sat down myself. Katy came over to me and placed her hand on my knee. 

"Will he be okay, Mr. Zeb? Who shot him? Why would anyone want to hurt him?"

"I'm sorry, Katy. I don't have any answers, but I know someone who does!" I replied. 


"Why, Jesus does, that's who! Why don't we talk to Him  and ask Him to take care of your neighbor?"

"Okay..." She folded her hands, as children do when praying, and asked Jesus to help Mr. Claude to feel better, and I added a few words and we both said "Amen". 

I turned to Mrs. Walsh and suggested she might want to take the children back home and I would be back after I talked to the police. I was sure it wouldn't be long before they came. 

Sure enough, as she was leaving with the children, here they came.

(To be continued)

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Zebulon - Day 210 - Historical Fiction

Leaving the view of Claude in the living room  window, I headed for the Walshes. When I entered their living room, I went directly to the telephone and called the police. I informed them of my suspicions and told them I would meet the investigating officers at the front door of Claude's home.

They promised to send someone in the next half-hour, since apparently the fellow wasn't going anywhere. They had just dispatched several of their men to a bad wreck out on a highway twenty miles outside town. It seemed it involved several cars, and a semi truck.

Thanking them, I decided to see if there was any coffee left from breakfast. I needed a cup in the worst way. Going into the kitchen, I saw Mrs. Walsh preparing the noon-time meal.

"Any hot coffee available?" I inquired hopefully.

"Yes, I'm just making some fresh. I thought it would be good after that brisk walk from church. Did you get any response from Claude Wilson's when you stopped just now?"

"No, in fact I think he may have gone the way of Miss Emmaline," I answered. "I just called the police but all the emergency vehicles and most of the officers are busy with a bad wreck out of town on a highway."

With those words, I decided to go immediately next door to the Wilson's and enter the house illegally. I had to know for sure.

"I'll be back after while. I'm going to break in and check on him," I told her.

"Wait! I have a house key to their back door."

I whipped my head around.

"What? Why?"

"Well, she went away for a couple of weeks to her mother's and left a spare so I could come over and water her indoor plants for her. She never came back over to get it, so I still have it."

Reaching up too a nail near the back door facing, she retrieved the said key and gave it to me.

Grabbing it quickly, I left through the kitchen door and headed across the back yard for the Wilson house. In fact, I ran.

Slipping the key into the lock, I opened the door, making my way through the very quiet house. The chill I felt told me the power may have been turned off. There was no heat here. It spoke of perhaps an unpaid bill.

Going immediately to the still form on the couch, I saw he had been shot, apparently self- inflicted. Feeling in his neck for a pulse, I felt a thready one, and realized he was still with us. I checked the place where the bullet had entered, and saw quite a bit of blood on his shirt front. I ran to the back door, shouting loudly for Mrs. Walsh.

( To be continued)

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Zebulon - Day 209 - Historical Fiction

Looking around, I hoped to see Claude, the next door neighbor to the Walshes, whom I had invited to attend the services. However, he was nowhere in sight. 

Several people stopped by our pew and shook our hands, welcoming me. Apparently they were already acquainted with the Walshes. Before long, Preacher Butler came by and shook hands with us as well. 

After the congregation sang several songs, the pastor mounted the steps to the pulpit and proceeded to read the scripture for his sermon. 

He chose scripture from the gospels about Peter's denial of Christ, when Peter's courage had failed. He then closed the Scriptures and continued, speaking of the bravery of so many young men fighting and dying to keep our country free from oppression. He spoke of those young men who, either through cowardice or simply choosing not to serve, were fleeing to Canada.

Then he spoke of the price many soldiers paid, either with their deaths at the hands of the enemy or coming back damaged, some seemingly beyond repair. Yet, they returned to vilification by the very people they represented. No heroes welcome for them. 

He went on to ask, "Where is our hand of Christian fellowship when it comes to these poor battered souls? Jesus later told Peter to 'feed my sheep', meaning to reach out to the lost and share the Good News with them. Jesus has come to save people from their sins. He has given us the charge to help others, not beat them down farther into the ground. Now, as His people, we must reach out with love and compassion." 

He then closed in prayer and a hymn of invitation. 

I observed the looks on the faces of the congregation. Some of them looked like they had been pole-axed with a two by four piece of lumber. A few had sour looks on their countenance; the rest simply appeared sorry for past behavior. 

On the way out, I thanked Preacher Butler for his thoughtful sermon. He told me he'd been considering it for some time, but my visit had spurred him to take action. 

We walked back towards the boarding house, and I stopped once again at Claude's house while the others continued on. Once again, I knocked loudly, calling out his name. No reply came, so I went to the front window again. There on the couch, I could see his profile. He did not appear to have moved at all in the past two hours. 

It looked like we might have to call the police once again.

(To be continued) 

Monday, December 23, 2013

Zebulon - Day 208 - Historical Fiction

Deciding to go next door to check on the neighbor, I put on my coat and hat, leaving the house of sadness, thinking the morning would be looking up since the Walshes and I would soon be on our way to church. 

I knocked gently on the door...waiting in the frosty morning air for a response. When none came, I tried again, knocking more loudly. Waiting another five minutes, I took hold of the door knob and tried turning it. Perhaps he needed help, I thought.

The doorknob did not turn. Going around to a window, I looked in and saw the profile of him sitting on the couch, with an empty bottle on the end table beside him. He looked to be asleep.  I decided to leave him in peace; he perhaps was "sleeping it off", so I turned and left, heading back to the Walshes' home.

When I got back, they were all ready to leave for church. So, off we went, with Katy holding my hand. She seemed to have taken a shine to me. She was skipping along to my long steps, so I slowed a bit. I then realized she enjoyed the skipping, so I lengthened my stride again. Katy chattered as she skipped. 

"Look at that bird up in the tree, Mr. Zeb! What kind is it?"

"I believe it is a Mockingbird, Katy. Listen to it! It imitates all the other birds it hears." We stopped for a minute to listen to its musical trills. 

"Where do all the birds come from, Mr. Zeb? How did we get so many kinds?" 

"God made all of the different kinds, Katy. He made everything that was made."

"Even people? Even the mountains? Even the sky?"

"Everything! Isn't it wonderful?" I replied.

"Why do people want to kill themselves, then, Mr. Zeb? Why did Miss Emmaline want to die?"

This seemed to be the question Katy had been anxious to ask in the first place.

"Oh, my, Katy. That is a tough one. Why don't you ask the pastor that one? I think maybe it could be because they give up on the joys of living. They give up on hope. We all have to have hope."

"Well, I hoped I would get a bicycle for Christmas, but I didn't. I am still hoping I can get one this next Christmas. I'm not giving up." 

"Good for you, Katy, but even if you don't get one, it isn't worth giving up, is it?"

"Nope, it ain't, Mr. Zeb! Cause there's always next year!"

I loved Katy's enthusiasm and childlike faith. Oh, that we could all feel that way, I thought. If only Miss Emmaline could have. I vowed to check on the neighbor again right after church. 

We all quietly entered the church and sat down in a midsection pew.

(To be continued)

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Zebulon - Day 207 - Historical Fiction

The policemen came into the living room from the stairway and began asking questions. 

"Who found the body? When did each of you last see her alive? Did you touch anything? What can you tell me about her. What was her name? Do you know the name of any of her living relatives? Telephone numbers to contact? Addresses?" 

We answered each question as truthfully as we could. I told them about seeing the newspaper in the trash, with the mutilated photograph. 

"What newspaper? Dex, go up and get it; bring it down."

Apparently, they had paid no attention to it; simply disregarding it as unimportant. After all, it was only a newspaper.

That little bit of information had the detective looking at me more closely. 

"Say, you look kinda familiar. Didn't I see you at the station house the other day? That red hair of yours is not easy to forget."

I smiled in return. "Yes, I was in there asking about Sgt. Finley. I want to find him and talk to him. I have a lot to thank him for."

"That's right! Now, I remember. You're the kid that used to hang around the station back a decade or so ago, aren't you? Your father... he was murdered, right? O' something."

"Yes, O'Halloran was his name. Did you ever discover who murdered him?"

"Sorry, kid...I can't answer that one for ya. Been too many crimes committed since then to keep 'em all straight. If ya find Finley, though, he can probably tell ya."

By this time, the other detective had come downstairs with the newspaper, saying, "Look at this. Here's the photo and article, but I don't get it. Why off yourself over an announcement and a photo? It don't make sense."

Mrs. Walsh explained it to them, and I showed them the Walsh's newspaper. 

"Well, ain't that somethin'? Killin' yerself over a old flame. Don't hardly make sense. You'd think she'd got over that a long time ago."

I could see this fellow had the sensitivity of a barn door. I thought about explaining it to him, then realized I would no doubt be wasting my breath, so I didn't even try. 

While we were talking with them the coroner came and soon was downstairs, pronouncing the death as a suicide. Men came and took her away. It was over as far as anything we could do. The policemen left as well.

The children left the room to get ready for church, and I was left alone with Sam and Mrs. Walsh. 

"Wonder what they will do with her body? No one to claim it, and we can't afford to bury her." 

"Most likely will be given to a medical school to study and then buried after they have finished, I guess," replied Sam. 

(To be continued)

Friday, December 20, 2013

Zebulon - Day 206 - Historical Fiction

As Dr. Hampton dialed the phone, I began to wonder if Miss Emmaline had left any clues behind as to why she had decided to take her own life? Had something happened that cause her to take such drastic action or simply that nothing had happened, and she decided life just wasn't worth the living. 

All at once, I was curious to get back inside that room. I knew that my curiosity was sometimes out of bounds, but that is just the way I have always been. I determined to somehow get in before the police came. I would be careful not to leave my fingerprints on any item.

"Er...um... I think I'll head back upstairs for a few minutes. If you'll excuse me."

"Of course, Zeb. I'll see you in a little while." Mrs. Walsh just assumed I needed to get ready to go to church, and I did, of course; just not at that particular moment.

Hurrying up the stairway, I let myself into the room, looking around hurriedly. Miss Emmaline had kept a very neat room, almost hygenic, it seemed. Everything had a place and was in it's place, apparently. I decided to look into the trash can and found a newspaper that had been shredded into bits. Using my handkerchief, I fished it out. 

Scanning it quickly, I saw an article whose picture had been almost obliterated. I read underneath the photograph. It was an announcement of an anniversary of a couple, who apparently had been of interest to Miss Emmaline. It hit me then - the realization of their identity. The fellow was the one she was supposed to have married. It told of a party celebrating the birth of their second child just a week earlier. 

She must have been thinking that it should have been her in that picture, and that the children should have been hers. Now she had nothing; not even a roof over her head except through the charity of others. 

I quickly returned the newspaper to the wastebasket and slipped quietly out of the room, saddened by the terrible waste of the life of the lady in the bed. How much good she could have done, if only...

Reflecting on how different our lives were...she had great wealth in the beginning of her life and wasted it all because of a great disappointment. Apparently, she didn't have faith in God. I came from very humble beginnings and could have turned out the same way, but someone took an interest in me and showed me the way to Salvation. 

It proved to me how very important others can be in our lives, and how we should always share our faith. I regretted that I didn't have the opportunity to do so with Miss Emmaline. Perhaps I could have made the difference. 

I determined I would write to Glenny and try to persuade her to read a Bible. I would see that I got one into her hands. I had to at least make the attempt.

Going to my room, I sat on my bed for a few minutes, lifting up the people I had seen since coming here in prayer. I know that God always hears what we have to say. He knows our thoughts as well. 

I soon heard the heavy steps of the police coming up the stairway and then the opening of Miss Emmaline's door. I came out of my room then, and went downstairs.

Going into the dining room, I saw Mrs. Walsh clearing the table and getting ready to clean the dishes. Helping her carry them into the kitchen, I informed her of what I had discovered. 

"So, that's it! It must have been like rubbing salt into her wounds, seeing that announcement, and probably thinking it should have been her. Poor thing! I can only imagine how she must have felt."

"Do you have a copy of yesterday's newspaper?" I inquired.

"Yes, it is probably in the living room, and most likely turned to the funny papers. The kids love to read the comics."

Going into the living room, I looked on the couch, and there was the paper with the comic strips smiling up at me. Picking it up, I turned to the society page. There was the announcement accompanied by the photograph. 

Yes, I was right in my surmising. The couple made a beautiful sight to behold. She was holding the baby and the other child stood to the right of her. Her husband was behind her, smiling adoringly down at the three of them. It had been a horrible reminder to Miss Emmaline of the emptiness of her own life. 

(To be continued)

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Zebulon - Day 205 - Historical Fiction

We all went back downstairs. Right now, eating was the last thing on our minds, but we had to wait for the doctor to arrive, so we sat at the table and after Grace was said, we tucked into the very good breakfast. 

The silence was palpable as we began eating; no one knew just what to say. Finally, I asked a question that had been weighing on my mind.

"Why had Miss Carter come to live here; do you know? What was her story, her background? Did she know you before she came here?"

"Miss Emmaline Carter was an acquaintance of my mother's, Zeb. When she lost her home and had no place to go, my mother found out and invited her to come and stay here. I never knew her before she came here. It seems that at one time was engaged to be married. On the morning she was to be wed, the groom took off with another woman and she was left behind, literally standing at the altar. It was to be a big affair, and her mother and father had put a lot of money into the arrangements."

"Oh, my!"

"It seems she considered him her last chance, because she was in her late thirties and not considered a beauty. The whole experience soured her on the world, and when her parents died a few years later, she felt there was no one left that cared about her. They left their house to her, but she took to gambling, and lost it. She was not good at gambling; along with the gambling came drinking. You see the results. My mother let her stay here rent free."

Looking around the table at the faces turned toward their mother, I quickly looked at her as well, with the question on my lips, but not spoken.

"Oh, yes, they know the story already. It is nothing new to them. I had to explain to them that they were to always treat Miss Emmaline with kindness, regardless of how she treated them. As children will, they understood."

I wondered what had happened to tip Miss Emmaline over the edge. Why had she chosen to take the pills last evening? What was the reason?

Sam spoke up then and said, "Makes ya feel right sorry fer her, don't it? Never took a chance on changing things. We always got choices."
About the time we finished our breakfast, the doorbell rang.

"I'll go get it!" Katy jumped up to get the door. 

"No, Katy. I've told you before, you don't answer the door. You must always let a grownup answer it. You don't know who it will be. Now, sit down and I'll go get the door."

Sure enough, it was the doctor and Mrs. Walsh escorted him up the stairway. We all sat at the table and waited. Within minutes, they returned back downstairs and she introduced me to Dr. Hampton. 

"I'll need to use your telephone to call the police," he told her.

"Of course; it's over there on the end table."

(To be continued)

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Zebulon - Day 204 - Historical Fiction

Apparently, the cocoa and conversation helped, because I was soon sound asleep with no disturbing dreams. I awakened to a gentle rapping on my door.

"Mr. Zeb! Time for breakfast! Fifteen minutes, Mom said," Katy informed me. 

"Okay, I'll be down soon. Thank you, Katy!"

I heard her knocking at the doors across the hallway and giving them the same message. Apparently there was no response at the lady's door, for I could hear Katy speaking more loudly. By this time, I was dressed enough to stick my head out my door. Sam had also exited his door. 

"She isn't answering my knock; do you think she might be sick?"

Katy looked anxiously at us, waiting for a response. Then she ran downstairs, while shouting for her mother to come up with a spare key. 

Mrs. Walsh came upstairs at a run, holding a key in her shaking hand. 

"She is always up by now, and has her bed made. I can't imagine what might be wrong!"

Inserting the key into the lock, she slowly opened the door, all the while calling out. Then going over to the bed, she gently touched the face of her tenant. 

In the meantime, I had flipped the light switch by the door, flooding the room with light. When I saw the still form, and the pallor on its face, I knew immediately she would not be getting up. I had seen enough dead bodies to know this was one. 

Turning at once to Katy, I said, "Why don't you go back downstairs and make sure the table is ready for breakfast? We will take care of this lady. She looks like she needs some more sleep, maybe."

Looking at me with a knowing glance, she replied, "She ain't getting up any more, is she? She looks like our dog, Petey, did when he got poisoned and died."

"Yes, Katy, but you do need to go downstairs anyway, because we need to call some people. Okay?"

"Sure, Mr. Zeb."

By this time, I had noticed the empty prescription bottle and empty glass sitting next to it. There was also a wine bottle, half empty. Sam started to pick it up to look at it, and I stopped him. 

"Sam, don't touch anything! I'm sure the police will have to be called. The doctor should be called first. Mrs. Walsh, do you have a family doctor you could call?"

She looked at me dazedly. Uh...yes, yes. I'll go call him at once."

(To be continued)

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Zebulon - Day 203 - HIstorical Fiction

Katy kept holding my hand as we walked over to the table. I was so tall, she had to really reach up to hold onto it. When I sat down, Katy stood next to me and put her hand on the scar on my neck. 

Rubbing her fingers on the scar, she asked, "Does it hurt, Mr. Zeb? Did you get this in the war?"

"No, Katy, I didn't. I got that one a long, long time ago. It serves as a reminder to me to always be kind to others."

"Why? Did someone hurt you when you were a little boy?"

"Katy! Leave Zeb alone with your questions! If he wants to tell you something, he will do so without your prompting. Now, Zeb, do you like marshmallows in your hot cocoa?"

Looking around the table, I nodded, and noticed the other Walsh children were looking at me to see if I were going to answer Katy's last question. I was in a quandary. If I told them my father had inflicted that hurt on me, I would likely taint their thinking. I couldn't lie to them either. 

"Well, Katy, I got in the way of someone who was very sick and angry. Later on, when that person realized what he had done, he told me he was sorry. The scar helps me remember I should not be angry and hurtful to others, especially those who can't protect themselves." I smiled at her and patted her on the head. "How about we drink our cocoa now?"

"Okay...do you have any children, Mr. Zeb?"

"No, Katy... maybe I will someday. I would have to find a wife, first, and I'm not quite ready to do that."

"Katy, I declare! I'm sorry, Zeb. I think she was born ready to ask questions! Katy, sit down and drink your cocoa!"

"You mean you didn't get that scar in the war?" This came from Paul, who had asked me about it on the day we first met. 

"No, I really didn't get any scars on the outside of my body, Paul." 

Henry asked, "Did you shoot any enemy people?" 

He didn't realize it, but he was hitting close to home when he asked that question. Some soldiers took pride in the number of the enemy they killed. For me, it was agonizing to think I had taken the lives of other human beings. It was one of the things I struggled with each day. 

"Yes, Henry, sorry to say I had to. I don't like killing others. Taking a human life is a large step to take, but I had a job to do. That doesn't mean I enjoyed it. I hated it. A lot of my nightmares take me back to the killing." I bowed my head. This conversation was getting too deep to be sharing it with these little kids. Perhaps, though, they would remember it and take it to heart for future reference. 

"Ma'am, this is wonderful cocoa! It reminds me of my Ma's. Now, if you don't mind, I need to get back to bed. Maybe the cocoa will help me to sleep without the nightmares. I thank you so very much. Are you all going to go to church with me tomorrow? We wouldn't have to leave until around 8:45."

"Of course, we will, won't we children?"

They nodded their assent, and I left to head back up the stairway. As I neared the top of the stairs, two doors down the hall popped open and the other tenants of the house stuck their heads out their doors. I got a dirty look from the middle aged lady who had such a sour disposition, along with the comment, "We've had enough racket tonight to wake the dead! I hope you're through making noise!"

The occupant of the other room, Sam, was more kind. "You okay,  young feller?"

"Yes, I'm fine, thank you. Sorry for the disturbance, sir. I'll try not to let it happen again."

"Oh, that's all right. I served in the First World War, don't cha know? I had them nightmares for a long time. The Jerrys were a bad lot. Any time ya wanta talk, jist let me know, okay?"

"Thank you, Sam. Good night now."

(To be continued)

Monday, December 16, 2013

Zebulon - Day 202 - Historical Fiction

Shuddering as I left the house, I considered the close call I had had in becoming involved with Glenny. I knew that perhaps I could have influenced her to change, but somehow, since God had warned me away from entanglement with her, that if she were to become a Christian, it would take someone other than myself to do it. Perhaps the fact that I had turned away from her would begin to wake her up. Anyway, I felt a great urgency to get to the small town where Sgt. Finley had gone a few years earlier. 

Walking briskly toward the rooming house, I encountered the man walking his dog. Once again, we nodded at each other, silently, and I wondered who he was. 

Arriving back at the rooming house, I entered the house quietly, but,  yes, there was Mrs. Walsh coming around the corner of the living room and I knew I needed to tell her I wouldn't be staying the month as I had planned. 

"Hello, Zeb! Back already?"

"Hmmm, yes, I didn't stay very long. Say, speaking of staying, I won't be here the month I had planned on. I need to be on my way south and see if I can find my friend, Sgt. Finley. I'm sorry to be leaving so soon. I'll be leaving day after tomorrow. I have enjoyed my time here with you all, brief as it was."

"Oh, well, er... ah...I'll go to the bank and get money to refund to you for the time you didn't stay. I'll have to run out early Monday morning. Will there be time? I'm afraid I've already used your money to pay some bills today."

"Hmmm. I'll tell you what, why don't you just forget it. Make me up a lunch on Monday morning to take with me on the bus? It is my own doing to leave ahead of time and I can't penalize you for that. Okay?" 

"Oh, my! You are too kind! Thank you so very much. You are a Godsend."

"You're welcome. I will be saying good night now. I'll see you all in the morning."

Entering my room, I felt exhausted. It had been a day filled with all sorts of experiences, and my energy seemed drained from my body. I decided to take a quick bath, then to bed. I knew I had taken one only the night before, and I didn't want to waste a lot of water. I knew the Walshes lived on a very strict budget. I made it quick and then on to bed.

Sleep came quickly, and with it the nightmares. I seemed to be drowning in a quickmire of mud, with my buddies. We were trying to get to men who were caught in crossfire. The enemy was picking us off, one by one. There was screaming, crying, shouting, and blood everywhere. Bullets were flying. I could hear myself shouting and it seemed there was thunder booming.

All at once I awakened to the banging of fists on my bedroom door. I was sweating profusely, and shaking all over. Sitting up in bed, and swinging my feet over to the side of it, I placed them on the floor. 

"Mr. O'Hanlon....Zeb...are you okay?" There were several voices shouting at my bedroom door. I got out of bed and walked over, opening the door.

"Yes, yes, I'm okay. Sorry to awaken you. I must have been dreaming, I guess."

"Come downstairs with us, Zeb. I'm getting ready to make some hot chocolate. These kids just have to have some before they go to bed sometimes. Will you come down with us?"

"Yes, come with us!" Katy grabbed my hand. 

"Let me put on my  bathrobe first," I smiled at her.

She stood and waited for me, not trusting that I would come along. 

We soon trooped down the stairs and sat at the kitchen table, where Mrs. Walsh was setting out some mugs. 

(To be continued) 

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Zebulon - Day 201 -- Historical Fiction

"Jimmy, you shut your Godd-er, your filthy mouth, before I shut it for you!" The words fairly flew from Glenny's mouth before she realized it. 

Whew! This was a side of her that God had been warning me of this afternoon. I could see she had embarrassed herself, and I hardly knew what to say. So I simply said nothing, looking down at my plate instead. 

Jimmy sneered at her, and lifted his eyebrows, looking in my direction. Apparently he had made his remark knowing he would get that kind of reaction from her. I silently thanked him for clueing me in. I might have been drawn in to a close relationship with her before discovering that side of her.

However, Jimmy came on in and sat down at the dinner table and the meal went on. I asked him how school was going. 

"Oh, all right I guess. I make mostly good grades. It just bores me most of the time. The classes are just too easy. I have some great pals, too. I'm starting up a rock band with some of them. I play the drums. Maybe you could come hear us, if you're gonna be around for a while."

"Well, I guess I won't be able to hear you. I'm leaving town on Monday."

Turning to Glenny I said, "I'm sorry; I hadn't had a chance to tell you yet. I just decided this afternoon. I feel a great urgency to try and find my friend that I'm looking for. I've already purchased my ticket. That reminds me, I'm going to the little church across the way from here in the morning. Would any of you care to go with me?"

They all looked at me with the stare of a deer caught in the headlights of a motor vehicle. 

Glenny's father said, "Uh, no, we don't believe in God or organized religion. We are Atheists, Zeb."

I laid down my fork, having just lost my appetite. 

"May I share the plan of Salvation with you all?" I asked.

"No, you may not. We don't want to hear any of that clap-trap religious stuff," he replied. 

I looked questioningly in the direction of each of the members of the family and each one in turn, answered with a negative shake of the head. 

"I guess I'd better be leaving," I said. "Thank you for the delicious meal. I will be praying for you all. I really need to go now."

"We don't need none a your prayin', just save your breath," commented the old man. 

I knew they needed it more than they realized. "It was really nice to see you again, Glenny. I'm sorry; I can't stay any longer. You take care now. If you decide to come to the church in the morning, you will be welcomed. Goodbye."

Putting on my coat and hat, I took my leave of the house, mentally shaking the dust of it from my feet. 

(To be continued)

Friday, December 13, 2013

Zebulon -Day 200 - Historical Fiction

Almost immediately, upon my knocking, the door opened to a gentleman dressed in brown corduroy trousers and a brown work shirt. He was also wearing a wool cardigan that looked as though it had seen better days. He looked me up and down as if taking my measure as a man, maybe deciding if he wanted me to be spending any time with his daughter.

"You must be that O'Halloran boy. I knew your father. Are you anything like him?"

Well, I must say I was quite taken aback by his outspoken comment and query, but I recovered quickly and smiled. I started to put out my hand to shake his, but then realized that would be a gaffe with his right hand injured and unusable.

So I simply replied, "I guess you'll have to be the judge of that, sir. I'm very pleased to meet you."

At that time, Glenny came into the room and came over to where we still stood in the open doorway.

"Come on in, Zeb! We need to shut this door and not let all the heat out. Welcome! Dad, why don't you take his coat and hat. I see you have met. "

 She looked at me apologetically, but I shook my head to let her know I had taken no offense at her father's attitude. I would no doubt feel the same way about the son of a drunk courting any daughter I would have.

"Yes, thank you."

Just then her mother came bustling into the room, wiping her hands on her apron, her face flushed from cooking.

"Mom, this is Zebulon O'Halloran. Zeb, my mom."

"I am so pleased to see you, Zeb. Why don't we all go on in and have a seat at the table? It is all ready to serve."

I handed her the box of flowers I had been holding and had almost forgotten about.

"These are for you, ma'am."

"Oh, my! Thank you, Zeb. How very thoughtful of you!"

 She glanced at Glenny in a meaningful way, and Glenny blushed, giving her head a little negative
shake as if to say, "No, Ma!"

She took the flowers into the kitchen and the rest of us sat at the table. In a few minutes, she brought them back in a vase and thanked me again, placing them on the corner buffet table. Returning to the kitchen, she soon came back into the dining room carrying a bowl with chicken and dumplings that smelled wonderful.

"Where is Jimmy? Is he out running around again? I told him I wanted him here for dinner tonight!"

"I don't know, Ma. He promised, but perhaps he got delayed somewhere. Dad, did he say anything to you?"

"No, he never even talks to me much anymore. "

By now, I was feeling very much in the midst of their family problems - a place I really had no desire to be.

"Er, ah, my goodness! That certainly smells wonderful!" I exclaimed.

"Okay, folks! Dig in. Jim,  would you pass the bread, please? "

Immediately, I realized this was a place that did not honor God, and knew why He was cautioning me about getting serious about Glenny. I was remembering the scripture about being unequally yoked. Of course, that didn't mean that she couldn't change, but I would tread lightly.  I bowed my head and said a silent prayer for this family and gave thanks for my food.

I looked up to see them looking my way, but just smiled and took the plate of biscuits that had been passed to me. Just about at that time, the front door was flung open and a young man came in, carrying a transistor radio that was blaring out a song that was popular among the teen set. 

"What's for supper? Who are you? Some guy Glenny has dragged in to try to snag?"

(To be continued)

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Zebulon - Day 199 - Historical Fiction

"Well, there doesn't seem to be one at that time listed here, but we just got in a new schedule change. Let me check that one."

He flipped through some papers until he located the newly revised schedules. 

"Ah, yes, here we go! Say, young feller! You got a crystal ball or something? How come you to come in here asking that question?"

Smiling at him, I replied, "No, sir. No crystal ball... I have a resource much better than that one! I was given instructions by a higher power. Now, I'd like to purchase a ticket for Monday morning on that bus, please. Say, you seem to know a lot that goes on in this town. I'd like to ask you about a shoot-out that took place a few years ago, where a policeman got killed and another nearly lost his life as well. What can you tell me about it?"

"Well, I know that they had a feller that robbed a place cornered, and he was the one that killed and then nearly killed the other one. The killer got away and I heard the injured one, a Sgt. Finley, was pretty well boogered up and was in the hospital for a couple or three weeks. When he got out, he was going to have to undergo a lot of therapy and he up and took his family off to somewhere in the south. 

They decorated him for bravery and did a big write-up in the newspapers. It so happened that I knew the Sergeant. He was a really nice feller and came by every once in a while, checking up on people that were missing. In fact, he came in looking for you and your sister after you left town. Your Ma was that beside herself, he told me."

Looking at the old man, I realized he was a veritable fountain of knowledge and information. He wasn't just a little old guy behind the agent's window, but someone who was apparently always ready to help; he was my kind of person.

Shaking his hand, I thanked him and took the ticket, bidding him a goodbye.

It was almost time to head for Glenny's home. I put the ticket in my billfold, slipped it into my inner coat pocket and walked out into the gathering dusk. We were on Eastern Daylight Time and evening comes early in the Wintertime; the day was beginning to be chilly as well. 

Walking briskly toward my old neighborhood once again, I wondered how I was going to tell Glenny, and the landlady as well, that I had changed my mind and would not be staying the month out. Well, I was sure they would most likely understand. 

Just as I was within a couple of blocks, I happened to remember I should have a little gift for Glenny's mother since I was a visitor in her home. I turned aside and headed for a small flower shop I had seen while walking downtown that morning. 

Arriving just before six p.m., I saw they were just about ready to close, and I quickly entered the shop. 

"Hello, may I help you?" The little old lady smiled sweetly up at me. She had to tip her head back to look into my face, since I was pretty tall. I felt as though I towered over her.

"Yes, please, I'd like a small bouquet, please, perhaps of carnations, if you have them?"

"Why, yes, young man! Just give me a couple of minutes and I'll have them ready for you. Any particular color?"

"Could you just kind of mix some together? Color doesn't matter, I reckon. They are for a hostess gift."

She dimpled prettily. "A first visit, eh? Going to see your girl, maybe?"

"Just an old friend, ma'am."

Within what seemed like seconds, she had placed a number of carnations in a narrow box, and then closing it, had tied a ribbon about the box and made a beautiful bow in the ribbon. 
She took a pencil from her fluffy white hair and made out a ticket. 
"There you go, young man! I hope you have a lovely evening. That'll be five dollars, please. Please come back any time."

Taking the florist box from her, I thanked her, and gave her a five dollar bill. She followed me to the door and locked it behind me. 

Heading back to the old neighborhood, I quickened my steps; I was going to be late if I didn't hurry.

Pretty soon, I reached my destination. I nervously cleared my throat, and headed for her front porch. I was wondering how the evening would go, and asked myself what I was actually doing there. I believed that God had clearly revealed to me that this was not to be a permanent connection for me, but I had to play it out to it's conclusion. I owed the situation that much. 

I knocked on the door. 

(To be continued)