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| | |-+  Beloved Apostate: A Novel by Josprel - Chapter Two
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Author Topic: Beloved Apostate: A Novel by Josprel - Chapter Two  (Read 832 times)
Josprel
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« on: December 26, 2006, 12:10:28 AM »

                                                                                           Beloved Apostate
                                                                                                          by
                                                                                                    Josprel

                                                                                                Chapter Two                   

The evening service was over and The Glory Land Singers were worth the 5000 dollars "love offering," negotiated to bring them to Highway.  The performance drew the church's highest attendance ever, but the alter call was weak; only three persons responded.

The performance did not impress Darnelís wife, Lela, who was not a fan of country Gospel music.  For most of it she sat in a church nursery with their infant son, David -- a mid-life child, born after years of disappointment and miscarriages.  A doting mother, Lela left the service early and David now lay fast asleep in his crib. 

Donning lounging pajamas, Lela sprawled on the plush rug that centered the spacious den of the expensive, palatial home she had pointedly dubbed, "La Hacienda de Oro" - ("The Estate of Gold.")  She aimed the remote at the TV, and promptly drifted into a doze.  It was the talking head on the set that woke her: "It's eleven o'clock.  Do you know where your children are?"

"He's in his crib.  You had to wake me to ask me that?" she grumbled, crawling to a recliner to watch the news. 
Despite the few extra pounds her recent pregnancy had added to her buxom figure, Lela possessed the air of one secure in her femininity.  Of South American extraction, she personified the beauty of that heritage.  Her long, raven hair - styled in braided earmuffs - framed a delicate, expressive face, the color of honey.  She possessed a warm, vivacious personality, often translated by her umber eyes into a sparkle that betrayed her love of fun.  It was a quality others found endearing, but which she fought, claiming it diminished the ministry.

Such inner conflict was not unusual for Lela; her gregarious nature was in constant conflict with her strong intellectual bent.  With an impeccable Pentecostal  lineage, she was the great-granddaughter of Julian G. Xavier, revered by the Latin Pentecostal churches as one of their founding theologians.  Plagued by tremendous persecution and threatened with imminent death, Julian Xavier had traversed South America, pioneering churches, setting them in order, developing pastors, and supervising teaching missionaries.  Even now, forty years after the great South American preacher's death, most Pentecostal groups viewed him as the century's most powerful missionary evangelist.  The FCA Seminary had dedicated a building to his memory - the Julian T. Xavier Missionary Hall.  And it was a tribute to his scholarship that the Trinity Evangelical Seminary, the prestigious non-Pentecostal,  seminary where Lela and Darnel had met, and from which Lela had earned her Master of Theology degree, and Darnel his Doctorate, taught Xavier's missionary methods. Julian's aptitude for deep study had been transmitted through his son, who had immigrated to the United States, to his grandson and ultimately, to Lela.  Her desire to be a missionary nurse had driven her to earn a nursing degree - summa cum laude  - followed by the seminary degree.  Then she met Darnel; her agenda changed and they married.

Headlights momentarily illuminated the windows.  Lela heard the rise and decent of the garage door.  A short interval, and Darnel stooped to plant a kiss on her raised forehead.

"How's Senora Hermosa?" he asked.  The Spanish reference was a pet phrase he used since early in their marriage, when he learned that it meant "Mrs. Beautiful."

The twittering of the phone knitted his brow.  He considered delegating the call to the answering machine, then sighed deeply and picked up.  "Darnel, here."

The voice at the other end relaxed his face into a grin.  "Jan!  Great hearing from you!"

A fringe of annoyance then edged his voice.  "Yeah!  When they visit you in Richmond, Dad always speaks for Chuck, but when they're here, they won't even attend our services.

"Sure, I've asked him; you know that.  But, they always leave on Saturdays.  It doesn't require a rocket scientist to figure out it's their way to avoid attending our services.

"No, Sis, don't say anything.  I don't want you caught in the middle of this whole mess, but  thanks anyway.  Regards to Chuck and  kisses to the kids from Lela and me.

"Take care, Jan.  Love you, too."

Cradling the phone, Darnel turned toward Lela.  His eyes - normally a coppery brown - took on the blackness of gunmetal.  In them Lela noticed a wounded look that seemed to alternate between pain and anger.  She understood; she'd seen it before.
 
She moved to him, reaching up to stroke his cheek with such tenderness that his eyes moistened; and, encircled by his arms, she rested her head on the firmness of his chest, feeling his grief, wishing she could heal it.  They clung together in momentary silence, blended in a oneness that transcended the physical. 

Darnel was the first to return to the mundane.  Jackknifing his lankiness into a love seat, he plunked his legs on an ottoman, Lela next to him, her head on his shoulder.

"My parents will be leaving Richmond tomorrow morning to drive here.  Jan said they should arrive sometime Tuesday.

"You know, Hermosa?  When they make their rounds to visit their children, they always visit my sisters on a weekend, but they only come here on the weekdays - every single time!"

"That's because they know we're so busy on weekends," Lela assured him.

Darnel struggled against a quaver in his voice before responding.  "Good try, Hermosa;   but Chuck and Jan pastor a large church, too.  Mom and Dad always visit them on weekends.  You know what really hurts?  Chuck is only their son-in-law and Dad always preaches for him.  I'm their son, but they won't even attend Highway!"

"He spoke here."  Even to Lela, the statement sounded hollow.

"Come on, Hermosa!  That was only once, when we first took the church.  He's always refused afterward.  I don't know why.  The people loved him.  He won't even talk about the church.  When I broach the subject, he evades it and so does Mom."

"Then why bring it up; respect their silence on the matter."

"Oh, no!  This time Dad's not getting off the hook.  I'm going to confront him on the matter."

Sitting up with a start, Lela sternly frowned at Darnel.  She had never before heard him speak so forcefully on the subject of his parents' visits.  "Now Darnel!  Don't do something you'll regret!  If dad won't preach for you, respect his wishes.  He's your father!"

"Hermosa, I won't argue with him, but he's built a wall between us since he spoke at Highway.  I just want to know why.  We were always so close."

The plea for understanding in Darnel's tone softened Lela's protest.  "I understand sweetheart, but don't do this.  You may not like what you hear.  Please!  Let it lay.  For me!  Just remember that Dad Ladner isn't the only one who won't attend Highway."

Darnel knew what Lela meant.  When her parents visited, they also left before the weekend.

"Sweetheart," Lela continued.  "You pretend not to know what's wrong, but you really do.  Don't you?"

Darnel took on a hangdog expression.  He heaved a great sigh and caressed Lela's cheek with a finger.  "Yes, Hermosa - I know.  It's because of the Fresh Wine Movement.  Chuck rejects it, so Dad preaches for him.  Highway is the center of it, so he shuns it. Still, I've got to speak to him about it.  Things can't stay the way they are.  I promise to drop the matter if things get tense.  That's a solemn promise, darling!"

Lela's bottom lip curled into a pout.  "Su boca!  Dios oido!  Pero, yo percibo un ad!" she declared, testily.

"You always do that!  You know I don't understand Spanish!"

Lela stared directly at Darnel.  "I said, `Your mouth!  God's ear!  But I sense a storm!'  Do you understand that?  We've had a long day.  Time for bed.

                                                                                                           End of Chapter Two
« Last Edit: December 26, 2006, 12:22:25 AM by Josprel » Logged
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