Heart of Stone
by Darrel Bird
Not For Sale
Author requests article critique
Not For Sale
Author requests article critique
Heart of Stone
Daren Bond sat glassy-eyed as the loud music pulsed and thumped against the walls of the room. He watched as everyone sat around on the floor with their legs crossed.
They had stuffed towels under the door to keep the Marijuana smoke in the room and you could get a hit off the fog alone. The music had begun to sound like screeching tires in his ears and he thought, “How did it get this way?”
Daren’s head was swimming as he sucked on his third roach. He had already been drinking the afternoon away, but neither the Marijuana nor the beer was doing much good. He looked around the room at the men he had come with and wondered what he was doing there.
He thought of his wife waiting at home with the kids, and a twinge of guilt went through him. Daren knew he ought to be getting home. He looked around at his grungy, stringy, long-haired buddies, and then reached up and felt his own and his hand came away greasy.
He said to the nearest one to him and to the air “Hey, I’m goin home!” But they were too stoned to notice. Daren just opened the door and staggered to his car. The sun was still up as he gunned the old Olds out of the driveway and on to the road and headed for home.
The next morning he awoke with a roaring headache and staggered to the shower to get ready for work. Another Monday morning as he remembered the new song Johnny Cash had out ‘Sunday Morning Coming Down.’ The song had saddened and touched him with its truth of an alcoholic’s life.
His life had become a burden and his home-life a constant battle to keep it all together. He wanted to keep it together, but it seemed as if his whole life was on a downhill slide.
His thoughts went back to a time a few years ago. He had sat at the side of the road near a bridge drinking beer and prayed to the God of his youth that he would see his baby daughter grow up.
Daren worked at a building company just off one of the main drags of the city.
They were building prefab houses and he had gotten a job there. The wages weren’t so hot, but he liked the work, doing one job and then another.
There was not too much he could not do in the building trades He had been in and out of the building trades most of his life. He’d had lots of good jobs; he just couldn’t stick with them.
His wife walked into the kitchen and said nothing, but Daren recognized the hurt look on her face. He had once again blown most of their needed money on liquor and cross-tops leaving a shortfall. There was hardly enough to get by even if he spent the money on needs.
He had taken to using cross-tops which cost about twenty dollars for a line of ten. He could drink all weekend without passing out if he juggled the Benny’s just right.
“Crap.” He thought as he headed for his old broken down dirt-white Olds. He got in and slammed the door. He switched on the key and checked the gas gauge; a quarter of a tank and that old Olds was the biggest gas guzzler in town.
”Crap, crap, crap!” He exclaimed as he gave the steering wheel three hard whacks with the palm of his hand.
Starting out on another Monday morning with no money to get to work all week and the rent not paid up.
He thought “Nothing ever changes in this frappin world!” But he gunned the Olds on to the street with oil smoke billowing out the tailpipe as he headed for his dead-end job to support his dead-end life, a life that held no hope.
On his way to work he listened to the Eagles singing ‘Hotel California’ and he forgot about the unpaid rent.
As he got out of the Olds in the parking lot and slammed the door behind him he saw his painting buddy get out of his car and head toward him.
“Hi Daren.” said James as he fell into step with him. “What did you do this weekend?”
“Oh, not much.” he lied as he wiped his sweaty brow. “Crap it’s gonna be a hot one.”
Daren wanted to change the subject. James had been asking him about two times a week to come to his church and he always put him off. James was a decent guy and he didn’t want to offend him.
At least James’s soft voice didn’t aggravate the crap out of him; his voice was too soft to intensify a hangover. Daren liked to work with him, even though he thought James was a little quirky.
James was a small thin man who wore his brown hair short and he was just about the fastest man with a paint brush as Daren had ever seen.
James never spoke a curse word even if he banged a hammer on his thumb. Daren knew that every other word he himself spoke had to be initiated and baptized with a swear word although he had sworn less since James had come to work there.
Now Daren’s favorite word was crap and a few choice others that he was saving for special occasions.
Somehow Daren made it through until Friday. He and James had done a good weeks work.
It made him feel good to work a week with not much to drink. “Crap, I’ve been too broke to drink.” Daren thought as he began to wash up his paint tools.
James came over and joined him at the water hose as he was squirting water into a bucket.
“Say, how about coming to our church Sunday?” James asked casually as he began to clean his brushes.
“Crap, there goes that church business again!” Thought Daren at he worked savagely at a brush. He thought. “I ain’t seen the inside of a church in so long I done forgot what they look like!” But all he said was “Maybe next week I got something going this weekend.” He lied.
No use telling him I’ll end up drunk all weekend and broke again Monday.
“Nothin ever changes in this frappin world.” Daren thought as he slopped the water out of the bucket and quickly threw the brushes and rollers into it.
He walked across the compound and lined up behind the others as they poked and hit at one another good-naturedly in the pay line.
He got to the pay window in a few minutes and reached for the oversized check the cheap company used to pay the employees.
“Crap, who they foolin?” He thought as the woman handed him the check with a frown like it was coming out of her own pocket “Stupid broad.” Daren quipped to his self.
Daren walked hurriedly across the compound and out the gate and over to the liquor store which sat next door to the building company.
A little bell jingled that was tied to the crossbar with a worn piece of cord. He felt a small guilt as he walked to the cooler and took out a tall six-pack of Coors beer. The guilt left quickly as he knew that he would get beer before he got home anyway.
He got back out to the Olds and sat behind the wheel and popped his first top of the weekend.
Two beers were gone when he got to the local Red Rooster Tavern. He had no cross-tops to pop so he was buzzed in the heat by the beer.
He stopped at the Tavern and spent the next two hours downing one beer after the other. Finally, he noticed the time and decided to go home.
“It is already five-o’clock fer cripes sake!” He thought as he looked at his watch.
“Crappy world never changes!” He said savagely as he drove the Olds into the driveway and noticed the tall grass in the front and backyard “Crap, I got to mow that!”
He slammed the door and walked into the house and flopped down in his old and worn second-hand easy chair his wife had from somewhere. He plunked the six-pack down beside him and popped the top on a cold one.
The kids all scrambled to the backyard. They knew he would beat the crap out of them if they didn’t settle down.
His wife passed by on her way to doing whatever she did to keep the house halfway together not saying much at all. She didn’t say much any more.
“Crap! What is there to say?” He thought drunkenly “Nothing ever changes.” When six-thirty came Daren was getting along toward sloppy drunk and he downed another tall Coors and finished off the job.
Then he heard a knock on the front door and he got up and staggered over to it.
There stood James with some woman. He introduced her as his wife.
“Well Crap, this is all I need!” Daren thought as he said “Just a minute.” He walked quickly over to the chair and reached for the beer. And as hurriedly as he could he walked to the refrigerator and shoved it in slamming the door loud enough to wake the dead.
He had not expected James to show up with his Pastor wife! Fact is he didn’t expect him to show up with or without a wife as he hadn’t invited him.
It irritated him that James had pulled a surprise visit, but he put it off to stupid and told them to “Come on in.”
His wife looked around and Daren’s wife came down the hall to see what was going on.
Daren and James made the necessary introductions. Then Daren took James into the kitchen to sit at the kitchen table while their wives talked in the living room getting acquainted with each other as only women can.
“Frappin women can just get acquainted just by looking at each other. Not like us men who got to circle one another awhile. Frappin women just look at each other and read one another’s minds fer cryin out loud.” Daren supposed.
Daren tried not to appear drunk, but his voice slurred and he knew it. “Crap, what a night!” Daren thought to himself as he kept up the small talk as best he could.
After a few minutes he noticed his wife and the Pastor wife heading down the hall.
“Crap, they’re gonna gang up on me!” Daren thought as he sat and smiled foolishly at James.
After about an hour of this foolishness Daren was getting along toward wanting another beer, but didn’t dare with this religious bunch lurching all over the house.
“Crap… they might be all over tha county.” Daren thought drunkenly.
“They might even be a swarm of’em!” Smiling foolishly as James yakked on about something or other.
Then James wife came back into the living room with Daren’s wife in tow and said “James we’d better be going.” giving James a no-nonsense look and James got up to go.
James had to once again invite the whole bunch to church Sunday and headed for the door.
It looked to Daren like they were in a rush to get out of there.
“Well crap. Who invited them in the first place?” He muttered.
“Crap I feel weird.” Daren thought as he watched James flick on his headlights and back out of the driveway. “I got to go and get something stronger to drink!”
He staggered out to the Olds and spun her around and headed toward the local liquor store.
He knew he was drunk so he drove the backstreets and avoided the main drag. It was only six blocks to the liquor store.
He bought a bottle of one hundred proof Vodka and drove the same way back home. When he pulled into the driveway he had already downed half of it.
Daren staggered into the kitchen and plopped down at the table. He started chasing the Vodka with a warm beer he’d missed beside the second-hand easy chair. He wondered if the Pastor wife had seen it sitting there.
He drank awhile and got up to go to bed, but the floor of the living room attacked him by coming up to whack him upside the head.
“The nerve of that crappin floor.” He slurred drunkenly as he lay there trying to figure out how he had gotten so horizontal when the floor was standing up a minute ago, and then his lights went out.
The next morning about eight Daren awoke with a screaming banshee wailing inside his head.
He got up off the floor and staggered into the kitchen and plopped down into a chair rubbing the side of his head wondering how he had gotten on the floor.
He sat there rubbing his head a few minutes and eventually his head settled into a dull ache.
Finally he walked over to the sink and taking down the instant Folgers he slopped three teaspoons of coffee grounds into a cup and ran it full of hot water from the tap.
He walked back over and sat down at the table and sipped his coffee as he pondered his fingernails and stirred his coffee.
The strong coffee began coursing through his bloodstream after a few minutes and he sat there and felt better than most mornings after a dance with Jack Daniels.
He looked out the window at the bright early morning sunshine and the sunshine looked a little brighter than most days. “Must be my eyeballs.” Daren thought.
Daren suddenly remembered the bar owner had been after him to paint his kitchen and he thought. “I’m gonna go down there and paint that kitchen for the bar bill I owe. I don’t feel like drinkin’ today neither, crap with the beer, I’m gonna mow the yard too.”
Daren just got up from the table and walked over to the refrigerator and took out the two tall Coors. He pulled the top off the first one then the other and poured them down the sink and wondered. “What’em I doing pouring out my beer?”
His wife walked into the kitchen and just stood there looking at him with those hopeless eyes of hers.
“Crap, I hope she don’t start in.” He thought and before she could say anything he said he was going to the Red Rooster to paint the bar owners kitchen.
He walked over and gave her a passing smack on the lips as he walked out the door putting on his dirty tattered and paint spattered cap.
Daren loved his wife deeply and always had since they had met. He was 21 years old and still in the Military when they met and married and he knew she loved him. It was always the drinking that stood between them. It made his heart ache to look into her hopeless eyes when she looked at him.
Daren drove the mile and a half down to the tavern and parking his car he walked through the ridicules red door.
There was no one in the place but the owner standing behind the bar washing glasses in steamy water.
Daren stood at the end of the long bar.
The bartender mumbled “Mornin.” And reached for the tap with one hand and glass with the other and in one swift fluid motion he started pouring beer for his best customer.
Daren threw up his hand palm out to the bartender and he released the lever at a half glass and looked quizzically at Daren.
“You still want your kitchen painted?” Daren asked without sitting down at the bar.
“I sure do.” The owner said. “You wanna paint it today?”
“Yep.” Replied Daren, and the bar owner slid the keys to his house down the bar.
“See you later.” Said Daren as he swiped up the bar owners house keys and walked out the door.
“Lock it up when you leave!” Yelled the bar owner through the already closing door.
“Yeh, yeh.” Said Daren, but the door had already closed.
The bar owners house was just a few blocks away.
Daren worked steadily through the morning and was done about one o’clock in the afternoon.
He felt well accept for he hadn’t eaten all day, but he drank copious amounts of clear water from the sink as he worked that morning and it cleaned out his system.
Daren gave the kitchen one last appraisal then locked the house and drove back to the tavern.
Daren slid the keys down the bar to the owner and the owner reached for a glass with that same practiced movement of his, but again Daren threw up his hand stopping the bartender at a half glass.
“Thanks but I gotta go. Are we even on the tab?”
“Sure see you later.” He said as he went back to wiping the bar that didn’t need wiped.
But Daren never did see him later, in fact he never saw him again.
Daren went back home and cranked the creaky old lawnmower and mowed the yard. Eventually he stopped it at the back door and shut it off.
The old mower gave one last pop and then died. He walked into the house sober for the first time on Saturday since he could not remember when.
His wife came up and kissed him on the mouth. That was her way of checking for alcohol on Daren’s breath and he knew it.
She turned and walked back toward the kitchen where she was preparing a supper of steak and potatoes. “She never could cook potatoes worth crap.” Daren thought.
His wife was California grown and there wasn’t a person ever born in California who could cook potatoes fried the way he liked them. He was raised in the south, but they had returned to California when his hitch was up in the military.
It smelled good as he walked to the sink and poured a full glass of water and stood there and drank it all without removing the glass from his mouth.
He somehow felt different that day he, and plopped down in his second-hand easy chair.
He looked around the room at the worn and tattered furniture which was all they could afford. “Crap!” He reckoned as he surveyed it, “I never noticed before how beat-up this place is.”
Daren’s kids could sense that it was safe to stay in the living room that night so long as they were careful around their Dad. They lined up on the couch and watched TV and stayed quiet.
His wife gave him a few of her thinking looks as the evening wore on. She kept looking at him every once in a while as if he had something growing out of his head.
Generally he was stoned on Saturday evening and she didn’t know what to make of it him sitting there sober.
They went to bed quietly, and Daren slept deeply the whole night.
The next morning, Sunday, Daren was up early sitting at the table drinking coffee when his wife walked sleepily into the kitchen. She started puttering with the toaster because she didn’t drink coffee.
“Get the kids ready this morning; we are going over to that there church where James and his wife go.”
“Crap, I didn’t know that myself.” Thought Daren, but he thought it was what he wanted to do even after he had said it.
“We don’t have much to wear to a church.” His wife answered as she turned and gave him a startled look.
“Well crap, get’em in what they do got, we’re goin!” Daren answered back.
His wife took her toast and disappeared toward the bedrooms. He could hear her waking up the kids. She had a clear voice that could break glass.
They all managed to get baths and the best clothes they had on that morning, including Daren. He had a pair of jeans that had only a couple spots on them, and a halfway decent shirt.
They all trooped out to the beat-up four-door Olds, all seven of them piling into the car, doors slamming.
Daren turned the ignition key wondering if the beast was going to cooperate.
He surveyed the gas gauge, “Crap, less than a quarter of a tank! Frappin gas guzzler!” Daren thought.
They had to drive clear across town into an outlying village to get to ‘that there church’.
Daren turned the ignition and after a few growls and groans she fired off so he threw her in reverse and backed into the street. For the first time in years, he mumbled a prayer to God, just in case He was real, that they would have enough gas to get them back home.
They arrived at the little church that sat back a few feet off the main drag of the little suburb town that was across a dry river bed.
Daren parked the car along the curb and they all piled out. The kids looking bewildered at the place, and Daren felt no small amount of apprehension himself as he led his surprised family toward the door.
It took all he had in him to open the door of that church house not having any idea of what to expect and afraid of what he would find.
James was puttering around the front with the song books and looked surprised as he saw Daren standing inside the door. The rest of the family couldn’t get through the door because Daren was blocking it.
James walked quickly back to Daren, and shaking his hand vigorously pulled Daren on into the church.
Daren’s wife timidly followed him in with the baby in her arms and the kids in tow not knowing what else to do.
He knew his wife and kids were uncomfortable, but so was he. Now he wondered what in the world he was doing there.
James’s Pastor Wife saw them and walked quickly back. She shook their hands and greeting them warmly.
Soon other folks started shaking their hands. Of all the handshaking Daren never saw in his life. He felt like he was handling a bilge pump on a leaky boat when they got through.
The kids all clumped up looking scared out of their wits. His little girl clinging to her mama dress like crazy and three older boys looking like they might have to run.
The baby calmly sucked on his bottle. He didn’t care where he was at.
The folk seemed friendly, but it eased off after a few minutes and everybody settled down into a hard seat.
The little church was a poor and humble place with a cross made of two-by-fours on the wall behind the pulpit. The worn old pulpit stood in the front of it a few feet out.
There were two benches about four feet long standing each side of the pulpit, and Daren wondered what those were for. He later found out they were called ‘altars’.
James went around handing out tattered song books, and the woman Pastor began the service.
After officially welcoming Daren and his family her daughter whom he didn’t know at the time was her daughter, cut loose on that old upright piano. She played like the keys were red-hot and that gal could play.
They ripped into a song or three, and the service moved along that bright Sunday morning as the woman Pastor preached a sermon.
What Daren noticed most of all about the service and the people was that they talked of God as if they lived next door to Him, and it was the most natural thing in the world. That fascinated Daren. He had never heard people speak in that manner.
After the service just about the whole church walked to the back before Daren could get to the door and started the handshaking all over again.
Daren and his wife both had to pump like mad. As soon as one gave you three or four pumps another hand was there to continue the pumping like the whole bunch of them was striking pay dirt.
“Crap, even the kids er in the pumping business.” Daren thought as he shook one hand after the other.
But he had a warm feeling among all the other emotions that were flooding through him. And all the folks urged them to “Come back tonight at six O’clock, we’re starting a Revival.”
“Crap, they don’t need much revived over what they already are.” Daren thought as he mumbled that he “might be able to make it.”
“As if I had a full schedule, I just might be able to fill it in if’en I was careful and timed it just right.” Daren thought wryly.
They finally got to the car after the last wave and headed home, the family was silent most the way back home. Finally Daren asked his wife “What did you think of that?”
His wife answered with “I dunno.” That was typical of her when she was taking her wait and see attitude toward something. Daren thought “That darned woman won’t ever come out-and-out and tell you what she thinks!”
They spent a quiet Sunday afternoon sitting around the living room watching TV and the kids were outside playing.
Suddenly his wife got up and just came over and gave him a peck on the lips. Darren didn’t know what to make of it, but he liked it.
About four thirty rolled around and Daren looked at his wife and said “You wanna go back to that there church?”
His wife looked at him and said “If we’re going I have to get the kids ready.”
“Well get’em ready fer craps sake!” So his wife got up and started calling kids like she was calling an auction and selling prized heifers.
About five thirty they all piled into the car slamming the doors, bam bam, bam bam, and they were off to ‘That there church’.
Daren pulled into about the same spot along the curb. The car door didn’t shut all the way and Daren started to slam her again but thought better of it and just left it hanging part way open.
They got to the church door and the pumping started all over again.
They were finally seated along a pew and more people were pouring in and the seats were filling up.
Daren noticed a woman standing looking around for an empty seat so Daren got up and offered her his. The place had filled up leaving no more seats.
Daren walked back and stood leaning his back against the wall of the church with five or six other men.
Then the woman Pastors daughter cut loose on that piano again with a sweep across the keys from low to high, and the whole place cut loose with singing and clapping.
She worked the keys of that upright with a vengeance singing “I don’t know what you came to do, but I came to praise the Lord.” And hands were shooting up and waving like the feet of dead cockroaches at a Black Flag convention.
As the service progressed people would break out in some strange language every once in a while, and that place really got jumping.
Daren had already begun to have misgivings about coming back to ‘That there church’ and along about that time a man fell out of his seat and started crawling on his back like a snake. It was the weirdest darn thing Daren had ever witnessed in all his born days.
Somebody yelled, “Don’t let him get out the door!” Two old boys weighing in about two- seventy-five jumped astraddle that sucker and pinned him to the floor.
About six or eight people gathered around him and started praying in that strange language. They were calling on God to “Deliver him.”
After about ten minutes they let him up and he headed for the benches they called “Altars.”
About three or four went with him and clung on to him weeping and waving their hands in the air. The rest were singing and clapping to the top of their lungs.
About the time they were doing all the praying in the strange language Daren was thinking “Crap, I gotta get outta here!” And he took a step toward the door.
About the time he got his second step in a young woman just fell across the aisle in front of him. She hit that hard floor like a sack of cement.
He stopped because he thought the woman had a heart attack or something, and he looked around expecting someone to light atop her and do CPR. But nobody paid any attention at all and just went on with their singing and clapping and ‘praisin tha Lord’.
Daren just stood there blocked in. He didn’t dare step over the woman so he looked around wildly for another way out, but there was none!
He just didn’t know what else to do but to stay put. That woman laid there out like a light clear till the end of the service so Daren couldn’t get out.
Some woman cut loose and started dancing around and round with her hands in the air.
After all the singing and clapping was done with was done an evangelist got up there. He looked to be in his early and he went to preaching.
He preached an hour long sermon on death, Hell and the grave. By the time he got through Daren was sure he was going to be shaking hands with the Devil any minute.
As the service ended they all just turned back into normal people again, and Daren had calmed down by the time the pumping, hugging and back-whacking was done with.
They finally broke loose and were on the way home when Daren asked his wife “What did you think of that?” His wife returned with a “I dunno.” And Daren knew that was all he was going to get from her in the way of an answer and so he set up to figuring it out by his self.
On Monday, as Daren and James worked together, Daren questioned James about the man who was trying to crawl like a snake. James said, “The man had a demon in him and they cast it out”. The strange language was ‘tongues’. And the woman who was lying across the aisle was ‘slain in the Spirit’. Daren spent the day thinking about it all.
He had more to think about now than he had in six months.
“Crap, the whole world has changed!” Daren thought.
“I don’t even want a beer! Sure is some strange stuff!” He mulled as he swatted at the walls of the building with his paint roller.
He thought of all the friendly folk at ‘That there church’ and he liked it. They didn’t seem to be putting on a pretext; they seemed honest, down-to- earth, and humble.
He was still fascinated with the fact that they spoke of God as if He lived next door. He thought of all this as he painted that day.
That day James had urged him to “Bring the family and come on out to the ‘Revival.”
Daren thought fiercely about these things all the way home on Monday evening.
He passed by the Tavern where he usually stopped, and without a thought about it pulled into his driveway of his home.
That was the third day Daren Bond was sober as a judge, and he had not been sober for three days straight in fifteen years.
He walked into the house and his wife looked at him strangely as she glanced at the clock. Daren just gathered his wife tenderly in his arms and held her and kissed her sweet lips.
He said, “Get ready, we’re goin to that there church revival.”
Pandemonium broke loose again as his wife started rushing around to get four kids and a baby ready for ‘That there Church.’
The boys knew better to say anything. They were afraid they would get their ‘block knocked off.’ They had witnessed their dad do that many times, first swatting one, and then the other across the back of the head with his palm.
Sometimes he grabbed a hold of their ears like he was bulldogging a steer.
Daren’s favorite threat was “I’m gonna knock your block off if you don’t seddown!” Then he would ‘Knock their block off’ before they even had the chance to set down. But that Daren was soon to disappear.
A little while before Daren Bonds world changed, Daren’s young and only daughter had “Wanted to help Mom.” So she picked up the baby out of his crib, and dropped him square dab on his head on the hard kitchen floor which cracked his skull wide open.
His wife’s brother was a local ambulance driver, and he answered the call from Daren’s wife to come and get the baby.
He said later that he didn’t think the baby would live as the ambulance rushed him to the nearest hospital about two and a half miles from the Bonds home. Daren was, as usual, off somewhere drunk, and he didn’t learn about it until the next day.
The baby had a long skull fracture that showed up on the x-rays, and the doctor had said they would just have to let the fracture close naturally, and that it would take time.
The problem was the baby could not hold milk on his stomach, and every time Daren’s wife would feed him the baby would vomit it back up. At times he would just squirt the milk back out his mouth as fast as it went in, and the baby was losing weight quickly.
All the time of the church business Daren’s wife had to struggle with the baby to try to get a little milk to stay on his stomach.
Daren’s wife begged off going the next night on that account and Daren went to the revival on Tuesday by his self, still sober as a judge.
The revival ended on Thursday night, and Daren looked forward to Sunday.
He had a hunger for ‘that there church’ and left the Devil grieving over losing such a good customer.
The Devil was sure he would get him back if there was any way in hell. Trouble was that Daren Bond had left hell before the Devil even knew the gate was open and he was even loose.
Daren was getting used to the tongues by now. He still didn’t know what to make of them. All he knew was that he was sober and he liked it. He was going to sleep sober and he was waking up sober.
The next Sunday night Daren went and knelt down at that altar and prayed to the God that everybody else around there seemed to know first-hand, and he was serious as a toothache.
Daren had begun to go there any time the doors were open.
The next Sunday the woman Pastor along with the whole church including kids and dogs prayed for the baby. He had squirted puke clean out into the aisle from where Daren’s wife was sitting and holding him.
During the next week the baby was puke free and was holding his milk.
At the next doctors visit, the doctor said the fracture had “Just closed up, and the baby was ok.”
He called in three or four other doctors and they all stood around gawking at the x-rays jabbering and twittering like a bunch of squirrels. They would all look at the baby and then back at the x-rays and break out jabbering and flailing their arms around again.
The Baby never did puke that way again accept for the normal baby barf and he put on weight.
He took to peeing in Daren’s face every chance he got and Daren figured he was looking for some payback.
During that time Daren had heard a lot of preaching. He got to wondering why he didn’t know God like he was his ‘next door neighbor’ and he wanted to know if God was real or not.
One Tuesday evening Daren was reading the Bible somebody had given him. He read where Moses went up on some mountain to talk to God, and it made sense to Daren.
Obviously it was closer to heaven than down in the valley. He made up his mind that he’d just do the same.
Daren had read in there somewhere that God wasn’t partial with folks and he figured it just took a little elevation.
He thought about getting up on the roof of the house, but thought that wouldn’t be high enough so he vetoed that idea right off the bat.
So he drove up to the mountains that rose from the valley floor that next Saturday and parked his car.
He began to climb and got a little more than halfway up and pooped out.
He sat there with the evening sun shining on his face and puffed awhile. He wanted a cigarette but thought better of it.
Finally when he got his breath he sat and thought about the whole problem. He remembered Moses had to pull his shoes off first. Daren couldn’t figure why the Lord would want to smell stinky feet but he unlaced his shoes and pulled them off.
He was tempted to put them back on after he got a whiff but he didn’t want to take chances of God not hearing him with his shoes on. So he sat there in his sock feet and bore the brunt of the smell. He wondered about the socks, but he couldn’t remember anything said about no socks so he left them on.
He looked up to the sky and said “Dear God!” He thought it might be better to put it like a formal letter rather than start out with just ‘God’.
“Dear God! If you are up there I need to know it. Can you talk to me?” He said it pretty loud. He figured it was probably loud enough for God to hear after him closing up the distance and all by climbing up there.
Although he wasn’t sure if he was going to have to climb to the very top to be heard or not he wondered if Moses had to yell or just what?
He didn’t remember the Bible saying anything about voice volume and he wished the Lord had of covered it in more detail.
Just about that time Daren heard a voice in his head clear as a bell “I have seen you, go your way.” And somehow Daren knew deep down it was his maker speaking. This voice was like no other Daren had ever heard from anybody. It carried with it a sense of infinite power and commanding of obedience, it crashed through his being like a juggernaut.
The one that created him for whatever questionable or unquestionable reason had spoken to him. He didn’t know what it meant, but he wasn’t going to hang around and ask questions.
It about scared the crap out of him, and he pulled on his shoes without bothering to tie the laces and got off that mountain in a hurry.
He got back into the Olds and that was the first time the old Olds had peeled rubber in many a year.
That is the last time Daren Bond ever questioned whether or not there was a God. Daren’s world that never changed had changed again.
Daren hardly missed a time going to those altars. And after that, he had no problem praying. He studied his Bible and about drove that Pastor woman crazy with questions, but she never let on that it was any trouble.
A short time later Daren and James quit the cheap company and struck off contracting on their own. They made a decent living, and it gave Daren more time to pray and seek God.
One Sunday night at ‘that there church’ Daren was standing with his hands raised and thinking about how Jesus bled and died for him.
He could almost feel the shock of the nails being driven through Jesus hands, Wham, Wham, and Wham! And he envisioned the dry ground soaking up the blood of the innocent Jesus.
The next he knew he was not praying in English any more. He was praying in a language he never heard before. He didn’t know how long he stood there, but he was unaware of the presence of the others as he soaked in the glory of God like a sponge.
He knew he was talking to God as if he was his next door neighbor. Although he didn’t know what he said Daren Bonds world had changed again that day.
Daren thought of the past as he drove the freeway. All that was years in the past. He was now growing old and was tired most of the time. He had a beautiful church to go to now and God has given him a sense of usefulness. As his memory took him back to that time in his early thirties he felt again that sickening feeling of a world without God that never seemed to get better or to change for the better. It was a world without hope of any kind, and seemed to get worse with time. He was so grateful to his Maker again for changing his world.
He remembered the little church with fondness and wondered if it was still there.
Many years had passed, and Daren possessed a deep and abiding peace that was constant.
God can change one’s world and can make a difference in ones life; and assure one of eternal rest. All one has to do is ask Him with an honest heart.
Matthew 11:28 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Matthew 11:29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
Matthew 11:30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
Heart of Stone
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I enjoyed this story very much. The details you included were engaging and there was a good flow. Thank you for writing and sharing, it was very encouraging to reflect on the changes God can make in a life through His church.