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TRUST JESUS TODAY
target audience is women
That evening, Shorty knocked on their hotel room door. He was wearing white slacks and a multi-colored Hawaiian shirt. His face was beet red from too much sun. His after-shave was fragrant and all the women could smell it from inside their room. Lucille invited him in.
“If you are ready, we can go. I made a reservation for seven p.m. After that big swim this afternoon I could eat a whale or a horse, a seahorse.” Then he laughed at his own joke. Lucille laughed with him and her two friends looked at one another and rolled their eyes, yet again.
Kathleen had put on white slacks and had on a colorful blouse. She had added earrings and a little lipstick. Bernice was in her pink pants and hot pink t-shirt that said “Sarasota” on it. Her hair was in a neat bun on the top of her head. Lucille on the other hand had on bright blue stretch pants with a long knit top that had rhinestone designs all over the front. Her freshly applied make-up and her blonde up-do announced she was ready to go. She had on high-heeled sandals that were orange with a touch of the bright blue in the flowers positioned on the toes of the sandals. Shorty directed them to the elevator, put his hand on the back of Lucille’s waist, and claimed his real date for the evening.
As they sat in the unique, tastefully decorated seafood restaurant, they perused their menus. Shorty suggested the lobster and Lucille decided that was what she would have. Kathleen looked for something less expensive on the menu. Bernice was considering something from the kids’ menu, but changed her mind. She would just ask for a doggie bag and take it back to their room. After they placed their orders, and they all had drinks in front of them, Lucille told Shorty that the three women at his table had known each other for years. She and Kathleen had taught high school English together for a couple of years. Then Kathleen answered God’s call to ministry and went to seminary. They remained best friends. Bernice and Kathleen had been best friends and roommates in college. Kathleen introduced Lucille and Bernice to one another and they became the three mouseketeers.
“Our Kathleen besides being a teacher and a preacher is also quite a detective. Katie, tell Shorty how you solved a murder in seminary,” said Lucille.
Shorty leaned toward Kathleen, “You don’t look like a detective or a cop, honey. I like a good story. Tell me.” He took a long drink of his beer.
Kathleen gave Lucille a disgusted look that meant, “I can’t believe you got me into repeating this story again.” She turned her head toward Lucille, crossed her eyes, and pursed her lips. That said it all. She took a deep breath and began the story.
“Well, when Lucille and I were teaching I was engaged to the love of my life, Tyler. He was a handsome man, a godly man, and just a really good guy. He was funny and yet he could be serious. He was the kindest, most helpful man I‘ve ever known. He was in seminary at the time getting ready to graduate. He had his first church appointment that would begin a month after graduation. God had been dealing with me also. I was feeling called to the ministry, but fighting it. I was enjoying teaching and felt it was a ministry. He was gently encouraging me to apply to his seminary.”
“Tyler was a runner and was on his daily trek when a hit and run driver slammed into him. He was dead on arrival at the hospital. I was eighty miles away and didn’t get to say good-bye.” Kathleen stopped and looked at her left hand on her lap. She still wore the engagement ring Tyler had given her. She twisted the ring on her finger and still felt the loss.
“Two years later God was still nagging me and I gave in and applied at the same seminary. I had fought the call to ministry for five years. Anyway, once I got there I checked weekly with the police to see if they had any leads. The hit-and-run driver was still running free. I was angry that the police had not found the driver who killed my Tyler. Therefore, I started my own investigation. I interviewed everyone I could find who was on campus when the accident happened. The only students on campus who had been there then were the seniors preparing for graduation my first year. I questioned every professor, staff member, and senior. Most of them had nothing to add to what I already knew.”
Lucille interrupted, “Shorty, she is a persistent woman. Go on, honey.”
Kathleen stirred her iced tea with the straw and continued, “The business manager found out from one of my friends that I was interested in missionary projects. He was in charge of setting up the missions fair that Spring and asked me to help him. We met to talk and he asked me out to dinner that evening to continue our planning. I did not really want to go to dinner with him, but thought of it as a business dinner or a planning meeting.
Bruce Bailey, the business manager, was a slimy guy. He was a single guy in his late fifties. He tried to date the older students and was trying to woo the woman dean. She wanted nothing to do with him, but he did not give up easily. He was about my height with grey stringy hair. He wore horn-rimmed glasses over his dull blue eyes, and sported a mustache. I am sorry to say that the students made sport of him behind his back. He had an array of plaid jackets that he wore with bow ties, white socks, and loafers with tassels. The word was that lately he had been showing up late to work and sometimes appeared to have a hangover. One of the students who had a wild streak and stayed out late most nights, had seen him leaving a bar several times weaving out to his car. Yes, we gossiped about him.”
“No one ever said that seminary students were perfect, they just try harder,” said Bernice.
“Anyway, I went out to dinner with him and took my notebook. He started drinking before we had ordered our meals. Instead of talking about the missions fair, he started digging around to find out what information I had uncovered about Tyler’s death. I told him that I knew the driver of the blue van was a short man. Some of the things I told him were from the police report. I wondered why he wanted to know so much. He really irritated me and I decided no more dinner dates. He didn’t like that decision.”
Their dinner was served and Kathleen hoped she could drop the story right there. The women were making yummy noises over their food. Shorty began eating and very quickly consumed half his dinner. “Go on, Katie, finish your story,” he said while pointing at her with his fork.
She put down her fork and picked up the story where she had left off. “As I was helping to set up the missions fair booths, one of the custodians overheard Bruce pressing me to go out to dinner with him again. After Bruce left, Frank the custodian suggested that I be careful. He had seen Bruce get physical with another student last year when she turned him down. Obviously, she had not reported the incident. We saw Bruce walk out of the building and jump in his dilapidated old white Buick. I asked Frank why he drove such an old car. He said he used to drive a rather new dark blue van. Frank thought this was his mother’s car. I asked Frank why he had not reported the blue van to the police and he said they had not asked him. He needed his job and did not want Bruce to get him fired. Then I decided I needed to snoop around Mr. Bailey’s garage and see if he still had the blue van.”
That night around midnight, I dressed in black and drove down the alley behind his house. I parked a few houses down and walked quickly to the back of his garage. I looked in the side window and the white Buick sat there. Defeated, I went back to the dorm. I could not sleep that night. As I went through the facts I had so far, I remembered Bruce telling me that he lived next door to his wonderful elderly mama. So the next night I got into my black garb again and went back to the same spot and parked my car. The moon was bright so I did not need a flashlight.
As I sneaked around Mama Bailey’s garage, a dog started barking. I quickly got to the side of the building, but I was too short to see in the window. I jumped up and down a few times and was sure I saw a dark van inside.
When I heard the barking dog getting closer to me, I turned around. A light from a flashlight blinded me. I took off running down the alley, jumped in my car, and backed out to the street. I assumed it was Bruce’s mama. The next night I persuaded a friend across the hall to drive me to the neighborhood and wait while I took a picture through the window. I went prepared with a cleaning bucket from Frank’s closet to stand on. Carolyn, my friend, let me out at the end of the alley and I carried my bucket and camera to the back of the Bailey’s garage. I listened and did not hear a dog or any other noise. The bucket was upside down, as I stepped up on it and took a few flash pictures of the van. The front right fender had a huge dent. I grabbed my bucket and camera and ran back to the car. We went to an all-night pharmacy and printed out the pictures.”
“You were a brave one, weren’t you Katie?” said Shorty with a grin. “Then what happened? Oh, do you girls want some dessert? The cheesecake here is really good.” The three women all declined.
“Bernie, you little thing, you need to eat some dessert to fill out those curves“ said Shorty.
“My name is Bernice, not Bernie. Furthermore, no thank you to the dessert.” She turned to Kathleen and whispered, “And my lack of curves is none of his darn business.” Kathleen patted her arm.
The meal had been very filling and tasty, but Kathleen had eaten less than half of hers. She was too busy telling her story. She took another bite of the shrimp scampi and decided it was not quite as good now as when it was served.
“I took the pictures to the police station. A detective who was supposedly in charge of the case met with me. He said he would investigate the car and let me know. He told me to stay away from the Bailey property. His name was Caleb something. He was a handsome guy with red hair. The problem for me was that he knew he was handsome. He wanted to take me out to dinner to discuss the case further. I had already had enough dinner date meetings for a while. I never did date him. It was just too soon after Tyler.”
Bernice said, “It is still too soon after Tyler. You still aren’t over him, Kathleen.”
“Maybe. How about if I finish this story another time?” said Kathleen, as she pushed her chair back from the table. She excused herself and went to the ladies’ room.
“Well, did they arrest this Bailey guy?” asked Shorty.
Lucille said, “You’ll just have to meet us on the beach tomorrow to hear ‘the rest of the story’. Do you have plans in the morning, Shorty? We’ll be at the beach around ten.”
“No plans yet. How about if I take you all out for breakfast in the morning? I know this cute little café you girls will enjoy. What do you say?”
Bernice tried to make eye contact with Lucille, but it did not work. Lucille said, “I think we’d like that very much. Thank you. Here comes Kathleen. Are we ready to go?”
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