The sweat poured off his brow as he pounded down the side walk, the sound of the sirens behind him crying out that the chase was on. Dick clutched the bag stuffed with notes and coins ever more closely to his chest. It had been tantalisingly easy; the bag was laying there on the counter at Wiseman’s pawn shop; the fool had not put it away and anyway, reasoned Dick, everyone knew that Wiseman was rolling in cash. Everyone knew the stories about how that old miser had it stashed in his mattress. Well I need the money more that he does, thought Dick.
But what had seemed so easy was now becoming hard work; no sooner had Dick stepped outside the shop when Wiseman yelled ‘THEIF!’ at the top of his lungs – drawing the attention of two policemen who, with the worst possible timing, happened to be sitting across the street in their squad car drinking coffee. Dick had been running fully five minutes and his lungs were burning from the lack of oxygen; he desperately needed a place to stop and rest safely.
Dick ducked down another alley and behind a trash can, his eyes darting about him for some place more secure – and there, over the road, suddenly illuminated by a brilliant shaft of sunlight was St. Stephens Church with its doors wide open. Dick smiled – well a church was a place of sanctuary after all.
Dick quickly turned his coat inside out, transforming from a green to a brown coat and spotted a beaten old brown fedora on the top of the trash can. An instant disguise! Somebody up there must really like me, thought Dick. He made his way across the street, keeping watch as he crossed the road but all was clear. Dick made it through the doors of the church, finally coming to rest on a pew.
Stashing the money under the pew, Dick looked around him – the place seemed empty; he took off the hat and sat back in the pew. Dick closed his eyes; the church felt a little cold but all he had to do now was wait and let the furore pass, then he could take his windfall home; he resisted the urge to count the money, but figured that there would be more than enough to pay off his bookie and get that sharp looking suit he had seen in the window of the store where Delores worked.
A sound from the front of the church made Dick look up to see some sort of priest, kneeling in front of the alter and murmuring some sort of prayer. Dick realised he might have to explain his presence to someone. He remembered his Grandmother, who had died years before; she was always going to church.
‘Can I be of any assistance?’ Dick looked up to the priest, who had a placid face, greying hair and oddly familiar brown eyes.
‘No thank you Father. I just wanted…to sit and remember my Grandmother. She was a God fearing woman - if that is alright of course?’
‘Certainly – though I am not a priest, merely a cleric. And do you share your Grandmother’s faith?’
‘I… have my doubts.’
‘Many of us do, at some time. But He is ever patient, and His plan is in everything.’
‘You have doubts?’
‘Had,’ said the cleric, sitting down next to Dick. ‘But I lived a very different life then. I used to be a thief.’
Dick looked startled.
‘No, really’, said the cleric. ‘I was a gambler and a bad one too. I started stealing to support my habit and eventually I was arrested and went to prison. But that was what He had planned for me. I was put in a cell with a man who came to Christ in prison, and he supported me – he even came to my ordination.’
‘Why are you telling me this?’ Dick was now and feeling decidedly uncomfortable.
‘Because God is asking me too.’
Dicks head was swimming – all he wanted to do was get out of this place.
‘Well, er, thank you Father… I mean…’
‘Richard,’ said the cleric holding out his hand. ‘My friends call me Dick.’
Dick bolted straight out of the church.
Richard sighed and headed back toward the vestry to try to solve the problem of the $2000 dollars needed to keep the women’s refuge open – though God had promised that the money would be found, and Richard never doubted the Lord anymore.
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