Eight pairs of glassy eyes stared at each other. Like thick fog, silence hung in the room. The fireplace crackled, slicing the stillness like thunder. Raindrops patted the window pane of this small suburban living room. Mist from a cooling tea pot rose from the middle of the coffee table. Bibles lay on each end.
“Ya don’t have much praise now, do ya, little home group,” growled a dark eyed, young man. A tattoo on his forearm read, “DEATH”. A backpack hung over his left shoulder; a 9 mm handgun rested in his right palm. He closed one finger at a time around the handle. Then, he kissed the barrel. Removing his White Sox cap, he held it up. “A bit of a fan,” he said with hollow laughter.
Lifting his hand, the gun rocked ominously upside down; his index finger in the trigger loop. “Sweet little songs you sing,” he said waving the weapon. “But, tonight this hunk of black steel…is your god!”
Sarah, the manicurist, dropped her head; black hair covering her face. The gunman chuckled.
Schoolteacher Mike closed his eyes. Chuck, the plumber, followed suit.
“Hey,” shouted the gun-toting man. “You, what’s your name,” he demanded pointing at Shauntee, the paralegal.
“Shauntee,” she answered in a firmer manner than he expected. “Read that sentence again, nice and slow.”
She read, “Forasmuch then as Christ has suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves so likewise with the same mind…”
Looking around, he declared, “are ya all so armed, cuz this is your night to…suffer in the flesh.”
Matt, Shauntee’s husband, a real estate agent, put his arm around her shoulder, pulling her close.
“Ain’t that sweet now, hubby. Ya go for that inter-racial stuff, huh? Not me. I’m racist and tonight…I am your judge,” he boomed.
“I’m so sorry guys,” blurted Josh, the ice cream truck driver. “I met him behind the grocery store. He was down. I thought God wanted me to bring him tonight.”
“He did”, replied Martha, an attractive mid-forties widow with strawberry blonde hair. “Yes,” agreed Jose, a young carpenter with a pony tail.
“Shut up,” shouted the gunman. “I’ll show you who brought who. Stand up, Matty boy,” he ordered sticking the weapon under against Matt’s chin.
To Matt’s right, Sarah lifted her head, looking intently at the gun-crazed man.
”What’s your deal?” little kitten, he mocked. “Ya gonna cry on me sweetheart?”
“I’ve seen your pain,” Sarah whispered.
”What,” he barked. “I have no pain, it’s you, you’re gonna…”
Her soft voice cut him off, “a dark, woodshed; the stench of whiskey. Two men: your father; your uncle. You: twelve years old.”
“Stop!” he screamed.
“Remove your belt, boy, they ordered.”
Quickly, the gun barrel pressed against Sarah’s temple. “Stop!”
“Had for ‘em fifteen years, haven’t ya Bret” stated a calm voice from across the room. Paul, a tall man, fifytish, stood up. The gunman wheeled around.
“Stop! I’ll kill ya dead right here.”
“I’ve been there, Bret. My father brutalized me for sixteen years until I put him in a coma. I had my demons till I was 34. They torment you, but won’t let ya die. That’s the worst part…not dying,” explained Paul.
The gunman’s knees wobbled, but he caught himself.
“Two men are waiting for you at your apartment,” added Chuck. They have K-bars. Gonna cut off your fingers. Stolen drug money, Bret…then you snitched. You broke the code.”
Gunman Bret stumbled backwards, hitting the floor. The revolver bounced from his hand, sailing into the next room as if an invisible hand had wrenched it from him.
Paul stood over him. “Tonight, you meet hell, young man. The torment you’ve had so far will seem like a party compared to what you now face. In hell, there is no mercy…ever. No let up; no reprieve. Only, torture, raging fear; blood thirsty murderers killing you without end. You’ll have untold pain, but you will not die…ever.”
Martha knelt beside him. “Young man, our home group has been meeting for five years. We are leaderless except for our Lord. We never seek control; never structure ourselves. We simply commune with our Lord, together. We love Him, together. In turn, He touches us with His crazed-out love. He comes to our meetings and operates through us, like tonight. And we let Him, like tonight.
If you want, He’ll make you free…tonight.”
Within minutes, somewhere in a realm invisible, angels praised, as another captive was delivered from darkness into marvelous light.
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