Beverly's hands gripped the steering wheel, praying, praying... In the back seat, Jamie was crying.
“Excellent! Yes, yes! Most excellent.” A red pen was held poised above the page, but its bespectacled holder nodded enthusiastically, his movements silhouetted in the shadows on the wall. “Other than a couple of words, this is more or less how I saw the story going. Emotion, action, drama – I want to know what happens next.”
The author sat facing him, the fingertips of his hands just touching one another beneath his bearded chin. He closed his eyes, saying nothing.
“Marianne, I've called the church, I've called Truman. Beverly didn't make it to either place.”
“Oh, yes! Tension! I love it!”
“Jamie, stop crying!” Immediately she regretted her outburst. “Honey, Mommy's sorry. I know you're scared.” Beverly got out of the car and climbed into the back seat, unbuckling her son and drawing him into her lap. She rocked him, comforting them both.”
“Oh no, no. You got a little too mushy there I think.” The red pen started toward the page.
“No.” the author's voice was almost a whisper but the word was spoken firmly.
“No? Really? After you wrote in the depression, the chase and the accident – getting just a little soft here aren't we?”
Anthony patted the knife in its sheath, attached to his belt. He pulled the jacket over it to cover. The woman probably thought she'd gotten away from him.
“Now, that's more like it. Something sinister.” He cast a glance at the author's bowed head and chuckled to himself.
“As you wished,” replied the author.
“Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so. Little ones to Him belong. They are weak but He is strong.” Beverly's sweet voice sang the song for both of them.
“Now, that really is too much. We want this to sell don't we?”
A twig snapped nearby. Stealthy footsteps crept closer to the stopped car.
“Ah! Anthony again. He'll put an end to this saccharin little scene, won't he? After all, our little gal isn't so sweet is she? She's got a past.”
His fingers wrapped around the knife. He caressed the hardness of its ivory handle, the smooth coldness of the steel. He felt the icy rush of anticipation.
“Ho ho, ho ho! Here it comes now – blood, gore – the stuff this world positively feeds on.”
She didn't see or hear him; of this Anthony was certain. The back door hung open and she faced away from him. She was holding something. He raised his head a little to see, inching closer.
“Yes Jesus loves me...” the melody rose and drifted, floating over the grass and leaves, reaching his ears. A memory stirred – a song his grandmother had sung, long ago, before he was taken away and the memories became painful.
"Oh, I don't like the way this is going - you know how I hate happy endings."
Tires crunched on the gravel road above them, headlights swung in their direction. Anthony flattened himself and slipped behind a bush.
A car door opened and running footsteps accompanied relieved cries. “Beverly! Are you alright? I've had everyone worrying and looking for you. What happened? Never mind, time enough to tell me when we get you out of this ditch and home. Sweetheart, I can't tell you how much I love you.”
“Oh, ugh! Sappy ending alert. Seriously. You've got to change this ending.”
Left alone, Anthony lay on his back behind the bush. “Yes, Jesus loves me...yes Jesus loves me...” He whispered the words. Could it be true?
“Oh, now!” The red pen was slammed down on the desk, its owner sulking out of the room.
“After all, I am the author, and finisher of their faith,” He smiled.
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