My plan is in place, Reggie thought, as she stuffed the shopping list into her purse.
I’ll try out that alternate route to work, then swing by the ‘everything’ store and shop. It was Saturday afternoon and the traffic would be light, and she needed to listen to the sermon from last week again before tomorrow.
Definitely a plan, Stan. She threw her bag in and set out, popping the CD into the car’s stereo system.
A few strains of organ music began the recording, then her pastor’s slight Southern drawl: “Obedience is natural to humans, right? Just observe any two-year-old. Natural. Instinctive. Comes easy.” Reggie smiled and remembered parents looking around at each other in the pews with eye rolls and brief laughter.
“It seems to vary from situation to situation, doesn’t it? When obeying might help us in some way, we’re all for it. If it’ll be embarrassing or risky or painful, mmm, not so much.”
Reggie made her way through the suburb where she lived onto the highway system with ease, taking the different connection she intended to test run today. As she had predicted, fewer cars were on the road than would be during her daily commute, but that was inescapable. Was this way more direct, easier, fewer miles?
“What if obedience seems downright unpleasant? Or dangerous, even? Our tendency is to try to edit what God said, isn’t it? Or re-interpret His directive somehow? Or clean out our ears—maybe we didn’t hear right!” More muffled laughter.
Reggie took the exit near downtown. This would be the tricky part. She’d have to go right by the convention center, which could be messy during the early rush, but her swing shift started at eleven in the morning. Any groups descending on the big buildings lining this block would be in full swing well before that most weekdays.
“Sometimes we try to guess what lesson God means to teach us and learn it some other way, d-d-d-d-d don’t we? What if ‘The Good Samaritan’ had done that? Bad news for the mugging victim, but s-s-s-s-s-safer for the passerby, right?”
Oh, no, it’s skipping again. It’s not the disc, it’s my stereo. She knew that once a disc started stuttering, it only got worse, so she reached for the eject button as she pulled up to a red light.
The radio kicked in when the CD came out. “…As you know, we monitor the police band radio, and we’ve just picked up a report of a possible active shooter situation downtown, on Madison somewhere near the convention center. Even if this turns out to be a false alarm, it would be a good idea to avoid that area right now.”
I’m near there, but not on Madison; I’m two blocks over. Moving again, she craned her neck to see the street sign just as she passed under it. Madison! But how… Then she remembered that the street she thought she was on joined Madison at the underpass. Heart rate climbing, pulse racing, she scanned the area in front of her.
No traffic. Good.
No, actually, that’s bad. It’s too open, almost deserted. What should I do? She began looking for a way to turn around, enter a parking garage, something…
“There’s a parking garage sign, on the right,” she said aloud, zipping toward it as fast as she could. She was so intent on the sign that she almost hit the man who ran out in front of her. She slammed on the brakes and looked at him, having difficulty believing her eyes. Bloody. One side of his body was bloody and he was screaming for help.
She knew she should help, but safety was 30 feet away. What if this man was the shooter, or otherwise a threat?
The pastor’s words resurfaced in her mind: “What if obedience is dangerous?”
Reggie sat, paralyzed, as the man bellowed for help and pounded on her hood.
Her doors were locked.
The parking garage entrance beckoned. If she floored it, he’d fall away.
If he fell, he wouldn’t get the help he needed, or she might even roll over him. Pastor’s voice echoed, “Bad news for the victim…”
Reggie took a deep ragged breath. Unlocked and opened her door. “Hi, my name is Regina. I’m an emergency room nurse. Can you make it into that parking garage?” She slipped her arm around his waist and his arm around her shoulder and prayed hard as they staggered together toward the ramp.