Lead Me Gently Home

Chapter 9

"A Wolf In Sheep's Clothing"


(From Danisha's Journals)

Oooh...My head...How long have I slept...Why am I here? Oh yeah...we had a quarrel...I didn't mean to scream at him like that...But I was so rattled...That dream...

I awoke in my own bed, in my own home. It was Sunday afternoon, and I'd made a hasty return to the 20th Century.

Claude and I had a stupid little blow-up, and I stormed out, just like that. I really didn't mean to do that, but Claude pressed me so much about what was bothering me, that I couldn't take anymore of his grilling.
I believed the rum played tricks on my mind, for I had a frightful dream - More like a nightmare - about Claude and me. I woke up screaming, and Claude was there, holding and comforting me.
He asked what was wrong; and,as usual, I clammed up. I was so scared, so fearful, that I couldn't talk about it. Claude kept pressuring me to talk about my problems, about that dream, but I couldn't - wouldn't - reveal a thing.

Claude then revealed that he had his own troubles. "There is disloyalty running rampant within my ranks. I am determined to stamp out any and all persons who dare to oppose me."
He took me into his arms, and pleaded with me.

"Darling Danisha. Here I am, willing to put aside my troubles for you. Now, " He paused to kiss me. "Tell me, Nisha. I'll understand; please, you can be honest with me."

Once again, just like that tearful session up in the belltower that summer, I let my pride get the best of me. I don't know what possessed me to lash out at Claude like I did, but the words shot out of my mouth with such speed, such ferocity, that I couldn't stop myself if I tried. In a flash,

I pulled away from him, and screamed, "What is this?! Twenty Questions? Why do you have to know EVERYTHING?! I told you last night; there's nothing wrong with me!"

"Danisha, my love. You are not yourself today; my darling, please let me help you."

Claude's voice and mannerisms were quite gentle, but I railed away, frustratedly and incoherently. "I don't need any help, and I don't need any lectures! And I'm tired of everyone gettin' on my case!"

I could tell Claude was upset; but, at this point, I didn't care. It was true; I was weary of the lectures, the constant badgering, everything.

But he's not badgering - He's only trying to help you...Why can't you open up..Be honest...You're friends, and friends help each other out...

My head pounded from the previous night's bender. My eyes were bloodshot; my stomach convulsed from lack of food. And there was that pain - That dull, throbbing pain...

"Danisha, my dear. Let me take you to the Palace of Justice; you need your rest. Then, perhaps, we can pay Quasimodo a visit. He's talked of little else." Claude's mood was still gentle, still full of concern for me.

I said nothing; my eyes and facial expression did the talking for me.

Claude, now frustrated and angry that I would not level with him, suddenly lashed out. "How dare you shut me out like this! Can't you see that I'm offering a friendly hand, a shoulder upon which to cry? For once in your life, Danisha, let go of this silly pride!"

I winced a little from his brief outburst; Ifelt myself tremble. I guessed Claude sensed my reaction, for he quickly regained his composure, and drew closer to me

"My love, you are always there for me when I need you. Am I not open and honest with you? But, here I am, Danisha, with open arms and an open heart."
His eyes were damp with tears. I remained silent; then, without a word, I quietly gathered my things, and headed for the door.

"Where are you going?" Claude tried to keep his emotions in check.

Finally, I said flatly, "Honey, tell Fern I've gone back to my own time. Tell her I'll see her at the program; she'll know what I'm talking about."

Claude refused to believe this. "Why are you shutting me out?"

"Goodbye, Claude. Please give Fern that message", was all I said as I walked out the door.

Oh damn...I messed up but good...He'll probably not speak to me for a while...I should send an apology...I shouldn't hide all this...it's not good...I don't want to lose such a good friend...

++++++++

I dreaded, that now I was back in my own time, BC would look me up. He never did find out where I lived, and I was relieved.
But, I knew it would only be a matter of time before he found me, only to torment me again. Now I wished I'd stayed in Paris, with Claude.

I poured myself a cup of hot, strong coffee, then flipped open the pager and coded a sweet message atoning for my behavior:

Sugarbritches...I'm sorry I blew up at you like that...I've had a lot on my mind...nothing serious..but...I should level with you...I care for you - as a friend and a lover - too much to lose this special bond we share...Arletta's right...You are a good man, and I should never take you for granted...So please forgive me...I love you...Danisha

++++++++

Arletta called me later that afternoon. It seemed that Arletta's brother, Delron, was to deliver the sermon at that Far Eastside youth ministry that evening.
At first, I refused, knowing that BC would be there; but, Arletta was mighty persuasive.

"Come on, Nisha. I know you haven't been to church this morning, 'cause I talked Cherie."

OK..so she twisted my arm...Maybe BC won't be there...Then again...Just blend in with the crowd, Nisha...Surely he won't do anything stupid in a church...

++++++++

Now, I've been in a lot of different churches, from the staid and formal, to the raucous and full-of-The-Spirit, but this was refreshingly different.

The New Horizons Church was a curious blend of the traditional and contemporary. It was a quaint little structure nestled next to an old house that once, according to Del, was a crack house.
It was now a youth center, complete with ping-pong tables, basketball court, a study room with books and maps, and a playroom for the little ones.

"Hard to believe", I commented, "that this was a crack house."

Del beamed with pride when he said, "This used to be a place for kids to destroy themselves; now kids, and their families, can come here to be restored in The Word."

Delron Davis was Arletta's youngest brother; preaching was all he wanted to do. Even as a child, Del would recite Scripture, tell his family about "the good news", and, according to Arletta, "Act like a preacher. He even conducted funerals for our dogs and cats."

Del's mission, as he saw it, was to help those whose lives had been shattered by violence and drugs.
"It's my calling", said Del, "to minister to these kids and show them that there is a better way. They don't have to join gangs or sell drugs; they can choose to live."

The service itself was old-fashioned, almost a throwback to the church of our grandparents.
There was the tiny - ten voices strong - choir, accompanied by piano and organ. There was the music: time-honored hymns and spirituals. And there was Del's sermon, a lively little message about doing the right thing when faced with tough decisions, and choosing the right road in life's journey.

"Now, that road may look easy, all that smooth blacktop, no potholes, even the scenery's nice."
Del couched his message in language understood by his mostly young congregation, and they seemed enthralled, for these youngsters hung onto his every word. "Yes, Lord! That road is mighty easy travellin', but the destination is somewhere you don't wanna be!"

Del's words were liberally answered with "Amen!", "That's right!", and "Preach it, brother!"
Even I got caught up in the testifying and witnessing. I clapped my hands and vocally urged on Del when he said, "Now, the 'other' road..."
I stood up with Arletta and Cherie, shouting back our approval.

"...That 'other' road is fill of potholes, some of it's rough, most of it's not even paved. It's dusty when it's dry, and a quagmire when it rains. It's a mighty rough road...guaranteed to hurt your feet. But the destination! Brothers and sisters -- the Destination!"

The entire congregation was on its feet; the organist replied with a chorus of Leaning On the Everlasting Arms.
Soon, everyone joined in singing as Del 'lined-out' the words.
It was all I needed...a chance to feel good again.

Hmm...Maybe I should invite Claude on one of these 'revival' meetings..Nah!

++++++++

Later, during fellowship hour, I gushed my hearty approval of Delron's sermon.

"Del, that was powerful message. I think you hit home for a lot of these kids", I commented as I helped myself to coffee and cake.
Delron was all modest about it, and only said, "Danisha, you know how these kids can fall into temptation so quickly. You're a teacher; you see it everyday."

Del and Arletta chatted with me while Tamara and Kenya sat nearby with other children.
Del looked at his nieces, then told me, "At least they have a mother who loves them, provides for them, and I don't mean in the material sense. Arletta has done right by her kids; too bad I can't say the same for a lot of these youngsters. I mean, look at that group over there."
He indicated a group of young boys, aged twelve to seventeen. They were deep in conversation. Del just shook his head.

"Those boys - Some are gang members, I know that for a fact. But, BC..."

At once, I had to interrupt. "BC? As in BC Bell? Is he here?" I panicked, but endeavored to keep my apprehension under control.
I didn't see BC at all during service, thus I was able to enjoy myself, without the intimidation.

Del nodded. "I had to take on another partner. Curtis is doing this prison ministry;that's where he met BC. And BC's been instrumental in bringing in a lot of these young bucks. With the Lord's help, maybe we can turn these boys around."
I grinned as I added, "Turned around and down the 'right' road."

Del and Curtis thought they found a good partner. A few weeks later, they would be ready to hang BC, for he wasn't the 'bad-guy-turned-right'.

Instead, BC Bell continued his journey down 'the easy road'.

++++++++

On the Wednesday following that church service, I finally got around to seeing my gynecologist. She performed the usual exams, then recommended that I schedule a laparoscopy.

"A laparo-What?"

"Laparoscopy. It's a procedure used to detect pelvic abnormalities. From the symptoms you described, it may be endometritis, a malformed Fallopian tube...."

The terminology went in on ear and out the other, but I knew I had to schedule that procedure as soon as possible.
I scheduled an appointment for the latter part of February. Maybe, I thought, it's nothing serious; I'm just stressed out, just like Wanda said.

Better safe than sorry...then you can relax...

On the way home, I reminded myself to drop off an essay on stewardship for Beverly Benjamin, wife of Tom Benjamin, who was senior pastor of Light of the World Christian Church.

My family knew Tom and Beverly ever since they moved to town, back in 1967. Tom was a divinity student at the time. Tom became senior pastor at Second Christian (LOTW's original name) when I was only ten.

I liked Tom, although I drifted from the church during my college years. He understood this and supported me in my spiritual endeavors. Tom was pleased that I recently joined Central Church, an intergrated congregation Downtown. It was the oldest of its denomination, or, acccording to Tom, "The mother of all the Disciples congregations in town."

Beverly was not at the church, so I left the essay with a secretary. Just as I was heading for my car, Tom drove up.

"Danisha? What are you doing out here? I thought you'd be down at the church on Delaware Street."
I laughed then explained that I just dropped off that essay for Beverly. I then commented on Del Davis' ministry out in Warrren Township.

Tom only had this to say. "Del is a good man, a very spiritual man. He's one of my prodigies, you know. And Curtis Lewis -- there's another shining example of what The Truth can do for you."
Tom sighed as he walked me to my car. "What they're doing is admirable, but sometimes what seems so beautiful, can suddenly turn ugly..."

He gallantly held the car door open for me. I mentioned how, "Del seems to bring those kids around. That area's not the safest in town, with all the gangs and drugs, not to mention..."

We talked for several minutes, then Tom finally assessed Del's efforts to salvage young souls. He also assessed another of Del's partners.

"I don't like what I've been seeing lately. There's a bad apple in that bunch - A wolf in sheep's clothing, as it were. I just hope people will see through this person, 'cause the last thing Del Davis needs is someone to destroy what has taken him so long to build."

++++++++

I returned home, hoping not to run into BC. Thank God I didn't, for I couldn't stop thinking about him ever since that conversation with Tom Benjamin. I thought of Del, and the good he was doing, and, for some odd reason, I thought of Claude.

Claude! I almost forgot!

I received a nice message from Claude the day after I stormed out of medieval Paris. It was a message from the heart:

My darling Danisha...I should know better than to pressure you, but please realize I have your welfare at heart...You are forgiven, my love...
When are you returning? The Palace of Justice seems so empty without you..The whole of Paris seems empty...without your warmth, your laughter, your love...And I could use a good hearty laugh right now...
I may make that trip to your time...What is this about a special program? Fern told me all about it...I understand YOU are to perform...You should let me know these things, my dear...No matter...All my love, Claude

Now, I had completely forgotten about that special program, and my contribution. I still knew my part; I had that poem memorized and ready to recite.
All I had to do was to formally invite Claude:

Hey sugarbritches...How's tricks? (smile)...As Fern said, there will be a special presentation of music and poetry...I'm to recite...Please don't say you're too busy...I know you'll want to attend this...By the way, Kenya's singing a solo...She's been asking about 'Danisha's friend'..I still say that little girl has a crush on you...Stop laughing, Claude!
Will I see you Saturday? All my love, Nisha.

Claude did show up, and we had a marvelous time, although the afternoon was prefaced by a mindless threat. I allowed myself to become unglued, to allow fear to nearly ruin a pleasant, and enlightening experience. Then there was that stupid, yet frightening, altercation early that evening...

I had that dream again...A dream so vivid that I resolved to never tell Claude about BC...I just couldn't...For sometimes...dreams come true...

To Chapter 10!

Copyright FrolloFreak FSM #14, 1998.


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