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Authors: Jennifer Davis

For The Least Of These

BOOK: For The Least Of These
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Chapter 1

 

 

 

 

He has delivered us from the domain of darkness

and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son

in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.


Colossians 1:13-14

 

 

 

The sound was deafening. Cheers and applause of this magnitude were reserved for the truly gifted – those amazingly talented individuals like Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, and Elton John. And, apparently, like Rick Hartwood. I looked around at the audience. Everyone was standing; everyone was yelling; and everyone was clapping. Rick Hartwood ran back out on the stage for one final bow, and then he disappeared behind an accordion-style room divider. The clapping and cheering continued for another ten minutes, then it slowly dissipated as Rick’s fans left the auditorium.

I was in no hurry to leave, so I sat down in my seat and waited for the crowd to disperse.
My friend Alicia was sitting beside me with a satisfied look on her face. It was still too noisy to chat, but I was anxious to talk to Alicia. She smiled at me, and I knew she wanted to talk, too. As the crowd continued to slowly dwindle, Alicia could wait no longer. She leaned over to me and spoke in a loud voice.

“I am so glad I came tonight!” she said exuberantly.
“Rick was just so…he was great.”

“I didn’t think you liked Rick Hartwood?” I said.

“I didn’t think I did. But he did a wonderful concert. I know you were in heaven.”

She was right.
I was still in a state of amazement. Rick Hartwood had been my favorite singer for over twenty years – since I was only twelve years old. I had followed him through his early years when no one else had even heard his name. Now he was a big deal, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to share him. Not with Alicia or anyone else.

“Brandy?”
Alicia was tugging on my arm, “How did it feel to see Rick in person?”

“Good.
It felt really good.” What else could I say? How could I explain all the emotions that were swelling inside me? I loved Rick Hartwood. Not just his music, but him. It was impossible to put my feelings into words. Being in the same room with him - especially after waiting twenty years – was the single most exciting moment of my life. But Alicia would think I was crazy if I told her that.

“We’d better go,” I said.

We started down the aisle, and I took one last look at the stage. Our seats had been on the second level and nowhere near Rick Hartwood. It had been impossible to see his face without looking at the monitors that were on either side of the stage. Still, I had never felt closer to Rick. For me, we had been the only two people in the room. Now I had to resign myself to the fact that I would probably never see him again. Only a few weeks ago, Rick had announced his decision to stop touring. After only two more months, he would never tour again. Tears filled my eyes and I had to look away from the stage.

“I have an idea,” I heard Alicia saying.
“Let’s drive around behind the arena. We might see Rick leaving the building.”

It was a stupid idea, but I wasn’t ready to give up on the magic of the evening.
My face brightened as I said, “Okay, but we’d better hurry. He’s been off stage for almost a half hour now.”

A few minutes later, Alicia and I were pulling into the back driveway of the
arena. The parking lot was empty, and I pulled my little green car as close to the back of the arena as possible. The distance from us to the back door was about seventy-five yards, and there was a six-foot high chain-link fence blocking the way. Still, we could see two huge buses parked right outside. Both were emblazoned with the words “Rick Hartwood”. There were two people standing outside, but we couldn’t even tell if they were male or female – much less if one was Rick.

“What time do you need to be home?” Alicia asked.

“Last time I checked, I didn’t have a keeper. I go home whenever I want to. How about you?”

“I’m usually in bed by now.”

“Is someone gonna spank you if you are late?”

“I guess I can stay out all night if I like.
Since I live alone, no one will care. But what about Terry? Won’t he be mad if you stay out late?”

Terry Bradford had been my roommate for the last two years.
We weren’t married or even engaged. Heck, he wasn’t even my boyfriend, and he certainly didn’t run my life. “Why should he be? Besides, I’m a big girl that can do what she wants. And, like I said, I don’t have a keeper.”

“I don’t see what keeps you two together.
You’re as different as night and day.”

“Maybe because we aren’t together.
Not in the way you’re implying anyway.”

“You know what I mean.
Roommates usually have to have things in common to get along, just like romantic couples.”

Alicia was right
about Terry and I having little in common. I was a total bookworm-type. My picture was probably in the dictionary beside the entry for “dull”. Terry was a ball of energy always looking for excitement. My favorite pastime was curling up on the couch with Dean Koontz and a mug of hot chocolate. Terry preferred football – playing, not watching. He had played pro for one year until he hurt his knee. Now he played with the kids in the neighborhood and he coached at the local high school. My idea of team sports was having a couple of my friends over to play Canasta.

“I guess,” I finally answered.
“Honestly, I think Terry and I just put up with each other. We know what to expect, and it’s just too much work to break in someone new.”

Alicia rolled her window down.
“What will you do if you see Rick get on one of those buses?” she asked as she rested her head on the door. Her long dark brown hair whipped in the cool night breeze.

“I don’t know.
Probably pee my pants,” I answered with absolute candor. “Why? Are you cooking something up in that teeny-weeny brain of yours?”

“Well, if it was my idol, I know what I would do.”

“Are you going to share the thought, or are you just talking to stay awake?”

She was quiet for a moment then she said
, “I think you should decide what to do. He is your dream-guy. I don’t even like him.”

“Thanks for the advice.
Now I know why I keep you around.”

The longer we sat there in the bright glow of the florescent street light, the more uncomfortable I became.
I started thinking that Alicia and I looked like a couple of stalkers, and then I started listening for the police sirens. I started wishing I could get away, but the possibility of seeing Rick one more time held me in place.

We sat there for almost two hours
– right up until the moment that I said, “I really will pee my pants if he comes out. In fact, I’m going to pee my pants whether he comes out or not. I’ve got to find a bathroom.”

There was an
all-night diner right beside the arena, so we decided to go there. Alicia said she would watch the buses while I went inside to pee. I was only gone a minute or two, and Alicia was getting out of the car when I returned. “I’d better go, too, while we’re here,” she said.

She went inside, and almost immediately, one of the buses began to drive away.
I felt my heart drop into the pit of my stomach. I still didn’t know what I was going to do, but I knew I hadn’t wasted my night watching that bus for nothing. I ran towards the diner’s door, planning to drag Alicia out if I had to. She met me at the door – taking her time as usual.

“Get in the car!”
I was screaming, and the patrons of the crowded diner were all staring at me. For once in my life, I didn’t care. This was a magical night, and it couldn’t end yet. Alicia and I sprinted towards my car and jumped in. I tore out of the parking lot, burning rubber and shifting gears as fast as my hands and feet would let me.

“Now what?” Alicia said loudly.
Was she excited or just terrified? I couldn’t tell.

“I guess I’m gonna follow that bus,” I said.
Just then, I noticed the other bus pulling out from the arena’s parking lot. The first bus was stuck at a red light, and the second one slipped in right behind it. Seconds later, I screeched to a halt at the same intersection. The buses made their turn, and when the light changed, I was right behind them.

I could
tell that Alicia was excited. “Stay behind them, Brand. He might be on one of them.”

“You know his next concert is Mississippi.
How far do you think I should follow them?” Once again, I was beginning to feel a little bit stupid. Still, I hung behind the buses as they pulled onto the interstate.

“Until we see if Rick is on one of them.
Speed up. I know this thing can go faster than those buses.”

She was right about the car.
It was a vintage 1972 Gremlin X – an eight-cylinder with three on the floor. My parents had bought the car the same year I was born, and they had given it to me on my sixteenth birthday. Alicia and I had christened the car “Sam”. Sam and I had a special bond, and I still couldn’t part with him after all these years. I had taken good care of Sam, and he was in pristine condition with more power than most cars on the road. But I continued to hold back. I wasn’t sure what Alicia was going to do. When it came to Alicia, you could never be sure.

“Brandy!
Pull around the damn bus,” she yelled loudly. When she reached this swell, I was afraid to ignore her. I whipped the bright green car around the last bus, and I cringed as I realized how conspicuous we were. Even without a tag number, the police would find us. There was no other car like Sam within at least a 500-mile radius. We were on our way to prison for certain.

When we were neck-and-neck with the bus’ driver, Alicia hung out the window and shouted, “Is Rick in there?”

Strangely enough, the driver did not stick his head out and respond. But he did stare at us in disbelief as I sped past.

“You aren’t going to yell at the next driver, are you?” I asked Alicia.

“No, of course not. Just pass him.”

I started around the next bus and told myself that this bizarre ride would soon be over.
There was an exit just a mile away, and I planned to take it.

All at once, Alicia was yelling again.
This time, she was directing her question to the back of the bus. “Is Rick in there? Come on, Rick. We just want you to wave at us.”

I
sped up and moved around the bus. I pulled in front of him, but I was going too fast to take the exit. My new plan was to get away from the buses as fast as possible. I glanced over at Alicia. Her blue eyes were on fire with excitement, and she had a fantastic grin plastered on her face. “I thought you weren’t going to yell,” I said angrily.

“I said I wouldn’t yell at the driver, that’s all.
Come on, Brandy. Lighten up. This is fun. Slow down so the buses can catch up.” I hadn’t seen Alicia this thrilled since the day we chased down a carload of football players. We’d been sixteen at the time.

“I’m not waiting for those buses.
In fact, I’m getting off the interstate at the next exit. They are going to arrest us for stalking or something. We could get in big trouble…”

“That’s why it’s so much fun, Brand.
What’s wrong with you? You were always a little more cautious than me, but now you’ve become a regular party pooper.” She was right.

“Oh, no, Alicia,” I said, “I’ve always been a
party pooper. Party poopers don’t end up in jail or dead somewhere beside the road.”

Alicia’s eyes rolled up to the top of her head.
“They never have any fun either. And what’s more, they tend to keep their friends from having fun, too. Brandy, we both need more excitement in our lives. Come on. Slow down. We’ll just follow them for a while and see what happens.”

The next exit was just ahead.
I put my blinker on and started down the off ramp. The buses were only tiny headlights in my rearview mirror. Alicia gave a heavy sigh as I slowed down for the red light at the end of the ramp. Before she could speak, I skipped through the light, crossed the deserted street, and came to a stop in the parking lot of a local bank.

“I’ll be right back,” I said as I zipped out of the car and up to the ATM.
As I waited for the machine to spit out my money, I wondered if I was doing the right thing. Was there really something missing from our lives, or was Alicia just being foolhardy?

Back in the car, I was greeted by stone silence.
I threw the car into gear and left the parking lot so fast that we almost did a wheelie. Alicia seemed agitated as I turned the car onto the highway. Her composure changed when she realized that I was going back onto the interstate. “I can’t believe you are actually going to do this! Why did you let me think you were giving up? Aren’t you afraid we’ve lost them?”

“I needed some cash for this road trip, so I had to go to the bank.
Calm down; we’ll catch up to them. Have you ever known anyone that could outrun Sam?” Within moments, I could see the taillights of the buses. I slowed down a little and stayed a good distance behind the last one.

BOOK: For The Least Of These
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