The Case of the Missing Bible – Chapter 6

Chapter 6

The back door opened, a tall sandy haired man in his mid thirties dressed in a green dress shirt and dark blue slacks walked in. “Wow, what a gathering, what’s going on…oh…” he stopped mid-stride and began inhaling deeply through his nose, “Oh…I know. Sue, I smell your mother’s Oatmeal Raisin cookies, the delightful aroma is unmistakable.” He strode over to where his wife was moving a baking sheet full of just baked cookies onto a cooling rack. He put his arm around her waist, “You know, I think that heaven will smell just like this.”

“Dad’s home!!” and a thundering sound came from the stairwell. Stanley burst into the kitchen, ran over to his father and tackle-hugged his legs just as he was leaning over to give his wife a kiss. “Whoa, Stanley you nearly knocked me over there buddy!” He stooped down to hug his son and holding his shoulders he looked at Stanley and said, “You, young man, are getting bigger every day. Pretty soon you’ll be playing shortstop for the Mariners.” There was a general round of laughter in the kitchen as Stanley was short and slight for his 7 years, but overflowing with boundless energy and enthusiasm. He gave his Dad a big hug, turned around and shoved his hands in his mother’s direction and said, “Here mom, take a look at my hands, I got ‘em really clean. Can I have some cookies and milk now? Please?” Mrs. Johnson put down her tray of cookies, leaned over and looked closely at his hands, laughed and said, “Yes, you may. You did an excellent job; now get back in your chair I’m just about ready to serve some fresh ones.” “Oh boy, woo hoo” Stanley whooped as he ran quickly over to his chair, climbed up and said loudly. “So, are you ever going to pour that milk Jon ?” The kitchen echoed with laughter from everyone.

Pastor Johnson set his briefcase on the counter, walked over to the sink and rolled up his sleeves. “I guess that I had better wash my hands too, so I can have some of those fresh baked cookies handmade oh so skillfully by my lovely wife.” He then proceeded to wash both hands. Mrs. Johnson responded, “Thank you for the compliment, but you still only get two cookies”.

“Darn! And I was hoping for so much more…” he said with a laugh, finished washing his hands, grabbed a towel and begin drying them as he walked over toward the table. “By the way, I’m glad that all of you kids are here. I wanted to tell all of you about a new project the church is starting with the gospel mission.”

Mrs. Johnson held a big plate of hot oatmeal raisin cookies above the table and announced loudly “Only two cookies apiece” and then lowered it to the table. Moans of complaint about the limit were mixed with the noises of hands reaching and grabbing, biting into the chewy cookies and milk being gulped. It seemed that everyone’s attention was suddenly diverted to the cookie platter and to devouring the tasty morsels. Jon was the first to finish his allotment. “Mrs. Johnson, these are about the best cookies I have ever had in my whole life, they would be sure to win a blue ribbon at the state fair. Are you SURE we can’t have just ONE more? Please?” “Yes, Mommy, please?” followed Stanley. Sue and Andrea chimed in with a chorus of “PLEASE?” sung in harmony. Pastor Johnson followed up with his mouth still full of cookie, “Just one more, Dear?”

Mrs. Johnson stood near the stove, blew a wisp of hair out of her eyes and put her hands on her hips. Slowly a warm smile broke across her face, like a sunrise which turned into a laughing grin. “Oh, OK…but just one! I need to have enough to serve to Gram Susie’s Ladies Bible study tomorrow morning. And then we need to listen to the news about the church and the mission working together.”

Everyone grabbed another cookie and turned their eyes toward Pastor Johnson. “Well, what’s the big news Dad?” asked Sue.

The Case of the Missing Bible – Chapter 5

Chapter 5

“Mom! When do we get to eat those cookies, huh?” Stanley interjected.

“You just hold your horses young man”, replied Mrs. Johnson. “It’s polite to serve our guests first and I want to take a good look at those hands of yours before you touch any of these cookies, are they clean?” she said as she leaned over toward Stanley who quickly wiped his hands on the back of his jeans and then slowly put his hands out for his mother to see. “Stanley, when was the last time you washed those hands?” He looked up at her with wide open eyes and said, “last night, just before dinner. Can I have a cookie now, Mom?” He started to reach for a cookie and was halted by his mother’s voice. “Stanley, you march yourself right up those stairs and wash those hands with plenty of soap and warm water, right now. You have been playing dig to China again and your hands are filthy.” Stanley slumped down in his chair, looked at his hands and said pleadingly, “Oh, Mom, I wiped ‘em off. They’re clean enough.” Mrs. Johnson straightened herself up to her full height, pointed toward the stairwell and said in her firmest voice, “March, young man!”

Stanley knew that the road of resistance to his mother’s will had come to an end. He quietly and sadly said, “Yes Ma’am” slid down from his chair and slowly headed toward the stairs. Mrs. Johnson, still pointing at the stairs and her firm voice said, “Now, Stanley.” He suddenly became a blur and was halfway up the stairs before her arm was back at her side. The other children who had sat silently during all of this laughed quietly amongst themselves and started talking about how to catch the thief again.

Andrea was the first to speak up, “Hey guys, Mrs. Johnson, I’ve been thinking. How about if we purposely leave valuable things out that might be stolen and keep a watch on them? That way we could see who the thief might be?” Jon responded enthusiastically, “That’s a great idea! Whoever it is went after my Bible while there was a crowd of kids in the hallways. We can do it at the same time and place and just leave something else each day, hide and watch to see who it is.”

Mrs. Johnson spoke up, “You kids need to also keep in mind that whoever picks up what you leave may be intending to take it to the lost and found. You need to be careful how you do this.” Sue, who had been listening thoughtfully responded, “That’s right Mom, but it is a great idea and I think that we should try it. In fact, I have a blue cashmere sweater that I could leave tomorrow.” Mrs. Johnson said quickly, “Sue, that sweater was a gift to you from Gram Susie, don’t you think that you ought to choose something a little less valuable?” Sue looked at he mother and responded, “I’ll be right there hiding and watching all the time Mom, we have to leave something that someone would really want. And besides, leaving a pretty girl’s sweater will help us to narrow down whether we are dealing with a boy or girl.” Jon piped up, “That’s a great idea. I hadn’t thought of that part.” Andrea said excitedly, “I’ll go to the school office and talk to a friend of mine that works there and ask for a list of the things that have been stolen already. Maybe that will also help us figure out more about the thief.” Jon looked at Andrea with enthusiasm in his eyes and said, “Wow, Andrea that’s another great idea! Where do you guys think that we ought to leave the sweater and won’t the three of us standing around be kind of a clue to the thief that the sweater is a trap?” Sue responded, “I have thought about all of that and, you’re right Jon , three of us would be too many. I am thinking that only one of us should wait and hide and since, it will be my sweater that is being left, I want to be the one to do it. I, also think that leaving it on the same bench that you left your Bible on would be a good idea. What do you guys think?”

Mrs. Johnson stopped what she was doing and spoke up, “Sue, I know that your heart is in the right place here, but I want you to promise me that you will be very careful when you do this. A confrontation with the thief could be very dangerous.”

“I promise Mom, I don’t want to be in any danger either. I just want to find out who is doing this and, hopefully, help them out. There must be a really good reason for a person to steal a Bible. I think that we could really help whoever it is. Will you pray for us Mom? Pray that we are successful and safe?”

“Of course I will dear,” responded her mother with an uneasy smile.

The Strange Case of Ella Hobbs – writing exercise – just for fun

The Strange Case of Ella Hobbs  

It was a beautiful day with a high in the low 70’s and just a few scattered clouds in the brilliantly sunny sky. A perfect day for a lunch time walk. I could smell the salt water as I walked along the waterfront. When I got to Pier 54, I saw my old friend Ivar standing in his usual spot feeding the seagulls. I am pretty sure they are the same seagulls I saw with him last time.

I stood watching him for awhile and then he spoke. “JP, I met this strange woman earlier today. She told me she was in some sort of trouble and asked if I could help her.” “What sort of trouble,” I asked.

Ivar stood stoically for a minute or two, “I’m not sure. She didn’t really stay long enough for me to ask.”

“Where did she go?”

Ivar’s eyes glanced north, “I think she headed over to the Curiosity Shoppe. Go check with Sylvester on this JP. She was very nervous and scared. He might know something.”

I tipped my hat in his direction, “Will do Ivar, whenever there is damsel in distress, JP Fremont is on the case. Keep clam!” Ivar just smiled that stiff smile of his and went back to feeding the seagulls.

When I got to the Curiosity Shoppe, I headed straight for Sylvester’s display case. But, he was busy, as he usually is, posing for pictures with tourists. I had to wait for quite awhile as a bus tour had stopped at the shop just before I got their and everyone from the bus was waiting to have their pictures taken with him.

So, I wandered over to chat with the mermaid for awhile. She said that she had seen a young woman talking to Sylvester earlier that morning, but couldn’t hear what was said as she is on ceiling duty this week.

When I finally got to talk to Sylvester, he repeated pretty much the same story that Ivar had told me with the exception of one critical fact. Someone was after Miss Ella Hobbs and they meant to do her harm. I knew now that my mission to find her was life or death important.

I hurriedly called my office to tell my secretary I would be out the rest of the day and she could take the afternoon off. I had a hard time getting a word in edgewise though because she kept talking in a whisper that some doctor was trying to get in touch with me and that I should come back to the office. I told her I was busy and hung up. I was sure that doctor was trying to collect an overdue bill. He would have to wait.

I ran across the street just in time to catch the trolley heading for Pioneer Square. Sylvester had said Ella was heading for a spot underground there.

 I got to Doc Maynard’s just in time to catch one of the Underground Tours. I latched onto the tour guide and began grilling him about Ella. He had not seen or spoken with her, but one of the other guides did report that someone had gone missing on one of the earlier tours after asking where she could find the old carousel. He told her about the Waterfront Arcade and off she went.

I headed back to the waterfront trolley. It was then that I noticed someone following me. I recalled seeing her in the Curiosity Shoppe and at Doc Maynard’s, now she was sitting five rows behind me on the trolley.

I wanted to lose her but I also needed to stay on this case. I could not afford to let this trail go cold. Ella’s life may be in danger. I decided to keep going and deal with her later.

Inside the arcade, I headed directly for the carousel, bought a ticket and got on one of the talking horses. The horse I was on remembered seeing a distraught young women.

###

To be continued…

New old stories – The Case of the Missing Bible – Chapter 4

Chapter 4

The warm, brightly lit kitchen of the Johnson home spills over with talking and laughter. Sue, Jon and Andrea seated at the kitchen table eagerly awaiting a batch of fresh oatmeal raisin cookies that Mrs. Johnson is has in the oven.

Bursting Into the kitchen, Sue’s seven year old little brother Stanley exclaims, “Hey Jon , do you think that it’s too late to go over to the park and play on the big toys? Come on, can you come and play with me…please?”

Jon turns and smiles at the boy,“Uh, you know Stanley that I’d love to play with you but, your mom is about to take the most delicious cookies ever out of the oven and, and…I think that we really ought to stay here and give them a tasting, don’t you think?” Stanley was about to object to the delay when his nose caught the delicious aroma of the about to be taken out of the oven cookies. He climbed up into the chair next to Jon and said loud enough for everyone to hear, “Who’s pouring the milk?”

Laughter filled the Johnson kitchen. Sue got up and said, “You know Stanley, I was just about to do that, why don’t you get the glasses out ok?” Stanley jumped down from his chair with a cheerful “Sure!” and proceeded to pull his chair over to the cupboard where the glasses were stored, retrieved 4 glasses and then looked at his mother and said, “Mom do you want one too?” “I surely do Stanley, thank you for thinking to ask. Let me help you carry these to the table.” Sue retrieved the milk from the refrigerator and began to pour it into the glasses.

Sitting back down, Jon looked at her and said, “So what are we going to do to catch this person that took my Bible?” Sue looked at her mother and starts to explain, “We wanted to ask your advice Mom. Jon accidentally left his new Bible on one of the benches by the courtyard at school today and someone took it before he could get back to get it again. We were hoping to find out who it was so that we could talk to them and try to lead them to the Lord. What do you think we should do?”

Mrs. Johnson took the first pan of cookies out of the oven and set it on a cooling rack on the kitchen counter. Then she turned to Sue and said “Did you look in the lost and found yet?”

Sue, Jon & Andrea looked at each other and then Jon piped up to say, “Yes, Ma’am, Mrs. Johnson, the lost and found was the first place that I looked after school, but the people in the office said that no one had turned anything in all day.” Sue added, “And there is something else that we didn’t tell you yet Mom. There have been other things around the school that have been taken as well, not just Jon’s bible. Kids have been talking about it all week. Our teacher told us today that we should keep a close eye on our things because of the thefts.” Jon and Andrea were nodding their heads in agreement. Then Jon spoke up, “That’s right and when we were talking about it on the way home, we thought that someone may have taken my Bible so that they could read it and that maybe that someone could be very lost and need Jesus. We just wanted to share Him with whoever it is.”

Mrs. Johnson smiled, “You know Sue, I like that idea. I like it a lot” and then she turned back to the counter, picked up a pan of uncooked cookies and put them into the still open oven, closed it, set the timer on the stove, walked over to the table and sat down. She looked at Sue and said, “But, don’t be too quick to turn this into a mystery to solve. I am glad that you want to talk to someone about the Lord. That is always a good idea. But about trying to solve the mystery of who is doing the stealing, that’s the part that I’m not so sure about.” Mrs. Johnson stared thoughtfully at Sue for a moment, “Just how would you go about doing that anyway?”

New old stories – The Case of the Missing Bible – Chapter 3

A small figure steals silently down the alley behind the shops on the main street of the neighborhood, pausing occasionally, to lift the lid of a trash can. With each look inside a can, the face contorts at the smell that rises up, while the eyes looked, mostly in vain, for signs of something edible. Hunger can be a strong motivator.

The figure continues down to the end of the alley…quickly…quietly.

Finally reaching the street, looking left, right, at doorways, at windows, all around not only to view the traffic, but also, for reassurance that no one is watching before crossing the street.

Reaching the sidewalk on the other side, the figure adopts a casual stroll for several blocks  and reaches highway 109. Hiway 109 is one of those old roads that hit their heyday in the 50’s with restaurants in the form of teepees, new fangled motor hotels lit up with neon and gas stations that looked like a cowboy’s boots and hat.  All that’s left now is brightly lit gas stations, convenience stores and cheap motels. Among them is the decayed Crescent City Inn. Like many of the buildings along this strip of old highway; it had, once upon a time, been far more glorious than it now was.

Still looking around to see if anyone is watching, the small figure approaches room 116, enters quickly and then silently closes the door.

New old stories – The Case of the Missing Bible – Chapter 2

Chapter 2

Jon settled into his seat in the classroom and then opened up his backpack to get his book out and noticed that his Bible was not there. He started to stand up to go back to get it when the Miss Watson entered the room and announced, “All right everyone. Take your seats, take out a sheet of paper and a pencil. We are having a pop quiz.”

Amidst the moaning, Jon tried to get the teacher’s attention. “Miss Watson”, he said. But with all the moaning and rustling going on, she didn’t hear him. She was busy writing the quiz questions on the board. Jon tried again to get her attention, a little louder this time. “Miss Watson”, he said. This time she turned around and looked at him. But instead of asking what he wanted, she said “Jon put your hand down, it’s time to start the quiz. Question number one” she started. Jon felt his heart sink down into his ample stomach.

As soon as class was over, Jon scrambled out of his desk, into the hall and ran back to the bench to look for his Bible; but, it was gone. He looked all around the bench and on the floor. Nothing. He decided to check the lost and found in the school office, but nothing had been turned in. He felt horrible. This was a brand new Bible that the church had given to him after committing his life to Jesus during the summer and now, it was gone.

On the way home from school, Jon talked with Sue and Andrea. “I know that I didn’t just mislay it somewhere. We were all together at that bench when I last saw it.” Andrea wondered out loud, “Why would anyone steal a Bible, most people go out of their way to avoid even talking about it?” “That’s true”, said Sue “most people wouldn’t…unless…” “Unless what?” interrupted Jon . “Unless they were really curious about it and didn’t want anyone to know”, replied Sue. “Jon , maybe whoever it was heard you repeating your memory verse and wanted to see it for themselves just like you wanted to. And when you left it on the bench in your hurry to get to class…” “And they saw an opportunity to read for themselves”, Andrea said excitedly. Jon chimed in with, “but instead of reading right there where anyone could see them, they took it to read later while they were alone!” “That’s just what I was thinking, too”, said Sue.

Jon stopped in his tracks on the sidewalk and wondered aloud excitedly, “well then it could be a good thing that I left it behind on the bench. Couldn’t it?” Sue laughed at her friend, “Yes Jon, it could be. But you were still a careless with it and now you don’t have it.” Jon deflated again and said, “Yeah, that’s right and it was a gift from the church too.” Jon then noticed a pebble on the sidewalk that seemed to need kicking; he kicked it and then started looking around for other pebbles to kick.

Andrea spoke up, “You know, Jon whoever it was that took your Bible could read it and want to ask Jesus to be their Saviour. We need to find out who it was so that we can help them if they do.” Sue’s face lit up, “That’s right! We can have a mystery to solve, someone to lead to the Lord and a new Christian friend to help grow!” “Wow, that is exciting!” said Jon having suddenly lost interest in kicking pebbles.

Sue grabbed a hand of each one of her friends and said “Let’s pray for whoever it is. Let’s pray that they read the verse and more of the Bible and come to know the Lord Jesus the same way that we do. Let’s pray that we can help them to know Jesus and to grow in Him.” “That’s a great idea, Sue” they both said. So right there on the sidewalk in Crescent City, on their way home from school on a sunny autumn afternoon, they prayed for a person that they did not even know. Jon prayed, “Lord, I’m really sorry that I was careless with my Bible leaving it behind like that, but you always work all things out for your own glory. Please take my mistake and turn it into something wonderful. Please help whoever it was to read my Bible and come to know you.” Sue followed with “And Lord, help us to be your servants in this. Help us to discover who it is and to help them get to know you and to lead them to your Son Jesus.” “And help us to become good friends to whoever it is and to help them to grow as a new Christian” Andrea said. And they all said together “In Jesus name, Amen!”

“Hey guys, let’s go to my house and talk this over with my mom. She always has good suggestions about how to do things. Let’s see what she has to say!” said Sue. Jon agreed immediately, “She makes just about the best cookies ever too. I just love her oatmeal raisin cookies!” Andrea and Sue looked at each other and laughed together and then Andrea said, “Jon , I don’t think you ever met a cookie that you didn’t like” while poking him lightly in his rounded middle. At that all three of them laughed and headed off to Sue’s house.

 

The Babylonian Adventure – Dinner with the Queen – Part Two

Here is the next installment in my updated story of Esther…remember this is still in draft form.

Seattle  – Present Day

The doorbell rang at the cozy three-bedroom craftsman home of the Johnson family.

“Stan, would you get the door? Please? It’s probably Jon and Andrea and I’m not ready yet!” A young female voice called from the upstairs bathroom.

Stan put down his cereal spoon, stood up and yelled back up the stairs, “I know, I know, Susie, I already figured that out. They always show up to walk to church with us on Sundays.”

“Stan! Call me Sue. I’m fourteen now and Susie is a kid’s name.”

“Oh yeah, right and I’m ten. So, it’s my job to annoy you, Susie!”

“Oh, thanks Stanley!”

“Ok, ok! I’m going, I’m going! Sue!”

Stan opened the front door. “Hi Jon, hi Andrea, come on in. Sue is still upstairs. I’m just finishing my breakfast.”

Jon put his hand on Stan’s shoulder. “Let’s go see what kind of goodies your mom left out in the kitchen, Stan.”

Andrea shouted up the stairs, “Ok if I come up? Jon and Stan are headed to the kitchen.”

“You bet! I’m in my room.”

Andrea bounded up the stairs, went straight to the first bedroom on the right, bounced onto the bed, fell flat on her back blew out some air and said, “Oh man!”

“What’s up, Andrea? You sound frustrated.”

“Oh, nothing. Just everything all at the same time.”

“Huh? If you’re trying to confuse me, it’s working.”

“It’s Jack, you know…”

“I know, you’ve been talking about him non-stop for the last few weeks. What’s the problem? Is he moving to the moon?

”Almost Sue, he’s moving to Vermont!”

“What?”

“His dad got a teaching job at a college in Burlington, Vermont and they have to be there in five days!”

“Wow! That’s fast, but you two never actually had a thing, right?”

“Well, no, not really. It’s just that…I wanted to. And now he is moving away.”

Sue turned to look at her friend and saw a tear welling up in her eye.

“You know.” Sue sat down on the bed beside Andrea. “Maybe God has someone or something better in mind for you.”

“Yeah? Well, I sure wish he would tell me what it is.”

“Andrea, I don’t think it works that way.”

“I’m just saying that a little clarity would be good. I don’t really need a big billboard or anything. I just want some kind of clear sign that this is ok and he has some other plan for me. All I know is that I feel cruddy.”

Sue leaned over and looked her friend in the eye. “Do you want to pray about it?”

“Nah, thanks though. I guess I just needed to get it off my chest. Thanks for listening, Sue.”

Sue stood up and picked up her purse and her Bible, “Well, if you don’t mind I’m going to pray for you anyway.”

“Cool! Thanks!” Andrea popped up off of the bed. “Hey, how about if I run ahead and get us some seats in the high school room. I might be able to see Jack and, and…say goodbye or something.”

“That’d be great! Thanks!”

“Ok, see ya!”

Andrea flew down the stairs and out the door in a flash,

Following, Sue walked down the stairs praying for her friend. She prayed that Andrea might see God’s hand at work in her life without needing big signs.

Sue concluded her prayer with. “Lord, please help me to be as firm in my belief as I hope I sounded to Andrea. Sometimes, I have trouble seeing it and believing it myself. Amen.”

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Here is the link to the previous installment: http://wp.me/p19Ob2-6l