[If you haven’t read it already, start the book from here.]
Ron stood over Gus’ inert body and gave him one hefty slap across the face. Nothing happened. What were the factors in this equation? There was one possibly dead host father, a strange man that had appeared in the house unbidden and a little girl that didn’t know any better. Before Ron could jump to any more conclusions he needed to figure out whether or not Gus was still one of the living.
In practicality, he should have taken the man’s pulse or given him a good round of CPR, but instead, against better judgment, and with the first experiment proving futile, Ron thought it better to smack Gus across the face again. Perhaps it was some pent up frustration or the need to vent his feelings over the absence of his own father, but Ron swung his arm back in one mighty swing and threw such a blow across Gus’ cheek that the old man came into full consciousness and jumped from the ground with such rapidity that his head smacked against Ron’s and sent the boy crashing to the floor right where Gus had just leapt from.
Gus dashed back and forth in the hall as if his brain could not connect with the directionality of his feet. Ron sat in the middle of Gus’ hectic path rubbing his forehead.
“What are you doing?” Ron asked.
“Where did he go?” Gus stopped in his tracks turning his head from side to side as quickly as possible.
“He’s in the bedroom,” Ron said as he pointed towards Mira’s room.
Gus dashed inside leaving Ron on the floor without a single thought as to how the boy was doing. Ron pulled himself from off the floor as he realized that he heard nothing coming from the room as if the house had fallen under a fairy spell and everyone was put to sleep. Ron followed Gus into Miranda’s room and found him alone, grasping a small note out in front of him as if it were the Holy Grail.
“Where’s Miranda?” Ron asked.
“He’s taken her,” Gus said with wonder in his voice.
“Who? That man? She’s been kidnapped!” Ron responded frantically.
“No, she’s gone with God,” Gus pressed the note to his chest.
“Well, don’t worry Gus, I’ve already called the cops. They should be on their way.”
“The cops?” Gus turned to Ron but this was not the reaction that the boy had been expecting, “Why would you do that? She is on her own darn tootin’ path now. She’s with God.”
Ron’s mouth dropped to his chin for the second time that day. Not only could he not believe what he was hearing but he also couldn’t fathom why the words were coming to him in a not so accurate Texan accent. Here was Gus, the most anti-religious man he had ever met, embracing the name of God and not worried one bit that his daughter had disappeared with a strange man that had potentially tried to murder the whole family.
“You do realize what you’re saying don’t you?” Ron asked, “That your daughter is with God, that name that is forbidden to be spoken in this house, God,” he repeated. “Have you gotten enough protein this week? I think you might be faint.”
“The light has come to me. I see the truth now like a well-shaped stallion. God is among us,” Gus raised his arms in exultation and praised the ceiling.
“Actually from the looks of it, God is not among us. He has left, with your daughter. I don’t see why this is so difficult for you to grasp. And what’s with your accent?”
Gus ignored Ron and took the note over to his daughter’s bedside table. He slid her collection of unicorn figurines aside and gently leaned the note against the wall. He pushed past Ron only to return in a moment with a candle, some incense and matches. He placed the candle and incense around the letter and began to light them while chanting quietly under his breath.
“Now what?” Ron was more perturbed then ever.
“I’m building a shrine for worship, if you don’t mind. Actually, if you wouldn’t mind helping me, go get some sage from the kitchen and some oil to anoint the letter.”
“You know what I will do to help you. I will wait downstairs for the cops to arrive and tell them that your daughter has been kidnapped. That’s what a sane person would do in this situation and obviously I’m the only sane person here.” At that the doorbell rang.
Both Gus and Ron dashed to the bedroom door. With a strange ferocity, Damascus pushed Ron aside sending the boy to the floor for the second time that day. Gus ran down the stairs and folded himself through the front door, shutting it behind him before Ron could reach the landing. Gus held the handle with a firm grasp as Ron tugged and tugged at it. For a wiry hippy in his late 50s, Gus Lukenglasse was deceptively strong. As Ron yanked and yanked, Gus explained to the officer that the call had been a prank by the poor behaving exchange student that lived in his house. He apologized for wasting the authority’s time and he hoped that she would understand. The police officer thanked him for the explanation and left. Watching the cop get back into her car, Gus finally let go of the handle, letting Ron fall flat onto his rear end for the third time.
“Look where you’re going there boy. You’re really becoming a clumsy little tumbleweed,” Gus said as he stepped over Ron and walked back into the house.
[For next week, we’ll find Miranda Lukenglasse in the after life with God…only it’s not what either of them expected. New chapters every Wednesday.]