Thursday, October 20, 2011

Friday Fiction for October 21, 2011

Friday Fiction is hosted this week by Vonnie, over at My Back Door. Be sure to head over there, and don't miss her stop on Lisa's Bus Tour, posted there as well.

I've been back to work on “Precocious by Consent,” hoping to finish it up before the beginning of NaNoWriMo in less than two weeks. This week's submission for Friday Fiction is the latest chapter written, and heads back to Katya's home for a look at the battle raging back there. One of the problems in the church (and I think this has been true since the early church began, because people have always been people), is a reluctance to admit a weakness for fear that others will think less of us (I wish I could say that I had this thoroughly mastered, but I cannot). The trouble with this is that the adversary uses such a mindset to keep us feeling isolated and defeated. While I never managed to make it to one of the Promise Keepers rallies, I did appreciate that they put an emphasis on getting men to seek out other believers to whom they could be both honest and accountable for their weaknesses. This chapter deals with just such an issue.

Chapter 38

Monday night

Gary sat in the spare bedroom, playing the guitar. With only the two of them, the extra room served as a music and computer room, and from time to time he stole a glance at the open laptop sitting on the desk.

Usually, the guitar was a good hedge against temptation, but this was the longest that he and Katya had been apart since they'd wed. Worse was the knowledge that they did not have a definitive date when their separation would end. Katya was committed to this endeavor until either the Facenet Killer fell into the trap, or it was clear that it was not going to work. No one had a realistic estimate as to how long either possibility might take.

It was tempting to use the computer to try and contact her. While Lloyd hadn't told him what name she would be using, he knew approximately where she was living, and enough of the cover story to conduct a reasonable search. The rationale that his contact would simply fit right in with the image she was presenting on Facenet added to the draw, and several times, he started to put the guitar in its stand, before renewing his resistance. That his contact could potentially increase the danger factor for her, or for someone else, helped shore up the resolve.

The other temptation was more insidious, and danced seductively at the corner of his mind. He was aware of it, and found his attention periodically drawn to it, though he maintained a certain distance by simply not acknowledging it in so many words.

He tried keeping his attention on the guitar, and particularly on complicated fingerings that challenged his skill. He then played praise and worship songs, hoping to keep his mind focused on spiritual things, and thereby keep the flesh at bay. He rehearsed Katya's favorite song, imagining her face smiling at him as he teased the notes from the strings.

Yet, the temptation was still there – smooth, appealing, and oh-so-convincing in its arguments. It's not like it's really cheating, and besides, who has to know? You heard Asher – even many pastors are finding an outlet online. How bad could it really be, if so many ministers are doing it?

How many pastors, he wondered, would be looking at what I really want to look at? And Asher didn't tell me that, to say that it was okay, either.

It was almost nine o' clock, and he had to be up early in the morning for work. It was not going to be easy, getting to sleep with the nearly constant urge to find some illicit thrills on the internet. Lord, I just can't do this alone. I can't live the way I know I should live.

As if in response, a memory popped into his mind, and he could hear Asher's voice again. Promise to call me when you’re struggling, no matter what time it is. Give me the chance to encourage you and to pray with you, instead of thinking you have to face this alone.

Okay, Asher – let's see just how much you want to hold me to that promise. He pulled out his phone, and hit the speed-dial for the pastor's home.

Gosia answered, in a voice as cheerful and pleasant as if he had been calling in the early afternoon, and not at night when many in the small community were getting to bed.

“Hi, Gosia,” he said. “It's Gary Duddeck. Is Asher available?”

“Oh, hello, Gary,” she replied. “Let me go see if he can come to the phone. Can I ask what it's about?”

“I – just need to talk to him.” It's difficult enough to tell another man that I'm fighting the urge to go find some nasty porn sites. How do I tell that to someone like you?

“Ah, okay,” she said. “Hold on, and I'll go get him.”

How much did Asher tell her? Surely, she would have been curious, after the exchance between Lloyd and Katya over dinner that Sunday. Does she know the whole story now? Or is she the kind of pastor's wife that graciously accepts the answer that she can't be told what's going on with someone? If she knows, is she really so gracious as to be able to overlook our pasts?

There was a click as a phone was picked up, and Asher's voice came over the line. “Hello, Gary,” he said. “Hold on just a moment, while Gosia hangs up the extension in the living room.” When the sound of the handset being replaced in the cradle came across, Asher continued. “Okay, we should be good now. What's on your mind?”

“Were you really serious when you said I should call you at any time?”

“Completely. Are you having problems tonight?”

He was nodding, despite no one being there to see it, before he spoke his answer. “Yeah; it's really a struggle tonight.”

The voice was gentle, encouraging, and without the least hint of condemnation. “Do you want to talk by phone, or would you rather come over here? I can come over there, too, if you'd prefer.”

“I think phone will be okay for now. It's funny – just admitting it aloud to you seems to have taken a lot of the edge from it.”

Asher chuckled. “Why do you think the enemy wants to keep us convinced that we need to keep our weaknesses a secret? If we're too afraid to admit them, then we're going to be too afraid to seek help when we need it as well. God never intended for His children to walk in isolation, and that's just one of the reasons.”



“Thanks for not writing us off when you found out the truth.”

“Well, it was pretty obvious that God hasn't written you off, and if He isn't ready to give up on you, who am I to disagree with Him?”

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Friday Fiction for October 7, 2011

We’re now home from Hawai’i, where we had minimal internet access, and where we stayed too busy for me to think about writing anything for Friday Fiction last week. I did, however, get the idea for this story, and thought I’d play with a little short fiction. The remarkable Miss Sara H. is our host this week, over at Fiction Fusion. Don’t miss it!

Hair of the Dog

By Rick Higginson

He sat up, confused. The last thing he remembered was leaving the dog fight, disgusted with how how badly his dog had lost. He vaguely remembered entering a nearby bar, to drown out his disappointment. Where he was, and how he’d ended up there, was lost somewhere in the drunken binge. Blinking his eyes to focus, he recognized the look of the holding cell. Oh, great. I ended up in the drunk tank.

Standing up, he yelled for one of the cops manning the facility. When the door at the far end of the room opened, he quieted down and waited. No point in irritating the guy holding the keys, he reasoned.

A large dog trotted to the door of the cell, and sat down facing him.

“Hey, boy,” he said. “Where’s your handler, huh?” He chuckled. “Not like I can ask you when I can get out of here, after all.”

The dog continued to sit, and he got the uncomfortable feeling he was being sized up by the animal. That’s stupid, though – he’s just a dog. He’s big, and maybe well-trained, but his breed wouldn’t serve for much more than training a real fighting dog. “C’mon, Fido. Surely your master didn’t send you in here alone. Where is he?”

“Turn around,” the dog said.

Huh? Oh, man, I don’t remember what I was drinking last night, but it must not be completely out of my system yet.

“Turn around,” the dog repeated. “Now.” A low growl accompanied the command.

He faced the rear of the cell. “Why do you want me turned this way?” he asked.

“Stretch your arms out,” the dog said, ignoring the question.

“You mean like this?” he asked, extending each arm straight out from the shoulder to the side.

“Now reach up, high as you can.”

He complied. If this is a drunken delusion, or just some stupid prank, might as well just play along.

“Face me,” the dog said. “Show me your teeth.”

Turning back towards the cell door, the dog had been joined by another of the same breed. He drew his lips back to bare his teeth, and waited.

The first dog turned to the other. “Well?”

“Missing a few teeth,” the second dog said. “Can he fight?”

The first dog turned back towards him, and cocked his head as if appraising him. “If not, we give him to ones that can.”

Wait – what? “Hey, I know my rights. I’ve had enough of this game, and if someone doesn’t let me out right now, I’m calling my lawyer.”

The first dog stood on all fours, with his hackles raised. He issued a loud bark, and then spoke in a low, menacing voice. “Mine now,” he said. “You fight if I tell you to fight.”

The second dog seemed amused, and added, “Dog heaven, your hell.”

He collapsed onto the worn bunk, trembling and sweating. My hell? No. I couldn’t have drank that much last night…

* * *

The two dogs trotted back through the door from the holding area, and sat at the woman’s feet.

The deputy in charge of the jail chuckled, shaking his head in amusement. “Them are some dogs,” he told the woman.

“Yes, they are,” she agreed.

“All done,” the first dog said, wagging his curved, bushy tail. “We go now, Lana?”

She scratched the malamute’s ear. “Yeah, Freki. If you and Geri are done messing with the jerk’s head, we can go now. We need to go check on the dog that he left for dead, after all.”

Freki, Geri, and Lana are from the story, “Lana’s Pack,” which has been featured here on Pod Tales before, on January 2, 2009, May 29, 2009, June 19, 2009, and June 25, 2010.