I was distracted the rest of the day. The internal debate raging in my brain eventually interrupted everything I attempted, from creating storyboards to preparing coffee. I would begin an activity and within minutes be still, staring at nothing, lost in the lack of answers to the questions playing over and over in my head. It was like having an annoying song stuck in my brain, set to repeat mode with a broken on/off toggle and the more I tried to not think about it the more intense the reminders. I was in mid stare, hand resting on the computer mouse, when Wally stood outside my office door and cleared his throat. The mild sound caused me to jump and cry out.
“Oh my gosh, you scared the crap out of me!” I was laughing but the initial moment was jarring.
“I’m sorry. I tried to be as quiet as possible and still get your attention. This marks the second time in a row I’ve caught you in deep thought in the middle of the day. You’d better be careful or someone’s going to tell Mr. Duncan he has a ‘thinker’ on his hands.”
“He may start expecting me to produce if that happens.”
“I don’t think you’ve got anything to worry about in that department. So what were you chewing on this time? World peace again?”
“No, but that may be easier to solve than what’s bouncing around my head right now.”
“What’s up? Still afraid your negative feelings are going to come back? Or have they? You didn’t step on any carpet seams, did you?” His mock look of concern exaggerated the sarcasm in his voice.
I smiled and motioned for him to sit down in one of the chairs near my desk. “No, in fact it’s stayed away so completely I’d almost forgotten what it was like when I was suffering through it.”
“I’m glad to hear that. Have you had any luck finding the instigator of all these positive emotions?”
“Not yet. I spent a lot of time researching any and all possibilities this past weekend but nothing struck me as legitimate. The results were disappointing but I’m trying to not let it bring me down.”
“So why are you so interested in discovering the who or what behind what happened? Why not just accept the benefits and move on with your life?”
“I’d love to do that, I really would, but the problem is the mystery surrounding the way it happened has piqued my interest to the point I can’t quit thinking about it. It’s almost like whatever it was left a calling card complete with audio and I have no idea how to turn it off. I can’t shake the desire to find out and I’m starting to get a little obsessive about it.”
Wally looked a little uncomfortable and I knew why. He wanted to preach, fill in the blanks with his Christ-tinged answers but was unsure if it was the appropriate time. He cleared his throat and I braced for the Jesus tidal wave. “You know what I think is happening so I won’t pester you with that but I do want to say, again, I will continue to pray you find the truth.” He looked at his hands, folded in his lap and added, “I want it to be your truth, though, not mine. At least not my exact truth.”
“What do you mean?”
“I think there is one truth out there, not a bunch of different ones. But I also think that even though the core is consistent, the central element, the trappings and outward appearances can take on a lot of different looks. Your truth will be different than mine although at their core they will be very similar, practically identical.”
“Thanks.” I was impressed by his restraint but I had one more question. “Are you serious about thinking the core is consistent for everyone? My research shows that people’s individual truth is very inconsistent and there is some bizarre stuff out there that people are buying into.”
“Like I said, I think there’s one truth and the others are bogus, so I’m praying you find the real one. I’ll leave it at that.”
“I appreciate your self-control. Seriously, I do. I’ll let you know if I have any success in my quest.” I checked my watch and saw it was approaching 12:30. “Are you hungry?”
“I am. Chinese, right?” And he smiled.
I almost made it out the door, double checking my office to make sure everything was turned off when my cell phone started ringing. I answered without checking to see who was calling, assuming it was a client.
“Earl? This is Joshua Brown. Am I catching you at a bad time?” Joshua Brown? Who was that and what was he selling?
“I’m sorry, who are you?”
Laughter. “No, I’m sorry for assuming I made such a huge impression on you that you’d remember me. I lead the recovery group on Thursday nights at St. Sebastion…”
The minute he said “recovery group” I remembered him. “Yes, yes, I’m sorry it didn’t register. How are you?”
“I’m fine. The reason I called was to find how you’re doing. You stepped out in the middle of our session and we never saw you again. Is everything okay?”
I chuckled at the thought of what I must have looked like to the group, sweating and flipping around in my chair, then suddenly standing up to leave. “Yeah, things are good. I guess I did perform a less than graceful exit. I apologize. The room was closing in on me a little and I needed some air. It was probably too warm in the chapel. I started feeling better when I was able to get outside.”
“I’m sure it was the heat. I’m just glad to hear you’re okay. I’d also like to invite you back this week. I’m not sure you got a true flavor of the group last time. I don’t want you to make a decision about whether it’s right for you based on one brief encounter.”
“I appreciate the offer but I doubt I’ll come back. Believe it or not, that night I got some relief from some things that were hanging over me.”
“That’s great! I’m glad to hear that. Try us again and it may get even better.” His attempt at sales made him uncomfortable and I could hear it in his voice. “I won’t keep you any longer but I wanted you to know you’re welcome any time.”
“Thanks, but I doubt there’s anyone there who’s glad I showed up and infiltrated their inner circle.”
“Well, I am.” And I smiled.
This is an excerpt of a full length novel entitled “Back Again.” You can read it in it’s entirety by downloading it from here or you can keep coming back to this site and read it in chapter chunks over time. Your call but, either way, I hope you will read it and, most of all, enjoy it. And leave a comment or two. It lets me know you are out there…