Entry 33: Headache And A Bible: Monday Aug. 8
I woke up with an excruciating headache. I was still on the floor. I struggled to my feet, my head swimming in dizziness. After some initial disorientation, I felt the back of my head with my hand. I could feel the rawness where I’d been hit and I winced for a second. I looked at my hand to see if I was bleeding. Then I heard his familiar voice.
“You’re not bleeding. I didn’t hit you that hard.”
I looked over at Mr. Martin. He was sitting at the writing desk, flipping through his daughter’s diary as if it were the Sunday newspaper. He pushed the diary to the side and looked hard at me.
“Do you want to give me a good reason why I shouldn’t call the law and have you arrested?” he asked.
I shook my head, I had no excuse. I knew I’d done wrong. I had broken into his house and went through his daughter’s private things.
“The only reason I haven’t called them yet is because of Mischa,” he said. “I think you know something I don’t.”
I looked up, almost wishing he’d call the police instead. Then I could tell them what I know. But I imagine they would find me crazy without any hard evidence. I’d be locked up and unable to help anyone.
“Why are you so interested in my daughter?”
I hesitated. What should I tell him? I tried the truth. “I think she was murdered.”
He seemed to think on this a minute, and then he shook his head, unbelieving. “No, she left home. She’s fine. I get letters from her every Christmas. She’s a designer in New York.”
I couldn’t believe this. It couldn’t be. She couldn’t be alive. I knew she was dead, and he was just in denial. “Then why do you keep her room like a shrine?” I asked, casting a look around us both.
“It’s not a shrine,” he protested, and I detected a hint of anger rising in his voice. I decided it was best to let that go. I was in enough trouble. “I keep her room for her,” he explained.
“What for?” I asked. “Has she been home to visit since she left?”
“No, she’s too busy.”
“And yet you still wash her clothes,” I said, glancing over at the bureau.
He looked at me sharply.
I kept going. “Clothes that she would have outgrown after being away for twenty years.”
There was something hurt and dangerous in his eyes. I really needed to watch myself here.
“You should go home now,” he said, a dejected look on his face.
“You’re not going to call the police?”
He gave me a shrug. “I guess you’ll just have to wait and see. Now get out of here.”
He didn’t move. He just sat there at the writing desk, as if he wanted to be left alone with his stepdaughter’s memories. As for myself, I didn’t waste much time heading for the door. Still I turned back.
“I’m sorry for breaking in and invading your privacy, Mr. Martin. I just wanted to know the truth.”
He looked up at me with tears in his eyes. “The truth is she’s coming home.”
I felt like telling him she already had. Instead I left, the pain in my head starting to fade a little. I went home to wait on the police.
The police didn’t come. But the guys came to fix the window that had broken the other day. While Penny and I watched them work, I got to thinking of Mischa’s dress. The one in her closet at home had been labeled, “MB”. I got up and went to my own closet. I had put the duffel in there after Donna left me. I opened the bag and pulled the dress right off the top. Yes, it was the same dress. Same color, same design, same manufacturer. But looking at the label I saw it wasn’t the same dress at all. This one was labeled “MM”. What was going on here? Before I could dwell on it, the workers finished with the window. I put the dress back and paid them.
I went out to sit on the front porch. Penny lay at my feel and let me scratch her behind the ears. She was starting to get used to that. I looked over at the church and saw the pastor’s car in the lot. I got up and walked over there.
I found Chiles in his office, and he was very cordial. “Hi Paul,” he greeted me with a smile. “How are you?”
My head still had a dull ache, but I told him I was doing fine.
“Is there something I can help you with?”
“Well, it’s not a spiritual matter, but I did want to ask you something.”
“Okay,” he nodded, clasping his hands in front of him on the desk.
“Did you know Pastor Shiflett when he was here?”
He seemed to think for a moment. “The name’s familiar, but he wasn’t here when I came on board. I replaced a Pastor Denton. I think Shiflett was here years before that.”
I nodded. “Yes, he was here in the seventies. His wife was a Sunday school teacher here, too.”
“Well, if it were the seventies, that was way before my time here. You’ll have to ask one of the church elders.”
“Do you know if there would be church records from that time? I’d like to get in touch with him if he’s still living.”
“The office keeps records for about thirty years if I’m not mistaken,” he replied.
“Do you think I could get a look at them?”
“Well, the secretary keeps them locked in the file cabinet, Paul. She’s gone for the day, I’m afraid. But you could see her tomorrow about it. I really don’t see where it would be a problem.”
I nodded, just a little disappointed I couldn’t get a look at them today. I might be locked up myself later.
“Why do you want to get in touch with this old pastor? Are my sermons too boring?” He laughed.
“Oh no sir,” I laughed back. “Your sermons are fine.” I thought for a minute, trying to think of a believable excuse, but nothing would come. He waited for me to answer. Instead, I just said, “I enjoyed your last sermon.”
He smiled. “Maybe you should join the church.”
“I’ve been thinking about it.”
“Good. Well, you just turn those thoughts into conviction,” he replied with a little smile. “We’d love to have you as a permanent member.”
I thought of another permanent member, Mischa. She was really permanent. Even after death, she couldn’t leave.
“In fact,” Pastor Chiles said, oblivious to my thoughts, “I’ve been meaning to give you a Bible. Can’t have you working here and you not owning one,” he grinned. He reached behind him on a bookshelf and took a black leatherbound volume down. He handed it to me. “There you go. We usually wait until someone is baptized, but maybe you’ll do that too before long.” He winked.
“I shouldn’t take your bible,” I lightly protested. I didn’t like people just giving me things. I always feel like I owe them something in return.
“Oh no, you go right ahead. These bibles are donated by church members just for this purpose.”
“Oh okay, well in that case,” I finally reasoned. I put the book under my arm. “Well Pastor, I better go. I’m expecting company soon.”
“Alright,” he said. “I’ll be seeing you Sunday?”
“Yes,” I replied, hoping I was still around Sunday.
“You are doing a fine job here at Resurrection, Paul.”
“Thank you sir,” I replied. I then begged my leave and turned to go. But I stopped, thinking of something else I wanted to discuss. “Pastor, I do have a biblical question maybe you could help with me.”
He leaned back in his chair. “Sure, fire away.”
“Does the phrase ‘cover not thou my blood’ mean anything to you?”
He raised an eyebrow. I could tell he was curious, but I wasn’t about to tell him it had been scrawled across my office wall in crayon. “I saw it in a novel I was reading the other night and just wondered if it was from the Bible.”
He put his elbows up on his desk and laced his fingers together. “O Earth, cover not thou my blood, and let my cry have no place.”
A chill went through me. Clearly the message on my wall had been a plea for help from Mischa.
“It’s from the Old Testament book of Job.”
“What does it mean?”
“Well, Job was a very pious and patient man. God set all kinds of troubles and trials upon him in order to test his faith. Here Job was speaking about the wrong he felt had been done to him.”
“Cover not thou my blood sounds like it was serious.”
“Well, to him it was. He used the word blood to compare his suffering with that of someone who had been murdered. He calls on the earth not to conceal the crime but to reveal it, so that his injuries or affliction may not be hidden but be avenged. You must have been reading a crime novel.”
“You said you saw this in a book you were reading. Sounds like it’s a good mystery yarn.”
“Yes, it is. Thank you Pastor for your help.”
He smiled and spread his arms wide. “That’s what I’m here for, to guide the flock. You can find the verse in that Bible I just gave you,” he winked. “Job chapter 16, verse 18, I think.”
When I went home the police still weren’t there. I sat down and waited on the front porch until dark. Either Mr. Martin hadn’t called them yet or they were waiting until morning to get the arrest papers in order. I looked down at Penny resting at my feet.
“Well girl, guess ole Paul has gotten himself in a mess.”
She barked twice in response. “Yeah I know. I should have left things alone.”
I looked at the Bible Chiles had given me. “Maybe I should turn to the Word, huh,” I grinned.
She barked twice again, and I opened the book to the front page. Inscribed just inside the cover in a familiar feminine hand were the words “Mischa was here…”
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“Resurrection Diaries” by Paul D Aronson.
Original text copyright 2007.
10th Anniversary Edition 2017. All Rights Reserved.