Monday, January 12, 2015
Good morning, my friends!!
What a great weekend it was!! Waaaaay cold here in Atlanta, and even worse in many other parts of the country, but still, so much to be thankful for…as we are brought back to a horrific reality, when we are awakened to the horrors of those who want to harm us, as in the recent senseless and dreadful Paris shootings. All of this hatred in the name of “religion”. It just boggles the mind and takes me to a spiritual place that is so difficult to comprehend. We are truly in a world of hurt in the most painful ways, and we don’t even want to think about—but we must. Pray for our Country and our Allies and may GOD have mercy on us all. Amen!!
As I mentioned last week, we have actually almost finished excerpts and thoughts from my book, That Melvin Bray. There are thirty (30) chapters and we have only one and a half left as of today and I’ll finish the final excerpts from Chapter 29. This chapter, by design, is very long, which has forced me to discuss it here in five parts, making sure I didn’t give too much away to those of you who have not read the book, but still trying to present the “flavor” of the book and it’s characters.
Excerpts and Thoughts from—That Melvin Bray
“Hope for a great sea change, on the far side of revenge. Believe that a further shore, is reachable from here. Believe in miracles, and cures and healing wells.”
—Seamus Heaney, Irish poet and Nobel Prize recipient
Chapter 29 – I Love You The Most – (Part Five)
Once we landed, Lizzy took on her normal “I’m in charge” role and proceeded to make things happen. We went straight to the rental car counter, got the keys, and went back to baggage and had the porter follow us to the car with our bags. We drove to the hotel and checked in.
Dinner came, and we both fussed over it with little enthusiasm; then I showered while she pulled out some of the reports that Todd had faxed her that afternoon at the office before we’d left. I willingly went on to bed, leaving her to her comfortable world of the psychological human mind. At least we weren’t talking about my mind anymore.
Strangely, as I lay there, exhausted in that comfortable bed, my thoughts were rambling all over the place. Good night, Dr. Benis,MD, and thanks for taking me and my subconscious back to that old well, with me kickin’ and screamin’ all the way. The realization that I hadn’t killed anybody had truly given me a new lease on life. And finally, with that awareness, I was able to logically consider the present situation we were in. Lizzy, on the other hand, had the presence of a logical mind even when she was sleeping probably. Oh well, I’ve said it before, ‘n’ I’ll say it again: we all have our strengths.
“Maggs, hit the deck! It’s showtime; get up!”
“Hey, is it even daylight yet?”
“Shoot, last night was so short that I didn’t even have time to dream! I’m up already; go away!”
We were dressed, packed, checked out, and in the rental car in a fuzzy blur. We’d be in good ole, bad ole Grace Chapel in about an hour. Of course, the drive would have taken most people about an hour and a half, but not my friend Speed Racer.
It was a little after eight o’clock when we pulled into the same small but remodeled sheriff’s office in our still-quaint little childhood town. We both commented on how odd the circumstance was that had brought us both back there to our little town together. Yes, very odd, strange, weird, and scary—it was all of those things!
We parked, got out, and went into the building, where we found our childhood friend Todd sitting behind his desk, holding an open file. He realized we had arrived and immediately stood up and came around from behind his desk to greet us. We all hugged and reminisced about the last time we’d seen each other, almost four years ago.
We sat down together and wasted no time getting to the possibly morbid task we were facing. The good thing about this whole awful business was that all three of us had our own personal reasons for wanting to get to the truth, no matter what it might be.
Todd’s reason was to resolve unfinished business for his father. Lizzy’s reason was to find out what had happened to That Melvin Bray for me and, of course, Ricky for Katherine and Ballen. My reason was to find That Melvin Bray at the bottom of that well. Had he really fallen into it as I had remembered while under hypnosis?
The three of us spent the next several hours reviewing all the evidence interviews, sketches, photos, testimonies, possible suspects. We reviewed each detail with keen enthusiasm, and we were all eager and willing to do whatever it took to find the one tiny clue that might be hiding. A fresh set of eyes, or three, just might solve the mystery.
Todd had already told us that Ole Man Jennings’s son, Sydney, whom we also had gone to school with, would be calling us that afternoon to confirm the day and time we’d be able to come out to the property to start the excavation. Todd had told Sydney that it would be necessary for him to prevent anyone from coming onto the property until he was able to release the property back to him and that he was legally bound to remain silent about the investigation until further notice. Since Sydney and Todd were lifelong friends, Todd had no concerns about Sydney’s reliability.
In addition to quarantining the property, based on all the facts and possibe scenarios surrounding That Melvin Bray, legally, Todd was required to contact the local district’s medial examiner. The fact that the old well might actually have been an unmarked human burial site—coupled with the fact that if there was a body at the bottom of the well, the deceased might also have been involved in an ongoing crime investigation, the unsolved case of Ricky Lawrence required certain legal protocols. Therefore, the district medical examiner had to assume jurisdiction over the whole process.
Todd had already notified the ME after his first phone call with Lizzy two days earlier, and with the ME’s direction, he had contacted the state archaeologist.
Todd was waiting on Sydney Jennings, the ME was waiting on Sheriff Todd, and the state archaeologist was waiting on the ME; therefore, we all were waiting on Sydney! The crucial phone call came in at five o’clock that afternoon. There’s that special number five again, I thought. Have thine own way, Lord. It has been a very long thirty-five-year wait—so yes, by all means, have thine own way, Lord; we’re all in your competent hands.
Sydney told Todd we could start the next morning at nine o’clock, and Todd immediately called the ME. The ME said he would make the final call to the state archaeologist. Our plan was in place.
As we rode out to the Jennings property, the three of us were all about the what-ifs. We couldn’t help ourselves. We arrived at the property and took the long road up to the house, passing the old well on our right. It looked so different. Todd parked under the even older and more mature pear trees in the side yard—the same old pear trees that Mother had walked under each night at about eleven fifteen, when her ride would drop her off from work. As we got out of the car, I could feel her presence, and for a moment, I noticed a wonderfully familiar, powdery fragrance floating around my head.
Once we got to the old well, where the excavation team had set up a big tent, none of us really had a clue what to expect, but we found out quickly that patience would be the new word of the day around that old well. It would be mostly slow going but, fortunately not thirty-five-years slow. At least we had that goin’ for us.
About twenty years ago, Mr. Jennings had given a long-term lease to a farmer who grew mostly corn and a few other soil-friendly vegetables. The old house and barn were still there, which the farmer used for utility purposes, not his personal use. The barn was still in pretty good shape, although I was sure it had had a face-lift or two over the years. The house was a different story. It looked like something right outta that old movie, House on Hauted Hill.
As we stood around the tent, we noticed an elderly gentleman driving up the driveway.Todd told us it was the medical examiner, Dr. Alfred Maness. Over the next few days, I would come to realize that Lizzy had an older twin. She and Dr. Maness had so much in common that I was gonna have to order two of those plaques that read “To save time, let’s just assume I know everything.” He was disarming, charming and quite intelligent, just like Lizzy. They bonded instantly, and it was interesting to watch the two of them “decipher stuff,” as Dr. Maness would say. And Lizzy would say, “Let’s think this through.” He was a handsome fella of about sixty, was in fine physical shape and was nothing but seriously confident when it came to his expertise and knowledge of his profession, just as Lizzy was.
It was about noon before the team finally had everything in place to begin the initial dig. There really wasn’t much the rest of us could do but be there and continue the ongoing discussion of the facts and all the evidence, or the lack of it. Of course, we all had our opinions, but based on all the information that Lizzy and I could provide about the Lawrences, That Melvin Bray, and Ricky and my own revealing session with Lizzy, Todd and Dr. Maness came to the same conclusion: That Melvin was probably at the bottom of that old well.
About three o’clock that afternoon, the sun was as bright as I’d ever seen it, except for maybe at the beach, and the air was unseasonably warm. It felt more like spring than fall. Dr. Bernie stood by the big plastic sheet as the giant post-hole digger carefully lowered the last scoop of dirt and placed it on the sheet. It looked sorta like a two or three-foot-high pile of dirt ‘n’ debris, pretty evenly distributed over a fifty-by-fifty-foot square area. Once the driver in-the-box had released the last bucket of dirt onto the plastic sheet, he backed his machine out of the way, and the team immediately began to raise the tent over the huge plastic sheet.
The tent had only one opening for both entering and exiting. Large strobe-type lights were attached to tall posts throughout the interior of the tent. The plastic sheet was centered in the middle of the tent, and there was a four-foot-wide walking boarder around the sheet, which would serve as the team’s work space. Several waist-high, skinny tables set up all around the walking boarder would serve as shelves for the artifacts. This whole process was remarkably impressive, and watching the team work with such incredible focus and precision with every move was both exciting and tense. They would not miss one little speck of anything. Whatever was in that dirt, Dr. Bernie and his team would find it.
Todd had assembled a few folding chairs to the right of the opening, just inside the tent, and that’s where he, Lizzy, and I would remain throughout the final search for That Melvin Bray.
Lizzy and I were in a trance-like state as we watched their every move; then Todd waved his hand for us to join them. We rose from out seats slowly and, with more than a little trepidation, walked to the other side of the tent, where the three men were standing. As I moved in closer, visually scouring the dirt for “it” among several items on the table, my eyes locked onto it, and I knew exactly what it was. There as plain as day to me, was…
Next week, the final chapter:
Chapter 30—Shedding the Cloak on the Road to Forgiveness
A few months ago I received the following Book Review from my publisher:
“Author Margaret McBride treads some familiar ground with her Christian inspiration, “That Melvin Bray”. There is a lot going on in this book; a lot that the Christian fiction reader will find of value here. Regular readers of Christian fiction will find a like-minded soul here, telling a story of faith and one’s ability to help rise us up from less than ideal beginnings. In a world where the dysfunctional family seems to be the new normal, this is a timely message and one that could be of significant service to many people.” —Writer’s Digest Annual Author Book Reviews – November 5, 2014
I share this review with you because I like it! My publisher captured the essence of my book and I’m very pleased with that knowledge. You may also read other reviews as well, on my website:
My prayer for us all this week is that we’ll pause and take a moment or two to share ourselves with someone, anyone…who might need us in some way. Actually I had one of those moments bright ‘n early this morning. Just out of the blue! As it turned out, someone needed someone, and God sent them to me. I was the true benefactor, however, as I was able to brag on our sweet Lord, His almighty power and what He can do in our lives if we just get out of His way and trust Him enough. Thank you, Jesus for a wonderful way to start my day!! YOU rock my world!!!! Hallelujah!
GOD is Good! GOD is Great!!
“Certain thoughts are prayers. There are moments when, whatever be the attitude of the body, the soul is on its knees.” —Victor Hugo
You may know you have eternal Life. — 1 John 5:13