Chapter Twenty-Eight

I didn't drive straight back to Crimson Lane. When I had gotten to Minnetonka, I didn't feel ready to speak to anyone yet and rode aimlessly through the winding wooded neighborhoods of expensive looking homes and lost myself in thought with the sound of the wind whipping past my ears and the steady drone of the engine between my legs. My depleting gas level once again forced me to finally turn towards my destination.

By 4 PM, I was back in my room at Paul Northrop's home. It was Saturday and more than the usual number of cars were parked in the drive. I parked my bike next to Harry's GoldWing, noting that he had probably returned from his daily visit to the hospital a little earlier than usual. The motor wasn't still ticking as it should have been had he just returned at his usual time, in the last ten minutes or so. I went straight upstairs, staying clear of the library where I assumed most of the visitors would be. I figured Harry and I wouldn't be able to start drawing up papers on the sale of my house until Monday so I had a couple days yet to pick a place to go vanish, to start over.

Mostly I was just feeling relieved that Katelynn was safe, that her ordeal was over and we had successfully defeated fate. I laid down on the bed and had just started trying to think about which part of the country I might want to start out with when Chancey knocked at my door.

"Harry was wondering if you were feeling up to joining him in the library, sir," he said.

Hesitantly, I told him I would be down in a few minutes. They had given me a place to stay when I needed it. They were going to buy my home and even let me buy it back later if I decided I wanted to. They had fed me, allowed me to take care of my business without interfering and had even been happy to help whenever possible. As much as I wasn't feeling up to it at the moment, I knew I couldn't refuse Harry. I owed him big time. I laid there a few more minutes, simply stalling, and then headed down to the library.

There were about a dozen mostly familiar faces in the large room. A couple of couches had been turned around and quite a few chairs had been moved such that everyone was seated as a large discussion group. They all turned to look at me as I entered the doorway and stopped to take in the scene before becoming a part of it. One whose back had been to me as I entered stood and approached me, all smiles, holding out his hand as he neared. I returned his infectious smile with a genuine one of my own and shook his hand, my face full of questions and confusion overlaying the smile as Benny exuberantly pumped my hand up and down a few times.

"Welcome home," Benny said, as he finally released my hand. "Come join us, please."

I followed Benny back to the group and took the last available seat on a small couch next to Randi.

"Well," Benny said, after I had settled into my seat and quickly surveyed all the happy faces, most of which had returned their attention back to Benny. "Now that we are all present, I would like to announce that I am witness to a true miracle. And all I had needed was a little faith."

Instantly, recalling what Katelynn had said before we had gone in for lunch, I made the connection. I didn't believe it could be possible, but I new the 'little faith' he was referring to began with a capital 'F', not a small one.

Benny turned towards me as he continued. "As soon as that little girl put her hands on my head, a funny sensation came over my brain, as though she were tickling my mind, and I knew she had taken the tumor out of my head. And John is the one that brought her to me. Thank you, John. What's mine is now yours," he said, raising the cup in his hand in my direction. "You have saved my life."

That was the second time today someone had accused me of saving a life yet I had been directly responsible for neither one. It had been the results of the physical that had led to Dr. James operating on Katelynn and I hadn't even seen Benny since the day I had met him and Harry with the doctor. Yet everyone in the room then turned to me and applauded as though I had just been introduced to speak at their function. But at that moment, my voice was unavailable.

Benny continued as the clapping quickly died down. "In fact, after Dr. James retook the x-rays I was demanding, he asked if you had been in to visit me, John. I told him no one but Harry had been to see me, but Harry was as surprised as Dr. James had been with the new results."

"I didn't want you to have the x-ray and be disappointed," Harry interjected. "You seemed so sure the tumor was going to be gone and I thought you were out of your mind. It really is a miracle."

"That it is, that it is," Benny said. "And Harry had even been the one telling me all along just to keep the faith."

"But until you had told me her name was Faith, that hadn't been what I meant," Harry said, barely able speak through his emotional smile. "But now I have a feeling, a strong feeling. I would like to know her last name. I'll bet if I hear it, we will have found number six. I just know it." He turned to me. "What's Katelynn and Faith's last name, John?"

I still didn't know. I still hadn't asked. I felt like an idiot. Everyone was looking at me, waiting for me to reveal something as simple as the last name of the woman who's life I had been trying to save for the past few weeks, the woman whom I had fallen in love with, despite my unwillingness to admit the fact to even myself, though I knew in my heart that it was true. And yet I didn't know the answer. Maybe I had never asked because I knew I was going to be leaving as soon as her ordeal was over, or maybe because I never actually believed she would live long enough for it to matter. But whatever the reason, I hadn't asked.

"I, um, haven't ever asked her," I admitted, feeling embarrassed.

"Well that's okay," Harry said, noticing my discomfort at the situation. "If she is number six, we'll find out soon enough. We have all been delivered here for a reason and we are almost complete. But today, we celebrate the return of our friend. Today we celebrate Benny's life." He held up a drink, "To Benny," he said, and everyone but myself followed suit, repeating the toast, raising their varying cups, glasses and mugs in Benny's honor before taking a sip. Mary entered precisely at that moment and handed me a pre-opened bottle of dew and I joined in the toast, "To Benny," I said.

I smiled with the others and took a long refreshing drink from the tall bottle. For the very first time, I thought maybe it was just as Benny had said. Maybe I was home after all. Maybe I was one of them. And maybe everything Harry had been telling me was the truth. It was a lot to swallow, but I couldn't get those 'maybes' out of my mind. Maybe, I thought, just maybe, I had finally found where I belonged.

* * * * *

"You should have seen the look on Dr. James' face when he came back into my room with the results of the x-rays," Benny was saying. "It was priceless!"

"I'm surprised he let you out so quickly," I said, speaking up with a confidence to the group for the first time since arriving for that first dinner party Harry had invited me to that even surprised myself.

"He didn't want to," Benny said. "He wanted to run tests and find out how it had disappeared. He wasn't too happy that I up and left on him. I told him it was simply a miracle and he'd just have to accept that. I told him that I had checked myself into that hospital of my own free will and now that I was cured, I was checking myself out of the hospital of that same free will and there weren't nothing he could do to stop me. I thanked him for all his help and concern and me and Harry got out of there just as fast as we could. I was hoping to meet that little girl again and thank her. She is the real miracle!"

"She's going to be on a farm with her mother and her grandparents for a couple weeks while her mother recuperates," I informed him. "But I have their phone number if you want to get a hold of them."

Benny said he could wait to do it in person, but Harry was still looking at me when everyone else's attention had gone back to Benny and I knew exactly what he was thinking without the use of any special talents. He wanted to know their last name. He wanted to know if Faith was number six. I think he already had an idea, but he wanted to make sure. He wanted to feel the vibes that would make his innards smile at the sound of her name. But most of all, he wanted to see her shine. She was apparently a healer. She must have had a shine to her like none he had ever seen before.

A thought occurred to me and I waited for Benny to stop talking before directing my question to Harry. "Why do you suppose Faith healed Benny and not her own mother?"

A silence fell on the group. It was Ronnie that finally spoke.

"She probably didn't know her mother had been sick. And I'm sure she probably hadn't even discovered yet that she even had the ability to do what she did. She may still not know exactly what she's done."

Another woman I didn't know supported Ronnie's thought. "I'm sure they hadn't discussed her mother's condition around her daughter. I certainly wouldn't have," she said. "They wouldn't have wanted to scare her. But when she met Benny, he was in a hospital bed. Of course she knew that something was wrong with him."

"But how'd she know where and what?" Benny asked. "I certainly didn't tell her. She just sat on my bed and was looking at me. I made a funny face at her and next thing I knew, she stood up on the bed in front of me and laid both her hands on the ol' cue ball up there. She started to laugh and I couldn't help but to laugh with her and then a funny sensation started in my head. It felt like someone had lifted a blanket off my brain that had been tightly wrapped around it. And all of a sudden, I knew she had done what she had done but I won't even begin to pretend I know how she done it."

"It's her gift," Harry said. "She probably doesn't know either, but it's why she was put on this earth. I wish I had been there but more than anything," he looked back to Benny, "I'm glad you are here with us."

It wasn't long after that when Chancey came in and announced that dinner would be ready in a few minutes and the group slowly started moving into the large dining room, picking up the chairs that they had been seated in and putting them back in their original places before they left the room. Randi and I, each taking an end, turned our couch around as we got up and joined the others.

Casual, happy chatter once again never ceased throughout the exquisitely prepared and equally tasty meal. This time, however, many questions and comments came my way from several different people and I even asked a few myself, feeling quite comfortable with the semi-large group of people that surrounded me. I was beginning to think I could get used to this. Everyone was so happy and nice. It was such a pleasant atmosphere, so very different than the rest of the world I had been basically hiding from the past fifteen years or so. I was actually beginning to feel like one of the family.

Once again, I guess Harry hadn't been wrong.

* * * * *

Chapter Twenty-Nine


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The Master Plan

Chapter One
Chapter Two
Chapter Three
Chapter Four
Chapter Five
Chapter Six
Chapter Seven
Chapter Eight
Chapter Nine
Chapter Ten
Chapter Eleven
Chapter Twelve
Chapter Thirteen
Chapter Fourteen
Chapter Fifteen
Chapter Sixteen
Chapter Seventeen
Chapter Eighteen
Chapter Nineteen
Chapter Twenty
Chapter Twenty-One
Chapter Twenty-Two
Chapter Twenty-Three
Chapter Tweny-Four
Chapter Twenty-Five
Chapter Twenty-Six
Chapter Twenty-Seven
Chapter Twenty-Eight
Chapter Twenty-Nine
Chapter Thirty
Chapter Thirty-One
Chapter Thirty-Two
Chapter Thirty-Three
Chapter Thirty-Four
Chapter Thirty-Five
Chapter Thirty-Six
Chapter Thirty-Seven
Chapter Thirty-Eight
Chapter Thirty-Nine