Volume 3, Part 1
Over a year had passed since George had met Charles Okinyi, the African who had helped his life drastically. As he lay in his hammock swinging gently amidst a mild breeze, he reflected how things had changed. He thought of both things he had gained and things he had hoped to have but did not yet have.
All in all, George was a blessed man with many material possessions, including a small mansion of a house, luxury cars, an excellent income from his real estate sales, and two wives. Yes, that is right, two wives. How could this be in America where it had been banned over a hundred thirty years ago? Charles Okinyi, the Central East African with the regal bearing was the cause of this. Or as least, it was he that opened the scriptures to George and a few others to reveal that it was not unrighteous in the eyes of God.
Patiently, over a period of weeks, Charles demonstrated from scripture that many followers of God had plural numbers of wives and not once had God condemned any of them for the practice.
Surely, he had thought that even if it were allowed in the Old Testament times, certainly it had been outlawed with the initiation of the New Testament. Once again though, he found out he had been wrong. The only two passages in the books of Timothy and Titus which initially sounded like there was a restricting guideline for Bishop and Deacons to be limited to only one wife, upon closer inspection and study of the Greek words, were shown not to be making such a declaration at all.
Then the "Great" Charles Okinyi, as he had been nick-named by his friends, had taken George and his first wife Juanita to Kenya where the saw first hand how a plural wives marriage could work as they watched Charles and his two wives interact with love, affection, and devotion with no jealousy or bitterness at all.
After returning to the United States and with the approval of his first wife Juanita, he had married Judy Chandler, a mid-thirties widow with two small boys. Since they lived in a large house, each of his wives had their own bedroom. Most neighbors thought that Judy was merely a house guest. Of course, since he could not legally marry her, vows were between them and were witnessed only by a few close friends and no papers were filed.
"Hi, Honey," his train of thought was interrupted as Juanita joined his side, sitting in a lawn chair next to the hammock that hung between two trees in their large back yard. "Judy's on her way out with some lemonade and cookies."
Just as she spoke, Judy appeared with a plate of home-baked oatmeal cookies in her left hand and a platter carrying a large pitcher of lemonade and three glasses in he right.
Juanita helped her place the items on a small wooden table nearby. Judy moved around the tree and on the other side of the hammock and then went over and kissed George on the cheek. Pulling up another chair and then receiving a glass of lemonade from Juanita, she took a seat next to their mutual husband. A man they both admired and adored.
As Summer had come and the three spent more time out side on weekends, rumors and innuendoes were beginning to spread amongst the neighbors. George had at one time considered not showing open affection toward his second wife knowing that it could bring persecution from people who had been fully and completely indoctrinated into the "monogamy only" sacred cow of the Western world. Still, upon reflection, he knew that it would have been blatantly unfair to refuse Judy the affection she craved in order to avoid persecution, so he boldly tried his best to treat both wives equally.
Persecution was indeed coming and coming soon and this even as George considered taking action that would heap even more criticism on his head.
"Well, hello, Juanita." Mrs. Blanchard, who was a neighbor who lived down the street, greeted Juanita as she saw her in the grocery store.
"Hi, Mrs. Blanchard," Juanita replied. "How are you today?"
"I'm fine, but what's this 'Mrs. Blanchard' stuff? You know you can call me Betty." Betty Blanchard, who was at least fifteen years older than Juanita, moved her cart beside Jaunita's and leaned over to whisper in her ear. "Dear, I hate to tell you this, but I know I'd want to know if it were happening to me." She paused, giving Juanita a chance to brace herself for what was to come.
"Honey, I think your husband is cheating on you," Betty revealed.
"Oh, really," Juanita reacted. "And why would you think that?" She questioned, curious as to how she had come to her conclusion, yet knowing it had to be something she had seen as George and Judy and related to each other in some public setting.
"Well," Betty started again, expecting to see a greater reaction, but realizing that none was forthcoming. "He was seen holding hands with that red-headed house guest of your's." She said breathlessly as her widened eyes searched for the signs of hurt, pain, and betrayal that most American women would be feeling at this point.
"Oh," Juanita said as she smiled wryly, ready to have fun with this mid-fortyish neighbor. "That's okay, she's his wife."
"What?! But...but...I thought you were his wife," Betty stuttered.
"Oh, I am," Juanita explained. "You see George is such a good husband I couldn't help but share him so now he has two of us." She paused, as the older woman's eyes widened, her eyebrows went up and watched as her mouth flew open.
Juanita smiled broadly as she saw the woman almost involuntarily drew away from her as if she was infected with some wildly contagious disease. "You do believe in sharing a good thing, don't you?" Juanita shouted out as the woman made a hasty retreat. Juanita had enjoyed the moment and yet knew it would have it's own repercussions. Arriving home a few minutes later, she found her phone already ringing. "Hello," she answered.
"You're filth!" Said the voice on the other end.
"Uh, excuse me...who is this?" *click* The phone was hung up.
Ring, ring, ring....Once again it was ringing. This time it was a male's voice. "Get out of the neighborhood. We don't want your kind around." *click* The phone was hung up again even before Juanita could make any response.
Ring, ring ring....Juanita placed her hand on her hip, took the phone off the hook and hung up immediately before unplugging it. She was feeling queasy, almost nauseous. She had known this day was coming and had thought she was well prepared for it, but it was worse than she had imagined. Glaring at her watch, she realized that George would be here in a another hour and Judy would be off work in thirty minutes.
While she tried to focus on what to prepare for dinner, she pondered on what or how she could tell them.
Ding, Dong...The door bell was ringing just as she opened the refrigerator door. Closing the door, she slowly walked to the front of the house to answer it. Ding, Dong..Ding, Dong...Whoever it was was becoming impatient. As she opened the door she saw another neighbor from two doors down, Ann Mitchell, a woman she had considered a close friend.
"Juanita!" She exclaimed as her eyes widened and she threw her hands over her mouth. "Tell me it isn't true!" She said as she pushed past Juanita, stepping into the foyer.
"What?" Juanita said tersely as she placed her hand on the hip and shifted her weight to one leg.
"Is it true? Is George a bigamist?!" She repeated incredulously.
"Listen, Ann, I'm busy....And I don't want to talk about it right now."
"Oh, he is, isn't he?!" Ann charged. "Girl, you know you don't have to put up with this. Put him out!" She insisted.
"Ann," Juanita responded through clenched teeth as she gently put her hand on her friend's shoulder and moved her back toward the door. "I know what George is and isn't. As long as I am happy with him, why don't you leave us alone?!" She had shoved her out the door and slammed the door. Tears flowed down her cheeks as she slumped down on the sofa. "Why, God? Why?" she cried out. "I did what you wanted. I let Judy share my husband. Why?!" After a few moments, she heard in her mind a still, small voice quoting a scripture, "all that live Godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution."
While Juanita was suffering her own particular persecution at home, George was experiencing trauma at the office.
His secretary had already gone home for the day. George put the finishing touches on some paperwork and was about to turn out the lights, lock the office, and go home when the phone rang. He looked at it for a moment thinking he might ignore it and just go on home. Yet, he had trained himself to think, "Every call can be an important call. One never knows when the next one will make another fortune." At the fourth ring, he picked it up and trying to be pleasant, he still found he was more abrupt than normal.
"Yes, Meadows Real Estate. May I help you?" He answered quickly.
"Is this George Meadows? Mr. George Meadows?" the caller demanded.
"Yes, who is calling please?" George asked hoping not to give any indication that he didn't like the caller's tone of voice.
"I want to see you first thing in the morning. You be there at nine!" The caller spoke in an authoritative voice treating George as if he was some lesser human being. With the degree of wealth George had begun to accumulate, this was a way that he almost never experienced. Most people were quite deferential when they saw his house or his cars or understood who he was and what he had become in the financial realm. 'Who could this rude person be?' He thought.
"Yes," he answered slowly. "I'll be here at nine."
"Good," the voice answered. "There is a way to deal with your kind." *click* The caller was gone. George was puzzled. What did he mean, 'your kind'? As he wracked his brain trying to figure out who the caller might have been, he gradually closed up the office and headed for home.
Entering the house, both wives ran to him in tears.
"Oh, Honey," Juanita blurted out through her tears. "We're in trouble!"
"Wha...what do you mean?"
Judy looked up at him with tears in her eyes as she held him around the waist. "I'm...I..I'm sorry, George," she cried.
"Sorry?! What's going on?" George demanded.
As they sat on the couch, one wife on one side of George and the other wife on the other side. They poured out the story of the day's events.
George sat quietly as he listened with his brow furrowed. The he began to wonder, 'was the strange call at the end of the day related to this?'
"Let's get some dinner," he suggested. "And then we'll figure out..." he was interrupted by a banging on the front door. "Why is someone banging on the door?" he questioned out loud but half to himself. "Why don't they use the doorbell?" He rose and headed toward the door with a quick purposeful stride.
Bang! Bang! Bang! George reached the front door and snatched it open. "What do you want?!" He found himself yelling as he confronted the perpetrator. He was surprised to find a silver-haired gentleman who was probably in his forties dressed in a three piece black pin-striped suit, a long sleeve white shirt and a maroon silk tie, standing two inches taller than himself sneering at him as he held out a card.
"I couldn't wait until nine in the morning," he announced. "I am James C. Dewitt, attorney at law. I live one block over on Pine Crest. If you think you're going to bring bigamistic practices into the neighborhood, you've got another thing coming. I'll be bringing a class action lawsuit against you for bigamy and immoral behavior presenting a threat to the children of our community. I've got three teen-aged daughters, Mister, and you're not about to bring in some idiotic, illegal practices to destroy this community."
George rocked back on his heels as he faced this tirade of words. He knew of James C. Dewitt. He had a reputation for being a smart lawyer who had won some big suits, making him a multi-millionaire, and even wealthier than himself. "I...Uh..." George started saying, but Mr. Dewitt wasn't listening. He had already spun on his heel and headed back toward his brand new Mercedes.
"I suggest you get out while you can, or you'll lose everything you own," he called back over his shoulder.
George turned slowly after closing the door. His two wives stood together with questioning in their eyes. George knew he had to try to look confident, in control, take charge, although he didn't feel that way at all. There was a sickening sinking in the pit of his stomach.
Still, he forced himself to lift his head as he gathered his ladies in his arms and began guiding them toward the family room. "Doesn't Jesus say in Matthew 5:12, 'Blessed are ye when men shall revile you and persecute you and say all manner of evil against you falsely for my sake. Rejoice, be exceedingly glad, for great is you reward in heaven; for so persecuted they the prophets that were before.'" George didn't feel like rejoicing but he had to be strong for them.
"Judy, where are the boys?" George asked, trying to change the subject and at least temporarily shift the emphasis to something else.
"They're upstairs playing with toys in their room," she replied. "I'll go check on them." She said quietly and then quickly exited, sensing that George wanted to be alone with his first wife. This she gladly accommodated, knowing that Juanita would do the same for her when she needed him alone.
"Honey," Juanita began after she heard the fading sounds of Judy's footsteps as she climbed the stairs. "I think we need to call Charles and Aaron. Maybe they can come over and pray with us and maybe we can get some wise counsel, too."
"You're right," he said begrudgingly. He didn't like having to admit that he needed help. He had always thought of himself as a strong, independent man, but he was learning, ever so gradually, to rely on the Body of Christ for help when needed.
An hour later, the three men were gathered in his home. They retired to the family room and as George began to relate the events of the day, while the ladies prepared glasses of iced tea for the men. After hearing everything, Charles want into his quiet prayer mode as he seemed to stare at the weave of the bluish monochromatic color scheme on the carpeting.
Aaron finally broke the silence. "Well, if they're going to sue, we ought to counter sue!" He proclaimed.
"The weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty unto God; pulling down stronghold." Charles quoted from 2 Corinthians chapter 10. "I think our first step is prayer. We need to bind the deceiving spirits that are behind this attack and then also pray for wisdom. It could be that God may have us fight legally as well, but let's seek the Spirit's confirmation first." Charles concluded.
Aaron leaned back in his seat and bit down on his bottom lip. He was supposed to be the accepted leader of the fellowship and the 'senior elder', and yet in tough times it always seemed it was Charles who had just the right answer. Still, Charles had never challenged him for the position of leader, even though it was becoming more and more obvious that the people were beginning to look to Charles when they wanted wise counsel.
They prayed in English, then in the Spirit and then spent a time of quiet listening, and waiting for the Spirit of God to speak to them or give them a specific leading.
"Here's food, guys," Juanita announced as she entered the room with a plate full of hamburgers. Judy followed with a tray of condiments and chips and finally Aaron's wife, Cheryl, came in with more lemonade.
"What's God saying?" Juanita asked impatiently as the men each grabbed for the burgers and chips. Both Aaron and George looked to Charles before saying anything.
"Well, I think," Charles began slowly. "George should seek some legal counsel and the rest of us need to be constantly praying."
George looked forward to making an appointment to see his attorney the next day. That would bring a shock, but there'd also be a different distraction that would catch him completely off guard.
George was in the office early. He managed to call his attorney who was able to squeeze him in between his last appointment of the morning and lunch. George was determined to make his appointment his appointment at 11:50 am. "At least," he thought. "I can get some idea of what strategy to take if we do need to go to court.
"Mrs. Sweetwater, hold my calls and postpone my appointments this morning," he ordered.
"Yes, sir," Mrs. Sweetwater replied. George sat at his computer, began on Internet search to see if there were any other cases like his. Maybe he could get a lead on what others in similar situations were doing. Time flew by as he immersed himself in surfing the Internet. At 11:30 am, the intercom buzzer interrupted his cyberspace study. "Yes, Mrs. Sweetwater. I thought I said I was not to be interrupted." He answered abruptly.
"Yes, Mr. Meadows, I understand, but there is a young woman here who is very insistent on seeing you," came the secretary's reply.
"Well, who is she?" George demanded to know.
"Miss Perkins. A Miss Shawanda Perkins," she answered.
George's mind drifted back as he thought fondly of the times he had had with Shawanda, the lean, attractive African-American graduate student who was so bubbly, full of life and impertinent all at the same time. He had asked to marry her, but she had turned him down. He knew she had feelings for him, but she wanted a big wedding, a white gown, lots of relatives at the event and a husband all her own. She didn't like the idea of a plural wives marriage. And so, he had lost her. He hadn't seen or talked with her in months. The fact she would visit him at his office was quite a surprise.
"Mr. Meadows," the secretary interrupted his reflections. "Should I have her make an appointment for another day?" She asked.
"No! No," he quickly replied. "Send her in; send her in."
Shawanda strode into his office wearing a beige skirted suit with a colorful red and blue scarf tossed around her neck. she wore dark hose and matching beige shoes with three inch heels. Her long dark hair bounced as she walked over to him.
"Hey, Muscles," she said with a broad smile as she extended her hand to shake his.
"Well, hello, you beautiful doll," George responded. "Certainly I get more than a handshake." He said as he took her hand and squeezed it gently and then lifted it to kiss the back of her hand.
Shawanda blushed a little before taking a seat. Instead of taking his seat behind his desk, George sat down beside her in one of the guest chairs. He started to take her hand and hold it, but she gently pulled it away.
"What is it?" He questioned. "What is wrong?"
"Oh, nothing's wrong," she said as she smiled and the she looked down after see was the questioning in his eyes, knowing her next statement might indeed hurt him though the situation was joyous for her.
Meanwhile, Juanita and Judy were at the house waiting nervously to hear from George what the attorney might say. Judy, who was usually at work at this time, had taken the day off.
"It's all my fault," she lamented. "If I hadn't agreed to marry George, you all wouldn't be in this mess," she said as she stood in front of the living room window with her arms crossed over her chest with her hands holding her own shoulders.
"Nonsense," Juanita retorted. "Don't start that," she demanded. "We all knew what we were getting into when George asked you to be his second wife."
"We all knew that once it got out there could be repercussions." She went on as she sat in one of the plush living room chairs, gesturing with her hands. "Look, how much more disciplined the boys are now that they have a father." She pointed out.
"Yes, you're right about that," Judy said, turning around to face her sister wife.
"We all prayed and we sought God's will in the matter. We thought we were hearing from Him so why is this happening?" Judy questioned.
Juanita uncrossed her legs, stood up, and walked over to her and placed her right hand on Judy's right shoulder. Then looking her in her eyes, she said, "The Bible
indicates that tribulation and persecution sometimes comes because of our obedience to the Word."
"But if we're right, why does it seem most of the rest of the world disagrees with what we're doing?" Judy questioned as she moved away a few steps and threw her hands up in the air before dropping them back down to her sides.
"Well, you may remember that we discussed this before. When George and I did research on the matter, we found that the Roman Catholic Church outlawed plural wives in a marriage in the council of Trent held between 1535 and 1565. When Protestants broke away they took the 'monogamy only' golden calf with them and they've continued to worship it. The indoctrination in it continues every day in every medium as well as church and school. So it's no wonder that most of Western society has been brain-washed into thinking it is the only right way," she concluded.
"Yeah," Judy said, turning again to face her sister wife. "And the ironic thing is that while they condemn plural wives, they accept homosexuality, sodomites, and abortion which is murdering the unborn and fornication which they renamed free love as fully acceptable!"
"Oh, look at the clock," Juanita despaired. "It's almost 12:15. George will be in any moment with news from the attorney and we haven't prepared anything for lunch."
"I'll throw a frozen pizza in the oven. It will be ready in a few minutes," Judy offered.
"Okay," Juanita responded. "I'll make some iced tea to go with it."
The wives were looking forward to hearing what the attorney had said. Both would be shocked to find out that George had missed the appointment and why.
"What did he say?" Both wives asked eagerly as George came in with his head bowed, something that was rare for him.
"Huh," George responded as he was awakened from his self-reflecting thoughts.
"What did the lawyer say?" Juanita replied impatiently.
"Uh... I... um... didn't see him," he said.
"What?!" They both questioned.
"Something came up," he started to say.
Juanita put her hands on her hips waiting for his explanation, while Judy moved to him and put her arms around his waist.
"It's okay, dear," Judy said. "We understand there must have been a reason."
This was another one of those times that irked Juanita. Generally, she and Judy got along just fine except when Juanita was perturbed with George and Judy would go to his defense. It was a sort of one-upmanship that Juanita deplored.
George kissed Judy on the forehead and held out his left hand in a gesture toward Juanita, as he looked up, saying without words, 'come and join us.'
Juanita had almost no choice, lest she appear to be the meanie of the two. As Juanita joined his side, he spoke, "She's getting married."
"Who?" Judy asked.
"Shawanda, Shawanda Perkins."
"Oh, I see," Juanita said knowingly.
Although Judy knew that there had seemed to be some flirtations between George and Shawanda at one time, only George and Shawanda knew the full extent of his feelings for her.
Juanita now had the advantage and knew why George was down and probably the cause of the missed appointment with the attorney. Whereas, Judy could only pretend to be sympathetic and caring, trying to show she was not the lesser of the two wives.
"The time just flew by," he explained. "When she left, I looked at my watch and it was ten minutes past my appointed time. By the time I got there, he was already gone from his office."
"Did you reschedule?" Judy asked.
"Yes, but he can't see me now for two days. He is in court with a big trial." George said, providing more details.
Just as the three sat down to eat lunch, the doorbell rang. George took a deep breath and sighed before Judy jumped up, volunteering to answer it. As she opened the door, bright lights were shown on her face. She instinctively recoiled, raising her hand to shield her eyes. A microphone was shoved in her face as a TV reporter began the questioning.
"Are you one of the wives living at this address?"
"What?" Judy responded, being caught off guard.
"Are you one of the wives of George Meadows?" The question was repeated.
Judy backed away from the door, but the news reporters and cameraman only followed her inside.
"George!" Judy finally cried out. George came around the corner of the foyer in just an instant only to be besieged with questions.
"Are you the bigamist that lives here? Why did you decide to have two wives, knowing it is against the law? How did you coerce these women into such a situation?"
The questions came hard and fast. One on the heels of another without time to respond to one before another was forthcoming. Juanita soon appeared as the news reporters, TV, radio, and newspaper, were now crowded into their home.
There's the other wife, lets' interview her!" Someone called out as the group rushed in Juanita's direction into the living room.
"Are you the first wife or the second?" One asked. "Why would you agree to such an arrangement?" A second threw in. "Is your husband an abusive man?" A third questioned. "Would you leave the situation if you had the means?" A fourth wanted to know.
"Wait...I...uh" Juanita tried to collect her thoughts.
"What will you do if your husband goes to jail?"
"Get out!!" George yelled. "Get out! All of you! You are trespassing! This is private property! We didn't invite you in! Get Out!!" He yelled.
With that the reporters began a slow retreat as they backed toward the door. All the while the TV reporter was speaking to the camera.
"There you see have it, ladies, gentlemen. The angry response of a man caught in an adulterous, polygamous situation We understand there is a civil case about to be filed against them and who knows, with the publicity building, there may be a criminal case as well."
"Charles, it's George. We need to meet. Things have gotten worse. Call Aaron for me will you?" He requested.
"Sure," Charles responded. "I'll be there in an hour."
It was about 8:00 p.m. when the pair arrived. Aaron secretly wondered why George had called Charles rather than himself as he always had before, and yet he, deep down, knew the truth. George was looking more to Charles Okinyi for spiritual guidance than himself. Although he understood why, in one sense, it still hurt to be replaced by an African.
Why? He asked himself. Why should it hurt more than if it were some white American pastor? As he thought and prayed silently, the truth was revealed to him, but it was ugly. An ugly part of himself so deep seated he never realized it before. He, Aaron Cooper, so called man of God, was a racist! No, not a Ku Klux Klan type or a Nazi, but none the less a racist, for he felt there was something special in himself just because he was white.
"What did your attorney say?" Charles asked.
"I...uh...haven't seen him yet," George answered.
"Well, let's pray," Charles said simply. The group prayed aloud in English and then in the Spirit and then sat near motionless for a long time waiting to hear from God.
"when they persecute you in the cities, flee to another," Charles finally said quietly as he quoted Matthew 10:23
"What?" Juanita questioned.
"When ye see Jerusalem compassed about with armies...flee to the mountains," Charles said quoting another scripture with his head still bowed in prayer fashion.
Finally, he looked up at George. "It may be time, my friend, for you to leave Egypt and head for the wilderness," Charles stated quietly.
Juanita began to get frustrated. "What are you saying?" She demanded. Why are you speaking in riddles?" She paused, took a deep breath before blowing it out her mouth. "Are you saying we have to leave our beautiful home and our business? Do you expect us to just quit without a fight? Why would God have us do that?" She ended in almost a screaming tone of voice.
Charles turned to look her in the eye and spoke slowly and directly. "Maybe God knows that you love your things too much," he said.
Juanita's eyes were now ablaze. How dare you accuse me of being too carnal in my own house, she thought. And yet she also knew there was truth in what he said. She folded her arms and then turned 90 degrees so she was no longer facing him.
"Move?" George half asked and half stated. "Move where?" He asked with a quizzical look on his face.
"Where are the mountains?" Charles asked, not out of a lack of knowledge, but to provoke George to think.
"Where, the Smoky Mountains or the Rocky Mountains?" George asked.
"Or what about the Aberdare Mountains?"
"The what?" George questioned.
"The Aberdare Mountains," Charles repeated. "In Kenya, Africa."
" Africa!" Juanita and Judy screamed almost simultaneously.
Everyone in the room was shocked at the suggestion and searched Charles face for any hint that he was kidding. Charles leaned back in his chair, placed his hands in prayer fashion with the tips of his fingers under his chin, and gradually let his eyes look from one to another apparently enjoying their reaction.
Then he abruptly stood up. "I'm not saying that is what you should do. It's for you, George, to decide what God is saying to you." He stated simply and then pivoted and headed toward the door.
"Wait a minute," Juanita yelled out. "There are others involved here. Don't we get a say in it?""
Charles stopped and turned half around before speaking, "George is the husband and therefore head of your family. I'm sure he'll discuss it with you and listen to your opinions, but ultimately it's his decision." Finishing his statement, he quickly left the room and the house.
Everyone remaining was stunned. Charles was very different than anyone they had ever known.
They were shocked by his suggestion but there were more and greater shocks to come.
George and his two wives sat down for breakfast the next day. A baby-sitter had been called in to handle the boys so they wouldn't be interrupted.
"Kentucky?" George announced. "I think we're moving to Kentucky."
"Why there?" Judy asked.
"I've got a farm there that I inherited from my granddad," he explained. "It's got over 200 acres, there are woods and a creek that runs trough the mountains away from a lot of people.:
"But what about the business and the house here?" Juanita questioned.
"We'll sell them," he stated simply. "We'll then use the equity to get established there and put some away for a rainy day."
"What about my kids?" Judy said with obvious distress. "I've heard that Kentucky's education system is light years behind our schools in the North. I don't know that I want them saddled with an unfair education. Maybe I'll just get my own place and stay here in the city."
"Judy," George said gently. "Judy, my dear, you don't have that option. You're my wife and you'll do as I say." He finished firmly.
"Not legally!" She spat out as she threw her cloth napkin on the table and stood up and walked away.
George was taken aback, surprised at her reaction. "No, not legally," he said. "But spiritually, which is even more binding. You committed to submit yourself to me as unto the Lord in our vow. Don't you remember?" He said as he moved behind her and put his arms around her.
"Yes...but..." she began tearfully. "I..never...knew....that..." She began haltingly before being interrupted.
"None of us knew," George said gently. "But we can't let this thing destroy our family."
Juanita came up behind George and placed her hand on his shoulder. When he looked back, she indicated with a quick jerk of her head that he should leave and let her talk to her sister wife. George took the suggestion and eased away after kissing Judy on the back of the neck.
"Judy," Juanita began. "We can home school, if necessary. I'll help. Actually, it will be much better than public school. They'll have more attention, lessons can be paced as they need. Together, we can be sure they'd learn far more then public school." Juanita reassured her.
"But I have to work," Judy protested.
"Why?" Juanita asked.
"To take care of my kids," Judy explained.
"Judy, you've been working recently because you wanted to," Juanita reminded her. "It's George's job to provide for all of us. You don't have to work," she concluded.
Ring...ring...ring... "yes," Juanita answered the phone.
"I don't agree with what you're doing," the voice on the other end said. "But I don't like what they're doing to you either. A summons to appear in court is scheduled to be delivered to one George Meadows tomorrow morning and nine am." *click*
"George!" Juanita screamed. "What is it, babe?" George replied quickly, realizing the panic in his wife's voice.
She ran to him, throwing her arms around his neck as she explained, between sobs, what the anonymous caller had said.
"Start packing," he said. "I'm going to the office to get some things squared away. We'll be out of here before morning."
George drove quickly to his office and began barking orders to his employees and associates. "I want a for sale sign in front of my house at 10:00 am tomorrow morning, Not sooner, not later. Do you understand?!"
"Yes, sir," came the reply.
"I want the papers drawn up to rent the house, Mike, and ready by 3:00 this afternoon."
"Mike," he said as he turned toward his junior associate. "Today is your lucky day. I'll sell you the company for half it's worth if you'll sign the papers by 5:00 today."
"But...but...I don't have that kind of money," Mike protested.
"Have a certified check in my hand for what you do have by 5:00 and I'll let you pay the rest on a time payment plan."
"What about the pending sales?" Mike questioned. "The commissions are your, just go ahead and close them on the appointed day."
By nightfall, a moving van had pulled up in front of the Meadows mansion and the major pieces of furniture were being moved on to it.
"George," Judy came to him with tears in her eyes. "We didn't have time to pack everything," she said.
"Don't worry, leave it," he said simply. "The lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life are not of the father." He quoted the scripture as he realized that much of what he had was really a show of pride.
"George, what about the house?" Juanita questioned.
"A for sale sign will be up at 10:00 tomorrow. When it sells, the money will be transferred to an account in Wisconsin."
"Wisconsin?" Juanita asked, puzzled.
"Yes, I don't think their people are going to try to trace us. After all, what they really want is for us to get out of the neighborhood. They're getting what they want. Even so, I don't want to be easily found." George's original plan was to be on the road before the 9:00 am summons arrived. but there was an extra half hour delay that he didn't expect.
"Call Tabiatha and let her know we're leaving, and tell her I'll wire Charles some money for her next semester's room and board." George ordered.
In the rush of things, George had almost forgotten about his promise to the old African minister to look out for Tabiatha, a young Kenyan lady who was attending the local university. During her first semester in the United States, she had lived at the Meadow's home and it was through her that George had met Shawanda. Tabiatha had indicated she wanted the full college experience including living on campus. George, being such a wealthy and kind gentleman had agreed to cover those costs. "After you call Tabiatha, then call Charles and let him know what's going on," George continued.
George helped the workman carry out a few of the several remaining pieces of furniture and heard the phone ring. "I've got it!" He yelled.
"Hey, Muscles, I heard you're leaving town." Shawanda's energetic pleasing voice came over the phone.
"Well...uh...yes, but how did you find out?" George questioned.
"Tabiatha just called me," she replied.
"My, word does get around," George reacted as he looked at his watch. It was 8:35.
"Who's on the phone?" Juanita queried.
George put his hand over the mouthpiece so Shawanda wouldn't hear his wife's voice or his whisper. "It's Shawanda," he answered.
"What?!" At a time like this? George, she's getting married. Let her go! why is she calling you?"
"Hello, Shawanda?" Hold on a moment, please," George spoke into the phone. "Juanita, please keep packing. I'll be off in a moment."
"Who is it?" Judy asked as she came around the corner entering the room.
"It's Shawanda!" Juanita answered with sarcasm in her voice and a sneer on her face.
"George, is she the reason you missed the appointment with the attorney? We might not be having to sneak out like criminals if she hadn't showed up!" Judy stated boldly and blankly as she stood with her feet spread apart and her hands on her hips.
George looked at his watch again. It was 8:39. The summons was due to be delivered in just 21 minutes.
"Can I see you before you go?" Shawanda cooed into the phone. "You wouldn't leave without giving your old friend a good-bye hug, would you?"
"I...I..." George stuttered as his two wives looked defiantly at him. "I'll meet you at the McDonald's on Wright and Cresent in ten minutes. Be there!" He ordered.
"I will." She began before George hung up the phone.
"George! You can't be serious!" Juanita screamed.
"You've got two wives, why do you have to go chasing after this little colored girl?!" Judy hurled at him.
George quickly shot a glance at her which said without saying, I don't like that kind of statement. "Ill be back in twenty minutes," he announced. "If I'm not, take off without me.! I'll catch up."
George, they haven't finished loading the dining room set!" Juanita screamed frantically. "There's not enough time!"
"Leave it," he ordered over his shoulder as he headed for his Mercedes.
"Leave it?!" Juanita questioned incredulously.
George had hopped in his luxury vehicle and run down the window. "He that forsaketh not all he hath can not be my disciple," he said, quoting from Jesus' words in Luke 14.
George raced toward the designated McDonald's. Not that he ever ate at such a cheesy fast food place, but he knew it was a place that he and Shawanda couldn't miss and it was almost midway between the two residences.
Meanwhile, two furious wives were steaming and trying to decide whether to obey their husband when they were infinitely angry with him or just stay and take the summons for him or point the sheriff to where he'd be.
As George neared the McDonald's, he noticed a police car had pulled over a familiar looking vehicle. Yes, it was Shawanda's car. He pulled nearby and ran his window down so he could hear.
"Get out of the vehicle, ma'am." The officer said gruffly. Shawanda complied. "Turn around and put your hands on the car," he ordered as he obviously planned to frisk her.
George felt a tremendous anger welling up inside him. Jumping out of the car, he briskly moved toward the officer. "I say, there, officer. what have we here?"
Shawanda turned her head and, seeing George, moved toward them. She shook her head slightly, indicating to George he shouldn't get involved while the officer requested her to back up.
"Stay out of it, Mister. It's just a case of DWB," she called out.
George remembered that Shawanda had explained to him that DWB was short for 'Driving While Black'. "Well, officer, Officer Chaney, is it?" He queried as he read the officer's badge. "You are harassing our Negro citizens, are you?"
"Sir, she ran a red light. Now, please, stay out of this." The officer responded.
"It was yellow," Shawanda protested.
"Let's see now; I think there was regulation against a male officer frisking a female, but go right ahead, officer." George said as he looked him directly in the eye. "Young lady, I have and excellent attorney, so after he's finished with you, we'll sue him for every penny he's worth. And I don't think he'll be able to get a job writing parking tickets after I speak to the mayor." George bluffed.
"Well..uh..." the officer stuttered. "Maybe I'll let her go this time, but you watch the signals more closely, young lady." He said sternly, trying to save face as he moved toward his vehicle.
George and Shawanda watched as the officer returned to his squad car and drove away. Shawanda then threw her arms around his neck and kissed him on the cheek before pulling away and hitting him in the chest with her fist. "Hey, what's this 'Negro citizens' stuff?" She asked.
"I was just playing a role," he chuckled.
"You did it well, Mr. Meadows. And when will you be dining with the mayor next?" She teased.
George looked at his watch. It was 8:59. He was hoping his wives had obeyed and taken off. They hadn't.
Juanita and Judy had helped bring the dining room chairs out to the moving van while the movers struggled with the table and the cabinet. Juanita was not pleased about leaving her beautiful home and wasn't about to go to some farm house in Kentucky and sit on crates boxes to eat.
It was 9:10 as George looked down at his watch and knew he had to finish his conversation with Shawanda.
"Serve's you right!" She was saying. "You just love women too much, ha-ha-ha!" She laughed.
"Maybe you're right," he muttered, relishing every moment of joy and sunshine she brought with her."
"You will come back for the wedding, won't you?" Shawanda asked.
"Yes, sure, I wouldn't miss it for the world," he said with a broad smile. "If you're happy, I'm happy for you." He said before adding, "although, I have to admit, I'm a little sad I couldn't have you for myself."
"Sorry, Muscles. It wouldn't work. You've got two women already. What if I wanted you one night and the others wanted you too? What would we do, draw straws to see who would get you? No way, man! I need a man that's available every night!" She concluded with a wink.
George looked down at his watch. It was 9:15. Lord, please have them on their way, he prayed silently.
"See ya Muscles," Shawanda said as she waved good-bye and entered her vehicle. "Oh, and bring the wives." she chuckled.
George looked after her longingly as she drove away. And then looked down at his watch again: 9:17. George drove to the end of the street to see if the moving van had left. He was shocked to find it hadn't. He raced down the street, put the car in park and ran into the house. "What's going on?" He yelled. "Why haven't you left?"
"You're too busy to leave, and so are we," Juanita answered dryly as she removed pictures from the wall to be loaded in to van.
"Everybody, get into your cars right now!" George demanded as he prayed that the sheriff would be delayed. The harshness in his tone told the two wives that he was now very serious and further delay would not be tolerated. They each scampered to their vehicles while George told the moving van driver to take off. The van led the caravan and was followed by Judy and then Juanita, when each had their own cars and finally by George. After one short longing glimpse of their now former home, they headed west.
It was just in time. The Deputy Sheriff, who had been on his was to deliver the summons, had been side tracked by a back-up call by the local police. However, when he met that officer on his way to the location, he told him of his stopping a black female only to be interrupted by a distinguished looking white male who knew the mayor. By the time the two finished discussing the event and it's possible ramifications, it was 9:35, which was just minutes after the Meadows family had left for Kentucky.
Life on the farm would bring new and different challenges, but a dining stop at a restaurant for a break and a meal would bring questions that would have George squirming in his seat.
George passed by the moving van and indicated they should all pull over for the rest stop. This was one of those that combined gasoline services with several variety stores and restaurants.
After being seated, Judy began, "George, honey, if this Shawanda girl is getting married, why did you have to run off and see her?"
"He's still in love with her." Juanita offered matter of factly.
Then they both turned their heads to look at George as they waited for his answer. He didn't want to admit that he still loved her and was sorry to see her getting married to someone else. He decided to ignore the question.
"Shawanda says she's marrying a fine young man who is a young attorney, just starting out. He sounds like he is a much better man than that Jesse character with whom she used to spend time," George said.
"So, why the secret rendezvous with you?" Judy pressed.
"Oh, it's no secret," George said defensively. "She just wanted to make sure I had the invitation to her wedding."
Later George excused himself and went for a walk outside the restaurant. He quietly reflected on what Scripture had said about desiring a woman committed to another. He prayed "quot;Father, forgive me. I thought Shawanda was to be mine. Obviously I have been mistaken. Help me, Lord. Relieve me of these feelings I have for her."
The rest of the trip to the Kentucky farm was long but uneventful. Hidden back in the hills of Kentucky and several miles from the nearest town, the location would provide the seclusion they would need for their type of lifestyle. Or so George thought.
Although the farmhouse was large and had several bedrooms, it was a far cry from the grand 'mansion' they had just left. Set back two hundred feet from the country road there was a winding drive leading to the house. Fifty feet to the rear and off to it's left was a barn. It had been years since George had seen the old place, but it was much as he had remembered, only now needing a few coats of paint.
"We'll build you a house over there," he said to Judy as he pointed to one spot fifty feet to the right of the house.
"Why?" Judy questioned looking hurt and confused.
"If you have your own house, people won't be questioning why I'm living with two women. Don't worry, honey, I'll be with you there many nights and others I'll spend here with Juanita."
That eased Judy's concerns somewhat although she still wondered what this new arrangement would be like.
Over the coming days, George was able to contact his broker and cash in sufficient stocks to arrange to have a small three bedroom ranch style house with a basement built in the place he had proscribed. He then had an eight foot deep and four feet wide trench leading from the old farm house up to twenty-five feet toward the smaller ranch house.
He then went to work himself and physically built a corridor inside the trench with a floor and walls and a roof that he then covered with dirt and grass. He followed this by having a different contracting company send out a bulldozer and making a twenty-four foot trench from the basement of the ranch home toward the corridor he had built, having them stop one foot short so no one would know that he would join what would be the two corridors, making them one underground passage between the homes.
Once all this was completed, he built a fence between the two houses, making it appear that they were separate properties. This way, to outward appearances, the widow Mrs. Judy chandler would have no relations to the Meadows other than being the next door neighbor. Yet, secretly, George would travel between the two homes underground.
"Hi, it's about time you called," Aaron responded on the phone.
"Yeah, well, when are you guys coming down?" George asked.
"Hold on a minute," Aaron replied. "Hey, babe," he called out to his wife Cheryl. "you want to go to Kentucky next weekend?"
"Sure, why not?" Cheryl responded with glee, welcoming a chance to get away
from the city.
"We'll take Friday off and be there by Friday evening," Aaron informed George.
"Bring Charles with you," George asked.
"Okay," came the reply.
The weekend came and as the three men walked around the farm, they shared their thought. "Yeah, I'm really selling insurance part time," Aaron confided. "I never thought I would have to do that, but since you guys left, we've been meeting at my home and the fellowship has not grown much," he revealed.
"Not enough tithes and offerings to keep you guy afloat?" George questioned. No. You know as I see it now, many Christians are very shallow. They don't want real spiritual growth. They're satisfied with 'fire insurance', that is enough salvation to miss the fire of hell and make heaven." Aaron almost grudgingly admitted, as he threw his hands in the air.
"Most pick a church based on the prestige of the church and their comfort level," Charles said.
"You're right," Aaron confirmed. "I thought many of the people to who I ministered when I was pastor of the church would come to our fellowship," Aaron started saying, but George broke in.
"And what you really found is that they stayed even though they brought in a young man just out the theological seminary with not much experience or real knowledge of God."
"Right!" Aaron confirmed.
"Why don't you guys move here?" George suggested. "Sell your house and build one here on the farm." George continued, getting more excited about his own idea. "Charles, you could come, too," George added.
The older man walking slightly a few steps before responding. The three enjoyed the fresh mountain air and the sound of autumn leaves crunching under their feet.
"I'd have to carefully consider my income possibilities," Charles shared delicately.
"Yeah, I know you're supporting two wives back in Kenya," George said as he dropped his head and went into thinking mode.
"Why not have them come to America?" Aaron suggested. We could have our own private community right here on George's farm." Aaron said beginning to be excited by the idea.
"Getting visas for Africans to come to America isn't easy," Charles revealed.
"If thou canst believe, all thing are possible to him that believeth." George said quoting the scripture.
"We can get jobs in the surrounding communities and all live here in one Christian community," Aaron said.
"I understand getting work for blacks in the South is even more difficult than in the North," he said pointedly.
"Look," George said. "You won't have rent, because I'm giving you a plot of land and I'll help you build the house."
"Houses," Charles reminded. "Don't forget my wives!"
"Okay, houses," George said. "And if you can't find work, we'll give you our
tithes, you've been our spiritual leader for a while anyway." George concluded.
The last comment caught Aaron off guard. Officially, he had been the spiritual leader, although he realized that more and more attention had been drawn to Charles' greater spirituality. He bit his lip and walked on saying nothing. It was still a bitter pill to swallow.
"Aaron, I'll be up next month for Shawanda's wedding. I'll see you guys and if you're ready help you move down." The three were excited, but George in particular would get an unexpected surprise.
"Shawanda?" George asked on the phone.
"Yes, who is calling please?" The voice on the other end asked.
"It's George Meadows, who is this?" George asked back.
"This is Mrs. Perkins, Shawanda's mother," came the reply.
"Oh, hello Mrs. Perkins. How are you?" George responded.
"Well, hello, oh I know who you are. You're the nice white man that helped Shawanda get away from that awful Jesse what's-his-name." Mrs. Perkins said, obviously reflecting on things Shawanda must have told her. George wondered how much she had told her when his thoughts were interrupted by the next question. "Are you coming to the wedding?" She asked.
"Uh, yes ma'am. I was planning to," George replied. "In fact, I'll be in town a couple of days ahead of time. I was hoping to meet the bridegroom," he offered.
"Well, good," Mrs. Perkins began. "I'm sure you'll like him; he's such a handsome young man and very successful too, I might add."
"Good," George said, resisting the urge to be disappointed that there wasn't some mighty flaw in the man that could, even at this late date, delay the marriage or even end the engagement. "Shawanda's quite a young lady and deserves the best," he said, still secretly regretting that the wasn't getting her for himself. He prayed silently, asking God to forgive him again.
"Yes, she is. Well, she's not here right now, but I'll tell her you called. We'll see
you at the wedding if not before. Bye now." Mrs. Perkins said, ending the conversation.
"Good-bye," George answered and hung up the phone. He had never met Mrs. Perkins, Shawanda's mother, but she seemed to be a very pleasant lady. He sat reflecting a moment when his thought were interrupted by his first wife's voice.
"Honey, dinner's ready," Juanita called him.
"What's the matter, dear?" She asked.
"Nothing, nothing at all. I'm going to leave tomorrow to head up North for Shawanda's wedding," he announced.
"I thought that wasn't until Saturday," she questioned.
"It isn't, but I thought maybe I could meet the bridegroom before hand," he answered.
Juanita had her hand around her husband's waist, but pulled her shoulders away from him a little as she looked at him with one eyebrow raised. Then she asked, "George Meadows, you don't think you get final approval of him, do you?"
"No, dear, I just want to meet him."
"Give her up, George. I know you wanted her to be your third wife, but I guess it just wasn't meant to be," She consoled him. Their walk had brought them to the dining room where Judy was putting glasses on the table. Although the wives now had their own separate homes, they still were together as a family most of the time.
"Did I hear something about that..." Judy paused to choose her words carefully. She had upset George once before when she had called her a little colored girl and she didn't want to make the same mistake twice. "...I mean, uh, Miss Shawanda?".
"Yes," Juanita responded. "George is going up to be at her wedding."
"I hope that ends it," Judy muttered under her breath. Judy figured two wives were enough for a man and could never understand why George should have any affection for a third.
"Shawanda," George spoke into his cell phone as he drove. "I'm in town on my way to your place. I'd like to meet the bridegroom."
"Muscles!" She exclaimed. "Great, I'll look for you and I'll call him to tell him we're coming over."
Fifteen minutes later they were in George's Mercedes' headed across town toward John Winston III's home. On the way George learned that John was an attorney at a prestigious law firm, he had a very good salary with prospects of becoming the first black partner in the firm and had been a youth minister at his church for several years.
When they reached the home in the upper-middle class neighborhood, George noted to himself that it wasn't as big and luxurious as his old home yet. He knew from their conversation that it wouldn't be long before they could have such a house if they wanted one.
"Well, hello," John said warmly with a broad smile as he opened the door.
"John, this is George," Shawanda began the introduction. "And George, this is my husband to be in about 43 hours."
"Glad to meet you," George said as he was ushered into the house.
"Have a seat. I'll get you something to drink," John offered.
"I'll get it," Shawanda offered as she quickly headed toward what must have been the kitchen area. "You two can get aquatinted," she said over her shoulder as she disappeared around a corner.
John was two inches taller than George and well built. "Well at last, I get to meet the famous George Meadows. Shawanda has told me so much about you," he said.
George felt at a distinct disadvantage. He didn't know what John did or didn't know about him and Shawanda, about his wives or anything. He decided to ask John questions in an effort to divert attention away from himself. "You've done quite will for yourself, from what Shawanda tells me," George said.
"Yes, God has been good to me," John answered. "But the greatest blessing is bringing Shawanda into my life."
"Indeed," George replied.
"Yes, I've never met anyone so bright, so bubbly, so exciting, and at the same time so beautiful." He said as he expressed himself with numerous hand gestures.
Shawanda appeared with a tray of three glasses of iced tea. As she sat the tray down, John grabbed her by the arm and pulled her onto his lap and kissed her. George looked on with jealousy, trying as hard as he could to conceal it. "Lord help me," he silently prayed.
After the kiss, Shawanda playfully pushed John on the chin with her forefinger and asked, "Have you been talking about me?"
"Sure," John answered as he smiled back at her. "I just can't resist telling everyone how wonderful you are."
Shawanda pulled herself off of John's lap and sat beside him. "How are your wives, George?" She asked.
George cringed. That meant she had told John about his two wives. "Well...uh....they are fine, thank you," he answered.
"that was quite a stir around here for a while," John added. "The media put you in quiet a bad light, I'm sorry to say."
"Yes, it did," George said sheepishly.
"Some of the guys at the office were talking about the possibilities of that becoming another test case on the first amendment protection of freedom of religion. It's about time that was revisited. Don't you agree, George?"
"Yeah, it should be revisited," he said.
"Then you just disappeared. Why didn't you stay and fight it?"
"I...uh...well it just seemed to be the right thing at the time."
"George probably didn't want his wives to go through all the trauma and publicity of a long, drawn out court case and appeals that could take years," Shawanda offered, trying to help get George out of an awkward situation.
What a turn about. George had always considered himself her protector and not vice versa. At least, he thought as he considered himself, she cares enough to look out for me. After finishing his tea, George excused himself. John had agreed to return Shawanda to her apartment and George was eager to get away and be alone with his thoughts.
He had lost her. And to a man that to the outward appearance was flawless. That made it even worse. Yet, he was glad that Shawanda would realize her dream of marrying 'Prince Charming'. She'd have her fairy tale wedding, white gown, veil and all. She'd then live her fairy tale life, or so he thought.
George had started the long drive back toward Kentucky. He hadn't stayed for the reception, although he was sure Shawanda might be disappointed that he hadn't. He had stayed long enough to meet her mother, a very charming lady and he had seen the wedding go off without a hitch.
There had been beautiful music and singing. There had also been a few white faces in the audience besides his own, which was a pleasant surprise and made him feel a little less awkward. "I am happy that she is happy," he thought. He then reflected on how they'd met. The basketball games. The playful interchanges.
Ring...ring...ring...His car phone was ringing and shook him out of his daydreams and the hum drum of the long tedious night drive.
"Hello, what is it?" He sang out.
"George! Are you driving?" Juanita asked.
"Yes, honey. Why?"
"Pull over," she demanded.
"Why? I'm fine. What is it?"
"Pull over!" She demanded a second time.
This time George slowed the vehicle, pulled over on the shoulder, and stopped, realizing the urgency in his wife's tone. "What?! What is it?" He demanded to know.
"They've been in an accident."
"Who?" George questioned.
"Shawanda and her new husband," came the answer.
"What!? How?" He asked. "Are they all right?" He questioned further without waiting for a reply.
"I don't know," Juanita replied. "Aaron called. It was on the news. Apparently, their rented limousine was on it's way from the reception when it was broadsided by a speeding drunken driver."
"No!!" George screamed. "I'm going back."
"Honey, get a hotel room," Juanita started. "There's nothing you can do. You're probably tired."
"No! I am on my way now! You call Charles and Aaron. Tell them to meet me at the hospital. I'll be there in soon as I can."
George turned his car around and sped back up the road exceeding the speed limit and just hoping there would be no radar traps to slow him down. He drove and prayed. "Oh God, let them live. Let them be okay."
"Why?" He said out loud. "Why now? this was supposed to be the happiest day of her life."
It was 3 am as he pulled into the emergency room parking lot. He raced to the door where he was met by Charles and Aaron. "How is she?" He begged to know with pleading in his eyes.
"She's alive," Charles said as he put his arm around his friend's shoulder. "But she is in critical condition," he added.
"What about John. her husband?" He asked.
Aaron looked down as he gave the report, "Sorry, he was DOA."
"No!" George yelled. "Does she know?" He queried.
"She's still unconscious," Charles added as they marched toward the waiting room.
"George, you ought to call Juanita and Judy and let them know you arrived all right. They're concerned about you."
"How did this happen?" George asked, ignoring Aaron's suggestion.
"A drunk driver apparently ran a red light while he was also speeding, rammed them broadside. They were not wearing seat belts and John was thrown across the car and his head went out the opposite passenger side window.
"Why God, Why!?" George questioned aloud. "they were so happy. All of life's best years were before them. They had plans and..." he said and then drifted off.
The three walked several steps in silence, hearing only their heels clicking against the sanitized tile floors. Then Charles spoke quietly quoting scripture. "Boast not
thyself of tomorrow for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth..."
As the three reached the waiting room, they saw her mother pacing, crying, wringing her hands and praying. A few others who George assumed were relatives of friends were also there. All were deeply concerned. Time crawled as they waited for word from the doctors about her condition. Finally a nurse came in to say she was out of surgery. the group besieged her with questions.
"How is she?" Her mother asked.
"Can we see her?" asked another.
"Will she be okay?" another asked.
"The doctor will be here in a moment to answer all your questions." The nurse replied dutifully. Although she tried to be reassuring, it was obviously something she had said dozens, if not hundreds, of times.
More time crawled by until finally the doctor came in. "We've done everything we can for now. She had several broken ribs and some internal bleeding. We believe we've stopped the internal bleeding, but there is some swelling in the brain and that'll give us the most concern. She's in a coma right now. We want to wait to see if the medicine we are giving her intravenously will help with the swelling. Right now she has maybe a 40 percent chance of making it." He paused.
The small crowd took in the information for a moment, then her mother asked, "What if the swelling doesn't stop?"
"Then," the doctor began his answer. "We'll have to ho try surgery to release the pressure," he said. Then he continued with a question of his own.
"Does anyone know if she is an organ donor?"
Rage flashed through George as he remembered some of the conversations he had with Shawanda. "Many blacks won't sign organ donation cards?" She had said when he had asked why. She explained, "We don't trust the doctors. The majority of which are white. They may let us die just to have the organs available for exotic transplants." At the time, George laughed it off, thinking it just part of the larger black paranoia, but now he wasn't so certain. Before anyone else would answer, he blurted out, "Just save her, Doc. don't worry about her organs, she'll need all of them herself."
Several of the others looked appreciatively at George, glad he had said to the white doctor what they were feeling. Tragedy had struck in a way and yet there was more to come.
"Code blue!" The intercom sounded and almost instantly the hall was filled with doctors and nurses headed toward the recovery room.
"Is it my baby?" Mrs. Perkins questioned as tears filled her eyes and streamed freely down her cheeks.
George and Mrs. Perkins tried to follow down the hallway to see what was happening. One of the nurses stopped and commanded them to turn back and insisted they return to the visitors waiting room. "We are doing everything possible," she assured them.
Once again time seemed to crawl at an interminably slow pace as each person in the waiting room prayed silently.
Finally, a doctor appeared. He pulled down his mask as he exited the recovery room and headed the several yards toward the waiting room. George could tell from the look on his face the news was not good.
Everyone gathered hoping against hope that there was something good he could report. "There was complications that caused a coronary embolism," he said. "Despite our best efforts we were unable to save her."
"NO!!" Her mother screamed and then fainted. One of the relatives behind her caught her and lowered her to the floor. Her body had gone limp and then went into a spasm.
"Stand back," the doctor ordered as he bent over her. "Tell the nurse to order a code blue and get in here!" He yelled.
Aaron gave the nurse at the nearby station the message and once again there was a rush of gurneys and doctors and nurses. In a moment's time, they had her up off the floor and down the hall toward another room. George, Charles, and Aaron watched as they whisked off down the hall.
George then turned to head toward the room where Shawanda lay and then went marching down the hallway.
"Where are you going, buddy?" Aaron questioned, all the time knowing the answer even as he asked it.
"I've got to see her!" He spat out. As they entered the room and were startled to see her lifeless body. What had only hours before was vibrant, alive, and happy wearing a beautiful wedding gown now lay still and lifeless, wearing only a hospital gown. George went to one side of the bed while Charles went to the other. Aaron remained at the door.
Her face was bruised and swollen. Tubes were still attached to her arm, since the nurses were obviously pulled away by the next emergency before being able to detach them all. George knelt down beside her. Tears welled up in his eyes. He tried to wipe them away before the other men saw them. After all, he was a man, he thought, he wasn't supposed to cry or so he had been taught. "Why? Why did God do this?" He questioned.
"Don't blame God," Charles replied. "It's the thief (Satan) that comes to steal, kill, and destroy."
"But where's God?" George questioned further. "He's bigger and tougher than the devil. Why hasn't He helped?" He demanded to know.
"I don't have all the answers," Charles said slowly. "But the Bible says 'if any man lack wisdom, let him ask of God.' Let's ask Him."
Charles grabbed George's right hand and Shawanda's left. George still held onto Shawanda's right hand. "Our precious heavenly Father," Charles prayed. "We don't understand much of the why's of these events. Please give us your wisdom. In the name of Jesus we ask it; amen."
They waited a moment in silence. Then Charles spoke again. "You raised people from the dead through Elijah and Elisha, and Peter and Paul. We don't claim to be in the league of those great men of God, but we would ask that you return the soul of Shawanda Perkins to her body and allow her to live."
Even George was shocked by such a bold request and looked up at Charles in astonishment. Then after a moment, he closed his eyes and said, "Yes, Lord, please." They looked at the body. There was no change. George was about to let go of Charles' hand feeling that the answer was obviously 'no', but Charles held on and quietly began to sing.
"I know it was the blood,
I know it was the blood,
I know it was the blood..."
After he said the line the third time and before he could go on there was a heave of Shawanda's chest as she took a breath.
"Did you see that!?" George reacted excitedly.
"One day when I was lost,
He died upon the cross," Charles continued to sing.
"And I know it was the blood for me."
There was another heave and another breath. Then a moan came from her lips.
"Shawanda, Shawanda..." George called out.
"Oh...ooooohhhh..." she moaned again.
"Aaron, get the doctors in here," George ordered. "She's alive! She's alive!" Aaron rushed out to find the doctors.
Shawanda moaned once again then tried to open her eyes, which was difficult due to the swelling around her face.
"Muscles," she murmured softly. "Is that you?" What happened?"
"Don't worry, it's okay. You're gonna make it!" He smiled excitedly. "Uh, just rest, take it easy." The doctors will be here in a moment.
Meanwhile, Aaron had found the doctor who was working exhausted and frustrated. "Doctor, come quickly!" Aaron yelled as he drew near him. "She's alive!" He announced.
"What!? Who?" The doctor asked.
"Miss Perkins, the patient you just pronounced dead a few minutes ago."
"Impossible!" He said as he looked at his watch and mentally noted that it had been at least fifteen minutes since he determined the time of death. "You may have seen some involuntary twitching of the muscles that occurs after death. It's quite common," he explained.
"No! She's breathing I tell you!" Aaron yelled.
The doctor finally began a quick pace toward the recovery room where Shawanda lay. As he entered, he couldn't believe his eyes. There she lay, eyes open as far as she could get them, breathing and trying to talk.
"Where's John?" She muttered.
The doctor moved to the side of the bed. "Relax, miss. We're doing everything we can." He buzzed for the nurse. And as she appeared, he asked her for something in medical term which he later told the trio was a sedative.
Shawanda slept and George stood vigil by her bedside.
After several hours, Charles and Aaron pulled him out into the hallway. "There's nothing more you can do here," Aaron said. "Why don't you come to my place and get some rest."
"No! I've got to stay with her." He mumbled. "You two go ahead and get some rest. I'll see you later."
Then he turned to Charles and, raising his finger to him, he raised his voice and said, "You, mister! You never have to work another day of hard labor in your life! You hear me?! From now on, I'm your source of income," George announced.
Charles put his hand on his friend's shoulder. "I appreciate the sentiment, buddy, but God is my source! You may be one means of income, but God is my source!"
Shawanda had come through a major hurdle, but there were several more to come.
"Juanita, It's Cheryl. How are you?" She asked in the phone.
"Fine," came back the answer. "How's George?"
"Well, exhausted but otherwise fine, but wait till I tell you what happened!" Cheryl said excitedly. "Get Judy on the extension. She'll want to hear it, too."
A moment or so later, Cheryl was describing for George's wives the events of the preceding evening. "I am going to fly up to be with George," Juanita announced after the phone call. "Judy, I suggest you stay here at the farm with the boys," she said, being careful to make a suggestion rather than give an order to her sister wife. All things considered, they had gotten along well up to now and Juanita didn't want that to change.
Meanwhile, the doctors at the hospital kept Shawanda sedated wanting her to rest and heal before having to share the bad news about her new husband and her mother, who also had died. The unexpected heart attack had removed Shawanda's closest relative. All the relatives had gone to their respective homes, most of which were out of state.
Still there remained one who George came to understand was her uncle. He was a man about fifty years old with a rounded face and sagging jowls. A stout man, but slightly shorter than George, he eyed the young white man with suspicion. Every time he came to see how Shawanda was doing, they passed each other with only the slightest acknowledgment until finally, the older man faced George squarely. "What's your angle?" He asked.
George was caught off guard. "I...uh...I just wanted to make sure she'd be okay," he stuttered.
"What's it to you?" The uncle queried further.
"She was, I mean, she is a friend," George responded.
"I have never known a white man to show interest in a black person unless it was to gain some type of advantage. So, I repeat: What's she to you?" He demanded to know.
"Sir, you've got it wrong. I'm not..." he was about to say, 'I'm not prejudiced, some of my best friends are black', but Shawanda had long ago warned him about that statement, so he changed what he was about to say. "I'm not...going to gain any advantage."
"Excuse me," the nurse said as she walked in abruptly. "I need to speak to the next of kin," she said.
George eased out in the hallway but left the door open so he could hear what was gong on.
"I need to know who is going to be responsible for the medical bills."
"She should have still been on her university insurance program," the man offered.
"Yes, I have that information, but that will only pay for eighty percent of the costs. I need to know who'll be responsible for the other twenty percent, which I suppose at this point could amount to several thousands of dollars.
"Well...I...uh...I'm not sure.." the uncle began.
George stepped in, "I'll take care of those charges," he said boldly.
The uncle looked up at him surprised and then narrowed his eyes becoming even more suspicious, but said nothing.
"Fine," the nurse said as she twirled around toward George. "I'll need you to sign here and here." As she pointed toward the papers, she held on her clipboard.
The doctor explained that she'd have to reduce the amount of sedative so they could get her up and moving. To eventually be able to take her off of intravenous feeding tubes, she had to begin walking to cause the intestines to work again and bowel movements to take place. The unfortunate thing about all this though is that they knew she'd be asking about John and her mother. The psychological shock of losing them both could easily send her into a relapse. "The more familiar faces she has around when we break the news, the better," the doctor explained.
"How you doing, honey," Juanita whispered to George as she came up behind him and slipped her arms around his waist.
George turned to see his first wife had come. "Thanks for being here," he said gratefully.
"Here, I brought you something to eat," Juanita said concerned about how haggard he husband looked. "Why don't you go over to Aaron's and get some rest."
"no," he said stubbornly. "I'll get some rest on one of the couches in the visitor's lounge," he said groggily. "But you come and get me if she wakes up. Do you
"Sure, dear. I'll do as you say. Now get some rest," she replied. Juanita called Aaron and Cheryl and asked them to bring Charles so that they all would be there when Shawanda awakened and the doctor shared the bad news.
They hoped for the best while fearing the worst. Only time would tell what the outcome would be.
First created on 3 October 2001
Updated on 21 June 2016
Copyright ©2000 Andy Nonymousman
Reproduced by permission and with thanks by HEM, 2001
Endorsement of this book by HEM does not necesserily mean
endorsement of the author's other publications or views.