Global warming. Sea level rise. Floating Community. Attempted Robbery at a pearl farm.
Binding the Devil
Ted and Andalib moved through the warm early evening darkness, with the lights of the Amberjack Restaurant behind them. Their feet clopped along the planks of the floating wooden sidewalks, as they passed beneath the streetlamps, the moonlight and the stars.
“What do you think Ted?” Andalib asked, as she gazed cautiously out along the dimly lit ripples in the channel just beside them. “Could the alligator be within biting distance?”
“I hope not.”
“You ‘hope’ not?”
“It probably isn’t.” He told her, “The oyster farm is a good distance away from town; and I understand that alligators don’t usually move around all that far. As long as it has plenty of fish to feed on, it won’t have any reason to come searching around here.”
“Well are there plenty of fish for it to feed on, out around your oyster farm?”
“I hope so.”
Around 8:15 that evening, Ted and Andalib were seated at the table in the dining room of Hank and Carol Manetti's split level houseboat that was moored along a side channel. After their fifteen-minute walk from the Amberjack Restaurant, the two had reached the vessel.
Hank and Carol were also in their early twenties. They sat across from their friend Ted MacKenzie and the woman he'd brought with him. Each one had a Bible opened on the table, in front of him or her.
Ted told Andalib. “Nobody else among the Young Adults group is here tonight. I assume they were all too afraid of the alligator to come over.”
Hank said, “It’s just the four of us tonight.”
“I hope they’re not avoiding me, because of Doris getting eaten by the escaped alligator.”
He looked at Andalib. “I need my friends to pray for me tonight.”
Carol told him, “They’re here Ted. Wherever two or three are gathered in His name, the Lord is in their midst.”
Now Andalib spoke. “Do you really believe that? The Lord is actually here? Now?”
“That is what He said,” Carol told her, “and I believe what He said.”
“Wouldn’t it be better, if He was out helping people find the alligator, before it can harm anyone else’s ex-fiancee, or future bride, or groom, or whatever relationship they're in?”
Ted said, “I’m sure He is Andalib. The Lord is everywhere at the same time, helping all who call upon Him in truth.”
“What about those who don’t call upon Him?”
Carol told her, “He’s ready to help, as soon as they call. If people don’t call, they put a barrier between themselves and the Lord, which keeps them from receiving His help.”
Hank added, “But the idea of coming face to face with an alligator would be a good incentive to put in a call.”
Ted told him, “Doris came face to face, and she was a member of this Bible study and prayer group.”
Hank said, “We’re back to that same question again. To which there is no satisfying answer.”
“There is one answer.” Ted told him, “We are in the middle of an eternal struggle. God and His forces on one side. The Devil and his forces on the other, with every individual, as the ultimate prize in the middle.”
They were all quiet for a moment. Then Andalib looked at Ted.
She asked, “But what if the thing you need help with, isn’t as bad as an alligator? Just what help do you expect to receive from God, when you think that your friends are avoiding you, because of what happened to your ex-fiancee?”
“I expect,” He told her, “to receive guidance in dealing with it. That’s why I’ve come here tonight, in spite of the risk. I want to help myself and my family to get through this thing, without losing any of our friends because of it.”
“Ted.” Carol told him, “It says in Proverbs, ‘A soft answer turns away wrath.’”
Andalib chuckled, “But it won’t turn away any alligator.”
He told her, “That’s what happened, when I came face to face with the beast.”
Ted told them all, “I’ve put in a call to the people who sold us the alligator. They’re sending us a professional alligator trapper. He’ll be arriving the day after tomorrow.”
Andalib asked, “Day after tomorrow?”
“Right. Then it shouldn’t take too long for things to get back to normal around here, and hopefully, over time, I’ll be able to go back to getting along with everyone, the same way as before.”