by Hugh Wesley
Unintended consequences will bite you every time.
|The steeple loomed like a desert oasis just over the next ridge. It was exactly what Jed needed.
A place to rest, a chance to heal.
The next mile passed like a breeze, and Jed’s chest filled with hope as he pushed against the church’s door.
It didn’t budge, and Jed’s heart sank.
Maybe the church was closed, or abandoned. He didn’t even know what town he was in.
Jed hung his head, slid a boot backwards on the riser to leave, but the door swung open, and a plump face beamed at him from inside.
“There you are!” the man said. “We’ve been expecting you.’
“You have?” Jed’s voice was gravel.
The red face flashed concern, then smiled again. “Why sure!”
The man slapped Jed on the shoulder and pulled him into the small building where about fifty folks stood in their Sunday bests, watching the newcomer expectantly.
“Reverend Thomas told us you’d be here today, to start as his replacement.”
“Why, yes, of course.” The jolly man pursed his lips. “I’m sorry. I should have introduced myself. I’m Deacon Tibbs, and on behalf of this congregation, I want to welcome you to Apple Springs and our little church, Reverend Peters”
Jed looked down at the Bible he still held in one hand. He forgot he was carrying it.
But that was the name printed inside the front cover in neat fountain ink — Peters.
It was the name of the man he had robbed out on the trail.
All he’d wanted was some food, a little money.
How could it have gone so wrong?
“Now,” Tibbs said, “the pulpit is waiting, Reverend Peters.”
He motioned toward the front of the church.
The dead man’s crucifix weighed in Jed’s pocket like an albatross on his heart.