empty the page
cursor blinking blue
daily prompt, where are you?
empty the page
cursor blinking blue
daily prompt, where are you?
The detective approached him after their eyes met. He wished he could stand as good manners dictated, but he was pretty sure his ankle would not be cooperating. The pain was pounding at him and he fought down nausea.
“Hello. I’m Detective Davis.” Her serious gray eyes look directly into his, assessing.
“Jim Stewart. Sorry I can’t stand.” He waved toward his ankle.
Her lips twitched just a bit and he answered with a small smile of his own. Perhaps she was a classic movie fan.
“No worries. Let me get your info then EMS can get you to the hospital. I’ll follow up with you later.”
“Thanks, I’d appreciate that.” He gave her his personal info and she nodded to the paramedics waiting to get him on the stretcher.
Not the way he’d planned his day to go. But really, who planned to break an ankle while tripping over a corpse on the beach? He tried to avoid thinking about her. It. If he thought of it as “it” would it combat the horror threatening to overwhelm him?
O Lord, lead me to the Rock that is higher than I. Give wisdom to those investigating this case. Comfort the family.
Elizabeth watched as EMS wheeled Stewart to the ambulance. She pushed down the sympathy trying to well up. Get your head in the game, Davis.” She muttered.
“Boss. We okay to pack the victim up?” She nodded. Sighed. Turning, she looked out to sea one last time, searching the horizon for the Navy ship she’d seen earlier. She noted a cargo ship further out and briefly wondered what a career as a merchant sailor would be like. Wishful thinking. Her mind wandered back to the jogger. I wonder what he does for a living? Argh. Stop it! Focus.
What did she know about the victim? She was young. Elizabeth frowned then punched numbers into her cellphone.
“Any missing persons reports match the description of our victim?”
She listened, nodded. “Thanks. I’ll follow up.” So many missing children!
The peace was broken by the shrill alarm of her cell phone. Elizabeth sighed as she felt her muscles tighten up. Her work phone. Couldn’t ignore that one.
“You’re needed at Oceanside beach.”
“This is my day off.”
“You know our department is depleted. ”
“I’m at the beach. Where is it?” she nodded then hung up, rummaging through her bag she found what she was looking for. Jeans and t-shirt with flip flops was going to have to do for professional attire. She shrugged into her clothes, topping it off with her shoulder holster and badge. Packing up her towel, she made her way toward the pier and the crowd of people she could see in the distance.
She noted the police SUVs on the beach with flashing lights. Uniformed officers had partitioned off the scene with yellow crime scene tape. The body lay in the middle of it, tide was still out, but she would need to work fast. She looked around and saw the CSI team was already taking photos to preserve the scene as best they could. A man in jogging shorts and sweat-soaked T-shirt was speaking to another officer. Elizabeth looked back at the victim. A girl. Young. Naked. Kelp and sand crusted in her long dark hair.
A pang of grief hit her, but she grimaced and suppressed the emotion. Focus. She walked up to the scene and ducked under the tape. Younger than she thought, maybe still in high school? Body unmarked. No sign of struggle. CSI handed her a pair of gloves. She pulled them over her hands then squatted down, gingerly picking up the girls hands and examining her fingers. Nothing. Clean. Too clean?
She looked up and met the light-brown gaze of the jogger. Her heart jumped. She frowned. Did that really just happen? Annoyed with herself, she shook her head. Ain’t nobody got time for that! She looked away to compose herself. She was going to have to speak to him.
The girl came to consciousness slowly. It was dark. Her right cheek lay against the cold floor. She could hear a steady drip, drip, drip from somewhere in the room. She shivered. So cold. Her arms hurt. She tried to move them. Bound. Terror caused her mind to come to full awareness. She struggled to sit up. Her heart pounded. She could feel herself start to hyperventilate, and forced herself to slow her breathing.
A glimmer of light came under what she presumed was the door. She could vaguely discern the murmur of voices, but could not make out the words.
She and her friend Andrea had been walking to their car after leaving the mall. She remembered laughing at something when a white cargo van had pulled up next to them, the sliding doors flung open and two men with black ski masks on had grabbed the girls and hustled them into the van. It had all happened in less than a minute. Where was Andrea?
“Andrea?” she whispered. Silence. “Andrea?” Nothing.
Slowly, slowly she crept around the room, reaching out with her toes. Nothing. The room was devoid of furnishings and devoid of Andrea.
He came down the steps to the beach at a jog; so familiar with the path, he no longer had to think about where to place his feet. His gaze was drawn to the horizon where sea met sky. Breathtaking. Deep breath. Salt. Kelp. Laundry detergent from his freshly washed T-shirt. The view never got old. The tide was out. Screeching seagulls. Sand pipers poking into the ebbing waters, looking for snacks. Thank You. He whispered the prayer.
To his immediate right was the pier, a few old men fishing off it. He remembered at time from his childhood being there with his dad when a fisherman had caught a small hammer head shark. He smiled at the memory. To his left in the distance he could see the power plant; that way looked relatively empty and he chose to run that direction.
He stretched, then set off down the beach at a jog until his muscles warmed up. His Nikes slapped the wet sand in a comforting rhythm. He gradually increased his pace until he was sprinting down the shore. Heart pounding, blood pumping, breathing measured. Every muscle in his body felt alive.
His morning run was suddenly disrupted when he tripped over something on the beach. His ankle twisted and he heard a crunch as he fell forward. He rolled onto his back and sat up. What he saw caused him to yell, but it came out as a gasp. Horror hit his brain and shot adrenaline into his system, causing him to feel cold and nauseated simultaneously. He scooted backward in the sand, then reached for his phone.
“911. What’s your emergency?”
The prisms of light glinting off the water nearly blinded her as she stepped onto the beach. She slid her sunglasses off her head and over her eyes. The waves rolled in to the shore gently, white froth visible. She took a deep breath. Salt. Kelp. Her toes dug into the warm sand and she wriggled them happily. The grains still clung to a remnant of moisture from the early morning tide. Sea gulls called to one another. She had the beach to herself. She adjusted her bag on her shoulder and turned her head to the right. She spotted the pier in the distance. She looked to the left. Then she found it. The perfect spot. She trudged slowly across the sand to her favorite cove. She set her bag down, reached in and pulled out her suntan oil and the large floral beach towel, unfurling it to settle on the sand. She sat down and looked out to sea. A naval ship in the distance. A cloud or two. Dark blue waters, bright blue sky. Gentle breeze. She opened her suntan oil, the fragrance of coconut wafted about her. The tension left her neck and shoulders like water down a drain. It was going to be a wonderful day.
When I was a pre-teen, I was introduced to ceramics. My sister-in-law’s mother had a ceramics shop in her garage with a kiln, and every so often, she would let me and Vivian (my sister-in-law’s sister) do ceramics. One of the things we did was pour liquid into a form, let it set, then remove the mold, scrape off the seams, then it would be dried in the kiln. After the drying, we could paint it however we wished. And it was fun! Vivian and I could pick the same exact object, and it would be unique only due to how we chose to paint our same exact object… On the other hand, pottery is hand formed from a lump of clay, on a potter’s wheel. The value of piece of pottery depends on the skill of the potter.
This comparison hit me while I was driving down the road.
How often as a Christian, do we consider ourselves “ceramic.” You’re a bowl, I’m a bowl, he’s a bowl, she’s a bowl… we are just decorated differently. But I think that we would be better served to think of ourselves as pottery. Each one of us hand crafted with love and great skill by the Master Potter. My value has nothing to do with your value. Your value has nothing to do with mine. Our value is solely dependent on the One who made us, and the fulfilling of the task we were created for.
Isaiah 64:8 (KJV) “But now, O LORD, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter, and we all are the work of thy hand.”
There’s a rush to get on the bus.
Jostling and laughing, a few shouts. The bus rumbles to life. Diesel perfumes the air.
Amanda’s sweater is blush pink. It matches her cheeks. Cheeks made rosy by youth not cosmetics.
She sits on the slippery vinyl bench in the row with the “hump” to rest her feet on. Primly she folds her hands in her lap and waits. Will he sit by her? She watches the door eagerly.
He appears in the doorway. He looks her way. Smiles.
She blushes prettily. Her heart races.
He strides toward her.
Walks past her.
Sits on the last row with the jocks.
Her smiles falters. She pales. Embarrassed, she looks around. Could anyone tell how high her hopes had been? No one sees. Everyone is talking and laughing and joking while she sits alone on a bus full of people.
In my few years in the ER, I’ve learned a few things.
These two. I can honestly say that these two men were the most influential men in my growing up years. On the right is my dad, Allen Keifer; on the left is my pastor, Eldon Martens. These two began a life-long friendship in the early 70’s. Together, they started Fundamental Baptist Church in Escondido, CA. The church started in our house in October of 1973, and I’m told one of the Sunday School classes was held in my bedroom!
As I look at this picture (40 years later… gasp), I get a lump in my throat. These men were consistent. Consistent in their work ethic, consistent in their outreach, consistent in their ministry, consistent with their families. When I think of faithful, these two are top of my list.
I think about all the years I sat under the ministry of Pastor Martens. From the age of 3 I listened. And I learned. Parents, please don’t underestimate the influence sitting in “big church” has on your children. I sat under the gospel and a few months before turning 5 years old, I understood the gospel: that Jesus died on the cross for my sins so that I could go to heaven when I died; and I bowed my head and accepted Jesus as my Savior while my mom sang in choir practice!
Pastor had a way of relating to people. Even as a small child, I knew I could go up to him and talk to him and he would stop everything and listen. I remember getting a Bible as a gift. I wanted to show it to him. He stopped what he was doing and prayed with me that the Bible would be important to me and that I would read it every day.
I remember so many Sunday nights when “the whole church” would congregate at our house for my mom’s pancakes. (I’m not certain how many people that was, especially in the early days). I’m thankful that my “culture” was my church. I grew up in the culture of the church as family. We kids of the church played together, fought together, sang together, went to school together. Church was a major influence. And why? because my parents made it important. They made sure I was influenced by godly people. They made sure I was sitting under the preaching; and you know what? they made sure I was behaving myself so that I would not be a distraction to anyone in the service who needed to hear the gospel (how’d they do that, you might ask… Well, it had to do with going outside and my mom’s shoe… and as my dad would say, maybe some “weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth”)
My dad was a man of faith. He was a man who gave. SO MUCH. He was of those secret givers, secret influencers. We didn’t know half of what he did until his funeral and people started talking about it.
In the early part of 2011, Pastor Martens passed away and in October of the same year, my dad went home to be with the Lord. Our families just shook our heads and thought, “Of course. Those two. Always did tend to be in the same places at the same time.” Somehow, it was just RIGHT.
Let me ask you this: Who will be the most influential people in your childrens’ lives? I hope my legacy is as powerful. I hope yours is.