Thursday, May 25, 2017

The Ransomed Heart 4: A Higher Calling

PREVIOUSLY ON THE RANSOMED HEART: The Dolcets pinch pennies when offering a reward for their daughter Tally's safe return; Howard ponders the timeless nature vs. nurture question; Howard auditions for a Movantic commercial.

And now, Episode 4:

Howard Desseray and his former abductee Tally Dolcet became great friends after he released her. 

They spent a lot of time together, pitching horseshoes, eating oysters on the half shell at Ned & Jed's Fish Camp, attending arena football games, sniffing some corks at Vins somme Nous, and driving Howard's 1965 Buick Riviera through the Citgo car wash, windows down.

Inevitably, they began -- almost simultaneously -- to consider taking their relationship to "another level," meaning, of course, getting married. 

People would talk, they knew that. Her parents would complain that marrying one's abductor was clearly a step down the social ladder. Tally's well-meaning friends would warn her about the likely imbalance of power in a marriage that began as an abduction. 

Her friend Patrice asked her, "Don't you think the submission and powerlessness you felt as an abductee would resurface each time you were confronted with a major decision? Can't you see how you would defer to his wishes, especially if he were holding a roll of duct tape? In his heart, Howard will always see you as a commodity -- chattel, if you will. How will you ever undisempower yourself?"

Tally knew her marriage to Howard wouldn't be a paved highway, but she also knew he was more than just a typical abductor. He was a man of lovingkindness.

She would never forget that he had honored her wish not to be bound and gagged the day he first abducted her, and as their relationship grew warmer, it was she, not Howard who suggested the duct tape.

And she wouldn't be going into the marriage a stereotypically naive welding student. She wasn't in denial. She understood it was what it was. She didn't have her head in the sand. She wasn't blindfolded (anymore) by love. 

In fact, she had read the cold statistics in Ladies' Home Journal that showed the divorce rate among heterosexual abductor-abductee couples was almost as high as that of "normal" heterosexual couples.

So marriage continued to be an option. Consequently, the topic of religion reared its pious head.

Having had little experience with the church, Howard was hesitant on this point. 

His first encounter with the "Lord's House" occurred when, at age 12, he helped his dad abduct a Baptist deacon. As was typical, they put the deacon in the trunk of his dad's Oldsmobile, but did not gag him out of respect for the Almighty, should One exist.

On their way to the secondary crime scene, Howard could hear the muffled sound of the deacon repeatedly crying out to his perceived savior. 

After a few days, the handcuffed deacon settled down and lowered his voice to its normal volume and made a cogent and coherent case for the Dolcets' turning their lives over to Jesus, reminding them that the "truth will set [them] free."

Howard politely declined, citing his desire to "go it on [his] own for a while," his reluctance to make a decision with eternal ramifications at 12, and his ignorance of the world's other major religions. But out of kindness, his dad pretended to convert, even allowing the deacon to pray over him before applying a fresh strip of duct tape over the churchman's mouth.  

Without losing any of this narrative's remarkable fluency, we may now cut directly to Howard on the job secured for him by the now free deacon:  

He and Salvatore, an illegal Mexican immigrant, went from church to church attaching lightning rods to steeple crosses; at churches already equipped with these devices, the boys would inspect and adjust them.  
Religion + Science

As they squatted precariously on the roof's ridge, Howard, mostly to kill time, shared with Salvatore all the deacon had told him about the church being an extension of the loving arms of Christ, a safe haven, a shelter from the storm, a rock of ages, a mighty fortress, all of this offered as an act of grace by a God who had the whole world in his hands, who counteth the hairs on our head and who knew us before he formed us in our mother's belly.

For no apparent reason to Howard, Salvatore softly snickered.

"Anyway," Howard said after concluding his ecclesiastical compendium, "could you hand me the pliers, some duct tape and some super glue? We gotta be sure this thing works when the next thunderstorm comes up."

Salvatore chuckled, then said in broken Spanish (his parents were illegal Swedish immigrants), "No tienes la ironia,¿no?"

"Oh, Sal, it's not iron," Howard said. "Lightning rods are made of either copper or aluminum. These are copper! What the heck do they teach you down there in Mexico?"

Shaking his head at the ignorance of foreigners, his mind drifted back to his beloved Tally and their potentially blissful future together.

SCENES FROM NEXT WEEK'S EPISODE: Howard forgets his glasses on the way to an abduction; he and Tally consider growing their family; Howard finishes rereading Henry James's Wings of the Dove and develops a fondness for pigeons.

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