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 The Profit Prophet

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Anthony van
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PostSubject: The Profit Prophet   Sat Aug 26, 2017 6:23 pm

Chapter 19

 

Daniel arrived at eleven the next day and went to the desk to check if Naomi was still in the same room. After several minutes of viewing computer screens, the reception nurse made a call to the ward. She had a confused expression on her face before she regained her composure, looked up and smiled mechanically.

“I’m sorry sir; it seems Miss Stockton checked herself out last night.”

“But yesterday she was spaced out. I couldn’t talk with her; she didn’t say anything.”

“Well the ward sister said she was lucid and determined. When the doctor couldn’t persuade her to stay overnight she signed her discharge.”

Daniel was elated, but also slightly mystified. She hadn’t called. Weren’t they engaged now? Maybe she was just so relieved to be going home.

While he was there, Daniel dropped in on Marcie. She was in the process of being discharged as well so she enlisted him to take her home. Daniel was fine with that as it gave him another legitimate reason to be around to visit Naomi.

His patience was tested as his aunt fussed and fiddled with clothes one of her secretaries had delivered the previous night. Then she thought it necessary to personally thank all the staff who had cared for her.

‘Goodness,’ thought Daniel, as he imagined the lengthy event of clothes selection and gratitude showing should her stay in hospital exceed one night.

On the way Daniel sounded out Marcie regarding Naomi’s recovery. Should she have left hospital? Why wouldn’t she contact him? How soon should they start the counselling?

His aunt didn’t respond until the barrage of questions ceased.

‘Time will tell’, she had answered simply.

After assisting Aunt Marcie into her place, Daniel went next door and pressed the doorbell. No one came to the door. He tried knocking. He called out twice. He studied the large house to see if there was any sign of movement and when there was none he retraced his steps to Marcie’s house.

Marcie was surprised to see him back so soon. His concerns were communicated and then aunt and nephew attacked this new problem. Where was Naomi Stockton? They pooled resources. Her home phone rang out unanswered. She didn’t have her cell phone. That had been hurled into the bushes days before.

Gaining access into Naomi’s place using Marcie’s key only raised questions. Drawers were left open and various items of clothing were strewn over the floor.

None of her friends or fellow nurses had heard from her. Daniel rang Bennet for advice. He had told Daniel, normally an adult wouldn’t be considered missing until opportunities to check all friends and acquaintances had been exhausted. But in this case, considering her possible altered mental state, he would put out an alert bulletin to the police departments throughout the country. He would also follow up her movements from the hospital.

Daniel thanked him, realising he was probably operating outside his jurisdiction and providing help beyond his assigned duties. Systematically reviewing what they knew, it occurred to Daniel there were things they still had to check.

Yes, her car was gone. No, the church pastor had not seen or heard from her, but they would pray.  Calls to the local hospitals provided nothing. She had just disappeared; and this time of her own volition, unstable as that may have been.

By noon on Wednesday Daniel was a mess. No news and little sleep had him staggering around his place unwashed and his condition unkempt. He tried reading, praying, even pleading on his knees.

Daniel mused about his faith. Was it a sham? He remembered some of those initial words; ‘What good is it if a man gain the whole world and lose his own soul?’ Well Harrison was a fitting example wasn’t he? No, it wasn’t just about money. He remembered now. It was about denying himself… it was about not putting anything in his life before following Jesus.

 

He had failed miserably.

                                                ----------------------------------

 

A phone call had him showering and dressing and arriving at his aunt’s within an hour. Marcie greeted him stoically as if any emotional involvement would render her ineffectual.

“Bennet called… said he tried to call you but there was nothing.” Daniel pulled out his cell. It had no charge.

“Forgot to charge it,” he muttered half to himself.

“Anyway, they tracked her to the airport. She bought a ticket to Hargeisia via Dubai…told the travel agent she had to get her father’s notebook. Do you know what that’s all about?” Marcie’s lip trembled slightly as her indifferent veneer began to dissolve.

Daniel thumped his forehead, “I never told her!”

“What?” her edgy voice quailed.

“I brought the notebook back with me. It’s in my computer bag.”

Marcie cracked. “Oh Dan, what are we going to do?” She collapsed into an armchair and put her face in her hands. “I think she’s lost touch with reality; just to go running off like that.

I think she’s obsessing about unresolved things in her mind. To be put in danger over and over, after every time thinking you’re safe, it must be torture for her.”

He put his hand on Marcie’s shoulder. He was really beginning to feel for the old lady.

“Don’t worry. It will work out. I’ll go and get her.” He squeezed her shoulder.

She looked up at him with a determined expression, “I’m coming with you.”

                                    -----------------------------------------------------

 

Their anxiety on the almost continuous, arduous journey was alleviated by a text from his father: ‘Naomi has arrived battered and bruised spiritually and psychologically, but otherwise well. She seems to be letting hard work iron out the creases. She’s been asking about her father’s notebook. Do you know where it is?’

Daniel had sent a reply. With his inimitable bumbling style, he tried to explain how he had taken the booklet to read, placed it in his computer bag and then forgotten he had it. He added that they were on their way.

His father judiciously stated, “I’ll let you tell her.”

                               -----------------------------------------

 

As the truck driven by Abu pulled up in the hospital yard, Richard Treloar stepped out the door to greet them. After hugging both son and half-sister he invited them indoors.

“Come inside. Naomi is doing some rounds. She doesn’t know you’re coming… thought it was best that way.”

“How is she?” Daniel asked.

“Better, but still fairly wound up inside. Heaven knows what’s going on in her mind.” He sat them down and Ellen and Joel came in. Following further greetings, afternoon tea was prepared by the young doctor and his wife while Treloar senior went to retrieve Naomi.

When she came in there was an awkward moment as Daniel stood. Her eyes went to his and immediately she cowered against the doorframe.  The horror of violent taunts and threats, of gunshots and bondage overwhelmed her thoughts. She trembled.

Daniel, seeing her fear and reaction to him, felt like a monster. He had been nothing but trouble for her. It was time to stop thinking of himself and care for someone else. The pain and loss welled up like a churning whirlpool in the pit of his stomach. His eyes moistened. He knew he should go. Let her feel secure doing something she had always wanted to do. A tear rolled down his cheek.

“I’m sorry,” he mouthed inaudibly. “It’s all over now… you don’t have to worry anymore,” he tried to console her.

Unable to constrain his emotions, he murmured, “I should go.”

The phrase stirred something from the past. Somewhere, sometime he had said those words and there was emotional tumult within her. There was a tiny spark of a memory; then a flare of recognition in her eyes; she stared at him and then at her ring. Choices roiled through her mind and propelled her, running, into his arms.

She wept uncontrollably as he hugged her and caressed her hair. Naomi’s face nestled into Daniel’s neck as she whimpered and sniffled.

“I can’t do this anymore,” she sobbed.

“It’s over, Naomi, it’s over.” He clutched her tight as he sensed the others in the room begin moving from their transfixed positions.

Marcie came around and joined in a group hug. When Naomi became aware of her presence she turned and embraced her.

“Aunt Marcie, I’m so sorry if I worried you—”

Then a landslide of thoughts rushed through her and her demeanour transformed. She grabbed her aunt’s arm and led Marcie purposefully into the kitchen away from the others, as they shared bemused looks.

Naomi was quick to pounce with questions that were burning inside.

“What did you mean about it was my mother’s wedding dress?” she whispered vehemently.

“That’s right, your mother wore it.” Marcie confirmed.

“Are you my mother?” Naomi asked apprehensively.

Marcie’s eyes boggled. “Why…why do you ask that?” She sounded stunned.

“Because I saw a photo of you in it and you were marrying my dad!” There was hysteria in Naomi’s voice.

“Oh…oh my poor dear!”

“Are you?”

“No… no, no, no… I should have told you long ago. I…I just didn’t know how to explain it.”

 

Naomi stared at her expectantly. Marcie cleared her throat and began.

“It’s not a pretty story.

Your father and I met on the west coast. We had a fling. I went east and he followed me. He proposed. A week before the wedding I went back home to Santa Barbara and, amazingly, got converted. I thought it was the best thing. I told John about it after we were married and he went berserk. I had no idea he was the black sheep of the family. His father was a pastor,” she added plainly. Naomi nodded. Marcie seemed to relive the ordeal in her mind. The far off, blank stare as she formulated her next words.

“He left me that day. When it was clear he wasn’t coming back to me, I had the marriage annulled. To make a long story short; John knew my best friend Gayle and started going with her; partly to get back at me. Well, I invited Gayle, your mum, to hear a visiting evangelist and she became a Christian. You can guess the rest. In God’s grace, your dad also responded and when they were married, Gayle borrowed the wedding dress.”

Naomi seemed to slump. “So you’re not my mom.”

“No.”

“And Daniel’s not my cousin.”
“Oh, sweetheart, no…I wouldn’t have kept that from you.”


“Well, why didn’t you tell me you knew my dad?”

“I guess—I don’t know—I guess I was ashamed. I didn’t want to spoil your memory of him. And…in a way…I wanted to pretend you were my daughter.”

Naomi looked at Marcie and saw the uncertainty in her eyes. She gave her a hug. In a way she had been her mother.

Daniel, who was standing at the door and had overheard the conversation, took Naomi’s hand and led her back to the lounge. He sat her down and sat next to her. She snuggled against him as teas were passed around.

After their drinks and cakes, Daniel and Naomi left for a walk. For the benefit of Ellen, Joel and Abu, Marcie retold the story of Harrison’s plot to enrich himself; at first by stealing commercial secrets and then by threatening Naomi and her own safety.

                                                ---------------------------------

 

Daniel led Naomi to the truck and they sat in it while he searched through his computer bag.

“I owe you a huge apology,” he said as he held the precious book up. “I packed it in my bag the night you were taken from here. She bit her lip and tears streamed down her cheeks. There’s an important bit you should read. He opened the pages. Daniel chose the second last page because on the plane he had read the whole book and this part, he knew, would thrill her.

“Read it to me please,” she murmured as her eyes brimmed with moisture. He began:

 

“There is shooting all around us. I’m not sure if we’ll survive this. The apprehension I feel makes me rejoice in that life changing decision that the grace of God led me to. If anyone reads this let them know that writing down my conversion seems to be the most important thing in the world to me now. It was the most pivotal point in my life, and since I may soon be reunited with my beloved Gayle, how better to see the eternal than by glancing back at that narrow gate.

I guess my story, the really important bit, started when I chased a girl from the west coast over to the east. We had a failing relationship with a marriage of sorts. Then she got religion. That is how I expressed it at the time. That was Marcie Quentin. With my background, Dad being a pastor, I couldn’t cope. Well I left her and went with Gayle, who was a friend of Marcie’s. We got quite close, then she became a Christian. I believe Marcie had something to do with that. I was really angry and decided to go to the church they attended and heckle the preacher.”

 

He turned the page as she leaned her head on his shoulder.

“The shooting is getting closer. It’s all been worth it. I still remember sitting in the church. I was struck dumb with his opening words: ‘You may not realise it, but God has brought you here for a purpose.’ He then proceeded to speak about two ways people go. One way is selfish, self-gratifying and evil and leads to destruction. You have to turn away from that path if you want life. The other Way is Jesus. It’s narrow; you can’t take anything with you. If you love riches leave your money otherwise rich people won’t fit through. If you’re proud, leave your pride, your ego- God opposes the proud… you can’t get through, but he gives grace to the humble. He said to cast your worries on Jesus, leave them at the cross.

The Jesus way is truth and it leads to life. All you have to do is choose.

He said many more things describing the contrasts between a way that seems ‘right to man’ and The Way. But I remember choosing that night, with tears in my eyes.

 

Gayle and I were married a few months later and after two years at Bible College, I brought my girls to Kenya. Naomi if you ever read this I pray that faith finds you rejoicing that ultimately we stored up treasure in heaven.  Hope to write more soon…”

 

Naomi looked up at him and dabbed her eyes with a tissue. “I’d like to stay here a while.”

“I’ll stay with you.” He handed the book to her.

“Did I ever tell you that I love you?” she spoke softly.

Daniel’s eye’s moistened as he responded with a tiny, negative shake of his head.

“I do love you Daniel Treloar.”

“I love you too,” he replied with throaty emotion.

They kissed.

She suddenly pulled away. “Come with me.” There was joy in her expression. Outside the truck she took Daniel’s hand and they walked to the orphanage, ignoring the fierce sun. Clusters of children drew to Naomi’s side as they neared the stark buildings.

Amidst the babble of laughing, chattering Somali children she turned to him. “What do you think …our first cause for the trust…a new orphanage?”

Daniel smiled.
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