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OUT OF DARKNESS

An outstanding Pastor’s fell from grace – By Darrell Case

Linda stirred groggily. “Hot chocolate at my age, you’d think I should know better,” she grumbled. Now she had to use the bathroom. Sitting up, she swung her legs over the edge of the bed. Feeling around with her feet, she found her bunny fur mules and slid into them. Still muttering, she shuffled across the floor. She knew good and well that tomorrow night she would do the same and the result would be the same. Old habits die hard, she thought. Sighing, she settled back into bed. As she reached for the light switch, she heard a crash in the hallway. Her heart leaped and raced. A lump came into her throat. She tried to swallow. After several attempts she managed to croak out, “Stanley? Is that you?” She called to the butler again, her voice breaking. Silence. “Martha?” No Martha. She reached for the phone. It was dead. “Oh Lord, help me,” she said in a shaky whisper. She hadn’t called on the Lord in years. With her wealth she thought He was more in need of her than she of Him. She hoped he still remembered her. Cell phone. Why hadn’t she thought of it sooner? Another sound came from the hallway, a sort of whooshing like something heavy being dragged over the thick carpet. Grabbing her purse from the nightstand cabinet, she hobbled to the walk-in closet and quietly closed the door. In the pitch black, stuffy enclosure, she shoved a trembling hand into the bag. Not there. She turned it upside down. The contents scattered among her expensive shoes. Dropping heavily to her knees, she ran her hands over the carpet. Then she remembered. The phone was charging on the dresser. She cracked open the door. The circle of light from the lamp seemed smaller, dimmer. Darkness enveloped the room like a shroud. She took a step, praying the burglar wouldn’t hear her. Don’t faint now, old gal, she told herself. A few more steps, you’re almost there. A slight scraping at the door stopped her. The knob turned. With two more steps, she was at the dresser. Grabbing madly for it, she ripped the charger from the outlet. The cord let go, bouncing across the room and hitting the wall. To Linda it sounded like a chain dropping on sheet metal. The door opened a crack. The knife in the black-gloved fist was the first thing she saw. Life came down to a matter of seconds. She pressed the on button. After an eternity the light flashed. With numb fingers she punched in 9-1-1. The door flew open. A man dressed in black rushed into the room. She stared shocked and incredulous into the face of her pastor. He bounded over the bed and came face-to-face with the terrified woman. The knife poised over her head looked to Linda to be the size of a sword. “Nine-one-one, what’s your emergency?” From a distance, Linda’s brain heard her mouth shouting, “You, what do you want? I’m calling the police! I’ve given all the money I’m going to give to the church!” “Nine-one-one. Ma’am? Hello, ma’am?” The male dispatcher strained to keep calm. He wanted to reach through the phone and help her. “Hello! Ma’am? Can you speak to me?” The man plunged the knife into Linda’s heart with all his strength. “David Padgett,” Linda gurgled into the phone. Pressing a fingerprint from the surgical glove onto the knife handle, the man watched the life blood flow from Linda’s body. Backing away, he bounded down the hallway, took the stairs two at a time and raced through the kitchen. The murderer dropped a ring on the floor. It rolled to the edge of the gas range and stopped. Outside, he listened. Sirens shrieked toward him, shredding the quiet night. Drifting into the shadows, he watched as three police cars roared up the driveway to the mansion. Crouching, the man ran bent-kneed across the back lawns. A quarter of a mile away, he peeled off the latex mask, an exact replica of the face of the most famous preacher in America.

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