Sunday, March 17, 2019

Actor & Actress Candidates

I'm beginning to see more than one scripted Democrat candidate rising out of the sea.

Please watch this video (The Brains Behind AOC Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez). It's worth your time, and you will begin to see, and always recognize, the diabolical agenda of the Progressive Left, now calling themselves, "Justice Democrats." But who are they and what are their historic roots?

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Destination Hope - Book 5 - Reconciliation - Epilogue

For new readers to this story, I linked Chapter 1. Chapters 2 - 4 are linked under September, 5 - 10 under October, 11 - 18 under November, 19 - 27 under December, 28 - 34 under January 2019, and 35 - 39 under February.

Destination Hope – Book 5 – Reconciliation

A Novel By:

Charles J. Patricoff 

Copyright © 2014 by Charles J. Patricoff. All rights reserved.

A Future and A Hope

Since lunchtime on July 3, 1923, tourists, men, women and children from all walks of life and from all over the country, even some foreign travelers, began to gather behind a rope line south of the town stretching about one mile across an open, undisturbed field. Many in the crowd reminisced about what occurred ten years prior. A park ranger said to his audience, “Then, we estimated about 57,000 veterans participated in re-enacting Pickett’s charge. It was quite exciting to watch.”
A young boy, maybe four or five years old, wearing a confederate soldier’s replica kepi, stared up to his grandfather and asked, “Will there be shooting, Grandpa?”
His smiling grandfather leaned over and said, “I guess we will just have to wait to find out.”
The heat and humidity became oppressive, and there was no shade for the throngs of observers, except for those who knew to bring umbrellas for protection from rain or shine. Around three o’clock in the afternoon a lone bugle call sounded and a single cannon thundered. Minutes later, a long, one-man deep line of men with grey and white hair and beards emerged from the west woods lining Gettysburg’s Seminary Ridge. Every twenty yards, give or take a few, one man would carry the battle flag representing the Southern revolution. Some wore grey uniforms, and others regular modern-day business suits. Many had discarded their jackets and rolled up their shirtsleeves. All wore hats, some replicas of that day sixty years ago.
As these men struggled to walk through waist-high wild grass resembling wheat, grasshoppers, butterflies, moths and other winged insects scattered in all directions disturbed by these intruders of their peace. At the same time, other men wearing blue uniforms appeared to the observer’s left and began to take up positions along a short rock wall and small copse of trees. Several of these distinguished men carried Old Glory flags. Everyone in the crowd knew the re-enactment of Pickett’s Charge had begun.
After fifteen minutes, remnant survivors from Virginia, North and South Carolina, Alabama, Tennessee, Mississippi, and Georgia, reached the Emmitsburg Road, which runs at a diagonal direct from the southwest to the northeast across the field. After they crossed the road, they began to bunch closer together. They kept walking toward men in blue from Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Minnesota, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, and West Virginia. It became clear to the adults in the crowd that some of these elderly combatants had great difficulty keeping pace, but still they pressed forward.
The inquisitive lad, sitting on top of his grandfather’s shoulders, asked, “Are they going to start shooting, now?”
“You have to wait and see,” said his grandfather.
From the ranks of the aged Confederates, an order sounded. It echoed down the line. A moment later, a similar order sounded from the staged Union troops.
“Something is going to happen now,” the grandfather said.
The boy’s eyes almost bulged as he grabbed his grandfather’s head.
Everyone heard the final order shouted.
Men on both sides removed their hats and began to wave them at their opponents. A cheer rose from the old soldiers and eventually the crowd joined the celebratory shouting as the Confederates closed on the Yankees standing at the wall. When the former Rebels reached the wall, both sides extended their arms in greeting. The former enemies shook hands, an unforgettable image of national reconciliation.
Buglers ascended the rock wall and began to play the mournful tune now known as "Taps." Many in the crowd began to weep as they remembered the thousands who gave their lives that this one nation, under God, with its new birth of freedom, might live.
“Is that all?” the boy whined.
“I’m afraid so,” said his grandfather.
“This is boring.”
“I’m sorry you think so. Maybe another time you’ll think differently.”
The family patriarch kept his grandson atop his shoulders as the crowd moved north, crossed the Emmitsburg Road and entered the National Cemetery. They gathered around a memorial, and a man dressed like Abraham Lincoln appeared in his famous black suit and stovepipe hat and gave two speeches.
During the first speech, the little boy lost interest, as the man talked about dedicating a final resting place. He laid his head down on top of his grandfather’s and drifted off to sleep. He never heard his grandfather sound the words the speaker said as he ended his presentation.

“With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation’s wound; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphanto do all, which may achieve and cherish a just, and a lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations.”

Later, old-soldiers, re-enactors, family members, friends and tourists gathered in the various dining establishments within Gettysburg proper. The grandfather and his inquisitive grandson enjoyed a satisfying meal at O’Rourke’s Inn, a restaurant dedicated to the famous Yankee Irish Brigade. After dinner, the boy is attracted to an artist who is sketching patrons to look as if they were once in one of the battling armies. “Can I go over there and watch him, Grandpa?”
“Sure, but don’t wander off. I’ll only be a few minutes with these fine folks.”
The inquisitive boy dashed across the restaurant and in an instant, he became mesmerized by the charcoal magic appearing before him. His grandfather watched him to make sure he stayed put. The type of person who knows no strangers, he said to folks at the next table, “Did you notice how the patrons are split, even inside this establishment? Do you see? Uniformed Confederate re-enactors are on one side and Yankees on the other.” He pivoted on his seat and asked the younger couple. “Where was I?”
“You were about to tell us about your dad.”
“Well, like I was about to say, before Billy interrupted, my father wanted to be here like he was ten years ago, but…”
“He passed away?”
The older man nodded. It took him a few seconds to gain his composure. To help, he changed the subject a bit. “His best friend, Marvin who married my father's cousin, Margret, well they moved somewhere near Houston, Texas and established a cattle ranch. Marvin passed about fifteen years back. We lost touch with Margaret—not sure, if she’s still alive.
“My mother, Eleanor Ellis Graham, passed in 1905, and my father passed shortly after the 50th Anniversary of Gettysburg. I think Woodrow Wilson’s election broke his heart. He couldn’t believe the American people threw away their liberty in exchange for his dictatorship. He warned me that Wilson and those like him would drive America down a slow, long descent into the darkness of lost liberty all in the name of sinful progress and the false security that a modern world brings to the community of nations and all peoples.”
“Sounds like another name for Communism,” William’s fellow dinner guest said.
“Maybe, but I guess my dad resented the fact that Wilson fooled so many folks—promising to keep us out of the war to end all wars, and then three months after he took the oath of office, he sent our boys overseas. Dad rejected Wilson’s dishonest, academic argument that our Constitution had outlived its usefulness and was no longer relevant to a contemporary society. And I know my father disapproved of Wilson’s attitude toward education.
“You know, Wilson believed the purpose of education is to make a son as little as his father. For example, if a man believes that God is the Creator of the Universe, the education system must challenge this thinking in the man’s child. To combat Wilson’s notions, dad admonished me to make my children’s and grandchildren’s education a high priority and ensure they know the truth. That’s why we’re here.
“Morrow and me, and our son, moved to Charlotte, North Carolina and took over a dairy farm my father purchased sometime after the war.” William could tell his listeners drifted. He changed the subject. “Billy, my grandson, is around here somewhere.” William stretched his frame and caught his grandson’s attention. Little Billy hurried to the table.
“Billy, I’d like to introduce you to these folks. They came all the way from Colorado to visit Gettysburg.”
The pretty, fair-skinned blond woman said, “Billy, it’s really nice to meet you. Do you know where Colorado is?”
“Yes Ma’am. It is far out west, where the Rocky Mountains rest, and it’s nice to meet you too.” Little Billy extended his hand to the woman’s husband, “It is a pleasure to meet you, sir.”
“The pleasure is all mine, young man.”
“What a perfect, little gentleman,” the lady said. Then, she asked, “So young man, what do you want to be when you grow up?”
Little Billy said, “I’m gonna be a preacher of the Gospel like my great-grandpa.”
The elder William’s eyebrows snapped upward. His eyes widened. “Wherever did you get an idea like that? Who told you your great-grandpa, my father, was a preacher?”
“That nice man…” He spun on the balls of his feet and stood on the tip of his toes, pointing. “Over there.”
William craned his neck searching. “Which man?”
Little Billy glanced at his grandfather, pivoted and pointed again. “That m…” Little Billy searched the crowd across the room.
“Which one, son?” the senior William asked.
“I don’t see him, Grandpa. He must a left.”
William recalled something his father had once shared regarding a passage he recited when describing his conversion to Christ: “Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” William smiled at his grandson’s disappointed, pouting countenance and said with as much encouragement as he could offer, “I believe you, Billy.”

The End of Destination Hope – But Hope Springs Eternal.

Author’s Note

Destination Hope is not a story about Billy Graham’s great-grandparents. However, I have often wondered what influence his ancestors had in shaping his love for the Lord Jesus Christ. The Billy Graham we, in the Twentieth and Twenty-first century have come to know and love, the Preacher to Presidents, was born November 7, 1918 to William Franklin Graham I (1888–1962) and Morrow Coffey (1892–1981), on a dairy farm near Charlotte, North Carolina, which his paternal grandfather, Crook Graham, bought after serving in the Confederate army. Billy Graham went home to be with Jesus on February 21, 2018. I, for one, miss him, but I do look forward to seeing him in the Kingdom of the Most High.

If the reader recalls from Chapter 9, on May 22, 1865, Secretary Stanton assisted Mrs. Mary Todd Lincoln’s departure from the White House and helped his puppet president become its next resident. Ninety-seven years later, God gave me life. I am grateful the woman who bore me gave me up for adoption. My adoptive dad taught me his admiration for Abraham Lincoln. From his leadership, I dedicated my life’s study to the scriptures and American history. Through the written word, I learned God’s opinion regarding the value of each individual life and His gift of liberty the founders of our nation desired to protect for future American citizens.

Unfortunately, past and present American leaders, like Secretary Stanton, abused their positions of power and established an unelected, unaccountable, administrative state. Bureaucrats are using the unchecked power of government to render our founding documents irrelevant, promote the killing of approximately 60 million innocent babies, indoctrinating our youth to embrace progressive democratic-socialism, and are rapidly destroying our nation from within. Is time running out? Only the Almighty knows. 

I believe God called me to write this story to reestablish a hunger in American Christians to recognize the beauty of the Constitutional Republic God created as His last best hope of liberty on Earth, and to encourage prayer for America’s restoration. God bless you, and thanks for reading.
Please let me know what you think. Should I publish my next project like this?

Monday, February 18, 2019

Destination Hope - Book 5 - Reconciliation - Chapter 39

For new readers to this story, I linked Chapter 1. Chapters 2 - 4 are linked under September, 5 - 10 under October, 11 - 18 under November, 19 - 27 under December, 28 - 34 under January 2019, and 35 - 38 under February.

Destination Hope – Book 5 – Reconciliation

A Novel By:

Charles J. Patricoff

Copyright © 2014 by Charles J. Patricoff. All rights reserved.

Chapter 39


The late-evening sun set slowly behind the western Tennessee hills. The sky turned a beautiful mixture of pink, orange, blue and white. The deep green foliage of a new summer accented the hills in the distance; yet, within minutes these brilliant hues would slowly fade from distinctiveness as the dark night gained advantage. Oaks, maples, birch, elm and cottonwood trees, set against the creeping, shape-changing upper atmosphere, created an artistic landscape for the observer’s appreciation.
With a few more months of hard labor, the people of Franklin, Tennessee would harvest their crops, just as new souls responded to Nathaniel Graham’s weekly sermons. As a recognized community leader, he guided his neighbors beyond their past desires for independence, concentrated their energy and resources on rebuilding their town and their lives, and helped them become reconciled to their reborn nation of liberty as they reconciled their souls to God. Nathaniel continued to teach their responsibility to grow in God’s grace, and learn to depend on and trust in Christ. The Almighty would unfold their future—like a tree bearing fruit—if they would choose to abide in Jesus, use the gifts He had invested in them, and follow His Spirit of hope.
Father, son, and their old dog exited the knee-high cornfield and William asked, “Do you think folks will ever stop asking about the mayor and his men?”
Nathaniel glanced back toward the center of the field and formulated an answer. “I wouldn’t worry about it, Son. The jury concluded that we acted in self-defense, so the matter is settled for all time. If I were you, I’d worry about your recital tonight. Are you ready?”
“Yes, sir.”
“Go on.”
“Uh-huh, I want to hear it.”
William looked at his father with admiring eyes, came to an appropriate attention, and started:

“In Congress, July 4, 1776, the Declaration of Independence of the Thirteen Colonies of the thirteen United States of America.
“When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.”

If William had noticed, he would have seen his proud father mouthing the words along with him.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.
“But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new guards for their future security.  
“Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain...”

William paused for clarification. “That was King George the Third, right Pa?”
“Yes, son, you are correct.”
William nodded and repeated the last phrase:

“The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.”

Nathaniel held up his hand indicating a halt to the oral dissertation. “You can skip over the twenty-seven grievances; but don’t forget to recite them.”
“Yes, sir.” William’s eyes searched the sky as if he read the rest of the document in an instant. He resumed reciting the last dramatic paragraphs of Thomas Jefferson’s, near-sacred foundational words:

“In every stage of these oppressions, we have petitioned for redress in the most humble terms: our repeated petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A prince whose character is thus marked by every act, which may define a tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
“Nor, have we been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnum—”

William stumbled on the long, less than familiar term.
Nathaniel intervened. “Magnanimity.”
As father, son, and panting dog sauntered past the family plot, William asked, “Pa, what does,” he struggled with the pronunciation, “magnanimity mean?”
“I believe Mr. Jefferson intended the idea of generosity of spirit in this passage.”
“Kind of like when you say, God wants us to treat each other with kindness?”
“I think that’s correct.”
William took a few more quiet strides. “I think that makes sense.”
As a good father, Nathaniel asked, “Do you remember where you left off?”
“Yes sir.” William continued:

“We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity…”

Anticipating his son’s next question, Nathaniel said, “It means a relationship based on descent from the same ancestor—not by marriage.”
“Like me and mother?”
“Yes.” Nathaniel swallowed. I wonder just how much he understands. But before Nathaniel could formulate a question, William continued:

“We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, enemies in war, in peace friends.
“We therefore, the representatives of the united States of America, in general congress, assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the name, and by the authority of the good people of these colonies, solemnly publish and declare, that these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be free and independent States; that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as free and independent States, they have full power to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and to do all other acts and things which independent States may of right do. And, for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.”

William took a deep breath, “How was that Pa?”
The surrounding beauty helped inspire the gratefulness filling Nathaniel’s heart. “Excellent, son, I am proud of you. Say it like that tonight at the celebration, and son…”
“Yes Pa.”
“Don’t ever forget to rely on Divine Providence.”
“Yes sir,” William said confidently.
“Good boy.” He patted William’s back.
As Nathaniel gazed at the scene before him, he remembered the strange dream he had where he confessed he wanted his own farm and family. He smiled. Then he smelled the thickening, musty air, and recognized the heat might be so strong; he and William may have to draw water from the creek to keep their crops from withering.
Eleanor came out of the house drying her hands on her apron. She strolled at an easy, casual pace as if taking stock of the blessings surrounding her, too. She reached a conversational distance from the two men in her life and let them know that she served supper. “Dear, you, William, and Bailey need to come in now, before our dinner turns cold.”
Nathaniel turned his gaze from the sky and let Eleanor into his thoughts. “I don’t know why Almighty God let me live and took such a great leader from us.”
Eleanor moved closer. “Well, many in the church and town think you are a great leader, too.” She winked. “And I happen to agree with them. Your voice in Nashville has helped keep Tennessee from suffering the same fate as all other former Confederate States. I hear the Federal occupiers are crueler than our lost local authorities.” Eleanor glanced at their lush cornfield, then gazed at her husband. “I, for one, am very glad you’re still here. Where would I be, where would we be if you and I never met?” Eleanor smiled at Nathaniel and stroked her slightly extended lower abdomen.
Nathaniel returned her smile. “I don’t know the answer to that neither.”
Eleanor corrected, “It’s either, dear.”
“Neither, either, it’s all the same to me.” Nathaniel smirked.
“Well, it should matter a great deal to you, dear. What would our parishioners think if you butchered the English language from the pulpit each Sunday morning?”
“Oh, they won’t mind.” Nathaniel patted Bailey on his squared, graying head. “Will they, boy?”
Bailey panted.
“William, go on now, wash up and get ready for dinner, while I have a word with your mother.”
William obeyed without question. “Come on, Bailey.”
Bailey stopped panting, tilted his head and bolted after his smaller master.
As boy and dog neared the house, Nathaniel said, “But you know, Ellie, it still bothers me. I can’t help but wonder what our country would be like right now. I mean, I think the entire nation would have been better served if God would have let him live; better yet, if He would have intervened and prevented that terrible night altogether. I suppose it’s an ageless question.”
“What is, dear?”
Nathaniel raised his eyes toward the not-too-distant hills. “Why won’t God violate our free will? Why won’t He stop someone from committing purposeful sin and unspeakable evil?” He stared at his bride. “Yet, I can’t tell you how many times He has saved me from acting foolishly. I guess we will never know in this life why God chooses to intervene in some of the affairs of mankind and leave others alone.”
“I’ve often thought about it too, dear. You remember, I told you I had the privilege of meeting him long ago, before the war. No one thought much of Lincoln then. I never really knew him, but my father thought that he was a good and honest man. If not for him, I am confident, my brother Paul would be gone, too.”
“You know I’ve spent hours studying things he wrote. I’m convinced he was sent by God to lead our nation. I didn’t think that ten years ago. Like so many, I became certain he appeared as the devil incarnate. I’m sorry I believed a lie. His murder was a terrible loss for us all.”
“Well, I’m sure God has His reasons for taking him when He did,” Eleanor said. “Maybe the war was not punishment enough for our many national sins.” She rubbed her husband’s back. “Honey, please don’t beat yourself up anymore. All is forgiven, and as far as I’m concerned, you’ve taught William well. I believe he knows our rights come from God—that the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution are inseparable documents, and Lincoln led us back to a reconciled nation and left us two great speeches, the Gettysburg Address and his Second Inaugural, to help us remember if we begin to lose our way again. William is well prepared to carry the light of God’s liberty forward to his children. He knows he must choose to follow God, no matter what, even if this great country rejects God. Most of all, he is prepared to enter our Lord’s Kingdom. For that, I can never thank you enough. Nate, in my eyes, you are a good man.”
The question still haunted him. He muttered in a weak attempt to expose it to cleansing light: “Ain’t it something what one bullet can do?”
“What dear?” Eleanor asked. She shook her head as if her husband remained some great mystery. “What’s that got to do with what I just said?”
“It’s something a soldier once said to me.” Nathaniel repeated with stronger clarity, ‘Ain’t it something what one bullet can do?’  That seems like ages ago.” Then he completed his thought: “One bullet changed the course of American history.”
Nathaniel reached down to the ground picked up the well-chewed leather baseball lying by his right foot. He had finished stitching it back together earlier that morning. It now felt soggy and it smelled like the inside of Bailey’s mouth. “Dayenu.”
“What dear?”
Nathaniel looked at his bride and repeated each syllable. “Day-eh-new is a Hebrew word Professor Jonah Benjamin shared with me—something he learned about the Passover celebration. The word means, ‘it is enough.’” Smiling Nathaniel said, “God has so blessed my life. If He never does another thing for me, He has already done more than enough.” He pulled Eleanor close and gave her a gentle hug and kiss.
After they released, Nathaniel turned Bailey’s toy between his thumb and fingers for a moment, looked at it, and then threw it as hard and as far as he could. It disappeared into the thick woods at the west end of their farmhouse’s clearing.
Bailey must have caught sight of it while lapping at the water pouring out of the pump as William stroked its handle. William let the rusting metal bar slam into its shut-off position. Nathaniel, Eleanor, and William watched Bailey run as hard and as fast as his legs could carry him. Then the widening, eight-year-old, happy, black Labrador barked as he disappeared into the thick underbrush.
Thanks for reading. It's not over, yet.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Destination Hope - Book 5 - Reconciliation - Chapter 38

For new readers to this story, I linked Chapter 1. Chapters 2 - 4 are linked under September, 5 - 10 under October, 11 - 18 under November, 19 - 27 under December, 28 - 34 under January 2019, and 35 - 37 under February.

Destination Hope – Book 5 – Reconciliation

A Novel By:

Charles J. Patricoff

Copyright © 2014 by Charles J. Patricoff. All rights reserved.
Chapter 38


Nathaniel stood his ground facing the three mounted intruders. William imitated his dad’s defiance with his hands on his hips and a scowl on his face. Nathaniel felt the setting sun losing warmth on his face. Several yellow, orange, and red changing leaves floated toward the ground but often lifted by a gentle breeze. One of the agitated horses nickered.  A few degrees to Nathaniel’s left, he noticed Eleanor standing just inside the front door’s threshold. 
“What brings you out here this late in the day, your Honor?” Nathaniel asked.
One of Merritt’s henchmen, Hodge, a hefty, dust-covered man with a scruffy beard and a scarred cheek, leaned to his left and spat a wad of chew on to the ground, as Jason said, “I’m sure you know.” He reached into the inside pocket of his suit jacket and, as he retrieved its contents, said, “I tried to be reasonable with you and your wife.” He cocked his head toward the house. But you refused to listen.” He displayed an envelope. “I have here Judge Hogan’s writ ordering you to turn over what rightfully belongs to me.” His eyes shifted in William’s direction.
“William, come in now and clean up,” Eleanor called. “Dinner is almost ready.”
William’s face turned upward toward his dad who set his gaze on the three intruders, eyes locked on Jason.
“You heard your mother, son.”
“But pa…”
“I said, go on now, son.” He emphasized his concluding word for his hostile audience more than his child.
William stepped behind Nathaniel. Head hung low, he took reluctant steps toward the house kicking at a stone, which headed for the horse to Mayor Merritt’s right. The roughneck, Hodge, reined his horse to block William’s path. William came to a halt and swiveled toward his dad. Nathaniel could see fear in William’s eyes.
Eleanor reached to her left and burst on to the front porch. She cradled a lever-action carbine in her hands and pointed it at the invaders. Hodge, the rider barring William’s way, started to pull his revolver.
“That won’t be necessary, Hodge,” Jason said. Then, with a slight jerk of his head he said to William, “Go eat your supper, son.” He shifted his glare back at Nathaniel and extended the order. “Mr. Graham, I know you are a law-abiding citizen and you will comply with this lawful order.”
Nathaniel refused to accept it.
“Suit yourself.” Jason flicked the parcel at Nathaniel’s feet. “You have three days to comply. I assume you’ll make good after our church service on Sunday?”
Nathaniel’s grip tightened on his scythe’s handle. A memory flashed of Richard Boyd jumping off a pew and tackling him in the Johnson Island Federal prison chapel. I’ve been here before, but I can’t start anything. I can’t put Eleanor and William in danger.
He said, “Sir, you and your men are not welcome here.” Taking one step forward, he straightened his posture as much as his bone-weary body tolerated. His eyes narrowed. “Get off my land.”
Jason leaned forward in his saddle. “All I want is what is rightfully mine, Graham.”
William kicked at another stone. It came to rest a few feet in front of the porch steps.
“You know I can make things much worse for you, little Rebel,” Jason said. Both henchmen snickered. “Speaking of ‘Rebels, I hear your beloved Robert E. Lee’s health is failing—pity.”
Nathaniel saw it. The same sinister grin surfaced on Jason’s face. Eleanor tried to describe it. Now Nathaniel recognized it, resembling the one he had seen on Gene Schmidt’s face many times during the war—the face of evil.
Jason reined his horse to his right. “Come on fellas.” The three intruders of the Graham family peace walked their horses heading for Mount Hope Road. As they passed Eleanor, Jason tipped the brim of his hat and grinned. He shouted over the clopping hooves, “You wouldn’t want me taking your pitiful, little farm, too.” All three carpetbagger-reconstruction leaders of the Franklin, Tennessee community laughed.
William reached down to the ground and grabbed for his back-overalls pocket.
Nathaniel yelled, “Son, no, don’t—”
The rock released from William’s sling hit Hodge behind his left ear with crippling force. His hat flew off as his head jerked forward. His body followed, falling into the hindquarters of Jason’s horse, causing the animal to lurch, almost throwing Jason.
“William, get inside,” Eleanor shouted, throwing the carbine to her shoulder.
Merritt’s new informant and heavier henchman, Sherriff Warren, yanked his revolver, swiveled in his saddle, and aimed at the mayor’s long-time enemy and defenseless Nathaniel. Eleanor’s shot hit Warren’s right shoulder blade, causing his blast to go wide and hit the broad side of the barn. His gun fell to the dusty earth below.
Jason regained control of his startled steed and reined the animal about. He shouted, “Yaw!” and charged for Nathaniel.
William grabbed another rock.  Before he could seat it in the cuff of his sling, Eleanor grabbed the back of his collar, pulled him onto the porch, and almost threw her son into the house. “Stay in there,” she shouted. She slammed the front door and yelled through it, “Bar the door.” She turned to face the fray in time to see Jason drive his horse right into her husband, knocking Nathaniel hard to the ground. Nathaniel scrambled, slipped, and sprawled trying to reach the shovel propping open one of the barn doors.
Jason wheeled his horse for another pass. He spurred the animal and slapped it with his swagger stick.
Hodge shook his head and pushed himself up to his hands and knees. Warren clutched his wounded shoulder and raced to exact vengeance on Eleanor.
Eleanor popped the lever action. The smoking, spent brass shell casing flew to her right. She did not have time to take aim; she fired, snapped the lever, and fired again.
Warren’s jaw-crushing facial grimace indicated he would no longer be a threat. He clutched his broad belly with his left hand. His scrunched, eyes sprung open wide as if he faced a sudden, yet clear revelation. He stumbled, his right knee buckled. Warren twisted and fell lifeless to the ground, his head thumping onto the home’s first step.
Jason drove his horse in between Nathaniel and the barn. He swiped his swagger stick like a sword. Nathaniel blocked the strike with his arms, but Jason hit him with enough force to throw Nathaniel to the dirt a second time. Jason dismounted. The horse kept running toward the house’s back door. Jason grabbed the shovel. Nathaniel scrambled to retrieve his scythe.
Eleanor faced her next threat. Hodge picked up his revolver, cocked the hammer, and leveled the gun.
The shots sounded like they fired at the same time.
From inside the house, William watched the thinner and dusty henchman he clobbered with the stone drop to the earth, but out of the corner of his eye, he caught a glimpse of his mother dropping her rifle. Then he saw her clutch the front porch railing and drop to her knees. He screamed.
Crying, William tried to wake his mother. He almost convulsed at the sight and smell of his mother’s blood. He glanced at the battle raging in front of the barn.
Just as Nathaniel reached his feet, Jason swung the shovel smacking Nathaniel’s right side. Nathaniel gasped. His eyes rolled and he fell to the dust for a third time. Struggling to breathe, Nathaniel managed to react and roll away in time to avoid Jason’s next strike.
“You meddling preacher. You are a fool. I would have left you alone. Now, I’ll have it all.” He swung the shovel at Nathaniel’s head.
Nathaniel jerked out of the way, and the blade dug inches into the ground missing his right ear. With a spike of energy, Nathaniel rolled to his left, obtained enough footing to scramble like a dog away from Jason’s next swing.
Limping, Nathaniel entered the barn. Chickens cackled and scattered. He scanned it for anything he could use, but Jason connected with a blast to Nathaniel’s back between his shoulder blades, knocking him almost senseless deeper into the barn. He toppled to the straw covered floor.
Shadow whinnied and kicked at her stall. The hogs grunted and the goats bleated as Nathaniel rolled onto his back. The silhouetted image of Jason stepped between Nathaniel’s spread legs. Where’s Bailey?
“I warned you,” Jason growled like a mad dog. “I told you I’d come for you. Everything you wanted is gone. The woman you love is dead. The boy is mine. This farm will be mine. Where is your god now? I’ll tell you, he’s nowhere because there is no god.” Jason lifted the shovel over his head.
Through dazed vision, Nathaniel could see Jason’s muscles tense for the killing blow. He raised his hands in weakened self-defense.
A blast. Jason’s left chest exploded outward. His eyes rolled. A guttural noise escaped Jason’s mouth. The shovel dropped behind him, and his lifeless body fell on top of Nathaniel.
Nathaniel shoved Jason’s body off. William stood at the barn door. Nathaniel’s old .44 caliber Colt revolver still smoked in William’s tiny, shaking hands. Nathaniel’s eyes met William’s weepy brown orbs.
“Help mommy,” the quaking boy said.
This time, he heard that phrase from a different source: “One bullet saved your life.”
Nathaniel wobbled to his feet, then scrambled toward the porch, where his beloved lay. Using his pocketknife, he ripped away enough clothing to evaluate the wound, while protecting her modesty. Eleanor had regained consciousness, but she was disoriented. She had enough presence of mind to help confirm what Nathaniel observed. It appeared the bullet hit Eleanor’s fleshy side, in what Nathaniel called in a delicate, sheepish tone, her “meatier parts,” and passed through clean. “I won’t lie to you darling. It is a serious wound. You’ll need Doctor Pritchard to patch you up.”
Eleanor didn’t complain. “I don’t feel pain anywhere else.” She gazed at her fright-filled son, “Momma’s going to be all right.”
William kept staring at the oozing hole. His breathing rate matched his mothers.
She may not be aware of all the damage, yet. Nathaniel glanced at the possible trajectory. He felt a sense of gratitude when he found a bullet hole in one of the horizontal logs about waist-high, left of the door. Good, I don’t think I need to probe this. Nathaniel tore some more material from Eleanor’s dress to make bandages. He applied direct pressure from both sides causing great pain for both he and his wife. After about thirty minutes, Nathaniel said, “Okay, I’m going to release the pressure.”
“Oh, thank God,” Eleanor said, once the compression lifted.
Nathaniel inspected the wound. “Yes, thank the Lord. The bleeding seems to be under control. Now, I think we need to move you to a place where you can be more comfortable. It’ll be dark soon. Do you think you can make it to our bed?”
“You’re not putting me in there. I’ll get blood all over the new bed clothes.”
“But darling, I—”
Eleanor held up her right hand. “Stop. I’ll be fine right here. I just need a few minutes to rest.”
Nathaniel turned away and saw William rocking on his knees. It appeared to Nathaniel that the boy was praying. Good, he thought, then he gave his attention to Eleanor. “You need Doc Pritchard to stitch you up proper.”
Eleanor grabbed Nathaniel’s shirt. “You go. William can watch over me.”
A memory of young, Corporal Samuel Beecher flashed.  He died in that swamp outside of Fredericksburg after I promised I’d bring him help. “Are you sure?” he said.
Eleanor nodded.
Nathaniel placed light pressure to Eleanor’s wounds and said, “William, look how I’m keeping these bandages on your mother. Do you think you can do this while I run for help?”
Nathaniel could read the uncertainty in his son’s eyes as William said, “I’ll try.”
“You have to, son. And keep your mother talking. Don’t let her fall asleep. Do you understand?”
Eleanor intervened. “Go, Nate, now.”
He hated the fact that he had to leave, but what else could he do? The love of his life needed better help than he could give. He assisted William’s takeover of the bandaging job, inspected the situation, kissed Eleanor’s forehead, and raced for the barn.
He did not take any time to put a saddle on Shadow. He rode bareback as hard and as fast as she could run.
In record time Nathaniel reached Doctor Pritchard’s home, disturbing his dinner. The kind physician grasped the severity of the matter, grabbed his medical bag, and hurried to retrieve his horse and buggy. Doctor Pritchard insisted that Nathaniel report what happened while he drove out to the farm.
Nathaniel wanted to rush home, but he knew Doctor Pritchard spoke from aged wisdom. He would have to make a full report. He encouraged Shadow to gallop across the bridge to Fort Granger in search of Captain O’Brien.
Upon reaching the gate, Nathaniel yelled to the posted guard, “I need to speak with Captain O’Brien right away.”
“State your business, Mister,” the guard said pointing his carbine at Nathaniel.
“There’s been a shooting on the northwest side of town.”
“Why don’t you get the sheriff?”
“He’s one of the men shot—I think he’s dead.”
This bit of information seemed to have the desired effect. The guard yelled, “Open the gate.  Let this feller in. Somebody fetch the Captain.”
Several precious minutes passed, which Nathaniel did not have, to convince Captain O’Brien to ride out to the farm. While O’Brien and his patrol prepared to go, Nathaniel took his leave. Mounted and ready to ride, Nathaniel said, “Captain O’Brien, I know you know the way. They shot Eleanor. Doc Pritchard is on his way. I’ve got to go. Make sure she’s okay.”
After all their years of conflict, Captain Sean O’Brien made a reasonable demand. “Go,” he said.
As daylight subsided, Nathaniel rode Shadow harder and faster than his earlier race into town. He had to get home.
When Nathaniel and Shadow reached the top of the ridge, he slowed her pace so he could get a better look at what he thought he saw. Doctor Pritchard’s buggy and horse stood in front of the house, but, “Where is everyone?” He shook Shadow’s reins. “Let’s go, girl.”
Within feet of the house, Nathaniel launched off Shadow’s back and raced into the house yelling, “Ellie, William, Doc?”
“Here, Pa,” William shouted.
Nathaniel ran to the bedroom. He pushed open wide the door, slamming it against the inside wall. His jaw dropped.
Eleanor appeared to be resting comfortably as she chastised, “Don’t you ever knock first?”
Doctor Pritchard packed his medical bag, and William stared at his father while holding his mother’s hand. Eleanor smiled. Nathaniel took a deep breath and exhaled. “Thank God.”
“She’s going to be fine, Pastor,” Doctor Pritchard said. “You should be proud of your son. He took good care of his mother. I checked the wound—no fragments. So, I cleaned and stitched the injury. She’s going to be in some pain, but I’d guess she’ll be on her feet in maybe three days.”
Nathaniel smiled. He wiped dewy eyes. “Thank God.”
Nathaniel tried to walk Captain Sean O’Brien and his men through the earlier events. Nathaniel found the envelope containing Judge Hogan’s order. He picked it up and handed it to Captain O’Brien. “It all started with this. I suppose, if I would have accepted it with grace, maybe none of this would have happened.”
A pair of soldiers shooed some birds pecking at Sherriff Warren’s body. They picked it off the dusty farmyard and tossed it over the back of the sheriff’s horse. Captain O’Brien took the official court parcel and said, “You know I’ll have to arrest you and take you into custody, again?”
From where Nathaniel stood, he watched another pair of troopers drag Mayor Merritt’s carcass out of the barn. Merritt had that fixed-fright stare of eternal damnation on his face, an expression Nathaniel saw all too often during the war. I suppose he knows the truth, now.
He gazed steadily at Captain O’Brien. “I understand Captain.”
Nathaniel heard that familiar voice; “Ask him.”
“Captain, O’Brien, can I ask you a favor?”
“Sure. From what I can tell, you have a clear case of self-defense. From what your wife and boy told me, you didn’t fire a shot. You’ve proven consistent behavior all the years I’ve known you. I misjudged your wife, too. She’s a fine woman.”
“She is the favor.”
“I figured as much.”
“Captain, I promise to turn myself in just as soon as I know Ellie is going to pull through this. Doc Pritchard said she’s going to need about three days.”
“Three days to rise again. Sounds like a familiar story.” Captain O’Brien winked. “I bet you never thought I paid any attention to your preaching, huh? Well, I don’t know about me, but I’d say you’ve lived the life you harped on many times.”
Startled and confused, Nathaniel asked, “What’s that?”
“You always quoted from the Book of Proverbs, ‘Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.’  Like I said, I can’t speak for myself, but I think He has directed your paths.”
Nathaniel nodded. He had misjudged this man, too. Nathaniel wanted to pursue the conversation, but he had a more pressing need. “Do we have a deal?”
“Yeah, Pastor. Report to my office on Monday.” Captain O’Brien removed his riding glove and extended his right hand.
Nathaniel accepted the gesture of good will and the firm grip seemed to indicate friendship.
Releasing his hand, Captain O’Brien yelled to his men, “Mount up, boys. Let’s get these bodies out of here.” He removed his broad-rimmed, deep-blue hat and ran his hand through his graying hair. “You and I’ve been through a lot, Graham. I say it’s about time we treated each other like friends. Call me Sean, Nate.” A soldier guided the horse carrying the Mayor’s corpse past the two new friends. Captain O’Brien said, “I never liked that man much.” He shook his head. “Done in by a boy. Serves him right.”
Nathaniel followed Captain O’Brien to his horse. Once Captain O’Brien settled into his saddle, Nathaniel said, “I’ll see you Monday, Sean.”
“You take care of that wife and boy of yours.” He pocketed Judge Hogan’s order.
Nathaniel wanted to ask what Sean planned to do with the summons, but simply said, “I will.”
Captain O’Brien rocked a bit in his saddle. “As far as I can tell, that boy of yours saved both your lives.”
“I agree.”
Captain O’Brien came to a seated attention and snapped a perfect salute. “Good night, Nate.”
Nathaniel came to attention and returned the time-tested honor. “Good night, Captain. Thank you for all of your help in this mess.” He glanced about the farmyard and said with deep conviction, “God bless you, Sean.”
With that, Captain O’Brien commanded his troopers. “Move out.”
As the twilight darkened, Nathaniel watched Captain O’Brien and his patrol ride up the rising lane, past the family plot, and disappear over the ridge leading to Mount Hope Road.
Thanks for reading.