Sulley scuffed the pavement and swore under his breath.
"Razor!" he yelled. A gust of wind played through his thick, dark hair and blew down his neck. Sulley adjusted his collar and continued scanning in the fading light. He whistled into the darkness.
"Razor! Here, boy!" Stupid dog! Why would he run like that? It had been a quick trip to the store. Sulley's huge Rottweiler could always be trusted to stay at the house, but this one time, Sulley had come home to find the gate to Razor's run wide open. The front fence, with the blue recycling bin behind it, would have presented very little obstacle for the dog. With twenty minutes' head start, just how far could the dog go? Which direction? Sulley had asked a few neighbors to search southward and into town, while he followed Macadam Avenue northward. Two hours had gone, and Sulley had not even seen the dog. His cell phone beeped. Sulley dug it out of his pocket and checked.
"Searched all over town. No sign of Razor."
Great, just great! Sulley continued trudging up the hill. The incline transformed into a decline, and Sulley knew he was headed into Portland. What on earth would make a dog run three hours into the next city? As he crossed under the freeway, Sulley glanced at the bleary-eyed hobos and decided the best course of action would be to keep his head down and find his dog as quickly as possible.
Samuel knelt in prayer. Teresa Cortez had just discovered the redemption of Christ, had entered nervously and departed rejoicing. Now Sam prayed over this new soul, praising God and praying that He would bless Teresa and her "Real Sister" Molly, the woman who committed to mentoring other girls who came to Christ, in the first stages of their new spiritual life.
Kneeling on the floor, Sam felt his mind wander, and he began thinking about dogs. Not little dogs, big ones; and not the mean, ferocious dogs, but the big dogs that some people owned as pets; furthermore, not necessarily a breed good around children, but a man's dog, a bachelor's dog—like a Rottweiler.
Someone cleared his throat on the other side of Sam's desk. Sam picked up his head.
There was a face he had never seen before, but Sam could not deny the inkling that there was something in this young mam that commanded respect. His stature, for one; Sam had seen tall guys, young guys, burly guys, and guys both young and tall, but this stranger was tall and burly and young; the desk was not as high as his waist! He was remarkably good-looking, with thick dark hair and piercing blue eyes. He dressed warmly and well, so Sam knew he wasn't living on the streets. He stood erect and confident before the desk, so he wasn't just a curious passerby. Sam felt the leading of God on his heart, "This is the man I have chosen."
Sulley opened his mouth to speak, but before he uttered a sound, Sam stood and extended a hand.
"Reverend Sam Oldman, but most just call me Old Sam, how are you today?"
Sulley immediately took his hand. Sam felt the power of a workingman's grip.
"Sullivan MacDonald, sir."
A healthy respect for his elders, good!
Sam felt the pieces falling into place, and he raised a finger to interrupt Sullivan.
"Your Rottweiler, I presume?"
Sulley started, "You've seen him, then?"
Sam felt so overwhelmed at the working of God that he hardly knew what he was doing as he said, "Follow me to my house. Dinner has just been served, and I would be honored if you would join me for a meal while we talk."
Sulley sighed as he automatically followed the strange reverend. "Well, that sound wonderful, but I really should just pick up my dog and get back home—"
Sam led him up the steps of a large green house with white trim. He stopped at the front door.
"Razor is safe at home, your neighbors who so kindly searched all over town for him are now watching him, and I am not going to let the man God has chosen to be a community leader for this ministry take the risk of walking home alone in the dark; understood?" Samuel did not wait for a reply but stepped immediately into the house. He waited at the open door, letting the smells of Dorothy's chicken pot pie lure the young man toward the door.
Sulley was almost too thunderstruck to move. He shied away from the old reverend as Samuel crossed the threshold.
"H-how did you know my dog's name?" he demanded shakily. Sulley offered no resistance in his shock when Sam escorted him to the table and gave him the seat at its head.
Dorothy laid heaping plates of fresh chicken pie before them. She and her son and two daughters left the men to their meal as they brought more of the same over to the warehouse to serve the rest.
Sam very calmly blessed the food and dug in. He glanced up and saw Sulley still staring at him as a little child does a magician who has just pulled a quarter out of his ear. Sam gestured to the steaming plate in front of his guest.
"It's good; eat it before it gets cold."
Sulley grabbed Sam's hand, restraining him from eating another bite. "I want to know just what's going on here, old man," try as he might he could not keep his voice from shaking, but he was beyond caring. "What do you mean, God has chosen me to lead a community?"
Sam smiled and plucked his fork out of the pinned hand. "Not just a community, Sullivan," he ate the bite of pie from the fork and gestured with it outside. "I'm going to introduce you to this community, and you're going to lead it."
"Lead it?" Sulley cried, "I'm only twenty-three for Chr...for crying out loud! How in the--How can I lead a bunch of people older than I am, who have more experience than I do? I'm just a messed-up guy from Lake Oswego, not a seminary student! I'm no friend of God, what do I matter?"
The mention of a seminary student struck a nerve in Sam and made him wince, but he maintained his composure. "Age and lifestyle has nothing to do with it, my son," Sam informed him, "As the saying goes, God does not choose the equipped, He equips the chosen." He emphasized his words with a flourish of his fork. Dabbing the corners of his mouth with a napkin, he chuckled. "As for not being a friend of God, well, I think we can remedy that situation!"
Three days later, Sullivan McDonald returned home. Razor bounded out the door and nearly bowled him over in his excitement at being reunited with his master.
Triana and Brent Marshall came out to greet him as well.
"Sull, man," Brent said, "I tried to call you when we found Razor. Where did you go?"
"We've been worried about you," Triana agreed, trying in vain to coax the big Rottweiler off Sulley, who seemed to enjoy the devotion. "Brent and I were ready to organize a search party for you!" Finally, Razor calmed down ad Brent lent a hand to help Sulley to his feet. As he did so, Brent saw a new light in his friend's eyes, a spark that had been smoldering behind bitterness and low self-esteem for so long. Brent got the feeling that this was Sullivan McDonald, reborn.
He swore under his breath in amazement. "Sulley, what happened to you?"
Sulley grinned at his friends. "Thank you so much for taking care of Razor; Brent, I'm going to need you to call Mike Turner and see if we can't get this house on the market and sold. I'm going down to get a U-Haul trailer, and I'd love it if you wouldn't mind helping me pack up everything we can fit into a trailer."
"What's going on?" Triana was very worried about her friend now.
Sulley was already pulling out every suitcase and duffel bag he owned and throwing clothes into them. "I'm moving into Portland, to It's Real."
"Okay," Brent tried to catch Sulley's shoulders, and brought him to a halt in front of him. Sulley still grinned like an idiot—but there was a sort of calmness of purpose behind the madness. "Stop," Brent said. "You're going where now, for who?"
Sulley shrugged Brent's hands off. "It's an ex-con, ex-gang community called It's Real, and I'm going to be their leader."
"It's Real?" Triana walked in to join them, "What kind of gang name is that?"
Sulley closed the last suitcase and moved to the den to start packing up his library and movie collection.
"It's a Christian organization that teaches these people about God, and how to live the truth of the Gospel like it's real." He stopped in the midst of loading his collection of horror films and risqué comedies into the box. Sulley shook his head and took them out. "Starting now," he muttered to himself with a chuckle.
"Sulley." Triana knelt in front of him. Sulley looked down at her from his squatting position. She had always been beautiful in his eyes; he'd even had a crush on Triana Faber that he never realized before she started going steady with Sulley's best friend Brent Marshall. She looked at him now, green eyes locked on his blue ones, silently pleading. "Are you sure you want to do this?"
Sulley had never been so sure of anything in his life. "I am, Trie; people are saying God chose me for this purpose."
"What people?" Triana got to her feet, "I thought you said once that if there was a God He was obviously too busy to pay any attention to you. Now you're not only convinced that God exists, but that He's given you a job and you have to turn your life upside down to follow it?" She frowned.
Sulley laughed and lifted the box—only half-filled with all the books and movies he wanted to keep, while the rest lay scattered over the floor and untouched on the shelves—as he replied, "That's the beauty of it, though! Maybe God wasn't too busy for me, maybe I decided to be too busy for God, but that doesn't mean He completely ignored me. Now, He's changed my life, but I don't feel flipped upside-down."
"How do you feel?" Triana asked, following him out to the car.
Sulley shoved the box in among the suitcases and slammed the lid. "I feel like I've had no direction or all the wrong directions all my life, and finally here's my chance to do something that was meant for me, something good, something needed." He climbed into the driver's seat and started the engine. Brent came out to join Triana.
Sulley waved, "I'll drop this stuff off at my friend's house and pick up a U-Haul truck on my way back up. See you in a few hours!"
Brent and Triana watched him pull away.
"Yep," Brent mused, "Sulley's gone clean off his rocker."
Triana wasn't so sure; something she had seen in the young man's eyes told her otherwise, but she said nothing.
For more excerpts from "King of The Roses" and other installments of the ReBible series, Check out the "ReBible Series" Page!