Monday, November 26, 2007

Men and Their Hats

I have a feeling that ya'll are growing weary of my stories, so I'll switch gears a little and try something different. How about a random musing?

Men and Their Hats

I have noticed that men no longer remove their hats when they enter a home or a building. I would wager that their own father or mother would slap the hat off their head to remind them of their rude gesture. For years, it was the standard. Men removed their hats when sitting at the diner table or when entering the church. Of course, there were places where hat removal was unnecessary, such as a bar, or a cattle auction. In fact, a man might be laughed at if he took off his hat in a bar—he might be called a sissy. However, when he set down to supper at Grandma’s house, the hat was hanging on a rack somewhere.

Hat wearing is a type of business card in today’s world. The hat a man wears tells something about who he is. If he is a hunter, he might wear a camouflage hat, the kind with elastic straps for extra shotgun shells. A fisherman might wear a hat with extra weights and hooks buried deep into the fabric. An athlete might wear a ball cap, something light and manageable, when speed is necessary. A cowboy must have a large brimmed hat that is fit to protect him from the elements such as the sun or rain. If you explore caves, a cowboy hat will only get in the way. This man needs a hat with a light mounted on it, to free his hands for climbing. A sailor wants something that is water resistant. A fireman wants something heat resistant, while a soldier wants something hard enough to dispel fragments and explosions. A hat gives definition to the type of man wearing it. You never see a football player going onto the field with a sunbonnet strapped to his chin.

When you consider everything that a hat represents, you have a better idea of what is happening inside a man’s thoughts and actions. A hat is his sign to America that he is someone and he knows it, and man is not likely to take off his hat for just any reason. There is an old saying, “The only man you have to take your hat off for is the barber.” What does this tell you? A hat is a symbol of strength to the bearer, and you really shouldn’t mess with anyone’s hat, unless you are prepared to fight over it.

Ever wonder why a man tips his hat to the ladies? Tipping your hat is the same thing as “tipping” the man that you are, a tremendous and heartfelt show of respect, and a way of recognizing the grace and beauty of a woman. Now days, men don’t tip their hats to each other, and I certainly don’t want them to start.

Another appropriate place for hat removal is in a church. Removing your hat in church is a sign of respect and surrender to God. I always question the depth of a man who refuses to remove his covering in a church sanctuary. What is going on in his heart if he won’t respect God? A man should also take off his hat in respect to the country. I have seen men place their hats over their hearts during the national anthem, and rightfully so! Nothing angers me more than to see a man with a cap perched on top of his head while the Star Spangled Banner proudly boasts of our nation’s grand existence.

Men, there are times to hide your ugly hair—or lack thereof—under your hat, and times not to. If you are in a theater, take your hat off so everyone else can see the screen. Take your hat off in church; show God the respect He has rightfully earned. Tip your hat to the ladies; women are the embodiment of all that is good in our society, and it is appropriate to respond in such a fashion. Most of all, remove your hat at the diner table. If for no other reason than it’s what your mamma told you to do, and its good old-fashioned manners.

As always, my opinion is subject to revision.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Canine Witness

In light of Thanksgiving, I'd like to share a special story with you. This is the very first short story in my repriotour, reprotar, er... collection of short stories. To the best of my memory, I think it was written sometime around 1985. I share this with you because it is my reason to give thanks--well, one of many. My writing career would never have started had it not been for this story. I wrote it for a contest (I didn't win. In fact, I received last place), and it ignited a passion within me to continue. Therefore, I'm thankful for slow starts and second chances.

I'd also like to welcome my dear friends, the Tanners and the Lees to my blog. May your camel's give mild as long as you live!

Another quick thanks: I'm thankful to God for sparing my wife of some very troubling heart problems. Even though she had to endure an angiogram, we had good results! Thanks for your prayers!

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Canine Witness

My name is Duke, and I’m not your ordinary writer. As a matter of fact, I reckon I’m the only dog that can read or write. That’s right, folks, I’m a dog, of the canine species, and I have one heck of a story to tell.

It all started about two weeks ago when Ida May came home from church. She was happy! Ida isn’t one given to happiness; she’s lived an uncommon hard life.
I imagine that the hardest thing she’s done was to put up with Ralph. Ralph is her husband and her drunk. I’ve seen him slug a bottle as early as sunrise and stay sluggish until nightfall when he would get nasty drunk. Between times, he owns a ranch.

Yes sir, she came home happy. That night as Ida was fixin’ dinner, she was singing. (Now mind you, I’m not allowed in the house, but I can see through the screen door.) Her singing was beginning to iratate…irrotate…well, to get under Ralph’s skin. He asked her what her problem was, and she looked up and asked, “what problem?” He asked if she would stop singing, so she started humming. Ralph jumped up and stomped into the bedroom and slammed the door, amidst a string of cussin’ and carryin’ on. She just smiled and kept on humming.

One day as I patrolled the barnyard, a feller came sneaking up to the house. I was the only one at home, so I set out to see what he was about. He snuck up the back steps and was prying at the outside door. He got it open and stepped inside, but didn’t shut the door all the way. So, I stuck my nose in the crack and pushed her open enough to look in. I saw him rumagin…romagin…or whatever, through the house.

Right about then, Ida came home from town and saw the door open. Now Ida isn’t one to trifle with, being as tough as she is, and I didn’t envy that feller at all. She headed for the door and the man heard her coming, so he ducked under the bed: only his feet were sticking out. Ida went through the door, saw the feet, went into the bedroom, and shut the door behind her. I heard her lock it.

I ducked and ran around to the other side of the house and jumped on a log in front of the bedroom window. Slowly, I peered in. She was leaning against the door and was staring at the feet. She had a real peculiar look on her face. I gawked at her intently, trying to figure out what she would do. I saw a look of fire and brimstone slap her between the eyes and she gave all her attention to the closet.

About this time, I got so excited that I fell off the log. I got back up quick like, and saw that she was holding a shotgun in her hands. Believe you me, she can use that thing. Once, I was chasing an armadillo around under the house, we where only playing under there, but Ida May came busting out of the house with that scatter gun and put its name to good use. Lucky thing it was loaded with bird shot…

Well, anyway, the fellow under the bed figures that he is pretty well hidden and he stayed real quiet, but he should have looked at his whole card, which would be his feet in this case.

Ida May tilted her gun towards the bed and said in a real smooth voice, “Mister, I’m not a woman that’s given to violence, but you’re lyin’ in a spot at which I am about to shoot.” Boy, the dust flew as he came out from under that bed.

He stood up straight and stared at the business end of her gun. Quietly she said, “Mister, I don’t know who you are, but you’re not getting out of here until you get saved.” Then she sat the shotgun down out of his reach. You know? I’m not real sure what getting saved is, but I think it’s when you run and slide into home plate in a baseball game. But, I might be wrong.

Right around there, Babe, the family milk cow, came around the corner. She has always had it in for me since the time I tried to milk her. I’d seen Ralph do it and get pretty good results, so I thought I would try. When I woke up, I found my way out of that tree and took precautions to stay out of that cow’s way.

Well, that cow saw me and lowered her horns and I decided to check under the house for snakes. Unfortunately, I couldn’t see what happened in that room next. But I could hear her talking to him for over an hour, and once I heard him crying when she mentioned that he was in danger of God’s holy judgment. Shortly, he left the house with that same sweet look on his face that Ida now has.

You should have seen Ralph’s face that night when she told him what happened. As Ida told the story, his face turned an awful blue color. The farther the story went, the bluer his face got until he looked a lot like the pair of gloves that Ida washes the dishes with. When she got to the part about getting saved, he got up and stormed into the bedroom.

Ida sat looking at that closed door with tears in her eyes. She picked up the Bible sitting next to her, thumbed her way into it, read a moment, and put it down. Sitting by the screen door, I could hear her rocking back and forth.

She began to pray, quietly at first, and then louder. “Lord, I know that you are my God. I want so much for Ralph to know you like I do. Please show him that you are the Supreme Ruler of the heavens and Earth. Please show him that all of us have sinned against a holy God, and that because we did that, we are condemned to die and go to hell. Please show him that Jesus died on the cross in our place, and rose again on the third day, because death couldn’t defeat Him. Now all we have to do is acknowledge that He is Lord, and that we are sinners in danger of judgment from Him, and that in order to escape the judgment, we only have to repent of our sins and turn our hearts over to him. I ask you to come and minister to him right now.”

Suddenly, I saw a light coming from the crack below the bedroom door. I ran around to the log and looked into the window. There appeared to be…well…a whole bunch of angelic beings singing praises to God, standing around in the room. Ralph, lying on his bed, began to cry, lightly at first, and then harder and harder. He would sob and gasp for breath, wailing loudly.

Ida May came into the room and slowly the angles began to fade from my sight. Ralph looked up at Ida and said, “I just had a dream. I saw Jesus hanging violently from the cross. The nails were ripping huge holes into his hands. Pain and agony were all over his face. He looked directly at me and said, ‘I did this for you because I love you. Was it all in vain?’”

As a created being, I recognize who God is. I only wish that I could have been a human, so that I could have a chance to be saved also. I know that my story seems a little impossible to believe. As a matter of fact, it took me over two years before I had the nerve to tell it.

Ralph is now a recovered alcoholic, and a Sunday school teacher at the Baptist Church in town. I sure do hate to end this story, but Babe is looking me over from across the barnyard and I imagin, imadgin, well, I reckon that I’d better skedaddle.

Dedicated to John Erickson, author of Hank the Cowdog.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Excerpt from "Justice," The Novel

These few lines come from a novel I'd written many years ago about a small town in West Texas named, Justice.

“...Last night I dreamt that there was a woman who started painting with water colors under a tree. She was painting a squirrel that was gathering nuts. Although the painting started exceptionally well, it developed problems because the squirrel kept moving around. Before long, she had made quite a mess of her painting. However, being persistent, she kept trying to cover her mistakes. Soon she was to the point of tears and cried out, ‘God, hurry and help me fix this before that rain cloud comes’. Shortly, drops started to fall and she became desperate for God to help her fix her horrible painting. When it started sprinkling heavier, she became mad and yelled at God, ‘Why couldn’t You help me, just this once?’ In utter despair, she threw the painting out in the grass and sat under a tree crying. After a time the storm passed. Soaked to the bone, she went out to reclaim her disaster. To her delight, the rain had completely washed the canvass clean. Then she heard God’s voice, ‘You asked me for help, now I’ve given you a clean start.’”

Friday, November 9, 2007


In honor of Veteran's Day, I submit the following.


Artillery shells screamed overhead while explosions threw soil and rocks into the air. The ground was pock marked with the craters from spent munitions. Bodies from both armies lay scattered about, awkward and dangling, some still locked in the motions of a lost battle.

“MEDIC! MEDIC!” a terrified voice echoed in the darkness. When no reply came, the call was repeated in earnest, “MEDIC!”

A medic was kneeling, perched over the dying frame of a young soldier gasping greedily at his last breaths while moaning, “Mama” just before expiring. The medic rolled him back onto his stomach and responded to the panicked voice calling him. He found the young man lying in a crater clinging to a dismembered leg.

The young man gratefully acknowledged him, “Man, I thought you were hit, too. I’ve been calling you for five minutes now.” A shell exploded a few feet away, showering them with debris. The constant thumping of the tank mounted 50 Caliber was silenced as an anti-tank round lifted the Sherman violently off the ground. It slammed into the rocks and exploded, flinging shrapnel across the battlefield.

The medic involuntarily closed his eyes and ducked his head in response to the explosion. The young man struggled to sit up and see what was happening. “Lie still, Thompson. There is nothing more you can do out there.” At that, Thompson lay back and closed his eyes.

“How bad is it?” He swallowed.

“Bad enough.” The medic was seasoned. Very little surprised him anymore. His uniform bore the blood of two-dozen soldiers who had valiantly paid the highest price for freedom.

“Will I loose the leg?” Thompson still had not opened his eyes.

“You already have.” He spat tobacco on the ground and fumbled with a tourniquet.

Thompson smiled, “Not much on small talk, eh?”

“Too much to do.” He spat again.

“I knew that I already lost it.”

“Then why didja ask?”

“I was just trying to keep some of my sanity. Talking kind of helps.”

“Well, the worst is done, you can relax now.”

“Let me guess. I’ve lost a lot of blood…” His voice was getting weak and he never finished his sentence. The medic repositioned him and retightened his bandages. He then low crawled to the edge of the crater and peered over the top. The artillery had stopped and somewhere a .30 caliber machine gun fired sporadically. Smoke and fire enveloped the night air. No one was calling for him.

Silently, he stole through the darkness and rechecked every soldier, stopping a moment longer with Lieutenant Chandler. They were all dead. Only he and Thompson remained, and Thompson was fading fast. Another stray explosion belched flame and metal from the burning tank. He was alone. Where was the enemy?

Thompson awoke an hour later. As his eyes opened, a hand covered his mouth, cutting off his air supply. He began to struggle but was too weak to make a difference. He rolled his eyes and saw that the medic was trying to keep him quiet. When he relaxed, he could hear the sound of wandering feet and clanking metal. The medic had a pistol drawn and was gripping a grenade in his left hand. The pin was dangling in his right index finger. After a few breathless minutes, the footsteps faded into the trees and they were alone again. Slowly the pin was replaced and the grenade was hung on his belt.

“Who was that?” Whispered Thompson.


“Was he by himself?”

“Roger. Apparently, they lost as many people as we did. He is the only one I have seen, and he was wounded.”

“What’s our status? Who’s in charge?”

He spat tobacco. “You and me, kid. We’re all that’s left.”

Thompson swallowed, “Even the… Lieutenant?”

“Roger that.”

“So, he died anyway.” His voice trailed off.

He watched the kid for a moment before acknowledging him, “what you did was brave.”

“How’s that again?”

“You saved his life, pushing him off that mine.”

“But he’s…”


“Yeah. You said that he didn’t make it.”

“He was shot a few minutes later. Their ambush was effective.” He spat tobacco again and listened in the night for any dangers. “They had us pinned down between the mine field and the river. Those bastards! Yesterday that road was clear, now it’s mined.” He spat. “Man, I hate those Krouts!”

Thompson tried to move but didn’t have the strength. “It’s their job. That’s what they do. They steal freedom, we restore freedom.”

“What makes you so optimistic? You lost your leg to them.”

“Because I have faith.”

“In what? God?” He was sarcastic.

“For starters. But I also have faith in freedom and democracy.”

“Fat lot of good it’s doing you now. You’ll be lucky to live.”

“But I have lived.” Thompson glanced over at him. “We haven’t met.” He held up his hand.

“Davis. I was just assigned to your platoon today.”

“Yeah, we lost our medic a week ago. He bought one at Normandy.”

“I heard.”

Thompson lifted his head. “You got any water?” Davis threw him a canteen.
“Man, I hate to loose the Lieutenant.”

“He seemed like a swell fellow.”

“He was the tops, a real good ol boy.”

Davis looked away. “He was grateful, by the way.”


“He said to say thanks for saving his life.”

“Weren’t nothing to it. Just part of the job.”

Davis stared at him unbelieving. “How can you say that? You will probably die saving a dead man.”

“Real pleasant fellow to have around, aren’t you, Davis?”

He spat. “So it seems. No need to hide the fact of death.”

“I agree. I'm not afraid to die.”

“I believe you.”

Thompson tried to sit up then relaxed, “well why not? I’ve lived my life according to my faith in God. There is no fear in death for me.”

“No one wants to die.” Davis’ gaze stole into the darkness. “I can see it in their eyes. I watched two-dozen boys die tonight. None of them wanted it.”

“Shoot, I don’t want to die.”

“But you just said…”

“I said that I wasn’t scared to die.” He thought a moment. “I have a girl at home and I want to see her again.”

“Where is she from?”

Thompson’s grin lit his face, “She’s from my home town, Justice, Texas, population: none.”

Davis studied that a moment. “It’s too bad you won’t. See her, that is.”

“Maybe someday.” Thompson closed his eyes. Davis was quiet for a while. A faint glow emanated from the left over husk of the tank. All was quiet. Clouds were gathering and a cool breeze was blowing.

“Why would you do that?”

Thompson stirred. “Do what?”

“Throw yourself on a landmine. You didn’t have to do that.”

“Sure I did. It was my responsibility.”

“What?” He was taken aback.

He nodded, “Sure. The Lieutenant has a wife and children at home. I don’t. They needed him to get home to them. Besides, I live my life ready to die. It’s kind of natural for me, sort of.”

“But that’s just it, it’s not natural. You have a life also, and a right to live it.”

“However, the Lieutenant's life was more important than mine. He was trying to find the meaning to life; I had already found it.”

“That doesn’t make sense.”

“I’m not afraid to die.”

“So you said.”

Thompson’s voice grew faint. “It’s true. I would do the same for you…” He passed out. When he awoke, he was in a shallow trench.

“Just lie still. I tried to move you, but your wounds started to bleed again.”

“You should leave me here and try to save yourself.”

“You really expect me to leave you?”

“You said yourself that I was dying.”

“You are. But you’re not dead yet.”

“You mean that you believe that I could still be saved?” Thompson coughed.

Davis hissed at the sudden noise and peered over the edge of the trench. Once satisfied that they were still alone, he dug into his pocket and pulled out a plug of tobacco, biting off a large chunk before responding. “There is a little hope, but not much.”

“I am not afraid to die, and I believe that you could be saved. Go on and get out of here. It’s the same thing as me throwing myself on a grenade.”


“Then maybe you do understand why I saved the Lieutenant.”

“It ain't the same. He’s dead now.”

“God knew that he was going to die when I saved him.”

“But it was in vain. He is still dead.”

Thompson swallowed. “Yes, but he died knowing that he mattered to someone.”

“And you won’t.”

“I already knew it.” He was dizzy and started to drift. “Now be saved. Go…”

“Shh, I hear something.” Davis cocked his pistol. A footstep scrapped some gravel behind them and a soldier wearing a German helmet leapt at them. Davis sprang to his feet but the enemy grabbed him and threw him backward and he hit his head. Dazed, Davis lay stunned for a moment trying to get his eyes to focus. The German glanced at Thompson and perceived no threat from him. He pulled out his knife and advanced toward Davis.

Thompson grabbed a stick and miraculously managed to stand up on one foot. He leaned forward and fell into the enemy and knocked him to the ground. The enemy was already wounded, but found the strength to roll Thompson off him and thrust his knife into Thompson’s chest. Three bullets tore holes through the German’s shirt and he fell face first into the dirt. Davis rushed over to Thompson who was gurgling blood as he breathed. “You fool, why did you do that?”


“Damn you, I’m not, I tell you. I am not worth it.”

“But I won’t…be damned…not me…maybe not…you…either.” Suddenly, a light came into his eyes. “Oh my,” he said in astonishment. “I’m not afraid to die.” Then he died. Davis, being saved, stumbled out of the trench and started back to safety.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

The Decision Maker Finale

Isaac had stopped his presentation while the women were absent. “Are you ready to continue, Rose?” She nodded yes and the reporter stopped filling in for the down time and prepared to listen. “The day my wife and daughter were killed changed my life forever. I swore an oath to my God that I would find their murderers and bring them to justice. I have to admit, I don’t hold myself to my oath, because I came to realize that my God never existed. What kind of God would allow the holocaust to occur? Nevertheless, I am committed to stay my course. After many decades of searching, I have finally found my wife’s killers.” He pointed over at the Heinz brothers who were still kneeling on the floor.

Chief Gray pulled off his gag and asked, “Is that true? How can you be certain?”

Isaac nodded, “Finally, you say something that matters.” He walked over to the two old men. “The two killers had a special mark on their shoulders, a tattoo. Not just any tattoo, but the tattoo of the Nazi storm troopers, complete with swastika.” He pulled a knife from his boot and held the knife menacingly at them. Rose gasped as he grabbed their shirts and cut them from their bodies, exposing their backs. Each of them bore the tattoo of the Nazi storm troopers. The cameraman leaned forward and zoomed in on them.

“Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you the two of the three killers of my wife and daughter. One of them held their arms while another shot them. The Blitz Brothers.”

“But they are the Heinz brothers.” Chief Gray interjected.

“When they fled Europe after the Allies destroyed the 3rd Reich, they changed their names and started over. All along, you never knew that there were killers in your midst.”

Cato held up a hand, “You said that there were three. Who is the third?”

Isaac waved a dismissing hand at him, “Don’t concern yourself with that. I found the three of them hiding in Argentina, amongst all the Jewish refugees, trying to blend in with the very people they so hated. When I finally tracked them down, I found Ruben at Pan de Azucar, a small mountain village near Cordoba. After I presented my evidence to the village, they hung him in the tree on the square. That was in ten years ago. David and Adolph fled to the United States and have been in hiding until today.” He turned his attention to the chief, “I understand that you are friends with these killers?” Chief Gray swallowed hard, but couldn’t find an answer. “Don’t worry, Hans Goldbaum, I am not looking for you today.”

“Hans Goldbaum? Who is that?”

“Miss Kincaid, that is the real name of Chief Gray. He changed his name when he came to the United States. He was only a boy, but he aided the Germans by trading them information for food and lodging. He was one of the Jews who betrayed my family and our hiding place.”

Chief Gray had nothing to say. His face was ashen and for once, he was unable to speak. He was acutely aware that the TV camera was focused on him.

Cato spoke again, breaking the awkward silence. “So, what do you intend to do?”

“Oh, I intend to bring them to justice. They will meet with the death penalty today.” He walked over to the brothers and held up his pistol. “Do you have any last words?”

The Germans spoke to each other in Spanish and then spoke back to him in German. “Ah, so you choose to remain the swine you are. Very well, have it your way.” He pointed the gun at David’s head.

“Mr. Jacobs?”

The gun never wavered, “Yes, Mr. Cato, do you have something to say?”

“Well, I reckon that these two fellows are guilty, just like you said. What can I do to save them the death sentence?”

“Why would you want to spare them?”

“Because all of us have sinned. There isn’t any of us that could pick up a stone and cast it at these two. We are all guilty of the same thing.”

“You have murdered, Mr. Cato? I find that highly improbable.”

“Well, the Bible says, ‘Thou shalt not commit murder,’ but Jesus said that if we hate anyone that we have committed murder in our hearts. I’ll bet that every person in this room has hated someone at some point in their lives, right?” He turned to the crowd, who sat dumbfounded. “What about you, Rose? Who have you hated?”

“The father of my baby.”

“What about you, Miss Kincaid?”

“Well, I hate all men.”

“Fair enough.”

“What about you, Mr. Cato?” Rose asked.

“I spent most of my time hating God.”

Isaac turned around, clearly surprised, “God? I thought you said you were at peace with God.”

“I am now. There was a time in my past that I hated God. A few years ago, I was a fifth generation rancher, right here in Texas. My family had owned the Cato Cattle Company, the 3C Ranch, every since Texas has been a state. They fought Indians and Mexicans to maintain it. Then they fought West Texas weather. My family’s blood and sweat bought and maintained that country. But a few years ago, when the droughts started, I lost everything. I lost my children’s inheritance and I lost the family legacy. I prayed everyday that God would intervene, but He didn’t. I believed in Him up to the day they served me with the foreclosure papers. What I didn’t know was that God was allowing a work of redemption to take place in my heart. You see, I just thought I was a Christian because I went to the Baptist church, but that wasn’t enough. Just like sitting in a garage doesn’t make you a car. I had to find myself at the bottom to find redemption. I had nowhere else to go expect to God.”

“I assume that you have a point, Mr. Cato.”

“Well, sir. It seems to me that we have all committed murder in God’s sight. We are all guilty of breaking His law. We all deserve death. Including you, Isaac.”

“That may be, Mr. Cato, but I have lived my entire life expecting to kill these two gentlemen, and I fully intend to do so. Someone will die today.”

“Then I will take their place, just like Jesus took my place. Don’t you see? Jesus made it possible for us to be saved, because he paid the ultimate price for our freedom. I don’t know why God allowed the holocaust to happen. I just know that God was there. Sometimes He doesn’t make sense. Our ways aren’t His ways and our thoughts aren’t His thoughts. I can’t explain why bad things like wars and ethnic cleansings take place, except that we are all sinners, but I can tell you that God will forgive us of our sins. Even the Blitz Brothers, yourself included, Mr. Jacobs.”

“Oh, it’s much too late for me, Mr. Cato.”

“That’s where you’re wrong, sir. But it will be too late when you die of cancer. You are no better than those two murderers. You have committed the same crime. The only difference is that their crime hurt more people than yours. You are just as guilty as they are. And all of you need God’s forgiveness, just as I did.”

Isaac considered his words for a moment. Was it possible? He had given up on God so many years before, could it be that God hadn’t given up on him? There was so much hatred spilling its venom deep into his soul. Not only had he hated the Germans, he had also hated God, whom he held responsible for the demise of so many devout Jews. Where was God during the holocaust? “Mr. Cato, where was God during the holocaust? Why did He abandon us to death and destruction?”

“I don’t know. I’m not a theologian. What I do know is this, God was there. It’s hard to imagine, but it is true. It was bad enough as it was, can you imagine what it would have been like without Him? The holocaust wasn’t the first time that the Jews were persecuted. Remember what happened with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego? They also were burned alive, just not by the Nazis, but by a different regime, the Babylonians. Those three might have lived through it, but how many of their brethren were slaughtered by the Babylonians? What about the Egyptians? They also enslaved the Jews for their own selfish purposes. After all of these came the Romans. But God was there for them. I don’t have an answer for you, except that God will never leave you nor forsake you.”

“You make a most persuasive argument, Mr. Cato. Yet, I am not willing that these men should go free. What do you propose?”

“If they are guilty, then I don’t want them to go free either. If they are guilty, then they must stand and give an account of their lives. Even when we ask God for forgiveness, there are still consequences for our actions. Allow the law to bring these men to justice. Isaac, one day soon you will die, then you will face the Throne of Judgment. I am more concerned that when you are brought to justice before God that you are found innocent. The only way to do that is to repent of your sins and trust in the blood of Jesus and allow Him to forgive you.”

Silence encompassed the group, each of whom sat with their heads bowed deep in thought. The camera continued to record, but the reporter could not bring himself to break the silence. Isaac appeared to be struggling within himself, fighting for control. Yet, Cato’s words had burned deep within his heart, ripping the calluses off his seared conscience. For so many years, one desire consumed him – kill. Cato’s words rang true, vibrating through every tissue, into the core of his being.

Adolph Blitz sighed deeply and almost slumped to the floor, then righted himself and spoke softly, “I’m glad its over.”

David spoke harshly in his native tongue, but Adolph ignored his warning. “No, David, its over. I’m very tired of the nightmares. I want them to end. I’m tired of running.” He looked at Isaac, who still lorded over them, pistol drawn. “Mr. Jacobs, my apology is pitiful compared to my sins, but I still offer it. I was the one who held your wife that night. David shot her. Up to that point, I had not killed or seen anyone killed. But I realized that I was now a part of…. Somehow, I thought that I was serving God. But… I was wrong. I allowed anonymity to conceal my desire to be important, but it only created more thirst for power. Everyday, I remember my actions and everyday I wish to be forgiven. If only it was possible. Please kill me; I don’t deserve to live. That is all I have to say.”

Cato stood and walked over to Isaac. “Mr. Jacobs? It’s over. No one is going to die today.” He reached for the gun and carefully removed it from his non-responsive fingers. “Let the court decide their fate. After all, you still have to stand before God in judgment. I think you have enough to consider with your own guilt without playing Judge also.”

Isaac’s hands trembled as the hatred began to melt within him. He nodded at Cato, then, suddenly old, sat carefully in a chair and waited for the police to end his hostage situation.

The reporter kneeled down beside him, “Isaac? I promise that I will tell your story. I will be a voice for you; I will find a way to help you.”

Isaac smiled gratefully, “Thank you, but my life is over soon enough. For the first time, I now have to worry about my future.”