The story so far:
The preacher merely laughed, picked up his hat and walked to the door. I didn’t know what to do. My brain was locked in neutral and I couldn’t seem to find the clutch. Even if I had the clutch, I wasn’t sure which direction to go. Put it in first and take a positive forward move or reverse and un-**** the area? I looked at the bowl. It was perfect. It looked like it had never been dropped. I picked it up and there were the initials, C.A.M just like they’d always been. I set it back down, decided on first gear and rushed to the front door.
The preacher was standing there, waiting for me? I slowed to a walk as I got closer to him and said, “I’ve had it with you and your threats and tricks, mister. Get out of my house and never come back!” I hoped he hadn’t detected the slight trembling in my voice. I prayed that he would be properly chastised and god, I prayed he’d actually leave and never come back. He heard my fear, he smells it, too. No amount of threatening is going to stop this maniac. The thought jarred me to a halt.
The preacher stepped through the door and put his hat on as if I hadn’t said a word. On the porch he turned and glared at me from beneath the rim of his black hat. I swear, for a moment I saw his eyes flash red and then --- yellow, like a wildcat in the night. Speaking as if nothing at all had happened, pretending not to have heard my demand, the preacher smiled and said, “You should read the Bible Mr. Rand. Perhaps that will bring you peace.”
He turned and walked to the steps. He stopped and turned to stare at me, standing, rooted to the spot, trembling with a combination of rage and fear. “Rand. That’s an interesting name -- Rand. Do you know your ancestry?” The preacher raised a finger to the brim of his hat, gave it a little dip and walked away.
I watched until I could no longer see him at the end of the street. My mind was a jumble of thoughts, none of which made sense, none of them coalescing into anything near coherency. I sat on the floor, right where I’d been standing and simply stared at nothing. I suppose had anyone seen me sitting there they’d have wondered what the hell I was doing. Maybe, that someone would think me ill and run over to render aid. I’m sure I looked ill. I felt sick. I felt tired. I must have set there a very long time because the next thing I remembered, after sitting down in the middle of my open front door, was the phone ringing.
The phone brought me back to reality, consciousness, really. I went in and picked up and heard – Laughing? Crying? Wailing? A click as the caller hung up.
I stared at the phone. I thought it must have been a new version of the old, “Hey, is your refrigerator running? Well, you better go catch it...” prank. It was probably just some kids having fun scaring folks, hanging up and laughing their asses off.
I couldn’t be bothered. I had much bigger problems to deal with. I put the call out of my mind and tried to concentrate on the preacher’s most recent visit. “You should read the Bible,” he said. “Rand – interesting name, Rand.” I walked back to the kitchen, his words bouncing around inside my head. I found myself standing before the orange bowl, the bowl that had been miraculously mended. I stared at it and his words came back to me, “Romans 9:21, Mr. Rand. Has not the potter right over clay…?” “You should read the Bible…”
I didn’t even have a Bible, but I had access to the internet. Upstairs, in my office, I ‘googled’ Romans 9:21 and read the entire verse. “Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?” This was the King James version. There were many others. They all pretty much said the same.
I didn’t understand. “Dishonor? If God was the potter and humanity the vessels, why would God make one to dishonor?” I continued to read and found another interesting passage, Romans 9:22 read, “What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction?”
“Wrath, destruction?” Holy ****! I wasn’t religious and I didn’t understand any of this but, one thing I thought I did know; and that was that God was supposed to be merciful, good, forgiving. Why would he intentionally create a person for dishonor and destruction?
Finally I found an explanation that I could half-**** understand. It was from Mathew Henry, whoever the hell he was and it read, “Surely there can be no unrighteousness in any of these Divine dispensations. Nor in God's exercising long-suffering, patience, and forbearance towards sinners under increasing guilt, before he brings utter destruction upon them.”
“So,” I thought, “God makes certain people; people who are sinners and unless they repent their sins, he has them programmed for destruction!” I knew there was a reason I could never get behind faith and religion. What kind of crap was this?
I sat at my desk, staring at the computer for several minutes, wracking my brain to understand how I could possibly fit into this Bible verse. Okay, I wasn’t religious. I didn’t believe in God, at least not the God depicted in the Bible. But, I wasn’t a bad person that needed to be destroyed either. It took awhile but finally the other thing the preacher had said crossed my mind, “Rand – that’s an interesting name, Rand. Do you know your ancestry?”
No, I didn’t know my ancestry. I knew the family had originally come from Scotland, but that’s about it. I could think back two or three generations but I didn’t know enough about any them to make any kind of link between them and the preacher’s ambiguous remarks.
Back to the computer, I went and ‘googled’, Rand. I chased down the name and discovered it to be a shortened form of the name Randolph. I began searching Randolph and….holy ****!
I found a reference to a Wineas Randolph. Apparently, this guy was a high priest of a Druidic sect in Northern England and Scotland. It is believed that he initiated human sacrifice into the Druid ritual. I further discovered that, according to legend, God sent an angel to Randolph, telling him to repent his sins and to cease human sacrifice. Randolph ignored the warning and a short time later, after going missing for several days, was found crucified, upside down. The legend further stated that God had destroyed Randolph and would destroy every fifth generation of his bloodline until the Randolph family line had repented their sins and offered themselves to God.
“Son of a bitch!” I thought, “if anyone ever wonders why I don’t believe in God and religion…..what crap.”
I jumped up from the desk and went downstairs to the kitchen. I yanked open the cabinet above the range and pulled out my stash of Tulamore Dew, poured a hefty dose into a glass, and chugged it down. I was still feeling the burn in my throat when the phone rang.
**** kids again! I slammed my glass down on the counter and rushed to the phone, intending to let my anger out on these pranksters. I yanked the phone up, opened my mouth to yell and immediately shut it again. It wasn't kids playing a trick. It was......