So here we are up to the second to the last chapter. In truth there is one more chapter and a bit of an epilogue but we’ll do both of those next week. I’m sure there were days Kelli never thought we’d actually get here…but we did!
I hope it all turns out to be a gift she and her family can delight in. Thanks, Kelli, for giving me the chance.
Tomorrow Morning my family and I visit another church (Paragon I think tomorrow) and tomorrow night I’ll post my next installment of my pilgrimage. As many of you know I’m also working on my Seven Themes book which will be available for no money down (or due ever) and you will be among the first to know how to get it! It shouldn’t be too much longer. After all it’s been (like most of my books and best sermons) 15 years in the making.
So without further ado let’s get back to Katie, Jonathan and Walter with part 9:
When it finally collapsed it all came down at once with a painfully loud crash, which Walter could swear was actually audible. He had thought of his life as complete. Not over, or done, just complete; all the pieces present and accounted for: financially assured, loving wife, first of many children on the way. It was all as he’d been promised, by the fate of his birthright.
He had never understood why he was the one to receive such promise, but it truly didn’t bother him much. It was right somehow. It was not really to his credit; born into wealth, handsome, healthy, even Jainie had come to him. But surely it wasn’t his fault either: that others were poor, ugly, sick or alone. Who could explain why he should be so lucky? He had never explored the question much before it all collapsed, so perhaps thats why it never occurred to him to ask after.
Or maybe he just didn’t like the possible answers.
But happen it did, the first rock to collapse,was his wife and, with her, their child. A few months only remained for his father to live, and when the heart attack took him,, the incredible wealth left was to be split between Walter and his sister. By the end of the year she too was gone, life cut short by a freak carriage accident.
The idea that his great fortune would come at their expense was too much and Walter found himself at first postponing the idea of collecting his fortune till mourning had passed. But mourning hadn’t passed and Walter’s own health began to suffer in small but unsettling ways. A cough here, an ache there, nothing serious but all adding to the sense of his collapsing prospects. Soon he became convinced that the same fickle hand which brought him fortune now sought to bring him curse.
He vaguely conceived of an idea to never accept the financial windfall in front of him, so that he could never lose it. The entire town, property, and wealth remanded unclaimed. Walter lived in a house belonging to no one, more out of inertia than any desire. Even the railroad, key to the fortune was truly owned by no one. Profits and salaries were taken by those who were owed them, but the bulk of the profits, the infrastructure, belonged to no one, like a discarded toy, rather than the integral part of development and daily life it was for those who used it. The mighty railway empire of his father kept running under it’s own weight, many trained hands doing their part, but no one sat in the conductors seat, as it were.
Then suddenly into the rubble of his passive life stepped Kati. She had accused him…accused him of not taking responsibility, not just once, but over and over from their first meeting until now. Finally without being dissuaded from his conviction of the curse, he was at least persuaded he was a coward. So he’d found the mine and…and..
He watched in horror as the mine collapsed around Katherine, hiding her from his view.
The curse would not leave him. Anything he loved would be taken.
At least Jonathan was here. Things tended to work out for him. Walter looked over at him, expecting his friend of action to be running already towards the entrance…but he wasn’t. He was standing looking shocked.
Walter was confused. If Jonathan didn’t save her, who was going to? Still Jonathan stood, unmoving. Walter’s confusion began to turn to anger. Anger at fate, at God, at Jonathan and Katie, and at himself for being a coward, for being cursed for letting Jainie die, and his father, and Alicia, for never having lived, instead remaining submissive to the fickle hand of fate in good and bad.
Even before this anger turned to decision, before he had time to decide to do anything (or not). Walter was running towards Kati behind the wall of rock. Vaguely he realized that Jonathan was now moving behind him; vaguely he realized the rocks were still settling as he reached the entrance. But mostly there was no thought, only action. Pulling first at the big rocks, rolling, heaving, shoving, whatever was needed to move the rocks. Had Walter stopped to think he probably would have given up. Progress was painful and slow. Often when he moved a rock a new one would simply fall into its place, more than once smashing his arm or shoulder in the process. Jonathan was saying something but Walter ignored him and kept moving. Walter kept digging, scraping nails from his fingertips, loosening small grains where large clumps would not come, weeping now in pain and frustration and fear. His senses narrowed in on the one piece of ground where he dug. He saw only his hands, felt only the dirt, heard only his own digging. His thoughts ran in a jumble confusing him. He thought he could hear the cries of Lenore beneath the wall, no wait, not Lenore, it was Jainie…no Kati. His father dug beside him. No, that couldn’t be his father could it? It didn’t matter. Just keep digging, keep moving; that’s what mattered, because somehow, someway, it was actually his own life he was digging for. or was it? Could that be right?
“Walter, poor Walter.” Kati’s voice brought him back to his senses although he couldn’t imagine why Kati would be grieving him when she was the one in trouble. More importantly though it meant he was close. He was pretty sure he had actually heard her…and then there it was.
Just like that he was through. First a hand, then it all fell away, opening as easily now as it had collapsed. Kati was there, kneeling on the ground facing away.
“Katherine,” said Walter hoarsely, realizing with a shock that he was weeping like a baby. She looked up but away from him, not at him, he moved toward her and lifted her from her knees. She turned toward him, words dying on her lips when she saw him.
Holding her firmly in his arms, Walter kissed Katherine.