It Wasn't Your Fault



        Yet another newspaper article about Ralph Oxner hit the stands.  This one came from the AP Press and appeared in numerous publications nationwide.  It was titled: Where in the World is Ralph Oxner???


Where in the World is Ralph Oxner???

        Resthome Rebel, Ralph Oxner, the man who stands accused of second degree murder, assault on a police officer, and grand theft auto, is still on the run.  Nearly two months after he raised hell inside and outside of an adult care center, only false tips and dead-end leads have come in to law enforcement.  It would seem as if they're either very tight-lipped or completely clueless as to his whereabouts.  In fact, one investigating officer recently admitted, "We're totally baffled," much to his superior's chagrin.  Although the FBI has gone all-out in finding Ralph Oxner, including having posted "WANTED" signs with basic information and his picture all over America and as far as Canada and Mexico, it issued a public statement today proclaiming that they suspects he's hiding out somewhere in South Florida, possibly being assisted by family members residing there.  South Florida (Fort Lauderdale, specifically) happens to be where the car he hijacked was recovered.  Also, in the process of that hectic event, an innocent man was shot to death by a policeman.  Both tragedy and intrigue abound in this bizarre saga!  'North America's Most Wanted' is scheduled to profile Ralph Oxner at lenght again on its up-coming Saturday night telecast.


        Richard Briggs' upper torso heaved itself up reflexively.  He'd just been jarred awake and was drenched in a cold sweat.  His heart was pounding and his eyes were bulging.  It was just a dream, he thought.  Then his back descended on the mattress.  That ghoulish nightmare had returned, yet again, to torment his sleep.  The scenario and scenery in the dream paralleled his real-life Publix parking lot horror seven weeks ago, albeit with one eerie anomaly.  Kneeling down on one knee over Nathan's supine body, while blood was gushing out of the big hole he had inflicted in his head, his brown eyes suddenly flashed wide open while Officer Briggs was staring straight down into them.



They were laden with sorrow; reflecting his longing to simply continue living while grasping that he was slowly dying.  Then, he audibly addressed the kneeling cop beside him with the forceful words, "Look at what you did to me!"  At that precise moment, he was always thrust back into the waking world.  The nightmare never varied.  He had not the slightest clue that the psychiatrist he saw on North America's Most Wanted had intentionally induced by the art of verbal influence.

        Richard turned his head on the pillow to look at his glow-in-the-dark alarm clock on the nightstand by his bed.  1:22 a.m. was the time.  Seeing the numbers illuminated in luminous red on that screen always reminded him of the flashing strobe siren on top of his squad car.  Now it had ceased being a pleasant mental association.  He was currently on paid administrative leave.  And although it looked as if he'd be reinstated on the police force, he'd decided never again to wear the badge.  It couldn't ever be the same after what happened.  A job interview at an automotive dealership was scheduled at 10 a.m.  He needed to get some more sleep, but he knew that that would neither be possible nor desirable!  That's because he greatly feared the consistently recurring nightmare!  Every single night since the mere flinching of his index finger took one young life, he'd been tormented by the movie reel of this dreadful dream.  He'd seen re-run after re-run of it, and could hardly bare it anymore!

        Satisfied just to be awake, the pajama-clad young man switched on the lamp, got out of bed, and ambled into the living room section of his small apartment.  He saw his Persian cat, Greyman, sleeping on the sofa and he smiled.  Then he went in the kitchen.  After opening up the refrigerator door, he poured himself a glass of homemade tea, in the hopes that the caffeine would keep him awake for a long stretch and make him alert for the upcoming interview.  After he consumed it, he walked back into the living room and delicately sat on the far right cushion, taking special care not to awaken his feline friend.  He looked down lovingly at the curled up cat and envied his peaceful slumber.

        Seven minutes later, Greyman awoke on his own accord and climbed on his owner's lap.  Figuring he had nothing better to do at this wee hour than trying to diversify his musical taste, he reached over for the stereo remote and selected 87.5 FM in favor of his preferred station, which played country music.  "This is Killer Queen on the Master of Rock N' Roll, 87.5 WSRX," the DJ announced to his handful of night owl listeners.  Richard had never heard Killer Queen before now.  Toward the end of the piece, as the music was getting fainter and fainter, Richard thought he'd heard an amazing song.  It served to temporarily distract his troubled mind from both memories of the horrific nightmare and the traumatic event itself.  However, it was only temporarily therapeutic.  As soon as the music receded, the constantly present memories reappeared on his mental screen.  He felt like screaming!

        With Greyman still snug in his lap, he laid down the stereo remote and picked up the only other object that he kept on the table beside the couch's arm -- a Bible.  It was a much, much more cherished possession!  Then he switched on the overhead fluorescent lamp.  He indiscriminately opened the thick, black holy book to an unspecified page, and randomely read a scripture in order to surprise himself.  It happened to be Genesis 6:4.  "There were giants in the Earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bore children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown."



        After over two hours of intensive Bible reading, something came upon Richard: for some reason he felt powerfully compelled to fetch his pen and notepad.  He didn't even know what he was going to write.  All he knew was that he needed to write... something.  So he picked up his cozy cat, parting it from his lap, and walked over to the cabinet drawer to procure his stationary supplies.  Back on the couch, he touched the ballpoint pen tip on the paper and just held it there.  He waited.  Seconds passed, nothing happened.  He waited longer.  More seconds elapsed.  As he patiently waited with that inactive pen on the paper, the seconds grew to minutes.  However, he wasn't discouraged -- only excited.  Suddenly, his hand showed a little bit of motion.  Although involuntary, it felt totally right and natural.  Gradually, a letter began to form.  The pen continued to move at a slow pace.  He'd never been this excited before in his life; for he knew that God was writing through him.  God was controlling his hand in the same manner that a person would operate a pen under normal circumstances.  But this was far from a normal circumstance!  Demonstrating absolute faith in the almighty's communication procedure, he closed his eyes as his hand wrote.  Before long, it had ceased moving and was again still.  He knew that God had finished writing what he wanted to express to him.  He was filled with a tremendous amount of suspense for what he was about to see.  Something would be scrawled in ink on the paper.  As for what it would be, he could not imagine!  But he would soon know!  His eyes opened.  They eagerly looked down at the paper and read what was written on it: "It was not your fault!  Feel no guilt!"  The pen fell from his hand and then his head slowly uplifted as he stared blankly into space.  It took half a minute for him to gather his senses and process what he'd just read.  Receiving a hadwritten note from God wasn't exactly an everyday occurence!  It was hard to fathom, but miraculous all the same!  In a state of overwhelming mystified awe, he fell to his knees on the carpet floor and entered into prayers of gratitude for the divinely sent message.  His psyche was totally and completely healed!


       Richard was comfortably lying outstretched on a lawn chair by an old-timey wooden barn on a balmy summer day.  Birds were happily singing.  A breeze was hospitably blowing.  He blissfully basked in the sun's sweet rays of warmth while his bright blue eyes beheld the beautiful pastoral scenery.  A 19th century style stately white manor far in the distance captured his focus.  It was three stories and had a green tin roof, green shutters, and a green front door.  Those accents matched the array of leaves and rows of grass.  Along the border of the big front lawn, a fully connecting white fence wrapped around the house -- completely surrounding it.  A giant oak tree proudly stood behind the house.  Farther back, there was a small pond.  It was an idyllic rural scene.  The atmosphere of a bygone era kindled in Richard an anachronistic mood.  It reminded him of the classic film, Gone With the Wind.  Indeed, the farmyard surroundings were beautifully picturesque, natural and majestic.  That environment also caused him to feel a refreshing sense of peace and freedom.  While relaxing in the lawnchair, Richard spotted the front door open.  Then, a female figure came forth from within the manor.  She closed the screen door behind her, standing on the porch's steps.  The meager attire she was wearing comprised: a straw cowgirl hat, sun glasses, a flimsy white T-shirt which amply protruded along the chest area, very short [cut-off] jeans shorts which exposed much flesh in the regions of her hips and thighs, and toe-jutting, brown sandals.



Her light brown hair and lusciously tanned legs were both long, but her visage was too far away to distinguish clearly.  However, it was evident to Richard that this chick was homegrown -- just the way he liked'em!  Her statuesque, curvaceous frame was something the red=blooded young man found quite appealing.  And her style of dress evidenced the fact that she was a country-girl all the way!  "What a honey pot!  Yum!!!" he thought.

        It appeared as if the babe had cast her eyes on the sunbather and was coming toward him.  Yes, she was definitely headed in his general direction.  His anticipation rose with each step she took along the treaded path.  His heartbeat sped up, as well!  Now his erstwhile calm mental state was alight with agog at the thought of the imminent face-to-face encounter with the scantily clad southern belle.  But it wasn't to be!  Unfortunately, the alarm clock resounded at this juncture, thus aborting the dream-world meeting.  "Dang!" the Alabama native exclaimed to himself after his eyeballs rolled back, and before his body rolled out of bed.  But his disappointment immediately switched to jubilation!  He was overjoyed that the gastly nightmare was absent from his sleep!  Its seven week streak had finally ended... thanks wholly to God Almighty!  He sprung out of bed, leapt in the air, and shouted, "Hallelujah!"  The nightmares were definitely gone, history, a thing of the past!!!  He gleefully knew that he'd be able to spend the remainder of his nights in peaceful bliss instead of perpetual torment.  And although this wonderful dream had ended, his clear-conscience was eternal, and a life of re-acquired happiness and renewed faith had only just begun.  Kneeling humbly on the carpet with his bulging triceps resting on the mattress's edge, he shut his eyes and wholeheartedly thanked his Lord and Savior again for delivering him in his own unique, special way.  Delivering him from an afflicted psyche is what he did, and Richard was immensely grateful to him for that!  He felt liberated beyond measure; as if he had been miraculously raised from the dead!  His spirit had, indeed, been resurrected!

        The joyous job-seeker reached his destination in his reliable black 94 Toyota Celica... with only one minute to spare.  After jogging across the parking lot in his finest suit, he swung open the metropolitan building's front door, strode down the hall, stepped on the elevator, and knocked on the fourth floor office door.  A voice from within summoned him to enter.  He opened the door.  Seated behind a big desk was a man with a bullishly thick neck, tremendously broad shoulders, and ruthlessly penetrating dark brown eyes.  It seemed as though this 'brute in a suit' belonged in a ring throwing punches instead of behind a desk conducting a formal interview.  Richard felt nervous and intimidated upon first sight.  He gulped down saliva, and hoped the rugged CEO of 'Golatto Auto' failed to notice his adam apple's oscillation.  Richard had seen Tony Golatto in numerous commercials, but he didn't look nearly as imposing on the camera.  He was so taken aback by the presence across the room that the simple act of moving his feet forward had totally slipped his mind.  Looking frozen like a block of ice, he still stood at the threshold of the doorway.

        "Ay O, You'z just gonna stand deyah starin at me like I'm a freak'n space alien, or aah ya gonna walk up heeah to my desk and take a seat?"  His macho voice was more than just very deep.  It was hard-edged and brutal sounding.  And it matched his appearance perfectly.  Feeling foolishly stagnant, Richard walked forth.  As he did so, his burly interviewer stood up and extended his hairy right arm over the desk in order to clasp the applicant's hand.  He was elegantly decked out in a grey Armani suit, and a gold Rolex watch encompassed his left wrist.  "I'm Tony Golatto.  Pleased to make your acquaintance," he introduced himself, huskily.



        As Mr. Golatto squeezed and shook, Richard grimaced and gasped.  It felt like his hand bones were being crushed.  Upon seeing that familiar painful expression on the face of yet another hand-shake victim, he satisfactorily said, "Oops.  Did I hurt your hand, young man," in a mocking tone.  It obviously amused him.  "Yes," admitted Richard.  "Well, excuse me," he frivolously apologized, being blatantly insincere.  "I suppose I just don't know my own strength," he added.  A side-smirk formed on his barely-existent lips.  As Richard took his seat at the opposite side of the desk, he could hardly believe that the sadistic beast before him actually held the title: "Chief Executive Officer."

        "You can call me the 'Carfather.'  The nickname has a double-meaning.  Don't ask me to elaborate!"  Richard swallowed again.  "The Godfather" was one movie he'd seen!

        "Fresh out of high school, are you?"

        "No, sir.  It's been a few years since I graduated.  People always say I look a lot younger than my age."

        "Well, how old ARE you, son?"

        "I'm 22 years old, sir."

        "Okay.  Now, let's get down to business.  'Golatto Auto' is the best car dealership in South Florida, and one of the finest in the whole state of Florida.  I only hire top-notch people to work for me.  All of my employees are high quality in professionalism and character.  I can look at you and tell you've got character, son.  So, my only question to you is: what makes you think you'd be a good car salesman?"

        "Um, well... I like cars; I like people; I like to talk to people.  So, I think I could probably talk people into buying cars.  And... umm... I'm a hard worker; I'm conscientious; I'm reliable; I'm..."

        "Hold up," Mr. Golatto loudly interrupted.  "All of this is great, but it's not the most important thing I look for in a potential car salesman."  Richard felt a surge of dejection pulse through his psyche.  He anticipated that, since his nervousness was hampering his articulation, he was about to get axed (figuratively speaking).  He figured that The Carfather took him for a babbling moron.

        Mr. Golatto continued, "What matters the most is that you're a handsome young man.  Plus, you look like you couldn't hurt a fly -- totally non-threatening.  Everyone hates those pushy, arrogant car salesmen out there!  YOU are the antithesis of that!  My customers will fall for your charm, especially the dames.  They'll love your baby face, kid!  Believe me, you'll put'em at ease immediately!  You won't even have to worry about your spiel.  Just looking at you will make them feel like they can trust you.  You know what I mean... that you won't be out to pull one over on them.  You've got the job, baby-face!"

        Richard's soon-to-be boss pulled out his desk's side drawer, and gave him his first order: "Fill out these forms and report to work Monday."  Richard reached out and took them.  Clutching the sheets was a much more pleasant experience than the (other thing) he'd grabbed a hold of earlier... or what grabbed a hold of HIM.

        "You know where my car lot is located, don't you?"

        "Yes, sir.  Everyone knows where Golatto Auto is located -- it's on Creedville Road near the Freeway."

        "Right!  Now, just so you know, you won't get paid immediately.  We'll just be teaching you the ropes for the first week.  That's the rule for all Golatto Auto staff.  It's kinda like a mini internship.  Is that okay with you, because I can make an exception if you're in need of some quick cash?"

        "No, I'm fine with that arrangement, sir.  Thank you very much, sir!  I'll try to sell a lot of cars for you.  I promise to do my best!"

        "Okay, Babyface.  Close the door on your way out."  The shrewd CEO reached for his cigar, as his brand new employee got out of the interview chair.

        Thank you, once again, Mr. Golatto... I mean, 'Carfather'!"  He opened the door and stalled at the threshold again -- this time before leaving instead of upon entering; he thought it apposite to reciprocally inform Carfather of HIS nickname.  "By the way, my nickname isn't Babyface.  It's Choirboy.  Don't ask me to elaborate!"

        The clever comeback remark caused his boss's head to shoot up from the business document which he'd just turned his attention upon.  And right before Choirboy stepped out and shut the door, he saw the surprised expression on Carfather's otherwise stern countenance.  It amused him greatly.  Once in the hallway, the rejuvenated young man pumped his fist and felt like he was walking on air!  He was going to work at the famed Golatto Auto!




        The following Sunday, Richard Briggs went back to Apostle's Chapel after a two month long hiatus.  His absence from church was due to severe depression.  While outside, as well as inside, the temple, he could tell (by side-glances and whispers) that many members of the congregation were gossiping about him... but he couldn't have cared less!  When he approached the church's big front door, he overheard a naively uninhibited little girl ask her mother, "Who did he kill?"  The young one's inquiry was followed by a loud "Shhh!"  He observed other children pointing at him.  The adults didn't behave much better!  However, his spirit was so high and impenetrable, due to his recent communique with God, that he just smiled and chuckled at it.  Quite fittingly, the pastor's homily this morning pertained to forgiveness, grace, and redemption.  During the sermon, Richard, while sitting in the pew holding his Bible, frequently closed his eyes and tilted his head back in an intuitive attempt to allow Reverend Talley's wise words to penetrate and absorb his consciousness indelibly.  It was one inspiring sermon!

        The good reverend was wrapping up the church service by relating modern-day examples of Christ's admonisments: "Judge not least ye be judged" and "He who is without sin, let him cast the first stone."  Earlier, while preaching from the pulpit, he'd spotted Richard in the second row, and, being wise to the sinful inclinations of many of his busy-bodied, hypocritical parishoners, he articulately and eloquently issued forth a covert reproof imbedded within a general moral edict: "Take heed, I say to all of you in attendance today who may be tempted to disobey God's commandments against gossip and idle talk.  No man is in a position to judge another man's sins; only God, Himself, has that authority and it's His sole right and business.  However, if a man hurts [or even kills] another man unintentionally, or due to an error in judgement while attempting to serve and protect his fellow man, that mistake does not even tally up as a sin in God's sacred rule book!  Did I say 'tally'?!  No pun intended."  Laughs filled the palace of worship while Richard sat in his seat surrounded by a sea of onlookers.  He was suddenly a bit self conscious, and wished that Pastor Talley had been a tad more subtle in his word selection.  He sheepishly dropped his head -- feigning Bible reading.  He had correctly presumed that all eyes were on him, due to the rather candid inferences disseminated from the pulpit.  "Until next time... (Reverend Talley's habitual three second pause)... pray for yourself, and pray for one another!"  That was his traditional, unvarying end-of-sermon motto.

      As John Talley regally descended the podium, Richard hurriedly approached him like a star-struck fan enthusiastically pursuing a celebrity for an autograph.  "Excuse me, pastor."  He was caught off guard and turned his head sideways to make eye-contact with the ex-cop whom he deeply respected.  "I just want to let you know that I appreciate your support!"

        "Well, Richard, I'm very pleased to have you back with us," he warmly stated.  Then they shook hands and briefly hugged.

        Reverend Talley led Richard to an isolated corner of the church so they'd be able to chat in private.  The pastor lowered his voice to ensure against eavesdroppers: "Richard, I know you've been through a traumatic ordeal.



Honestly, I don't know how it would feel to accidentally take someone's life.  But I do know that you've got to forgive yourself, and exonerate yourself from any shred of blame!  God doesn't even hold you accountable for that action!  Now you have got to do your part and forgive yourself.  Let it go, my friend!  My innuendo about lack of culpability in the eyes of the Almighty was double-edged; it was definitely a swipe at some of these hypocrites in here that call themselves 'Christian.'  But it was intended for (you) to personalize, as well.  You musn't tear yourself up over what happened!"

        "Pastor, the thing is: I no longer suffer guilt about killing that innocent civilian.  Something happened to me... I mean, I had an experience which I would like to share with you.  Can we talk about it?"

        "Sure, absolutely!"

        "When is a good time for you, pastor?"

        Reverend Talley rolled up his eyes and rubbed his chin, taking five seconds to mull over his schedule.  Then, on a whim, he decided to cancel the day's travel plans to visit his brother and a cousin.  This seemed more important to him!

        "Well, why don't you drop by my house today around four o'clock?!"

        "Yes, sir," Richard enthusiastically responded.  I'll be there.  Thank you!" he said, heartily.

        Speculating the evangelical preacher's reaction to a personal account of an undertaking such as automatic writing -- long considered Satanic -- was hardly a pleasant contemplation!  Richard knew that in past centuries he would've been burned on a stake if those in authority knew what he did that morning.  Yes, those murderous witch-hunts belonged to bygone days.  However, the hardened Dark Age sentiments still lingered like atomic radiation fallout over a town.  In the closed minds of many austere automatons, automatic writing was still a grievous sin!  Was Pastor Talley a victim of this draconian herd mentality, or was he enlightened to the fact that God sometimes works in mysterious ways???  Would he condemn him as a demonically possessed heretic, or embrace him as an anointed saint in communion with God???  These stressful quandaries consumed Richard's mind as he buckled up and commenced his vehicular journey to the Talley residence.

        Richard heeded the red stop light at the busy intersection, relieved pressure from the accelerator pedal, and applied his foot's pressure on the brake pad.  While sitting in a stationary car, his physical eyes perceived a double row of automobiles take their turns crossing the cement path in front of him.  Then, his mind's eye beheld a perturbed Puritan host glaring at him in shock after hearing his incredible story, and angrily ordering him to leave the premises.  That gloomy daydream was quickly terminated by a horn toot from the car behind him.  It was prompted by his Celica's continued passivity, in spite of the color change.  Richard flashed his eyes up at the green light and resumed the car's momentum.  Although he tried to tame his negatively-active imagination, his foreboding could not quell.  His memory surfed like an Internet web browser for clues and indications which might yield a forecast as to the rigid reverend's theological stance on the controversial subject.  However, he continuously came up blank.  He kept racking his brain.  But, as hard as he tried, he couldn't recall any sermon, portion of a sermon, or blanket statement which addressed issues specifically pertaining to automatic writing.  He knew that the righteous man of the cloth was stringently opposed to witchcraft and sorcery -- as was he -- but that was another subject altogether.  He'd never attempted to cast a spell on someone or harm anyone by any occult means whatsoever.  Neither had he ever sought to enlist a spirit's aide for selfish purposes, such as ritualistic conjuring designed to acquire wealth, romance, or power.  All he did that morning was something impulsive that came quite natural to him, and which had the blessed effect of healing him completely.



His conscience was assured that he'd acted innocently, squarely, and on a level spiritual foundation.  There was nothing his pastor, nor anyone else, even including his hero Billy Graham, could say to him that would change that adamant conviction!  Nobody would be able to convince him that he'd done wrong!!!  However, he still yearned for his pastor's approval, and he feared ex-communication from the Holiness church.  It was a church he loved and attended regularly since childhood.  The paradox, he realized, was that the prospect of remaining a social pariah didn't faze him in the least; it was all about his pastor and his church, itself, not the parishoners.  Would  Reverend Talley understand???  As he drove onward at a moderate speed, a myriad of thoughts rummaged through his racing mind.  Should I just turn back and keep my secret to myself??? he wondered obsessively.  No!!! he finally decided!  He'd set up an appointment and driven this far, so he resolved to see it through and let the chips fall where they may.  He was going to share his miraculous, faith enhancing, emotionally curing, spiritually liberating experience with his pastor, friend, and role model -- John Talley.

        The automatic writer drove from Fort Lauderdale into North Miami, passing the palm trees lined along the roadsides until he arrived in the Talley's suburban neighborhood.  Magnolias adorned everyone's yard, and the grass was a beautiful shade of green.  He parked his shiny, black car on the cul-de-sac curb, and anxiously walked up the driveway toward the two story brick house on the hill.  Then, he pushed the doorbell, took a deep breath, and waited with newfound confidence.  The lady of the household, Nicolette Talley, opened the door and greeted the guest with a smile and a hug.  She was the first older woman he'd ever had a crush on, causing him to develop a prediliction for older women, lasting ever since.  He was a bit ashamed that his pastor's wife had once been the apple of his eye.  But that was a decade ago when he was still in elementary school.  He'd long since gotten over it.  However, as they embraced each other he was vividly reminded of the fifth grader's fantasy: It was just the two of them, all alone inside the church.  They'd snuck in and were rolling on her husband's pulpit, kissing passionately.  Little did Richard know that roles were now reversed!  The seemingly prudish wife of the pastor secretly harbored a carnal interest in the all-grown-up, tall, muscular, handsome young man standing in her home, pressed against her bosom.  What's more, she regularly entertained a naughty fantasy of her own, which exceeded kissing.  And, instead of a church pulpit, the setting was her bedroom... particularly, the bed she shared with her husband.  After enjoying a prolonged entanglement, they reluctantly let go of one another and pulled away from each others' bodies, both being completely unaware that the attraction was mutual.

        "Come in, Richard.  We've been praying for you every night since that tragic event."

        "Thank you, Mrs. Talley.  Please pray for the Hammonds family, as well.  I'm sure that they need prayers more than I.  But it's wonderful to know that I have your spiritual support!  I'm sure your prayers helped me overcome what I was going through and, as I plan to tell your husband, something else did, as well."

        Mrs. Talley extended the smile on her pretty face, her eyes got even warmer, and she responded brightly, "How nice!  John already informed me that you're doing well, and that you have some good news to tell him."

        "That's true, ma'am!  I just hope he's prepared to hear my amazing testimonial about how our God operates in ways that most of us would never suspect."

        "You mean through unorthodox channels," Mrs. Talley probed -- seeking clarification and elaboration.

        "Uh, yeah -- 'unorthodox channels'... I do believe that that would be an appropriate phrase to describe it!"  Mrs. Talley's countenance suddenly bore a curious expression.  Just then, Reverend Talley entered the room and approached his wife's object of lust.  Little did he know that she had an adulterous mind!  Furthermore, that it was focused on the young man standing in their home.



The two men shook and exchanged back-pats as the woman of the house smiled, baring her pearly white teeth, looking upon them with gleaming, soft brown eyes.

        "It sounds to me as if Richard has something very exciting to tell you, honey."

        "Yes, that's what I gathered today at church.  Now, Richard, how about we go into my study and talk."

        "Yes, sir," agreed Richard.  Then he followed him through the hallway, into the third room on the left.

        "You see my Bible opened there on the desk; I was just reading Deuteronomy 3:11.  It's very interesting.  Now, have a seat, my friend!  I know I'm set to hear some good news!"

        "Well, I really do hope you'll think that it's good news when I've finished talking."

        Reverend Talley's face shape-shifted into a perplexed expression.  Richard's oblique statement puzzled him because he had assumed that there couldn't be any doubt that the news he was about to share with him would fall into the "good" category.  Concurrently, Richard inhaled deeply and entertained last second considerations of how to most suitably and tactfully broach his amazing tale of the odd occurence.  Then, he began recounting that beautiful little story, which felt to him like a dark confession.

        "I'm sure you've been watching the news and reading the news and reading the paper."  Reverend Talley nodded and focused on his guest with piercingly intent eyes while he listened with concentrated attention.  "Okay, so you know about the shooting and the circumstances involved in it to the extent that I don't need to fill you in on the details of what led up to it."  He nodded again.  "Okay," Richard said, before taking another deep breath.  "After my fatal mistake, my life crumbled.  The guilt was terrible!  It was nearly unbearable.  I had reoccuring nightmares.  My faith wavered.  I couldn't understand why the God I worshiped, served, and obeyed didn't intervene at that moment in time.  I kept thinking that he had the power to either obstruct the movement of my finger or change my mind at the last second.  But he didn't do either!  I kept asking myself why he didn't stop me from pulling the trigger.  Ever since I got my badge, I prayed to God every night to be with me in spirit and guide me to make wise decisions while on duty.  I asked him to see to it that I never harmed anyone unless I had to for some reason.  I specifically prayed that he'd prevent me from taking anyone's life unless it was completely necessary in order to save a life.  After I made the wrong decision, I felt like all of my prayers had fallen on deaf ears.  I wondered if God had forsaken me.  I even questioned God's existence.

        "I suppose my first major mistake was in thinking that the psychiatrist on North America's Most Wanted was God.  Not literally 'God,' but you know what I mean -- all wise, all knowing... just because he was a quote on quote PSYCHIATRIST.  Looking back on it now, in retrospect, he seemed almost to be advising us cops to shoot first and ask questions later.  Isn't that weird?!  It's almost as if he WANTED us to kill his patient.  Oh, well, I'm sure he was just thinking about the public's safety, and concerned about law enforcement, as well.  He's probably a fine person.  Don't get me wrong!  I'm not looking for a scapegoat!  I can't blame that shrink.  I'm sure he had the right intentions.

        "So, like I was saying earlier, I fell into a deep depression.  I felt emotionally fragmented -- a shell of my former happy-go-lucky self.  But last Tuesday, God came to my rescue and restored me in-full to the Richard Briggs of old.  The way he did it is quite unusual, so you'd better brace yourself, reverend.  I don't want you to be shocked.  Here it goes: He wrote me a note!"

        "He wrote you a WHAT," Reverend Talley spout out with raised eyebrows, checking to make sure his ears had heard right.  Richard had expected that this would be the reaction he'd receive from him.

        "I know it sounds crazy, but let me explain, and please keep an open mind concerning our Lord's unique means and methods of communication!"  Reverend Talley nodded his head, and his eyes looked even more intense.



        "First off, he sent me a mental transmission.  I guess you could say that it was kind of like 'telepathy from God.'  i think that God's infinite intelligence went straight into my mind.  I didn't hear a voice or anything like that.  It was just like... a super strong inner feeling I had that instructed me to pick up a pen and go get something to write on.  So I 'went with it' and was sitting there on my couch holding the pen to the notepad.  I mean, I just literally held the ink point to the paper -- simply that, and nothing more.  And I waited... for what I was awaiting, I did not know.  I felt frozen, yet I also felt as if a powerful and loving force had impeded my volition, and I wasn't afraid in the least.  Then, about a minute later, my hand began writing -- lacking my brain's lead.  In other words, my nervous system did not provide the impulse to my finger muscles.  The writing came from somewhere else!!!  This I know!  It was a very strange sensation, which nobody could relate to unless they had experienced it for themselves."

        Richard plainly observed his pastor's shocked countenance, and he wasn't a bit surprised -- for he fully anticipated it.  He continued on with the supernatural firsthand account: "Now, I know that automatic writing has long been a forbidden practice in mainstream Christian culture, and that the church is historically opposed to all things of this nature.  And if I was recounting this experience 300 years ago to the wrong person, I would've been burned alive.  But I'm convinced that the apostles who wrote the New Testament were inspired in the same way, and by the same divine source, as I was last Tuesday morning!"

        Reverend Talley spoke up in a commanding, hasty tone: "Richard!!  Please tell me what the pen wrote!!!"  His impatience and eagerness to know was akin to a cup overflowing with water.  It sounded like he was bursting to know, dying to know -- as if he would explode if he wasn't immediately provided the answer.  This vehement reaction took Richard aback, causing him not to reply quickly.  "What did the pen write," he urged, repetitively.  His curiosity could not have been repressed, even if he (had) wanted to contain it!

        The reverend's subtle word choice did not escape Richard's attentiveness.  He picked up on 'the pen,' in favor of 'you.'  Richard construed that as a good sign.  A sign that the reverend believed in the miraculous nature of the incident.  But, still, he wasn't sure.

        Richard calmly answered: "God wrote, 'It was not your fault!  Feel no guilt!'  And, get this: It wasn't in my handwriting!!  I experienced an instantaneous catharsis!"

        Reverend Talley stared wide-eyed at Richard with a dropped jaw.  Then, he got out of his chair and said in an earnest, serious tone, "I'll be right back.  There's something I want to show you!"

        Oh, no, Richard thought!  He sat there awaiting his pastor's return with uneasy anticipation, which bordered on foreboding.  He guessed that he was going to reenter the room with an anti-occult book, or something like that, in his hand.  And Richard was already mentally prepared to hear a sermon to a one-man congregation about the dangers associated with occult dabbling.  He figured that it would be replete with Biblical references in support of his argument.

        In about half a minute, Reverend Talley returned to his guest with a black 3-ring binder.  He sat in the chair again and placed it on his lap.  Then he broke into a broad smile, while his gleaming eyes gazed at the automatic writer directly in front of him.  Richard found it to be an odd and unexpected reaction.  He thought, "Why in the heck is he grinning at me," while feeling befuddled.



        Reverend Talley's grin finally ceased, and he said, "See this notebook," while holding it up and flipping through the numerous sheets clipped inside.

        "Yes, sir.  What about it," Richard responded and asked asked curiously.

        "This is sort of like my journal, but it's no ordinary journal... to say the least!!  Actually, it's not really 'mine.'  'I' didn't write it.  My hand moved the pen it held, but my mind played no part in the formation of the words on the pages."

        "Oh my God!!!" gasped Richard.  You're one too?!?"

        "Yes," Reverend Talley replied, with a hearty chuckle.  "I am, indeed, 'one too.'  I'm proud to call myself an 'automatic writer!'"

        "That's incredible," Richard excitedly exclaimed.  "I can't believe this!!!  When did you start practicing automatic writing, sir??"

        Reverend Talley crossed his legs, tilted his head back, and inhaled to relax in preparation for the story he was about to recount.  "Well, Richard, it all started one night when I was a student at Southeastern Institute of Theology (S.I.T.) in North Carolina.  I was alone in my campus apartment and deep in prayer, beseeching God's forgiveness.  The previous week I had gotten into big trouble with the seminary dean, Leonard Morrison.  What happened is that another student saw me kissing my sweetheart on campus grounds.  My girlfriend's name was Nicole Nicks.  By the way, it took me only one more year to turn her into 'Mrs. Nicolette Talley.'  We agreed that 'Nicolette' sounded a bit more sophisticated for the role of 'pastor's wife.'  So, like I was saying, someone spotted us kissing.  Whoever that troublemaker was, he or she reported us to the dean.  He called us into his office separately -- like an interrogating detective would deal with a pair of criminal suspects.  We both confessed to what we thought was only a minor infraction.  But before we left the office, we considered it a major sin.  I have to hand it to the man -- he did a great job of guilt-tripping us.  Now I'm sure that ole' Satan is guilt-tripping HIM in hell!  He croaked last year.  Where was I?  Oh yeah... So, he threatened to kick us out of the seminary with a 'dishonorable discharge' on our records.  That would've meant that I would never have been able to get my masters degree in divinity.  A stain like that on my record would probably have prevented me from even becoming a deacon.  But, then, he presented us with an alternative option, a 'way out' so to speak, out of the 'kindness of his heart' (said sarcastically).  We'd have to wear a scarlett letter.

        "See, he knew some guy that ran a T-shirt print shop.  A week later, we were scheduled to report back to his office to pick up our personalized shirts.  You'd never guess what he got his pal to print on our new shirts.  It was: 'CAMPUS SINNER.'  And the capital letters were in big, bold, red print on the white cotton shirts.  Dean Morrison even made us pay for the shirts.  Oh, plus an extra $101 each for the 'sin.'  He claimed that he donated the $202 to a charity that helped disadvantaged children.  But he declined to reveal the name of the organization when I inquired.  He said it was 'none of my business.'  I'd bet you anything he just pocketed the cash.  He was a real sleaze!

        "So, Dean Morrison -- 'Dean Moron' I used to call him -- made each of us wear the personally printed T-shirts for a full year everywhere we went on campus: to every class, every social event, every gathering; even to the seminary church.  Anyway, at the time, I actually felt like we deserved the punishment and humiliation.  In our brainwashed minds, what we'd done was paramount to committing fornication.  That's what the evil dean had us thinking -- that an unmarried couple kissing equated to fornication.



I know it sounds crazy now, but that's what happens when you let religious fanatics twist scripture and screw with your mind.  So, I was deep in prayer -- repenting to God.  By the way, the rumor going around the school was that we had been caught engaged in sexual intercourse in the campus garden.  Can you believe that?!  I wrote the dean a letter asking him to publicly dispel the rumor, but he ignored my request.  Then, when I spoke to him about it in person, he outright refused, and in a real arrogant way, too.  For all I know, HE was the one who actually STARTED it.  I wouldn't put anything past him!

        "So, as I was saying, I was praying to God for forgiveness one night.  While I was on my knees, I felt a powerful 'mental pull' to get a pen and paper -- just like (you) described, according to your own experience.  Without hesitation, I submitted my will to this unseen intelligence because I knew that it was on the side of good.  I just KNEW it was good!  There was no doubt in my mind!  I knew it because I felt a spirit of warmth and love inside of me and all around me.  So, I held the pen to the paper, and in about twenty seconds it moved on its own accord.  The result was the transmission: "Don't listen to him!  You did nothing wrong!"

        "I started weeping tears of joy, and you know that I'm not an emotional guy!  The last time before that miraculous event that I cried was sometime in early childhood.  But, I tell you, Richard, I was overcome with emotion just like you were when God penned his message to you.  And just like you, the guilt was immediately lifted from my psyche.  It was immensely cathartic, and it boosted my faith as well!  I felt good again about my personal identity and standing before God.  It was amazing!!!  Beyond amazing, actually.  And I was in for yet another miracle, which was to occur soon afterwards!

        "That night, after I fell asleep, God appeared to me in a dream.  He assumed the form of a man's body with an eagle's head and eagle wings on his back.  I was standing atop a mountain peak and this 'Eagle God,' or whatever you'd call him, flew down in front of me.  He lifted his beak to talk and told me to wear the shirt with pride -- as a 'badge of honor' is how he phrased it.  He specifically said to 'consider it a badge of honor, not a scarlet mark of shame.'  Those were his words, verbatim.  So I took the Eagle God's advice, and before long, my shyness completely evaporated.  Even as those judgemental, hateful, holier-than-thou, self righteous, hypocritical seminary kids were jeering at me in delight, I held my head high and ignored the losers!  I actually began to enjoy wearing that stupid 'CAMPUS SINNER' shirt because I knew that it was making me so much stronger emotionally.  He wanted to break me.  It was 'making me' instead of 'breaking me.'  What Dean Morrison intended for evil turned out for good -- just like the Bible states happens when evil-doers concoct their wicked schemes.  It was a totally life-altering experience!  I don't think I would have been nearly as confident on the pulpit if it wasn't for that crazy shirt.  Nicole fed off of my faith and shared my belief in God's guidance throughout the ordeal.  The guilt and stress was lifted from (her) shoulders, as well.  Not only that, but she was also having fun prancing around in her 'CAMPUS SINNER' shirt.  We were getting a real kick out of it!  By the way, right after I graduated from the seminary, I had my own shirt printed up.  It had 'S I T' blazoned in large letters on the front and underneath it read: 'Insert an 'H' after the 'S'.'  I sported that shirt on the campus grounds just to annoy everyone.  They evidently got the message... because the cops were called.  When I spotted the police car pulling into the parking lot, I took off running, jumped in my car, and sped off!  If I hadn't of gotten away, I probably would've gotten arrested for trespassing.  But that's another story.

        "The point I'm trying to make is that God masterfully took our lemon and turned it into lemonade!  Once again, you see how ironic it was in the sense that the very thing which Dean Morrison devised for evil, God converted to good!



The situation he thought would crush me, God turned upside down to uplift me!  Now, THAT'S what I'd call 'poetic justice!'  That's the way our Lord operates [if you have faith in him].  His ways may seem strange in [our] eyes, but he's God and, therefore, he ALWAYS knows exactly what he's doing!!!  He'll turn things around for our best... if we only let him!  Automatic writing truly IS a gift from God!!!  But, see, the Orthodox Church lacks faith in God's discretionary skills; in his ability to weave his intricate web in concordance with is own uniquely brilliant methods and procedures.  They subconsciously seek to put limitations on his omnipotent potency.  But what they're actually doing is limiting their own blessings!  For example, the typical brainwashed, narrow minded Puritan would proclaim like a trumpet: "God cannot use a man's hand as his own writing instrument!"  Those buffoons would ardently cry out, "This is not something that God would choose to do!"  But the thing is: HOW WOULD THEY KNOW WHAT GOD WOULD, OR WOULDN'T, CHOOSE TO DO???!!!  God has always chosen to perform miracles in his own manner!  In fact, the Bible is choke-full of chronicles of God creatively identifying himself, and exercising abstract channels of communication.  The story of the 'Burning Bush' is one example.  I mean, if I challenged them to back up their stance with one verse of scripture specifically forbidding automatic writing, they couldn't do it!  There isn't one in the Bible!  They may try to associate the practice with witchcraft, but that would be a ridiculous and baseless comparison!  If you wanna go that route, then meditation could be labeled witchcraft.  Oh, I can just hear the zealots in an uproar now!  They would argue vehemently that the ancient Hebrew manuscripts are ALL that exists, or ever will exist, of God's word.  But, like I said, they're subconsciously restricting his means of communication and keeping his mouth shut in the modern era.  At least, they're attempting to do that.  Due to erroneous teachings based on ignorance and misinterpretations of scripture, they utterly fail to question the 'official theological line' on the subject.  They're grossly misled, and their minds are stubbornly closed.  As long as that remains the sad case, they'll never enlighten themselves to the fact that God's techniques are vast and diverse.  If anyone denied the divine validity of this notebook, they'd be committing blasphemy as far as I'm concerned!  That's how strongly I feel about it.  It'd be analogous to charging that the Holy Bible is an apocryphal literary work.  I truly believe that this notebook is holy, too, as grandiose as that may sound.  But it's definitely NOT egotistical; I give all the credit to God, not myself!  Richard, I can tell you with assurance and conviction that all of the pages in this here notebook are filled with the ink of God's word through my hand.  That's a marvelous thing to know!!!  Simply marvelous!!!  The sacred content in this notebook is inspired by God, actually PRODUCED by God, in the same way that the King James Bible is God's word at the hands of the apostles, manifested into circulatory form via the printing press -- so that we all may read it for ourselves."

        "Sheesh, Reverend Talley!!!  You're getting pretty wordy there, aren't you?!"

        "Actually, right now I'm not even speaking!  What you're hearing is God's words coming from my mouth!"

        "Whoa!!!" exclaimed Richard, as his eyes bulged and his jaw dropped.  "I'm actually listening to God talk!!!!!  This is great!!!!!"

         "Yeah, it is great, but He only took over for that brief stint.  Now it's me talking again."

         "Oh.  It was still cool, though."



        "Now, Richard, thus far, I've only shown my -- or should I say 'God's' -- writings to Nicolette.  I'd like for you to be the only other person that has access to what we call the 'Holy Corpus.'  Now, this is my most recently completed journal.  I have a total of 22 binders, with 300-plus sheets in each one.  To start out, I'll let you read this one I'm holding.  You can visit anytime and have it all to yourself in this room.  As you read it, keep in mind that you are actually seeing and conceiving God's direct word!"

        "Yes, sir!  I will definitely maintain that reverent perspective as I'm reading your Holy Corpus notebook.  I just want to say that I feel thrilled, honored, privileged and fortunate to partake in something so tremendously special!  I've gotta be the luckiest man on the planet!"

        "We're both very, very lucky!  Very few people throughout the course of history have experienced what we've experienced, my friend!  God has revealed himself to us, and communicated with us, in a magnificent way!!!  Do you have any more questions?"

        "Just one, sir; may I take the notebook home with me so I can study it for a longer period of time?"

        Reverend Talley delayed for a span of six seconds before answering.  "I'm very uncomfortable with the idea of these precious papers departing my house... but I guess I can trust you to safeguard them as if your life depended on it.  I'll lend it to you because I know that you're extremely trustworthy and dependable.  What's more, I think that God would approve of you borrowing it.  Besides, since it derived from God -- and my hand was only a tool he used with which to write -- in actuality, it doesn't belong to me, anyway.  It belongs to God!  But keep in mind that should you lose it, you'll be seeing him very soon... because I'll kill you!"

        Richard chuckled at the jocular threat and cracked, "If I lose the Holy Corpus notebook, I'll kill myself before you get the chance!"