Where Readers & Writers Connect
What had it been: Ten years since he last saw his best friends, Stan and Rhoda? “Stan the Preacher Man,” that’s what Ken called him: The minister of whom he looked up to for counsel, for a big brother, for a friend to rock out with at that next Christian rock concert. That was Stan to Ken: Always the bro, always an advisor, always… faithful.
And behind this good man was his terrific wife: A good-natured, fun-loving lady… Always the supporter of her husband and the glue that held it all together around the home. That was Rhoda: Sweet as the cakes she often baked.
The Facebook pic smacked Ken between the eyes like a two-by-four that fateful day: That day he witnessed Stan kissing that other woman. She was wearing one of those white wedding gowns and Stan: Dressed to the nines in a tux. Though Ken faltered at the photo, it was the caption that did him in:
“Me and my beautiful wife on our wedding day!”
To say the least, Ken was floored, and after picking his jaw up off that terrain, he dove straight into the whirlpool of his thoughts.
“Wedding day?” Didn’t that happen twenty-plus-years ago with Rhoda? “Beautiful wife?” What gauge are we using to measure? Rhoda is beautiful at her age… Her wit and charm… Her dedication to and support of you, Stan… What are you thinking, Preacher Man?
“Preacher Man.” That ushered in a whole new set of thoughts:
You’re acting as though nothing is wrong… as if your past never was. What of all those words of wisdom you gave me over the years: “Follow God…” “Do His will…” “Make smart decisions…” Who are you, Stan? Do I, or did I even know you? Was it all just a lie from a liar? Who is this God we’ve served? What is this voice we’ve listened to?
Reexamining the caption below the newlyweds kissing, Ken entertained another thought: Seems more like a dig at Rhoda than anything.
The crestfallen disciple downed some Pepto for his soured stomach and collapsed on the bed, drowning below that pool of depression.
Ken was elated when Stan accepted his supper invitation the following month. “It’s my treat, bro, I’m cooking for us!” That was the offer given over the phone, and Stan was more than glad to hear his old friend’s upbeat voice again. “You know, bro, I just want to… I just need to talk about ‘things.’” Stan understood and agreed. Though he didn’t owe anyone an explanation, he felt inclined to keep the bond intact with his ever-faithful friend. Travel arrangements were made.
“Thanks for having me over, bro! Man, something smells delicious!”
The old friends hugged after Stan entered the home, both smiling from ear to ear.
“My pleasure, bro! Just glad we have an opportunity to catch up. So, what’s the haps?”
The duo volleyed back and forth over their lives within the last decade – mostly discussing light-hearted material pertaining to jobs, vacations, movies and books. It was inevitable that the good times of old also be recounted: Those carefree days when both were in college. It was also inevitable that the main course be placed upon the table: The tables had turned toward Rhoda, and of God, and of this new spouse of Stan’s.
“Ah, that’s the dinner bell,” Ken interrupted. “Soup’s on!”
The rolls were piping hot; the vegetable were…
“Unbelievable!” Stan complimented as the sautéed delicacies melted in his mouth.
“Thank you, bro! They were easy to make. Stan, if I may be honest, what is hard for me to swallow is what to make of your new relationship. What about Rhoda? What about the person you used to be: The one who mentored me about God and wisdom and His word? Was it all just a lie?”
“Times change. People change, bro. I still believe in God but have a different perspective of life. You know, God chooses… Predestination.”
“A carte blanche to throw caution to the wind, then? Do what thou wilt?”
The words and wits began stabbing in either direction, sharp as the knives used to slice through the meat on the plates. Silence then ensued before Stan’s voice cut through.
“My cut of meat is simply delicious. So tender. What did you say this was, again?”
“Rhoda’s tender heart. You’ve ripped it to shreds and devoured it. You’re practicing what you once preached: “‘A man will be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’”
The hunk of meat lodged in Stan’s throat. Ken watched as he fell to the floor, deprived of oxygen… Life.
“And now I can take your heart and give it back to Rhoda, right where it belongs.”