Plucked out of the net, p.1
Plucked Out of the Net
Georgia Davenport McCain
Copyright 2016 Ron McCain
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Originally printed 1985 by Old Paths Tract Society, Inc., Shoals, Indiana, 47581
Cover Art by Janice Simmons
Lovingly dedicated to little Laura Abigail McCain.
Also to a friend, Eileen Sanders, who has been a wonderful help and encouragement to me in my writings.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
BOOKS BY GEORGIA MCCAIN
LETTERS FROM READERS OF GEORGIA MCCAIN BOOKS
Donnie read the letter hastily, then again more slowly. With an unsteady hand he pulled the last cigarette from the pack in his shirt pocket and tossed the empty package in the direction of the wastebasket. His attention still on the letter, he stuck the cigarette in the corner of his mouth and felt around on the end table for his lighter, but it was not there. He stood to his feet and emptied his pants pockets. A quarter, two nickels, six pennies, a key chain with his car keys, and a small knife-but no cigarette lighter. He patted his empty shirt pocket. Thoroughly exasperated, he began his routine search through the apartment for the much-used lighter. Finding it on the kitchen cabinet near the toaster, he lit his cigarette and returned to his chair in the living room.
After taking a few puffs he leaned back, satisfied now, and knocked the ashes off the cigarette into the ashtray nearby. He picked up the letter again, a frown creasing his forehead. It was from his old friend Ralph.
Dear Donnie and Sharon,
Trust this finds you both okay and enjoying life. Judy, Chad, and I are fine. The Lord has blessed us with good health and many other rich blessings. We're grateful for His goodness to us.
I tried to get a call through to you, but was told your telephone was disconnected. I had a hard time getting your address, but finally found it in a little address book in your mom's purse. I suppose you will be wondering what right I had to look in her purse. Well, ordinarily I wouldn't dream of doing such a thing, but getting on to the point, your mom is in the hospital. She was on her way to work, and a big truck ran that stop sign at Chester and Orchid Street and hit her broadsided. She was pinned in her car for about an hour before they could get her out.
Sorry to have to break the news like this, but she's in a fix. Both of her legs are broken, plus some ribs. She also has a mild concussion and numerous cuts and bruises. The doctor said she would be all right, but it would be a long, drawn-out ordeal before she would be completely well again. The man who hit her had insurance, so, thankfully, her bills will be paid. You know how your mom hates bills!
She is rational part of the time, but they keep her pretty heavily sedated. When I asked her about contacting you, she said not to bother you because she was going to be all right. But I talked to Brother Morgan and he thought you should be contacted. So I tried to call but, as I told you, I ran into difficulties there. Mrs. Flowers suggested I look in. your mom's purse for your address, and that's where we found it.
I wish you could come for a few days at least. It would really lift your mom's spirits, I know. Judy and I and others of the church folks are taking turns sitting with her, but of course that's not quite like having your own family.
I didn't know what to do about letting Connie know. With her being so far away in New Guinea, I thought it might be best not to notify her. It would really tear her up if she knew. You can do what you think best about that. But I felt I had to let you know. I still consider you one of my best friends, though I hardly ever see you or hear from you anymore.
Well, I must close, but I can't sign off without letting you know we're still praying for you. I hope you won't be angry with me for saying so, but the pleasures of this world will never quench the thirst of your soul. Why don't you give God a chance? Just remember, when you come to the end of yourself, you can turn to Jesus and He will take you in. He waits with outstretched arms.
Donnie folded the disturbing letter and stuck it in the envelope, then he headed for the refrigerator for a bottle of beer, thinking, I'm so jittery! He popped off the lid and took a drink. Maybe this will calm my nerves.
He paced back and forth from the kitchen to the living room, his mind in a turmoil.
Poor Mom ... Poor Mom! I should go to her, I know, but how can I? With her several hundred miles away and me without money to buy even the first tank of gas for the car. No gas. No money. No job. No NOTHING!
What can I do? What can I do? Where can I turn for help? his heart cried out.
A small still voice answered, Why don't you give God a chance? Just remember, when you come to the end of yourself, you can turn to Jesus and He will take you in.
That letter! he thought in disgust. Those were the very words Ralph wrote in that letter. What could Jesus do for me--wretched, miserable, lonely, dejected man that I am? Could He get me back my job and my wife and my little angel girl? Would He pay my overdue apartment rent? My utilities?
I don't need some imaginary help, or help in the sweet bye-and-bye. I need help now. Now! when I'm left with nothing to live for.
When you come to the end of yourself.... Donnie shook his head as if to shake out the unwanted thoughts. He took out his wallet and counted his money.
"I'll run down to the service station and call Mom from the pay phone there," he decided. "I still have enough money to do that."
He picked up his car keys from the table where he had thrown .. them earlier and went out the door, locking it behind him. He backed the car out of the driveway and headed for Woodson's, a service station about three miles down the road.
"Can you let me have some change for this five?" he asked the attendant. "I want to make a long-distance call. My mother was in a wreck and I want to see how she is."
"Sure," the attendant answered, counting out the change. "Bad wreck, was it?"
"Pretty bad, I guess. They say she has both legs broken and some broken ribs."
"Too bad! I'm sorry to hear that. Oh, excuse me. I see I have a customer." The man hurried out the door.
Left alone, Donnie picked up the receiver and dialed the operator, giving her instructions for his call.
Donnie could hear her talking to an information operator. Then he heard a ring and a voice on the other end answering, "Terryville General Hospital."
"I have a person-to-person call for Elaine Slocum." In a few seconds Donnie heard the answer, "Room 422.
Shall I ring?"
Once again Donnie felt all jittery inside. How seriously was his dear mom hurt? he wondered. Had Ralph really leveled with him?
"Hello," someone said, but Donnie knew the voice on the other end of the line was not his mother's.
"This is long distance. I have a call for Elaine Slocum," the operator said patiently.
"One moment, I'll see if she's able to talk .... Mrs. Slocum, Mrs. Slocum, wake up. Donnie's calling. Can you talk to Donnie, Mrs. Slocum? Wake up! Here let me get a cold rag and wash your face. Now, can you talk to Donnie?"
The operator asked, "Will you talk to the party who answered if Mrs. Slocum can't talk?"
"Deposit three dollars and twenty-five cents for three minutes, please."
Donnie dropped twelve quarters, two dimes, and a nickel into the slots.
Donnie barely heard the operator's crisp acknowledgment; his ears were straining to hear what was going on at the other end of the line.
The sound of her weak voice brought a lump into Donnie's throat and tears into his eyes. Trying to compose himself he asked huskily, "Mom, how are you? I just heard about your accident a few minutes ago."
"I'm going to be all right, son. It'll just take time .... How are you, Donnie? And how's Sharon and the baby?"
Donnie couldn't tell her the truth right then, even if he had wanted to, so he just said, "We're all okay, Mom. I've only got three minutes, so tell me what you can about yourself. "
"I have some ribs broken, and a few other things."
"Like two broken legs?"
"I guess Ralph must have told you all about it--" Her voice broke off. She sounded awfully tired.
"Okay, Mom. I won't hold you. I'll try to come see you real soon."
"Don't worry, Donnie. I love you and am praying--" Again her voice trailed off.
Someone on the other end spoke into the phone. "She's gone back to sleep. She's heavily sedated. This is Mrs. Flowers, Donnie. I'm sitting with your mom today."
"Thanks for what you're doing, Mrs. Flowers. Take good care of my mom," he said, his voice catching. "I must go now. My time is up."
"Bye, Donnie. We're praying for you. God has been so-o good too-"
"Bye now." He hung up the phone, murmuring faintly, "Miz Praise-the-Lord! She hasn't changed one bit. Still singing God's praises."
But how could such a good God treat my mom the way He's doing? Donnie thought rebelliously as he slowly walked back to his car. I've never been able to understand some things about God, how He can mistreat His own. As for me, I'm sure I deserve all I get, but with Mom, it's different. She deserves the very best.
Donnie started the car. The gas gauge registered empty. He pulled over to the self-service pump and put $2.00 worth of gas in his car, paid, and headed back to his lonely apartment, trying to figure out what he could do.
Where do I go from here? Only three dollars, plus a little change left. I've looked everywhere for work. Nothing shows up. My landlady is on my back for the rent and utilities-threatening to cut them off if I don't pay. Where can I turn? Dad? No, I can't ask him. I sponged off him too much while I was in college. Now that I'm married I've got to stand on my own two feet. I'll have to come up with something.
Having covered the short distance to the apartment, Donnie pulled into the driveway, got out of the car and went inside. Oh, how quiet it was! Why had Sharon been so stubborn and idealistic? Why had she left him like that? Oh, he knew he'd done her wrong, but didn't he have some rights? She never had time for him, so he had found someone who did. Now he sorely wished he hadn't. How he missed dear little Christy! He could almost hear her exclaiming, "Da-da," as she reached out those plump little arms toward him.
"Aw, Rats!" he said aloud. "How much can a guy take? This is driving me nuts."
He paced back and forth like a caged animal. Once more the small still voice spoke to his heart. When you come to the end of yourself, you can turn to Jesus and He will take you in.
Donnie reached for the letter from Ralph and tore it to shreds. "Now, stop bugging me," he yelled at the offending letter. "Ralph can have all the religion he wants, but it's not for me. 1 can make it without religion. Life must be awfully boring for those people who spend their time going to stuffy little churches and trying to live to please an Unseen Being. 1 prefer my kind of life to theirs any day."
After this outburst, Donnie was better able to forget Ralph's words and concentrate more fully on his miserable state of affairs.
"I guess about all 1 can do at this point is pack my clothes and skip out and go to Mom," he concluded at last. He glanced around the apartment. Without Sharon's and Christy's things it looked bare. There wouldn't be much to pack.
He picked up a pen and found some note paper and wrote:
Dear Mrs. Durant,
I received word today that my mother was in a wreck and I must go to her. Sorry to skip out without paying the rent, but as you know, I lost my job and I have nothing to pay with. Some day I hope to pay you. I'm not a cheat, but circumstances are against me. Thanks for your kindness to us.
What would he do for gas? Well, there were ways, when a man was desperate enough, and a plan began to formulate in Donnie's mind. He hurriedly packed his belongings and loaded them in his car. He pulled open each drawer and searched the closets to be sure he hadn't forgotten anything. Oh, yes. There was his revolver hidden at the back of the top shelf of the closet. He would probably need that--and soon. He unplugged the refrigerator, looking longingly within, but there was nothing he could take along to eat. Opening the cupboard door, he spied a box of crackers. There! That would keep his stomach from gnawing.
When Donnie picked up the cracker box he saw behind it two jars of baby food, Christy's favorite--applesauce. Tears stung his eyes. He could visualize her now--his little Apple Dumpling, as he called her. How she would smack her lips when Sharon fed her applesauce .
Donnie closed the cupboard door, leaving behind the simple reminder of his beloved baby, and walked briskly out the back way without locking the door this time. Mrs. Durant would be checking soon, so no need to lock her out.
Speeding down the highway a short time later, Donnie wrestled with his terrifying thoughts. He had enough gas to go about fifty or seventy-five miles, and then--something had to be done. That "something" caused him to break out in a cold sweat. His clammy hands gripped the steering wheel while he argued with himself that he had no alternative. Life had dealt him a hard.blow, so he just had to do whatever was necessary. He would get even with the fate that had befallen him.
He glanced at the odometer as another mile rolled up. He had come thirty-five miles. His gas gauge was registering near empty. He knew he would have to do something soon.
Presently, he saw a neon sign ahead advertising the price of gas. He slowed down. A shudder of fear went through him. "A first time for everything," he told himself resolutely. He put his hand on the seat beside him. Yes, it was still there. His fingers closed around the cold metal.
Don't do it, an inner voice warned.
"As if I had any other choice!" Donnie muttered.
The place had a little grocery store with gas pumps in front. Donnie parked to one side, where he had a view of the interior of the store. A young woman was filling up her tank. She finished and went inside to pay, then came out and drove away. Donnie saw no one but an elderly lady standing behind the cash register. It appeared to be a privately owned business, probably run by an elderly couple, he decided. Once again a cold chill ran down his spine. He almost changed his mind, then he hardened himself. Instead of driving off as the inner voice bade him do, he tied a bandana over his nose and mouth and hurriedly went inside. Sticking his revolver in the elderly lady's face, he demanded in a hoarse voice, "Give me seventy-five dollars as fast as you can." It eased his conscience some not to ask for all she had.
The poor woman turned pale and began to fumble in the register, glancing hopefully over her shoulder as she did so.
"Hurry, woman, before I shoot."
She pulled out a handful of bills and handed them over. He grabbed them and turned on his h
"I'm sorry, Grandma," he said. "I don't like having to do this to you. It's just that I'm down on my luck. I'll repay you some day."
Then he turned and fled out the door, jumped in his car and sped away as fast as he dared. He turned onto a side road and down a back street, imagining all the while that sirens and flashing lights were right behind him. Finally, he saw another service station ahead. He drove in and quickly filled up his tank, paid for it and hurried on. After he was far enough away to feel somewhat safe, he returned to the main highway and headed for home.
Why worry? he tried to shrug it off to himself. I'm not a thief and God knows I'm not. I had no choice. One can't be honest in my circumstances. He attempted to laugh. If the old lady had only known that I didn't even have a bullet in the gun, she wouldn't have been so freehanded. Wonder how much she gave me.
With one hand on the wheel, he reached for the remaining bills, which he had thrown on the seat, and counted them.
"Whew!" he exclaimed. "One hundred and seventeen dollars, besides the fifteen for the fill-up. She really must have been scared."
Once again he tried to laugh, but the memory of the old lady's pale face, her eyes open wide in unbelief, and her trembling hand reaching in the cash register checked his laughter and smote his conscience.
Oh, I'll go back and pay the old lady one of these days, he soothed his troubled conscience. Connie says I'll have to make restitutions for all my dishonest deeds if I ever get to heaven. Well, I hope I go to heaven. I certainly don't want to go to hell; if everything I hear about it is true. But ... Aw Rats! I need something to drink.
Before long he stopped to buy a cold beer, along with a couple of packs of cigarettes. And why not? He had plenty of money.
Seven hours later he pulled up into the parking lot of the Terryville General Hospital. Looking at his watch, he saw it was 1:00 a.m.
"Too late to disturb Mom, now," he decided. "Guess I'll run on home and see if I can get in and try to get a good night's sleep."
Plucked Out of the Net by Georgia McCain / History & Fiction have rating 3.4 out of 5 / Based on17 votes