Unification News for October 1998

Hello, Elmer! Part III

by Catherine Ladolcetta-Irvington AL

Elmer reached back into his memories of Dillonís trial. It had been close. It had almost come to a hung jury. The question had been one of intention-had Dillon to murder the cashier or just rob the till? Elmer could hear the man pleading, telling the story from his point of view. Heíd said that the guard surprised him and heíd shot because he was frightened. But Elmer remembered that he had pressed the point that, by carrying the gun, he must have considered that he might use it. Finally, the jury decided that the murder was planned-a sort of "Plan B" if nothing else.

Then Elmer remembered something he had read at the bottom of the police report. He had sneered at it. Heíd laughed with all the cynicism of an overworked, low-paid public prosecutor who had become callous from seeing too much suffering. The report said that the robber had collapsed crying at the scene of the murder. When the police arrived, he was giving the dying cashier CPR and didnít stop until a paramedic pulled him away. In all the confusion Dillon the robber-soon to be murderer-waited tearfully on the cashierís high-topped stool behind the counter. When asked what he had seen (the police thought he was a witness) he admitted his guilt and surrendered.

Slowly, his hands pressed to his cheeks, Elmer stood up. Tears trickled from his half-shut eyes as he looked down into the semi-darkness of the near edge of Hell. Sobs of great sorrow and regret shook his thin form; he doubled over, nearly to his toes, gasping for breath, as the realization of his cold-hearted mistake exploded in his mind. "I killed him. I killed Beau Dillon with far more premeditation than he killed that guard." Elmerís heart, pounding in his narrow chest, felt like it would split in two. "I believed Dillon wanted to kill him but, in fact, he tried to save that man he shot. I used all my power to kill him without any thought that he might be saved." Elmerís tears were accompanied by a low moan punctuated by gasping sobs.

As Elmer continued to stand staring over the edge, the man below him raised his head and seemed to be listening. In the misty blankness, he turned as it trying to locate the sound. Finally, his searching eyes turned upward and, still not seeing Elmer, he cupped his hands to his mouth and shouted, "Hey-are you all right? Where are you? I canít see you, but if you call out, maybe I can find you!" He took a step in Elmerís direction, then stopped-confused because he really couldnít see. "Look, just keep making some noise and Iíll come to you. Just keep talking-Iím coming!" With his arms extended and each foot feeling ahead as he stepped, Beau Dillon moved through the dank haze of Hell, searching for one lost, crying soul-searching blindly for his denouncer and executioner.

Elmer gulped and straightened up. "He doesnít know who I am. He canít see me. In this terrible place, heís trying to help someone he doesnít even know." As Elmer watched, the haze opened up in front of Beau. Elmer gasped and screamed, "Stop! Donít move! Stay where you are-thereís a pit in front of you. Beau-stop!" In a blink, Elmer stood beside Beau Dillon, his hands gripping his arms, his body blocking his way.

"What? Who are you? You know my name...." Beauís hands grasped the sleeves of Elmerís radiant garment and he peered intently into Elmerís face. "Oh! Itís...but it canít be! Youíre not here-in this place." Beauís face lit up with joy and he threw his arms around Elmer. "It is you-but what are you doing here-in Hell?" He grabbed Elmer tighter and swung him around. "Hey, itís getting lighter, I can see you better. Gosh, Elmer, you look terrible. Why are you crying, for Heavenís sake? Itís so good to see you!"

Elmerís face was all tied up in knots of fear and grief; it was red from crying, while his nose dripped and he was hiccuping. He buried his face in Beauís shoulder, still sobbing, and tried to talk.

"Beau, Iím so sorry for what I did to you! I didnít know till just now, when I saw you here, how wrong I was about you. You were truly sorry about that man-the guard-you know-in the Speedy Mart, and I-I didnít believe you. I-I thought you were shamming-all the tears and surrendering and everything. I thought it was all a lie. Can you ever forgive me, Beau? All these years wandering around here in the dark. Alone. And you were trying to help me; you couldnít even see to walk. You almost fell into that deep, black hole trying to find me. How can you be glad to see me?"

"Elmer!" Beau let him go and gazed serenely into Elmerís wondering eyes. "You are the only person Iíve seen in all this interminable time-how long has it been anyway?"

"Ten years, Beau."

"Ten years, without any way to count it off, itís like forever, Elmer. Iíve learned a lot just walking and thinking. I made up my mind that if I ever saw you again, Iíd have only love in my heart for you-well-love and forgiveness. That guard-he forgave me. A long time ago-just before he went into the tunnel. Lately, Iíve been feeling like something was gonna happen. Didnít know what, but just as soon as I felt that I could forgive you, I could see a little more around me and I could hear things, too. Thatís when I heard the crying. All I could think of was that someone was all alone and needed help and, in my heart, I wanted to help so much that nothing else mattered."

Elmer wiped his nose on his sleeve and gripped Beauís arms. Smiling, he said, "Beau, come on, Iíve got someone I want you to meet! But first, do you remember that tunnel-the really bright one that you decided not to walk through?"

Beau nodded with a grimace. "It was just too bright, Elmer; I couldnít make myself step in there. So I stayed here instead. Is that where Heaven starts, Elmer?" He watched as Elmer smiled and nodded. "Iím ready to go, now. Itís not so bright any more. Will you come through with me, Elmer? Or do I have to go alone?"

Elmer grinned. "Let me check with my boss, Beau." Elmerís glance turned up and he felt, rather than saw, his Father nodding joyfully. "Okay! He can go through together.... Iíve got so much to show you Beau; itís all so light and warm. I bet you canít find the sun! And wait until you meet our Dad!"

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