Page 11 of Finding His Home

Font Size:  

“You’re right. It’ll be uncomfortable, but I need to do it if I’m ever going to find peace.”

Helen applied a fresh coat of lipstick. “I also want you to think about completing your undergraduate degree. I’ll move to Baton Rouge and live with you while you do it. I’ll help you become that record producer if that’s what you want, but please consider taking more business courses first; maybe get an M.B.A.”

Ed liked her offer to bankroll his music projects, but he doubted he had the self-discipline for more school. Right now, what he wanted most was a bottle of whiskey. “Suppose I refuse. Would you still want to be with me?”

“I’m only laying out some options for you to consider once we settle down after our trip.”

Ed realized the words “settle down” did not strike him as too sudden. Despite her penchant for sounding like a fundamentalist bible beater, he still wished they might build an exciting life together. “I’ll do it. You’re right. I need to go back to school.”

They returned to her hotel room and had sex again. As it grew dark, she suggested they step out for a bite to eat. Instead of hailing a cab, she wanted to “hike to the subway station for the exercise.” As they walked down the sidewalk, they sang Beatles songs together, just as he and April used to do. He gazed up in awe; the stars seemed brighter and more numerous tonight. Smiling, he hoped April had sent Helen to assure him it was okay to enjoy life again.

Chapter 7: Invitation to Murder

The next morning, they braved the long lines at security and flew out of Washington Dulles International Airport. As the plane left the ground, Helen read parts of the Old Testament and scribbled in her tattered notebook. Ed decided to use the down time to catch up on his sleep. This proved more difficult than expected when an infant started crying behind him. Over-the-counter sleeping pills only worked for an hour or two before a loud commotion woke him. Adrenaline surged through his body as he watched Helen shout profanities at a stranger across the aisle. Ed saw dozens of staring faces pointed at him. He felt a sudden urge to protect Helen from some unseen, overwhelming evil force. “What’s the problem? Is this man bothering you?”

“He’s probably a terrorist for all we know.” Helen’s slurred speech made Ed wonder if she were drunk. She ranted about the differences between Islam and Christianity and told the stranger he would likely “burn in hell for doubting the divinity of Jesus.”

“Stop it.” Ed tried to cover her mouth, but she blocked his hand. When the stewardess came to quiet her, Helen shouted at the confused woman in French. Ed apologized, hoping he wouldn’t be arrested once the plane landed. The stewardess left, and he gripped Helen’s shoulders. “What’s come over you? God alone is the judge of the hearts of men.” He borrowed his last sentence from a letter written by George Washington to Benedict Arnold, and he hoped his own mention of God wouldn’t encourage Helen’s outbursts.

“I’m sorry you became upset with me.”

Ed made eye contact with the stranger Helen had condemned. “That’s not a real apology.”

“The Lord granted me a terrifying vision while I was reading the Bible.”

“Please talk about something else or shut up altogether.”

Helen put on headphones and fell asleep. Ed decided the one consistent thing about her behavior was its inconsistency: Nonjudgmental listener one day, but damning strangers to hell on the next. Looking out at the clouds, he decided a repeat of her outburst would drive him to drinking again.

Five hours later, after boarding the cruise ship and settling in their tiny room, Ed locked the door and tried to initiate sex. This time Helen only pushed him away and backed into the corner. A wild-eyed rage that he’d seen on the plane returned to Helen’s face. She flailed her arms as she spoke: “If we’re going to love each other spiritually, we must be celibate until we’re lawfully married. God told me it was a sin for us to fornicate.”

Ed regretted telling Helen about his vices. She seemed to be hunting them down one by one, and sexual release was the one thing he didn’t think he could sacrifice.

“You promised me a honeymoon, but you trapped me in a Bible-boot camp. Why was sex okay before but not now?”

Helen slapped his chest. “It wasn’t okay. Don’t tell me you didn’t feel guilty.”

Ed looked through the glass door at the green outdoor carpet on their balcony. “It did feel weird having sex with a married woman. I don’t think I’m doomed to hell for it, though. No such place exists.”

“Do you know that for a fact?” Twisting her wrists in a spastic frenzy, Helen pulled her Bible out of her purse and flipped through the pages. “That’s the sin of pride talking. Root it out. We can’t just live by our own rules and pretend to control our own destiny. We must submit to God.”

Ed looked out the window at the open water and wished he stayed on shore. “Stop. We’re on vacation.”

“Don’t expect God to pass your test.”

“Forget it,” he said, looking for more booze.

“What else is more important than the eternal salvation of your soul? Trust God’s love; believe His power; be His hands.”

“You sound like a cheesy bumper sticker!” He opened the mini bar and made himself a whiskey on the rocks.

“Can you be His hands while you’re touching me in sin?”

He savored the taste as the liquid cooled his tongue, and he spit his ice cube back in the glass. “Sex or no sex – that’s up to you, but I can’t handle the constant preaching. I’m on a cruise. You called this our honeymoon.”

Helen seized the drink from his hand and poured it down the sink. “And, you promised no more drinking.”

The cabin’s stuffy air made him imagine imprisonment in a coffin underground. He wanted to be alone, to go up to the top deck for some fresh air. “I’m going for a walk.”

Articles you may like