The Cup Bearer
Chapter 56Friday 30th August 1995
Don closed the book Gypsy had bought him, tossed it onto the bedside cabinet, stretched and flexed his muscles, then checked the time on the clock. The boys had been rehearsing in his former apartment, all afternoon and evening, with just two short breaks for food. Now it was nine thirty and time they packed up. He was tired and he knew Gypsy would be, but before they headed back to Visick Street there was something he wanted to talk to Gypsy about. Over the last couple of weeks Gypsy had been showing signs that something was on his mind that had nothing to do with the damage to his face or hands. Careful not to show it in front of the rest of the band, he had been finding all sorts of excuses not to be alone with Don, especially in his own bedroom. That was a complete turn round after their jaunt into the Welsh mountains. Don thought he knew what the problem might be, and was determined not to let it continue in case the problem become irreversible. If Don couldn't solve the problem himself, he would have to have another talk with Adams. Years ago, Don had a similar problem and Cissy had helped him conquer it. He just hoped the boy would accept his advice to try the same therapy somehow. Persuading him to talk about it would be the biggest problem; Gypsy Diaz had become a very private person since the attack.
Getting off the bed, Don marvelled how he had stood so much musical ear bashing, although he had to admit the kids were improving all the time. They were learning quickly how to weld their instrumental abilities together and, excluding Gypsy whose would someday stun the world, had passably good voices. Gypsy often had Pete Gaskin sing harmonies with him and sometimes let him take the lead. Even Sandy had been coerced into singing comic base when they sang his favourite fifties rock hits. Don admired their determination to take their work seriously and keep going; glad he had agreed to let them use the flat.
He was comfortable enough with the move to Visick Street, and the flat was in an ideal practice spot. Away from the residential areas of Trentham with no other building within yards of the place, it didn't matter how much din they made, and he could always buy some earplugs. He opened the bedroom door and Gary paused in mid stroke from trying out a new combination of drum sounds. The boys glanced his way and he nodded to them. "Time to go home, kids."
Pete reached over to switch off the synthesiser and tape deck on which they had been playing a recording of Sandy's part while their favourite keyboard player was lapping up the sun in Spain with his parents. There was a united relaxing of tension, as if they were glad someone had interrupted their session. Then Don noticed Sy signalling with his eyes. They too had noticed Gypsy's preoccupation. As on other recent practice sessions at the flat, Gypsy immediately turned to pack his flute and guitars away so that he would be ready to quit the flat at the same time at the boys; as if he couldn't wait to get back to Visick Street. Don nodded to Sy that he understood and helped the boys pack their own gear away. Pete's father arrived to take the boys home and Don told Gypsy he wanted a word then went to lock the front door of the flat. When he got back to the lounge he found Gypsy slumped back against the settee cushions. Don knelt down in front of him and when he placed his folded arms on the boy's knees he felt him tense up. "Would you like a night-cap before we go home?" Gypsy shook his head. Don thought, with a sigh, that this was not going to be easy. "Is there something you want to talk about?"
The boy picked at the longer nails he was cultivating on his left hand, screwed his mouth pensively then shook his head again. "I'd rather to go home. My feet are hurting."
Don thought he knew what was bothering the boy. It was a natural reaction to what the bikers had done and what the doctors had said about possible permanent damage. The boy was sure he faced life as half a man, a childless husk, incapable, sterile and useless. Don decided he had to ask the question. "Have you tried anything?" Gypsy stared hard at him for a moment then realised Don had guessed what was on his mind. He nodded.
Gypsy shook his head and looked away.
"I thought we had something special which did not need sex. I still want to be your big bro, and I'd like to help; man to man, you know? Like we did in Wales? I had the same problem for a while, till Cissy helped me out. And I read that book you bought me. There are some good tips in it that we could use."
The boy shook his head again; embarrassed.
"Okay, if you won't let me help, why not get in touch with George Sherbourne? It might not be physical, you know."
The boy just shook his head but looked uncertain, and he made to get up off the settee. Don stood up to move out of his way, and when Gypsy didn't stand up he glanced down at him. This kid has something else on his mind' "What is it, kid?"
"I don't know, I've just got a feeling about…you know? "
"Not until you tell me. Do you want me to arrange for you to see a doctor about it?"
"It's not a doctor I need. This is something a doctor can't give me. You remember I said once I felt something was missing from my life?" He dropped his gaze to the floor. "I need to find that something, and it's nothing to do with whether I can do the business or not. I know I can't. I just have to accept that. But this other - it's been eating at me since we were in the mountains. I think I need to go to a church, or talk to somebody, ask questions, you know?"
Don had been having the same thoughts lately. "Why don't we pay a visit to Sandy's church on Sunday?"
Gypsy looked up. "You'd come with me?"
"We both want the same answers, don't we?"
The drive home was spent in thoughtful silence, and Don was sure the boy was attempting to halt the slide back into the shell he had once created. When they reached the Visick Street house and Gypsy shuffled towards the ground floor bedroom he still used, he opened the door and turned to look at Don as he passed on his way to the kitchen. "Thanks, Bro. We'll go on Sunday."
Sunday 1st Sept 1995
Because Sandy and his parents had not yet returned from Spain, Gypsy and Don chose to sit at the back of the church for the evening service where they could watch the proceedings without being expected to join in. Most of the congregation cast them curious glances as they moved to their seats. One of two remembered Gypsy's earlier visit with his father and smiled a welcome but no one approached them except the old pastor who shook their hands and welcomed them formally to the service on his way to the front.
A large gentleman, rough looking and shabbily dressed, came in with the pastor and received a warm welcome by most of the congregation then sat down on the front row. Twice, before the service began he turned in his seat to gaze thoughtfully at them. Then the service began with a lively hymn followed by prayers led by the pastor. The youth group were much in evidence round the rostrum, and during the singing they made up for Sandy's absence. A man stepped forward and gave some notices about various activities to be held over the next few days. More spontaneous choruses and prayers followed from among the congregation. Don noticed Gypsy losing interest and letting his eyes wander over the décor or lack of it. When the music ended, the large man stood up and moved to the lectern to read the lesson.
His eyes went straight to Gypsy, and Don nudged him. The man gave them a slight nod but his attention was mostly on Gypsy. He asked everyone who had their bibles to turn to the book of John, chapter three. After a short pause he began to read verse sixteen to twenty one. "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world," At this point the preacher lifted his eyes to stare over his spectacles at Gypsy, "but to save the world through Him. Whoever believes in Him is not condemned but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son. This is the verdict; Light has come into the world, but men love darkness instead of light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God." Don felt the words hit him like a pile driver.
He glanced down at Gypsy and found him frowning at the preacher. The preacher gave them a slight nod once more before sitting down in his seat, and Don sat through the rest of the service in a haze of revelation. When he came out of his trance, most of the congregation had left the building and the large man was walking straight towards them, his eyes fixed on Gypsy. Nodding to them, the large man held out his hand, first to Don and then to Gypsy. "You're Sandy's friend, aren't you? I have a feeling you want to talk to someone. Perhaps you'd like to come into the vestry with me, where we can talk in private."
Gypsy looked up at Don for support and Don said gently, "Go ahead, Gypsy, I'll wait here for you."
The large man smiled. "That's okay, you can come too."
Elijah watched the boy rise slowly to his feet, fully aware of the barrier the boy was attempting to put between them. He guessed this wasn't the first time the boy had done this. Yes, there was a lot of hurt and anger here, along with confusion and sadness. He didn't expect the boy to follow him into the vestry, but when Elijah finally opened the vestry door, the boy was close behind him with his beefy companion in tow. He ushered them through into the tiny room and, once they were seated by the old desk, Elijah sat down opposite them. "My name is Elijah Stone. Your names are?"
"Gypsy Diaz; and this is Don Clooney my minder."
Elijah nodded. "I'm a wandering preacher, called to do God's work wherever He sends me. I knew there was someone around here who needed help, although I didn't know whom or when they would turn up. I've been waiting here for you since the end of May. I would have waited another three months if necessary. As soon as I saw you, God told me you were the ones I should speak to; can you believe that?"
The boy shrugged his shoulders and folded his arms across his chest. Eyes fixed on the carpet. "I don't know what I believe."
"Do you believe in angels? I do. We all have angels guarding us. They can't prevent an incident happening but they can prevent a person dying before his time. After you were attacked, your angel held you safe and stopped you falling to the bottom of the gully." The boy shot him a surprised look then frowned and stared at the carpet again. His minder looked as if he was going to laugh at the idea, and it was obvious the boy hadn't told anyone what he'd seen. Elijah went on, "Without the angel's help, you would have drowned, but God sent him to hold you safe till the farmer arrived. The farmer who came to your rescue could not have held you above that gully on his own. He is old and in not too good health, and it was literally a sheer drop beneath you."
Slowly Don's mouth fell open, while the boy's face grew dark with a determination not to break. Elijah knew he had to go on or lose the chance. "The angel supported both of you till help arrived. You would have died of hypothermia but the angel kept you warm. The angel also caused your attackers to burn your clothes so the farmer's wife would see the flames and send her husband to investigate. Now do you believe?"
Gypsy shrugged his shoulders, "I remember seeing a light. I felt warm and protected, and I heard a voice telling me to go to sleep, that I was safe." His minder stared at him and shook his head in amazement. Slowly Gypsy looked up and after flashing Don a quick glance, he fixed Elijah with a piercing look. "I never told anyone. How did you know?"
"God revealed it to me. You asked for His help and He answered your call, just like He's answered your more recent prayers for help. Perhaps you are looking for something." The boy shrugged his shoulders again. "Whatever burden you're carrying, our Loving Father can take it off your shoulders and give you peace. But, and this is the crunch, repentance comes first. We're all destined for hell unless we repent of our sins and accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Saviour. When you hear people talk about being saved, that's what we're being saved from. Hell. It's a real place."
Gypsy looked down at the carpet again. "A man has gone to hell because of me." It took a few seconds for the talking to start, but when it did, the whole painful story of Gypsy's past came out in faltering bursts, including his time with a man called Tony. By the time his story was ended the boy's face was wet with tears and he looked anywhere except at Elijah who studied Gypsy and offered up a silent prayer of thanksgiving that God was using him to bring this boy to Jesus, perhaps not today but sometime in the near future. He prayed that God would guide him. His eyes closed for a few seconds while he listened for an answer before he said quietly. "Gypsy, God wants me to tell you that you're are not to blame for anything that has happened to you. People who will answer to God at the judgement seat, forced the life you lived upon you, and they will certainly have to answer for their crimes. But you must forgive those who have committed crimes against you, including the members of your village who through their own ignorance ostracised you family. Forgive them as God will forgive you your own sins."
The boy's head came up fast and he glared tearfully at Elijah. "I can't do that."
"After what they did to me?"
"Look what they did to The Son Of God; he forgave them and so did God."
The boy shook his head and started to get up out of his chair.
"Gypsy, God is helping me look into your heart, and I see many burdens there; pain, hate, anger, hurt and grief. I also see a thirst for revenge which isn't what God wants from any of us."
Gypsy dropped back onto his chair and turned his face away as he fought to control fresh tears. In the end the tears won and he leaned forward to cover his eyes with one hand. "Why me? If God is real why did He let me suffer like that? First Guido, then the club and now this; I never did anything to anybody. Can't you see what they did to my face? How can I ever forgive all those men did this to me?"
"I don't know, Gypsy; only God can answer your questions. One thing I can tell you though, you must forgive them."
"You have to if God is to forgive your own sins."
"What sins? I haven't done anything, you just said so."
"That isn't quite true, Gypsy. I said you weren't to blame for what happened to you. We've all sinned at sometime, but denying God, is the greatest sin of all. You want to be forgiven don't you; to know our Lord Jesus Christ as your Saviour and your friend? That's what John chapter three verse sixteen to twenty one is all about. Your Father in Heaven loves you and wants to bless you, and Jesus is the only way to God. He died a hideous death on the cross for us, and took our sins upon himself so that we can be forgiven. After three days, God brought Jesus back to life and He is still alive today, opening a way back to God for all who will open the door and let Jesus enter their hearts."
"He won't want to come into my heart."
"Not as it is now, no, because you have not surrendered you heart to him." Gypsy got ready to deny Elijah's statement but then his expression changed as something crossed his mind. "You have things in your life which are detestable to the Lord, Gypsy. The first is the occult; it holds you in its grip, doesn't it?"
Gypsy shook his head. "I can't help it. I don't like it when it happens, but I can't stop it," and as if to justify himself he added, "I'm a gypsy."
"Would you like to tell me about it?"
The boy shook his head and covered his eyes so Elijah couldn't read the guilt in them. "You read minds and you have premonitions?" the boy nodded. "The premonitions come in dreams and visions?"
Again the boy nodded. "I don't want them to, they just come. I wish they didn't. I knew I was going to be attacked, and I knew the instant my mother died. And I know that some day I'm going to kill Guido. I dread going to sleep because of the dreams that come. I just wish they would stop."
"Ask God to deal with them."
"It's only sin that keeps us away from God. The second thing is to do with your friend here. Because of your past life, you're frightened the two of you are growing too fond of each other."
"Oh, now wait a minute," Don began, but Gypsy elbowed him in the ribs.
"We're working on it; it isn't easy for Don."
Elijah shifted his gaze to Don and gave him a smile full of understanding. "That's because you're trying to do it on your own."
"We've looked things up in the Bible," Don said. "It's a start isn't it?"
"It certainly is, but there is an easier way, one which is sure of success. Give it to the Lord. Both of you have been trying to do things on your own. Now it's time to let the Lord take your burden and deal with it, but you must repent, totally and unconditionally, of your sins; the ones you know about, like your anger and your hate, and the ones you don't know about yet. Carry on reading God's Word and see what God says about immorality and homosexuality, but remember this; God never makes mistakes; He made us all, and he loves us all; black, white, gay or straight. Each one is created for a purpose that only God knows about. If you ask him, God will reveal your sins to you so you can repent of them one by one.
The boy's head dropped to his hands. "I don't know how."
"It's easy." Elijah rose from his chair. "Will you kneel and say a prayer with me?"
Immediately, Gypsy was on his feet and moving towards the door. "I don't think so. I don't know what to believe. All this is too fast for me; I need to think."
Elijah raised his eyebrows at Don who shook his head in warning. "I don't think this is quite the time for prayers, Reverend. We wouldn't like to be called hypocrites. Thanks anyway." Don shook Elijah's hand warmly enough and followed Gypsy out of the church. Elijah went out into the hall and found Eric waiting for him by the rostrum. "It's not like you not to have them falling down in prayer, Elijah. Will you be on your way soon?"
Elijah rubbed his chin through his beard. "If you don't mind putting up with me for a while longer, I think I'll hang around. This isn't finished yet; not by a long way."
"Maybe weeks, maybe months, I'm not sure. Could your wife put up with me for that long?" Elijah wondered where he'd gone wrong this time.
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