Excerpt from Chapter 7, “Dirty Laundry”
“. . . And in San Francisco today, a federal court upholds a controversial Oregon law. We hear more about it from ABC’s Sandi Winckler.”
The news anchor’s image dissolved to that of the network’s attractive and conservatively suited legal correspondent. Her backdrop was the Italian Renaissance facade of the Circuit Court of Appeals building in San Francisco, with people passing in and out of the main entrance. Sandi herself, her faultlessly coifed hair undisturbed by offshore Pacific winds, was obviously in a network studio.
“A woman’s right to terminate her pregnancy has been established since the Roe v. Wade decision of 1973. But what happens when a fetus somehow survives an abortion procedure, or if it’s delivered before the woman can obtain the services of a reproductive health provider? Two years ago, the Oregon legislature passed a law allowing women to choose to terminate the life of their fetus in such cases, if they could show that their original intent was to end the pregnancy. The law was challenged by a group of fundamentalist Christians, citing the Fourteenth Amendment provision that no state may ‘deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.’ The group contended there was no ‘due process’ in such cases because the ‘persons’ in question had not been found guilty of a crime and, in fact, had not themselves been parties to any legal proceeding. The case made its way up the ladder to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, where in a unanimous decision today the action of lower courts was upheld and the law was allowed to stand. An attorney for the plaintiffs has stated that the group will carry its appeal to the Supreme Court . . .”
The correspondent’s voice halted as Kyle, in search of relief from the recent barrage of ominous headlines, used his remote to switch to the sports channel. At this moment Vonda entered the den, still holding a dish towel. She laid it on the arm of the couch and sat down next to her husband. Kyle cut the volume to a whisper. He sensed what was coming. Jeremy had gone over to Justin’s again and they were alone in the house.
“I called Karen Griffin today,” Vonda began. “She said she didn’t have any other plans for Thanksgiving.”
“That will be fine,” answered Kyle. “Did you ask her to bring anything?”
“I didn’t ask her, but she offered to bring that potato-cheese thing she sometimes brings to church suppers.”
“Sounds good to me,” Kyle agreed. “Jeremy will probably eat half of it.” He knew that Vonda really wanted to talk about something else. They had avoided the touchy topic of Jeremy’s college fund for several days, but he was hoping to prolong the safe conversation a bit longer.
They sat in silence for a moment, and then Vonda spoke. “Are you still thinking of giving Bert that money? You haven’t done it already, have you?”
“You know I wouldn’t do that behind your back,” Kyle replied, on the defensive.
“But you still want to, don’t you?” she prodded.
“Well, things are looking just as bad as they were two weeks ago, or maybe worse. You just heard some of the news. Jesus must be coming soon. At least Bert’s willing to get out there and help reach the lost while they still have a chance to get saved. I suppose if I had that much faith, I’d do the same thing. At least I — at least we could help him out some.”
“Kyle, do you really think this is it? Haven’t things like this been happening for years? Here, and over in Israel, or wherever. How do we know if this is really the end?”
Kyle thought for a moment before responding. “I suppose we don’t really know, Honey. But if we’re going to make a mistake, which one would you rather make? If we take Jeremy’s money and throw it away on a false alarm, that’s one thing. But how are you and I going to feel if Jesus comes back for us and finds we’ve been holding out on him, when we could have done something to help others get ready to meet him? Isn’t there a verse somewhere that says, “When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”
“I can’t argue with that, Kyle. I just have a feeling that something’s not right about this. Maybe it has more to do with Bert than with anything else, I don’t know.”
She paused for a moment. “Have you mentioned this to Pastor Chip?” As the question left her lips, Vonda was reminded that she had not told Kyle about her visit to Rev. Rominger-Davies.
“No, I haven’t said anything to him,” Kyle replied. “I didn’t think this was something I could just mention to him after church, in passing. And I’ve had to work so much lately, I’ve missed a couple of the men’s breakfasts.”
“Promise me you’ll talk to him as soon as you can,” Vonda insisted.
“Okay, Honey, I will. I don’t know how soon that will be, but I’ll try to work something out.” For a few moments the only sound came from the TV, still playing at low volume.
“As for Thanksgiving,” Kyle broke in, “you’ve asked Karen to come. Did you call Aunt Thelma yet?”
“Yes. If Curly’s feeling up to it that day, they’ll come, and she said she’d bring a pie.”
“And would it be okay if I invited Bert? He doesn’t have anybody, you know.”
“Yes,” Vonda agreed. Her hesitation was evident, but she felt she had no choice but to agree. In the light of her exposure to the reigning philosophy at the Federated Church, Bert’s near-fanaticism about the Second Coming seemed the lesser of two evils.
“I just hope he doesn’t monopolize the conversation. We all know the Lord is coming, but it is Thanksgiving, after all.”
“I don’t think there’s much danger of Bert monopolizing the conversation,” Kyle countered. “Not with Uncle Curly here.”
“You’ve got a point,” Vonda laughed. “Now, promise me again, you’ll talk to Pastor Chip as soon as you can.”
Kyle reiterated his promise. Now that the issue of Bert’s presence at Thanksgiving, at least, had been settled, he felt that the tension between him and his wife was beginning to ease.