The flight attendant’s voice over the intercom woke Daniel up from what little sleep had gotten all night. Sitting near the wings in row 20 and the constant roar from the engines made sleeping near impossible for him to sleep. The flight attendant announced that the plane had begun its descent and would land in about 30 minutes. Daniel was more than ready to get back on the ground and into some wide-open space after such a long flight across the Atlantic. His neck was stiff, his knees were sore, and his back ached from having the unfortunate luck of getting the dreaded center seat.
The upside to the flight was that there were no screaming kids, and his row of companions seemed to not mind the engine noise. In fact, the young woman who sat by the window was still asleep with her head resting against the plane’s interior. She did not hear the announcement because of earbuds in her ears. Daniel could not help but notice her attractiveness with her long flowing dark hair and smooth complexion. The morning sun pierced through the window to reveal her mild olive tone skin with a golden undertone. He noticed the absence of a wedding or engagement ring, thinking to himself, I wonder if she lives on the island or whether she is simply visiting.
“Sir, do you have any trash to throw away?” asked the flight attendant.
“Um… No, but thank you for asking,” a startled Daniel replied.
“No problem. Would you mind waking the woman next to you?”
“Oh, I’m sorry we’re not acquainted or anything.”
“I just need you to lightly tap her shoulder that’s all.”
Suddenly, Daniel found his heart racing and his mouth as dry as the desert’s sand. He was not sure how the woman would react to being awakened by a complete stranger. Still, he gently tapped her on the shoulder, and she calmly awoke from her slumber.
“Oh, I’m sorry,” she said, looking at the flight attendant while removing her earbuds.
“That’s okay, ma’am. I just want you to know that we’re about to land here in oh… 20-minutes or so, and you need to fasten your seatbelt. Do you have any trash to throw away?”
“No, and thank you for letting me know.”
“Sir, excuse me once more, but wasn’t there someone sitting in this other seat?” asked the flight attendant.
“Yes,” said Daniel. “He got up when the announcement was made. I think he’s using the restroom.
“Okay. Thank you,” she replied and moves on to the next row of seats.
“Thank you for waking me,” the woman said to Daniel.
“No problem. I’m sorry I interrupted your rest. You seemed to be sleeping so easy.”
“I woke up a few times and slightly lifted my eyelids. I’m Jodi!”
“I’m Daniel. Nice to meet you, Jodi. Say, I know we just met and all, but since we’re about to land and it’s a long layover, would you like to grab a cup of coffee or even get some breakfast, perhaps?”
Pondering for a moment, she replies, “Well, coffee does sound nice… Why not!”
Just then, an explosion from the rear of the plane reverberates throughout the cabin and creates a sudden decompression. There was screaming, panic, and debris was being sucked out of the fuselage. As the flight attendant clung to a seatbelt for dear life, Daniel reached for her hand, but the overhead bin opened, and several pieces of luggage fall on her. She lost her grip and flew from Daniel’s sight only to have her scream fall silent, and Daniel thought to himself, she’s gone.
The gravitational force of the plane’s downward spiral made it difficult for passengers to reach their air masks overhead. Daniel and Jodi were both gasping for air, but Daniel manages to get a mask, and before he placed it on his face, a bible verse came to mind: Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. He nodded in agreement with the Holy Spirit’s lead and placed the mask on Jodi’s face, and saw her begin to breathe with ease. He attempted to reach another mask, but his strength is all but gone, and he begins to lose consciousness. He faintly hears an alarm going off, a bell of some kind, and his eyes suddenly open when he hears the most unexpected sound.
“Good Morning, Long Island! It’s 6:00 a.m. and time to rise and shine for another beautiful Sunday morning…”
Daniel reached over to shut off the alarm clock, rolled back in bed, and stared at the ceiling while he gathered his thoughts and reflect on his dream. Then, he talked to God in silence. Lord, thank you for another day to be your hands and feet in this fallen world. Use me as a beacon to guide the lost into your arms so that they, too, can know you and be known by you. I ask this is the holy name of your son, Jesus, amen. A few seconds passed, and he decided to get up and start the day when the phone rang.
“Hello?” Daniel answered.
“Good Morning, Pastor, this is Megan.”
Megan is Daniel’s secretary at the church. She has worked there for 32-years, seen pastors come and go, but has taken a particular liking to Daniel and he to her in an almost mother and son relationship.
“I do apologize for disturbing you,” said Megan. “We received a call from a patient at St. Charles. His name is Raanan Abramov, and he has asked to see you this morning. He says it’s very important; life and death. I checked the church roster and he’s not an active or former member.”
“Hmm. I don’t recall knowing or ever meeting this man, said Daniel. Still, that’s what we’re here for– to serve those whom the good Lord places in our path. What room is he in?”
“He’s in room 210 East. Oh and one more thing, he said to call from the lobby before you come up to his room, which is strange. Anyway, I texted you the number to call.”
“Perhaps he wants to speak in private, and my calling ahead gives him time to politely ask family members to leave his room for a while. Thank you, Megan. I’ll stop there first on my way to the church.”
“You sound a little down this morning. Is everything okay?”
“It’s okay…, I’m alright. I do appreciate you asking though.”
“You had that dream again, didn’t you?”
“I have hoped and prayed that was all finally behind you. It’s been a while since the last time too.”
“Well, one cannot help where the mind chooses to wander during sleep. Anyway, I need to get ready and Megan, thank you for caring.”
“We’re here to care as much for each other as we are for the lost you know.”
“Yes, I know, and thank you, Megan.”
“Well, you’re welcome, bye!”
While driving to St. Charles Hospital, Daniel enjoyed the pleasant scenery along Crystal Brook Hollow Road, a winding two-lane road with trees lined on both sides. The morning air was clean, brisk, and mildly enjoyable in temperature, and Daniel chose to drive with his window down. He took in the beautiful colors of the fall foliage, and when he stopped for a utility truck that is partially blocking the road, a quaint house grabbed his attention. The house is two stories with an attached garage extending slightly out from the right front side, and it had a porch with a waist-high banister. Its color is blue with white trim, and decorative shutters give the windows an added quality. The yard is a lush green landscape with shrubs and small trees, and the taller trees that border the property line on three sides provide a dazzling array of fall colors that heighten the whole scene.
He saw a family come out and watched as they walked to their car, and he smiled at seeing the kids jumping about as their parents walking hand-in-hand. He thought to himself, there’s the life that could have been mine but isn’t, and I don’t question your judgment or your will for my life Lord, but it’s just hard sometimes to ward off this feeling of loneliness. He allowed his imagination to wander a bit and envisioned himself living such a happy life with… oh, who am I kidding? His concentration was broken by the sound of a car horn because the power truck had moved to allow traffic to pass. Turning away with a sad heart, he pressed the accelerator and proceeded on his way to the hospital.
As he turned on Old Post Road, his phone rang, and seeing the number, he smiled and tapped the off-hook button on his steering wheel.
“Trevor! This is a surprise. How are you, my old friend?” asked Daniel.
“I’m well I’m well. How about you? Enjoying life as a man of the cloth?”
“Indeed. Blessed with more than I deserve.”
“Hey, I’m actually in the area and thought you might like to get together for lunch and reminisce about the good ole days.”
“I’d love to. I have a hospital visit this morning, and then I need to check-in at the church. Is one o’clock good?
“Perfect! I have a few loose ends to close myself, if you know what I mean.”
“I know I know. I’m not that rusty you know.”
“Alright. A bro lunch it is then… see you at one.
“Great! Catch ya later–bye.”
Daniel arrived at St. Charles Hospital and immediately let out a sigh. Why is parking always such a chore at this place?
“Do you understand? You will be nice and polite. I do not want to arouse his suspicion or that of anyone else. This must be kept low key–is that clear?” asked Raanan.
“Sure boss. We’ll be like kittens,” replied Danny Boy.
“If you screw this up, you’ll need the priest… for your FUNERAL!”
“No worries, boss. We got dis.”
“Fine. Now, you and Lou get down to the atrium. He should be here soon.”
“Sure ting boss. Come on Lou.”
As he walked up to the hospital, Daniel stopped to read the sign over the main entrance. U.S. News and World Report rank St. Charles Hospital as a high regional performer in orthopedics. Impressed, he raised his eyebrow and slightly gave an agreeing nod and walked inside. Stepping off to the side, he took out his phone and dials the number Megan sent him in a text. Danny Boy’s phone begins to ring.
“Lou, I believe dis is our guy,” said Danny Boy. “Look around for a padre holding a phone.”
“I don’t see no padre and dey all have phones, you dummy” Lou replied.
“Look for da guy not talking to anyone ya dope!”
“Oh, I see one guy over dare by the front door. That’s gotta be him DB.”
The two men crossed the atrium and walked towards Daniel. When Danny Boy’s phone was deferred to voicemail, Daniel ended the call and started to dial Megan thinking she might have given him the wrong number.
“Ah, excuse me, padre. Are you here to see Mr. Abramov?” asked Danny Boy.
“Yes, and who are you?” replied Daniel.
“We’re a couple of his associates. He asked us to take you to where he is.”
“That’s fine, but certainly unusual.”
“Well, dey said dey were going to move him to a new room, and he didn’t want you tink’in he’d checked out or something like that.”
“Fine. Shall we go?”
“Sure ting. Come on Lou.”
As they made their way to the elevator, Daniel was quite suspicious of what is going on though he decided to play along. He felt exhilaration inside, which he had not felt for several years, and he noticed that his keen sense of awareness seems as sharp as ever. He sees perspiration on Lou’s forehead, and Danny Boy’s respiration is elevated and heavy. It’s pretty warm outside for these two to be wearing jackets. No doubt, they’re carrying, but what’s going on, and why me? I’ve been off the grid for some time now., he thought to himself. The elevator stops at the pediatric floor.
“Uh, dis is our stop,” said Danny Boy.
Danny Boy took the lead, with Lou bringing up the rear. Daniel noticed nothing unusual going on as nurses came and went from one room to another and doctors consulting. There were no visitors allowed during the morning hours, and most of the patients were watching cartoons in their room. Daniel heard the echoing sound of Bugs Bunny saying, “What’s up, Doc?” The air had its usual aroma of rubbing alcohol, and he heard beeps of all types emanating from monitors in various rooms. As they made their way down the far end of the hall, they came to the last room end and entered where Daniel saw a man lying in bed.
“Mr. Abramov, I presume,” said Daniel.
“Yes, that is me. Thank you for coming to see me and for the unusual manner of escorting you to my room.”
“You two,” says Raanan to Danny Boy and Lou. “Leave us!”
“Unusual is somewhat of an understatement, sir, but why? And, why are you being treated on the pediatric floor?” asked Daniel as he turns from watching Lou and Danny Boy leave the room.
“All good questions for which I shall answer now.”
“I have been diagnosed with stage four pancreatic cancer and given only months to live.
“I see. May I ask, do you know Jesus as your personal Savior and Lord and if so, have you cleansed your soul of all unrepentant sin?”
“No need to worry, pastor. I’ve made my peace with God and am ready to meet him in the land of glory. What I need from you is something of a different nature.
“Oh! What nature is that?”
“You see, even though I have God’s forgiveness over my many lifelong transgressions, there are some people in my business, shall we say, who are not so forgiving.
“What business is that, if I may ask?”
“Hmm, it really doesn’t matter at this point, so I will tell you. My dear pastor, for 34-years, I have worked my way up in the Jewish-American mafia, and now, with my days numbered, it seems my second in command and at one time best friend has become a little impatient to take my place. He’s put a contract out for my head and not only me but also for my family.
“What do you expect of me? I’m a pastor, not a bodyguard. Why not go to the authorities?” Daniel asked.
“The authorities are of no use because there are too many of us on the inside, and one of them would easily take me out. My dear wife and son were murdered by an assassin; besides, my safety is not the cause for my request, it’s for my beautiful daughter–I want you to protect her!”
“That’s impossible–I’m a pastor of a church I…”
“Come come, I know exactly who you are and what you’re capable of doing. You’re the one they call ‘Shadow Man'”
Daniel had no words to offer in response and thinks to himself, Hmm, how is it that this man knows of my past, especially that I was a federal agent…? Daniel removed his suit jacket and loosened his tie. Raanan takes quick notice of the Bersa .380 semi-automatic nestled under Daniel’s right arm.
“Interesting equipment for a pastor, don’t you think?” said Raanan.
“It’s for self-defense.”
“Hmm, I see.”
“Look, whatever or whomever you think I am, I can’t help you. What makes you think I can keep your daughter safe and alive? Your own people couldn’t do that for your wife and son.”
“Because, my good fellow, you’ve already saved her life once before. About two years ago when your plane was stricken by a lone bomber. It was said that you took care of her without any regard for your own safety or life. That’s the man I want protecting my daughter.”
Daniel was stunned by what he heard, and he walked over to the window and looked to the horizon to gather his thoughts quickly.
“What is the name of your daughter?”
“Jodi. In Hebrew, it is pronounced Jewess and it means ‘She Knows.'”
“I tried looking for her for days even weeks after the incident, but the airline had no record of her being on the flight. None of the emergency services had a record of treating her and neither did any of the local hospitals. It was said that I dreamed her up in my mind.”
“That’s correct because I had all the records erased for her protection. Certainly, you do not think I could be a man of such power without friends in high places like Washington D.C., do you? There is, of course, another catch.”
“She does not know I am her father. She is not the daughter of my wife, but instead, she is the daughter of a woman I once loved. She died last year.
“If she doesn’t know you, how is she in danger?”
“Because my partner and longtime friend Roberto knows about her and since he put out the contract, she too is in danger.
“Alright, how do I find her?”
“There is no need to go to her, she will come to you shortly.”
“She’s a nurse at this very hospital and Danny Boy is giving her a reason to come to this very room.”
At that moment, the door opened, and Jodi walked in with Roberto holding her by the arm. She made eye contact with Raanan and then sees Daniel in the corner of her eye. She freezes, and her jaw drops. Roberto’s gun was drawn, and he told Daniel to give him his gun, and Daniel complies. He took stock of Roberto and commits to memory that he is about 70 inches tall with brown eyes. He has a weathered face and a stubbly grey beard. A scar runs down the side of his neck that indicates he was once in a knife fight. After Roberto takes Daniel’s gun, Jodi remained motionless with her eyes fixed on Daniel in disbelief.
“So, my friend, this is where I find you. Cowering in some hospital and putting this young woman’s life in jeopardy,” said Roberto to Raanan.
“Roberto, I beg of you. Let the girl go. She has nothing to do with the business; this is between us, please, Roberto. Take my life now if you must, but let her go.”
“Take your life. What on earth are you babbling about, Raanan? I don’t wish to take your life. In fact, I’ve been trying to scour this island from east to west trying to find the one responsible for killing your family.”
“Then why do you enter with your gun drawn and this young girl as your hostage?”
“My dear friend, my gun was drawn because I hear an unfamiliar voice talking to you and I had Jodi by the arm in case I needed to snatch her back.”
“Then why are you here, and why are you with her?” asked Daniel.
“Because whoever killed his wife and son has also killed your secretary.”
“Yes, it happened about an hour ago. It’s all over the news, and the cops are looking for you. They suspect you did it just like they suspect your involvement with the plane bombing 2-years ago,” explained Roberto as he turned his attention to Raanan. “I had to tell Jodi the truth, Raanan. Do you understand? I had to tell her the truth so she would come with me quietly so as not to arouse suspicion.”
Jodi shifted her stare from Daniel to Raanan with tears lightly streaming down her face. Daniel could not help but notice how beautiful she is and the only difference between now and 2-years ago is that her hair seems slightly shorter, and she has it in a ponytail. Raanan, also in tears, simply looked at her with a father’s love. She moved for the first time and takes short, somewhat staggering steps towards Raanan’s bed.
“So… so you’re my… my father?” she asks.
“No!” replies Raanan. “The man who raised you and brought you up proper to live in this world, that man is your father, not I.”
“But… you are my biological father… yes?”
Raanan’s lips quiver and tears flow down his cheeks. “I am.”
“I’m sorry, but we need to get as far away from this hospital as possible and time is of the essence, said Daniel.
“Why?” asked Roberto.
“Ah, because Daniel knows that whoever killed his secretary likely knows where he is and why he’s here, and that person will be on his way here, or perhaps he’s here now,” said Trevor as he walked in the room. “Didn’t take much to get your two boys to spill their guts–in more ways than one, I might add.”
Roberto stiffened up and took one final gasp of air, and held it until he fell to the floor with a knife piercing his back and through his heart. Daniel looks up to see Trevor, his former partner at the bureau, standing there aiming a gun at his head.
With a smirk on his face, Trevor answered, “What can I say, Daniel? It seems at some point, realities converge. Oh, come now, shadow man. Who do you think was Raanan’s inside man for so long? First, it was my father, and then he handed the reigns over to me.”
“Why have you betrayed me in this way Trevor?” asks Raanan.
“I knew you were getting soft in your old age and nearing your last days. It dawned on me that you might risk everything and all for this lovely-looking girl of yours. So, I put the contract out on the street for your head and made it look like your ole pal Roberto was behind the whole thing.”
“Then kill me, but I ask you to let her go on with her life–she knows nothing,” begged Raanan.
“No can do old man. She can identify me so why would I let her go–hmm? In fact, your dead buddy Roberto here is going to kill Daniel with his gun Raanan, and I haven’t figured out how little missy here is going to die, but it will come to me.”
“Trevor! After all we’ve been through…” said Daniel.
“Really, Daniel. Now, who do think implicated you in the plane bombing? I planted just enough evidence to make you look suspicious but not enough for a conviction. I did you a favor, old friend. What I didn’t factor in the equation was your being in love with little sweet pants here.” Trevor turns his attention to Jodi. “You should have heard him babble on about you for weeks and weeks and weeks. It was nauseating as hell, I might add,” said Trevor as he looked back at Daniel.
Jodi noticed a full syringe with a bottle of lidocaine next to it. She slowly reached for it while Trevor’s attention was more fixed on Daniel and Raanan. With the syringe in the palm of her hand and her thumb on the depressor, she lunged at Trevor. She managed to inject the needle into the back of his hand that held the gun. The gun discharged, and the bullet struck Raanan in the abdomen. Trevor backhanded Jodi, knocking her to the floor, but Daniel kicks the other gun from Trevor’s grasps, and the two engaged in hand-to-hand combat. As the two men exchanged blows, Trevor maneuvered quickly and put Daniel in a chokehold.
When Jodi regained conscientiousness, she saw the knife still wedged in Roberto’s back. She grabbed the handle and pulled out the blade, and thrusted it into Trevor’s right thigh. Trevor let out a scream and fell to the ground but saw his gun under the bed. Daniel considered the gun too but realized that Trevor would get it first, so he grabbed Jodi by the hand, and they both ran from the room. Trevor fired two shots using his opposite hand, but his aim was way off. A doctor and nurse ran into the room, and Trevor informs them that he is a federal agent, and they let him pass.
Jodi motioned towards the staff elevator as she and Daniel ran down the hall. He noticed people hiding under desks, ducking for cover, and some were even frozen in place, unable to move a muscle. An armed security guard told them to freeze with his weapon drawn, but Daniel dropped into a slide tripping the guard. He took the guard’s gun and drags him into the elevator while Jodi held the door.
“DANIEL!” yells Trevor while he fires several randomly aimed bullets. “You can’t get away. I’ve called in the cavalry, and they will drop you on sight. Give it up!”
“Jodi, go to the top floor!” said Daniel.
“Just do it. We can’t go down and risk being shot on sight as active shooters.”
“Please don’t kill me. I have a wife and two children,” begs the security guard.
“I’m not going to kill you. Look, despite how things appear, we’re the victims here,” Daniel said to the guard. “This is what I want you to do. First, give me your spare clips, and second, once we leave the lobby, take her, use the visitor elevators and get her to safety. Jodi, how do I access the roof?”
The elevator door opened, and Daniel quickly exits. The security guard and Jodi ran the opposite way towards the visitor elevators. Daniel heard the tone of an elevator’s arrival, stopped, and looked back to see Trevor limping his way out. Daniel raised his gun and took aim.
“Stop right there Trevor! This is the end of the line for you,” said Daniel.
“Oh really. You’re going to kill a federal agent involved in an investigation and expect to simply walk away clean. Come on, Daniel, even you know that’s too thin,” replied Trevor.
“Perhaps so, but let’s find out.”
“What about your God? You’ll go to hell right beside me if you pull that trigger, or perhaps you being a pastor is just a front.”
“That’s where you’re wrong. You see, even though God commands us not to commit murder like you’ve been doing, He never said we cannot defend ourselves, and speaking of hell, you need not go. There is another path that you can choose, and while there are consequences for your actions in this life, heaven can be your eternal destiny.”
“Do you really believe in all that crap? How can a loving God sit back and watch all this? No, this life, this world, this is all there is, and you have to make the best of it for yourself and live life to the fullest. That’s reality, Daniel, not some mystical entity you can’t see or hear!”
“It’s about faith, Trev. It’s about being faithful and placing your trust in Jesus, whom we cannot see, but He is here–right here, right now! And you can surrender your life to Him and be forgiven. You’ve made the wrong choices in this life, but now you can make the right choice for the next. Trevor, let me help you, let God help you as he helped me… please!”
The two men stood in silence with each in the other’s gun sight, ready to shoot. A tactical team is heard coming up the stairwell. Trevor began to smile and slightly shook his head back and forth, looking at Daniel, and then winced in pain. His complexion is pale, and his vision becomes fuzzy–the effects of the blood loss.
“You know, Daniel, for a brief second, you had me actually thinking about it. Wow, in a way, you’ve become a conman in your own right. See you on the other side, old friend.”
Daniel saw Trevor’s grip tighten on his gun, and both men fired to hit their target, and both dropped to the ground. Daniel struggled for air, sees blood on his hands, and lays his head back. Father, I ask for forgiveness and submit to your perfect will. Please bless Jodi with long life and give her someone who will love her as You love Your church. In Jesus’s name, I pr…. He began to fade in and out of consciousness and reached a point where he could not distinguish reality from imagination.
He heard voices all around him and felt pressure against his chest and the mask covering his mouth and nose. He slightly opened his eyes and saw overhead lights passing one by one in rapid succession, and then a figure he could not make out to his left looms over him. He hears, “Your goooing tooo beee okaaaay. Weee knooow the truuuth, weee knooow whaaat reaaaaly happeeeened.” Another figure, a female, is on his right side, holding his hand, and as she let go, his gurney came to a stop, and he could hear the faint sound of beeps, pings, and one very distinguishable alarm.
“Good Morning, Long Island! It’s 6:00 a.m. and time to rise and shine for another beautiful Sunday morning….”
A Faithful Sower Publishing is a limited liability company that is dedicated to sharing the good news of Jesus Christ and help guide people into a relationship with God and grow in that relationship. The publisher, editors, and authors achieve that end through prayer and the careful exposition of the Bible to best explain and illustrate Scripture in a meaningful engaging way so others can apply its truths to their everyday life. The mission of the the A Faithful Sower ministry team is to carry out the Great Commission issued to all who choose to follow Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord. Jesus commands us to “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation” (Mark 16:15).