Stephanie stood by the window and sighed.
“Can’t sleep?” her new husband, Richard, asked.
Stephanie looked guilty. “Sorry,” she said, “it’s been two years I should be over it, I just—”
Richard silenced her with a kiss. “You’ve been through a lot,” he said, “the pain will be there. It means you’re human.”
Stephanie smiled back at him. “Yeah, but Mark needs both his parents.”
Richard hugged her. “He’s got both of them,” he stated. “You know, maybe we should take up that preacher’s invitation.”
“You think it would help us?” she asked.
“It might,” he answered. “It’s worth a shot, anyways.”
They arrived the following Sunday for morning services.
“Welcome folks, I’m Daniel. We’re glad to have you.”
“Thanks,” Richard stated. “I’m Richard; this is Stephanie and our son, Mark.”
“Find yourselves a seat; we’re not picky,” Daniel stated. “We’re glad to have you.”
“Thanks,” Richard said as they moved to a pew.
“Been a while since I’ve been inside a church,” Stephanie said. “Either of us, really.”
Richard nodded his head as he studied the bulletin. As soon as the piano began, Richard perked up. “Haven’t heard these songs since Sunday School, either,” he stated.
“Please take your hymn books and turn to number 300,” the pastor announced. “Number 300; please stand.”
More secure is no one ever/Than the loved ones of the Saviour the congregation began singing.
Stephanie leaned towards Richard. “This was my mother’s favorite song,” she said.
“My aunt loved this song,” Richard whispered, “she sang it all the time.”
“You folks from around here?” Daniel asked after the service.
“Other side of town,” Richard answered.
“Mr. Thomas, glad you could make it,” the pastor stated as he walked over.
“Pastor Garcia, thanks for inviting us,” Richard said.
“Please, it’s Jose; and we’re glad to have ya.”
“That first song has a history with our families,” Stephanie remarked. “We thought it special.”
“Yes, it’s one of my personal favorites too,” Jose stated. “You two come from Christian families?”
“Not exactly,” Richard answered. “Couple family members, that’s all.”
“You don’t know what to believe, do you?” Daniel asked. “You feel unsure; bad history with a previous church?”
“You could say that,” Richard said. “How’d you know?”
“Daniel’s a friend of mine and an FBI profiler,” Detective Miller answered as he walked over.
“Didn’t know you attended here, detective,” Stephanie stated.
“Mrs. Thomas,” Miller greeted her. “Glad to see you’re doing better. How’s the little one?”
“He’s not so little,” Stephanie said, pulling Mark from behind here.
“Hello little fellow,” Miller said, moving to Mark’s line of sight. “How are you?”
The families continued to talk for a bit before heading home. Richard sat on the porch swing later that evening, pondering.
“Penny for your thoughts?” Stephanie asked.
“You think there’s anything to what the pastor said?” Richard asked.
Stephanie sat down beside him. “I don’t know; my mother always seemed to think there was something to religion.”
“What about Miller?” Richard asked. “You trust him?”
“He’s done nothing to make me not trust him,” Stephanie stated.
“Really?” Richard asked. “Cause he still hasn’t found the killer.”
“Sometimes people can’t be found,” Stephanie stated.
“Or he’s already dead,” Daniel stated, as he and Miller came up from the sidewalk.
The Thomas couple looked at them.
“How long have you known?” Richard asked.
“We found him four days ago,” Daniel stated, handing them a photo. “He was found in Texas on Thursday.”
“Why didn’t you say anything?” Stephanie demanded of Miller.
“I told him I would,” Daniel said. “Anthony McNab was wanted on other charges in two other states. Since the FBI took him down, I told Miller I would tell you.”
Stephanie put her hand over her mouth. Richard put his arm around his wife.
“Where is he now?” she asked.
“In Hell, I’m afraid,” Miller stated. “I had to put three bullets in him when we found him.”
Richard looked up at Miller. “Is that what you actually believe?”
“You go to one of two places when you die,” Miller answered. “Heaven or Hell. Anthony wasn’t prepared for death; he had a chance and didn’t take it.”
“He shot at two other agents,” Daniel said. “With a twelve-gauge shotgun. Miller had to take him out or we wouldn’t have come out of there alive.”
“How do you do it?” Richard asked. “You’re both Christians; how do you do your jobs?”
“It isn’t always easy,” Miller answered. “But putting away bad guys is what I do.”
“Does your faith help?” Stephanie asked.
Daniel nodded his head.
“I know that if I die, I’ll go to Heaven,” Miller stated. “I can look down the barrel of a gun and have no fear because no matter what, it’s in God’s hands. The guys I put away, however, they don’t have that courage.”
“How do you do it then?” Richard asked. “If you believe shooting someone will send them to Hell, how do you do it?”
“I give them enough of a chance to surrender, “ Miller said. “I know that when I shoot someone, they’ve had their last chance to fix their life. They made that choice to go to Hell; the ultimate prison cell.”
Richard stood up. “Thanks Detective. For everything. And for the spiritual advice. It means a lot.”
“Anything I can do to help,” Miller said, handing Richard a business card, “let me know.”
Richard nodded. “We will.”