The Walking Wounded - Cover

The Walking Wounded

Copyright© 2012 by Robert McKay

Chapter 19

The next day, when he got home from work, Kevin called the church office. Tyrone was, as it happened, available. Kevin hopped back on his bike and rode over to the church building, where Sandy buzzed him in and showed him downstairs to Tyrone's office. It was a bit bare, for Tyrone was slowly moving all his things out – a few books this week, a binder of sermon notes next week, a little here and a little there – as he moved toward retirement. But Tyrone was there, and his Bible was on his desk, and Kevin figured that was all that they needed.

After they'd greeted one another, Tyrone sat down behind his desk and asked, "What can I do for you, Brother Kevin?"

"First I gotta tell you, Tyrone, that I don't know how to say stuff right, so this is gonna be a mess. You're gonna have to help me just ask the questions right, never mind answer 'em too." He took a deep breath. "What's love?"

Tyrone smiled. "You don't avoid the hard and deep questions, do you?" He nodded his head. "Let me guess, if I might. You're asking because of your relationship with Karin Seguín."


"And you want to figure out whether you love her."


Tyrone looked off into the distance for a moment. "Yes, that can be a difficult question. But you've approached it from the right direction. Tell me, Kevin – do you love the Lord?"

"If you'd asked me right after I became a Christian, I'd've said yes. If you'd asked me a month ago, I'd prob'ly still have said yes. Right now, I don't know."

"Because you're not sure what love is."


"Let me say something here, if I might. I believe you do love the Lord, because I see how you are with Him. In your prayers, in the way you receive His children as your brothers and sisters, in the way you so obviously want to learn from the Bible, in the way you attend to His corporate worship – in all these things I see a love of God. Now I'm fallible, and I make mistakes. But I don't think I'm making a mistake here. I truly believe you love the Lord. So that ought to tell you a little bit."

Kevin shook his head. "Maybe it oughta, Tyrone, but I'm not gettin' it. Maybe my head's just so messed up from wonderin' 'bout me an' Karin that I can't see it."

"Let me do as Jesus did, and illustrate my meaning with a story. This isn't a parable though – it's a true story.

"Years ago, I was a young preacher in Alabama. I was just out of college, and not yet a pastor, and I was getting experience filling in here and there. I preached one Sunday at a church outside a little town called Leanna. And there was a young girl in that church – 15 years old. I met her, and a lot of other people, that day. And the Lord allowed me to preach several more times in that church over the years. This girl and I became friends, despite the age difference. One day I preached there, and this girl was now 18 and about to go off to college. And I was about ready to propose to her, for we got along real well, and cared about each other, and were great friends."

Tyrone paused, and for some odd reason Kevin got the impression he was thinking about those days when he wasn't so gray and his waist wasn't so large. Or maybe the reason wasn't so odd after all – Tyrone surely was thinking about the same thing he was talking about. "I was some older than that girl – she was just getting out of high school, and I'd already been out of college three years on this day I'm talking about. And I started college a little late. She was 18, and I was 27. But I was ready to propose, and to this day I believe she would have accepted, and we would have had a good, solid marriage.

"But that day I met someone else. A new family had come to that church since the last time I'd preached there. I met their middle daughter, Patricia Wheat. And Brother Kevin, from the time I first looked into her face I never have seen another woman. That girl I was going to propose to? I don't say I forgot her, for we're friends to this day. But as a wife, I forgot about her completely. I knew then and there that Patricia was the only woman for me.

"Is it that way for everyone? No. But the working out of the love I had for Patricia, that I still have for her, is where things are the same everywhere. I met Patricia Wheat, and from that day to this, if she's in danger, I'll rush to her side. If by putting myself between her and a truck I can save her life, I'll do it gladly. I won't even have to think about it. If she's unhappy, then I'm unhappy – and if she's happy, then I'm happy. Whatever is best for her is what I want, because that's what love is."

"Then I do love the Lord, 'cause ... well, He ain't gonna ever be in any danger I could save Him from, but if He was, I'd jump in an' fight like ... like anything for Him."

"I know you would, Kevin. And though you might not be expressing yourself as well as these theologians," and Tyrone waved a hand at the books still on the shelves, "your intent is perfectly valid. So – what does all this tell you about your feelings for Karin Seguín?"

Kevin took in a large breath, and blew it out again. "Yeah, that's right," he said, almost to himself. Then he said to Tyrone, "In all o' this I been thinkin' 'bout myself, how upset an' confused I been, an' how I felt an' all that. But lookin' at it that way..." He paused, pulling his fingers through his beard. "I been thinkin' o' her too. I said I'd get out o' her life, if that would make it better for her. An' I been ready to do whatever to make her happy. An' if she told me to get out o' town an' never come back, an' never see her or talk to her again, it'd kill me. But I'd do it, 'cause it'd be what she wanted."

He got up from his chair and walked over to a book shelf that was half empty. He ran his finger over the spine of a book, feeling the embossed gold letters. Then he turned back to Tyrone. "So I love her. What's next?"

"That's not something I can easily answer, Kevin. Let me start with a question of my own, if I might. Does she love you?"


"You say that without hesitation."

"She's told me so. She told me yesterday."

"Yesterday?" Tyrone's eyebrows climbed.

"Yeah. She said with all the rest that happened yesterday she couldn't deny it anymore. I guess she's loved me for a while, her sayin' that..."

"Kevin, there are several people in the church who have thought so – and who have thought that you love her. You two have very quickly become a couple, an inseparable one." Tyrone smiled. "It's been beautiful to see, I have to admit. But it's one thing to surmise it, and another to hear it. And though I do not doubt you, brother, I haven't yet heard Karin say she loves you."

"Ain't no reason for her to tell you, I guess."

"No, probably not. I didn't mean to offend, Brother Kevin."

Kevin shook himself. "No, you didn't. Sorry. Sometimes I still act like a biker. Karin's been teachin' me, but..."

"It's not a problem, Kevin. None of us lose all our pagan habits the minute we become Christians. And sometimes we struggle with things for a long time. The Bible talks about 'the sin which so easily entangles us, ' and while all sin is entangling, there are things which might be even more dangerous to one person or another. I have my own entangling sins, which I've been struggling with all my Christian life. And you will have yours too."

"Yeah, I know what you mean." Kevin returned to the chair he'd been sitting in and rested his folded hands on Tyrone's desk. "So, I love Karin, an' she loves me. What's the next step?"

"I never did answer your question, did I?" Tyrone rubbed his nose with a forefinger. "One of the reasons I'm retiring soon is that I've carried so much for so long that my mind sometimes just refuses to do what I tell it to do. What's next? Usually when people love each other, they get married."


"Today, I'm not even sure it's usually, but I was making a bad joke." Tyrone waved the bad joke away with a hand. "When Patricia and I met, even before I asked her, I knew I'd marry her or no one. And when I proposed, her answer was immediate, and I knew that it was the same for her. Here's my philosophy of marriage, for what it's worth: Don't get married until you absolutely have to, and then don't wait an instant. If you and Karin are able to be happy as friends, then don't get married. But if the only way you can be happy is to marry, then do it – and I will bless you in the name of the Lord."

The next day Kevin talked to the bakery manager and arranged to take Friday off. It was easy to do – Kevin had never had a sick day in his time at Wal-Mart and had only missed a very few days for other reasons, and Charlie Gutierrez would be able to come in and cover the shift. When he got home Kevin called Karin. It was the first time he'd done it, and he was nervous, and more so because of why he was calling. They spent 30 minutes on the phone, and hung up knowing that he'd be at her place Friday morning.

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