The Walking Wounded - Cover

The Walking Wounded

Copyright© 2012 by Robert McKay

Chapter 26

Because of the wedding the church had canceled the second service, and so everyone hung around talking instead of getting out of the way so the second congregation could find seats. Karin and Kevin didn't have to circulate; they stood at the front of the building, and everyone found his way there – some more than once.

After 15 minutes or so Tyrone made his way to the couple. "So where are you going on your honeymoon?"

Karin glanced at Kevin, and found him looking back at her. "We hadn't planned a honeymoon," she said.

"I thought not. It's one thing to get married when you're young, and have the ability to take off for a while." He paused, regarding them fondly. "An anonymous donor suspected that you would not have planned a honeymoon, and decided to give you one." Tyrone's hand reached into his pocket, and came out with two keys – to a hotel room, she realized. "You have a suite for a month. It's all paid for. The hotel has instructions to send all bills for room service, cleaning, whatever, to the donor. Here are the keys..." He put one into Karin's hand, and one into Kevin's, and told them which hotel and the address. "When you leave here, you are to pack enough for a month, and go to the hotel. And quite frankly, if you show up here during that month, it will disappoint me."

"You want us to skip church?" Karin heard the shock in her voice.

"No – but I want you to treat this as a honeymoon. That means seeing the sights, exploring Albuquerque, spending time in new places. I don't say that every church you visit in that month will be to your liking, but visit around. Worship the Lord with other brothers and sisters for a month. We will receive you with open arms when you 'get back.'"

"We can't do this." That was Kevin.

"Listen to me. The person who's donating this honeymoon wants to do it. It's a donation – a gift of love and grace from one Christian to other Christians. You can do it, Kevin, and you will – because you love the Lord ... and because you believe Jesus, Who said that 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'"

"Who is it?" Kevin asked.

"I know who it is. But I will not tell you. This person strictly instructed me and the other elders to not divulge the name."

Karin smiled at the way Tyrone avoided even giving away the donor's gender – while subtly implying that there might even be more than one person involved. "As hard as it is, we'll accept. Thank you, and tell the donor thank you."

"I'll do that. But Karin, listen." Tyrone touched her arm with a gentle finger. "It is American culture which makes it hard for us to receive gifts. In God's culture, we receive gifts – greater gifts than anyone on earth can give – every day. You live, physically and spiritually, only through the grace of God. That is a greater gift, greater by far, than a month in a hotel room with your new husband. Yet you do not resist it. You accept it, and thank God in all sincerity for His great blessing. Let go of your American pride, Karin. Pride is wrong, my sister. To thank the donor is the correct response. Let that be your only word."

Karin nodded, her eyes bright with new tears. "Yes, Brother Tyrone. You're right, and I know it, but ... You're right. Being an American can make being a Christian hard, can't it?"

Now Kevin nodded. "You don't know how much I'm having to forget in order to be a Christian, Kar." He turned to Tyrone. "Thank you. An' like Karin said, tell the donor thanks too. We really 'preciate it."

They maintained their Sunday tradition, though by now they were past keeping track of who was buying. To celebrate they ate at the Garduño's on Montgomery, and didn't care that at a nearby table another couple traded knowing looks whenever the newlyweds shared a glance or a touch. In fact, Kevin found himself grinning at Karin whenever he intercepted one of those knowing looks.

Afterward they drove around town for a bit, seeing things for the first time as husband and wife. And finally, as the afternoon began to be evening, they went to their new house, packed, and drove to the hotel. They had the keys, and went right up in the elevator. It was a suite indeed, with a bedroom, a living room, and even a small kitchenette. They ignored the mini bar, and the room service menu, and with the door locked behind them and the Do Not Disturb sign hanging outside, looked at each other. They'd known it was coming – but the first moment of privacy, the first moment of intimacy, was still a surprise.

Finally Kevin spoke, in a voice that was rough with emotion. "You know how many times I've looked at you, an' had to put my eyes somewhere else 'cause I didn't have any right to look where I was lookin' or think what I was thinkin'?"

"You told me a month ago that I'm sexy. I knew then, if I hadn't known before, that you've looked at me." She giggled. "You're a man, Kev. And while I don't excuse men who leer at women, if you didn't appreciate an attractive woman there'd be something wrong with you. I notice handsome men, after all – even though not one of them has a chance of getting anywhere with me." She turned in a circle, her dress flaring around her knees. "Am I sexy now?"

"Sure, why not?"

She patted her stomach, which visibly bulged now despite her size. She had, in fact, bought the dress especially for the wedding, for none of her other dresses would now fit over her growing belly. "Don't you think I'm getting a little big for sexy?"

He took a step and held her close. He said into her ear, almost whispering, "Karin, you'll be sexy when you're in the hospital having our son. It ain't your gut that makes you sexy. Oh, sure, I gotta admit you got a body that won't quit. I can't wait to see you in a bikini. But the same body on some other woman might just be ... it might be just a physical sexy, if you know what I'm tryin' to say."

She pushed a little, so that she could look into his eyes. "So what you see in me is more than just a physically attractive woman. It's not just ... it's not just physical desire."

"No. That's there, Karin – boy, is that there!" He grinned. "But if you woke up tomorrow lookin' like Broom Hilda you'd still be sexy to me, 'cause I love you."

She leaned against him again, and spoke her words into the cloth that covered his enormous shoulder. "Oh, Kevin, that's such a wonderful thing to hear." Her hands moved lower. "And the physical desire is there..."

When two people love each other without reservation, and have a whole new experience to learn together, time passes with dizzying speed. The month in the hotel room was over before it had hardly begun, and they packed their bags and turned in the keys, and drove to the house Karin had found for them on MacArthur Avenue, behind the Ross Plaza shopping center. They were within walking distance of the Albertson's that was the largest business in the shopping center, but when they began looking over the house together, they found that someone had – somehow – gotten in while they were on their honeymoon and stocked the cabinets and the refrigerator.

When this story gets more text, you will need to Log In to read it