The Walking Wounded
Copyright© 2012 by Robert McKay
By the time they were finished with the sandwiches and chips, and were sucking on melted ice, Kevin and Karin had covered some basic things about MJT Christian Fellowship. Some of them were items that the newcomer's lunch had dealt with, but Kevin wanted to be sure about them, and Karin didn't seem to mind the repetition. In fact, she smiled when Kevin asked about the church's confession of faith. "What's that, exactly? I mean, we're not Catholics confessing to a priest, right?"
"Let's see, you're remembering what José said last week, aren't you?"
"As for being Catholics, no – we're not. I won't go into all that, the things that divide us from the Catholic church, or the things we have in common with Catholicism. But we're not Catholic. Technically we're Protestant nondenominational, but you don't have to worry about that. What's important is that we're Christians."
"Right – that's what I'm into."
"As for a confession of faith, it goes back to the original meaning of 'confess.' At least I guess it's the original meaning. These days you confess to a crime or a sin, but it also can mean 'profess' – to proclaim, I guess you could say. Our confession of faith is our official statement of what we believe. You don't happen to have a computer, do you?"
"Me? Mr. Big Bad Biker? What would I do with a computer?"
Karin just looked at him for a moment, her hands folded and her chin resting on them. The amusement in her face was evident. "Okay, Mr. Big Bad Biker," she said, "you don't have a computer. And I suppose I could have guessed, but these days everyone has a computer, so I thought I'd ask.
"What I'll do is get you a hard copy of the confession. They've got them in the church office, but I'll be sure to have one ready for you next week ... or for that matter you could pick it up Wednesday. I notice you haven't been coming to the Wednesday services."
Kevin thought ... yeah, he'd seen mention of that in the bulletin. "I guess it just never occurred to me. They're at 7, right?"
"An' I gotta be at work at 7 in the morning. How long do those Wednesday services last?"
"An hour, an hour and a half. I don't know where you live, but unless you're really far away you ought to be able to get home by 9, 9:30 at the latest."
"An' that would give me time to sleep." He shook his head. "I swear, if someone had told me last year that I'd be makin' sure I got enough sleep I'd've choked him with a motorcycle chain. I won't promise anything, Karin, but I'll think about Wednesday."
"Okay, I'll have the confession for you then, and if you don't make it you can pick it up Sunday."
"That'll work. Next thing. I've been readin' the Bible, maybe I should say I've been readin' at it, 'cause I just open it up and read wherever I land. Is there a better way to do it?"
"Yes. Now there's nothing wrong with what you're doing, but it's not the most efficient way to do it. You really need to follow some sort of plan, even if it's just something simple like making a list of the books, and reading a book through and checking it off when you're done. You could start with Genesis and read till you're done with Revelation, but I wouldn't recommend that, at least not till you're more familiar with the Bible. You could start with Matthew and go through the New Testament, and then go back to Genesis, and that would be better, I think. But what I'd recommend is sort of a pick-and-choose method first." She reached into her purse and brought out a pen and a small spiral notebook. "I'm going to make a list for you, and you can see if you want to do it this way. If not, the church has two or three different Bible reading plans you can use – there are bookmarks you can follow."
Kevin sat quietly while she wrote. He had never been much of an observer of women – to a biker, women are more objects than people, objects you use when you're in the mood and beat on when they talk back and ignore the rest of the time. But he liked looking at Karin. Her head, bent over the paper, was blonde, and he didn't see any dark roots, though that might only mean that they'd done her hair recently. She was a big woman, as he already knew, nearly his height and he was over six feet, with shoulders and hips that matched without being unduly broad. Her proportions were, in fact, about the same as those of more petite women – but the whole package was larger. She was wearing a white blouse – her tan suede jacket was on the seat next to her – that molded to her nicely. He turned his eyes away as he realized what he was staring at. I gotta get over that, he thought to himself. But her figure was nice, not too large, not too small – again, the proportions were about the same as those of a more average woman. He knew that she had on a beige skirt, and brown shoes with moderately high heels, though the table hid those just now.
She must have felt his gaze, for she looked up – and smiled. "Do you like what you see?"
Kevin stumbled for a moment. "Sorry, Karin, but the women I've been around my whole life would ask that if they thought you were comin' onto 'em – or if they were comin' onto you. I know you're not doing that." He'd never felt so flustered in his life. "I, um, yeah, I like what I see. I never said this to any woman, but I like looking at you. You're pretty."
"Why, thank you, Kevin! I think that's the most genuine compliment any man's ever paid me."
"Well, shoot, Karin..." He trailed off.
"It's all right, Kevin. I know you're not used to talking to women like me. I'm not entirely sure what it's like being a biker, but I don't think the women you've known were my type."
"Karin, they weren't anywhere near your league. I don't know what other women are like, really – I ain't hardly known any. But you're ... you're a lady!"
"I try to be – and thank you again." She bent her head over the notebook again, and in a moment finished writing. She tore the page out, which now had writing on both sides. Kevin saw that her writing was full of loops and swirls, a pretty hand, much more so than his awkward efforts. "Here's the order in which I'd recommend you read the Bible. I knew there was some reason I memorized all the books of the Bible when I was a girl." There were the dimples again. "If you'll look at your table of contents, you'll see that this is a really jumbled order, but it'll be easiest for you, I think. I've tried to put the books at the top of the list that will give you the clearest picture of who Jesus was, and what He did, and what He said, and then the books that explain that, and then the books of history and prophecy and so forth."
Kevin folded the paper and put it in his vest pocket. "Thanks, Karin – that's really boss."
"Yeah – like, you know, groovy, cool, neat, like that."
She shook her head, her wavy hair sweeping over her shoulders. "I've never heard that one."
He looked out the window for a moment, then turned back to her. "How old are you, Karin?"
She smiled, and it was definitely a mischievous smile. "Didn't anyone ever tell you that a lady never reveals her age?"
"Nope. I grew up knowin' only my old man's women – a different one every week, it seemed like, and none of 'em ladies. And then ... well, you know what I've been."
"Well, that's what they say. But I'll tell you anyway, just because I want to. I'm 33 years old."
"Well, no wonder you never heard o' 'boss.' It's like from the 60s. I was born in 60, you know."
"I can't remember whether you told me that ... so you're 45."
"Yeah. I've been goin' gray for about five years now, an' by the time I'm old enough to be gray, I'll be gray." And he laughed, the sound filling the building.
Karin giggled. "Did you realize that when you laugh everyone notices?"
"I hadn't paid no attention." He looked around. "But I'm a big guy, an' I guess I laugh big."
"You certainly do. But I like the sound of it," Karin said. "In fact, I like a lot about you." She clamped her mouth shut, as if she hadn't intended to say that.
"Looks like we're both puttin' our feet in it, Karin."
"Yes, we are, Kevin. But I'm not going to retract it. I said it, and I'm going to stand by it." And a slight flush crept up out of the collar of her blouse, and reddened her cheeks.
"That reminds me," said Kevin. "What do you call that stuff you've always got on your eyelids? You know, that colored stuff – gold today."
"What reminds you?"
"The way you turned red just now ... don't ask me why that made me think o' your eyes, though, 'cause I don't know."