God Speed

Each evening at about the same time, Alan and Kristy could hear their new next-door neighbor singing along with the same inspirational R. Kelly song.

"Alan, if I have to hear that socially retarded new neighbor sing 'I Believe I can Fly' tune one more time, I'm going to scream!"

Alan put his index finger to his mouth as to non-verbally ask her to be quiet. As he listened through their open kitchen window, Alan laughingly stated, "I think our inept new neighbor sings that tune pretty well Kristy," as he annoyingly tweaked her cheeks.

"Stop it Alan! I like the song, but I hate that man. I tried to take him some of that expensive candy your sister sent us for Christmas, and he might as well as shut his door in my face."

"Did he thank you for it?" Alan asked curiously.

"No, he didn't even take it. Said it made him sick to even look at it, and then said he had to go because he had company to entertain! Poor girl," she sarcastically finished.

Alan and Kristy moved into their small but cozy living room and sat down on the couch by their cat they affectionately named "Lovely." After watching a sitcom, Alan turned the television set off and asked Kristy if she really hated their next-door neighbor, Craig.

"Don't know yet", she huffily replied. "I guess I just can't stand the way he keeps everyone at armís length. We've both tried to be friendly to him, and he just looks down like some comedian and says he has to amuse his company. More like a circus probably, and he's the court jester!" She pretentiously and finally concluded.

"Sounds to me, Kristy, that our Bozo next-door neighbor has hurt your feelings. Maybe it's a girl he just met for crying out loud! Are you jealous or something?" Alan curtly replied.

"Right Alan! And he's singing about how they're going to soar and fly and all that sappy stuff? Please!"

She laid her head on his shoulder in silence for a bit before replying, "He's just a social freak of nature who thinks he's God gift to the poor pitiful soul he probably forces to hear him sing. She's probably just as much a freaky social oddity as he is."

"Honey, why are so judgmental when we haven't even known the guy for a month?" Alan responded with a frown.

"A month is enough, and I wish he'd move. I was hoping we'd have that nice couple from just outside Tacoma move in. Instead, we get this geek. We would at least have had something in common with them!"

"Whatever you say. I'm going to bed," Alan grumbled, "rather be there than listen to you jab on some guy you don't know, and have been hospitable to once! Mrs. Welcome Wagon herself teaching best what she needs to learn!"

"Why are you being so mean to me over this?" Kristy lashed back.

"Okay, I'll tell you why if you really want to know. Seems to me you've been sulking around over your little friend Tara as of late! Think? Plus, the way you're acting, I think you and Craig do have something in common."

As Alan positioned himself to get up, she grabbed his arm. "Hold on a second! Are you saying I'm some loser that has no life?" She angrily questioned.

He moved away from her grasp and replied, "No, I'm saying you are acting like one right now. Sleep on it, and you can come to bed with me, or continue to have a pity party over the not-so-perfect neighbor next door."

She watched as he walked toward the staircase and began to wonder about why their new neighbor, Craig, was so stand offish.

Sunday morning rolled around and as Alan was getting dressed for church, he asked Kristy if she was going to go with him.

"I don't need to go to church to get God," she sharply answered, "I can read a devotional, say a prayer, and I'll get about as much out of that as you will going to church."

"Kristy, I love you and you know I do. But if we are to ever even think about having children, I want you to know that they will go to church. And just because your feelings got hurt over one comment by your once best girlfriend in Sunday school class, isn't a real good reason to think the church is full of hypocrites! Is Tara a hypocrite because she is making more money as a nurse than you are as a teacher?"

Kristy hurried over to the kitchen sink to put some dishes away.

"Yeah, that's it Kristy, walk away from me and ignore everything I'm saying. But don't you think that the reason I've been going and probably most people do, is because they know they act like hypocrites. Is that still your excuse?"

She paused with her hands resting on the sink briefly before replying, "Okay, let's go to church today and meet some moreÖ," she halted her speech. "Like I was saying, give me a few minutes and I'll be down and we'll go to church." She stated as she sheepishly looked down while briskly walking past her husband.

As they pulled into one of the last spots in the church parking lot, Kristy reached over and apologized to Alan for being so intolerable.

"Alan, I am sorry for being such an idiot over Craig. Maybe I'll make up with Tara today and who knows who else I may meet."

Upon opening the church door, they were both startled to see Craig dressed in a dowdy suit and looking like he had gotten an hour's sleep at best. They caught eyes and held them too long not to approach.

"Hi Craig," Alan cheerfully stated. "It's good to see you. Didn't know you attended church here."

Craig, less stand offish, replied, "Well, you see this is my first time going to this church. Figured I could meet some people being new to this side of Tacoma and all."

"Hi Craig," Kristy inserted. "Thought you had plenty of friends. Seems you have company every time I've stopped over."

Alan quickly stepped closer to Craig. "Would you like to sit next to us in church?"

Craig looked pensive for a moment and then answered with a rather confident "Yes!"

The sermon was on forgiveness and how miracles come true when you believe in them. After the typical salutations and greeting the pastor at the church exit, the three stood awkwardly outside in the warm breeze.

"Nice day out Craig. You want to come over and get in our pool or just hang out?" Alan asked.

Before he could reply, they heard a faint shout from Kristy's once best friend, Tara.

"Wonder what she wants?" Kristy glumly asked under her breath.

Tara began motioning for Kristy to come over.

"Go on Kris," Alan encouraged her.

"Well okay, I'll be back in a few minutes."

Kristy began with a walk that turned into a slight jog.

"I know that girl," Craig said.

Alan was taken back by his sudden ease and casualness, and as curiously, how he knew Tara.

"Where do you know Tara from?" Alan asked with a furrowed brow.

"She's the nurse I hired to take care of my foster brother when I'm at work," Craig responded.

"Really? Tara is, well, hopefully will be Kristy's best friend when they are done talking. They had a little argument over money, and if you picked up on her sarcasm, it really wasn't aimed at you."

Craig nervously shifted his eyes towards the two that they could both barely hear speaking from across the parking lot.

"Craig, if you don't mind me asking..."

Craig held up his hand so as to stop Alan before he asked. "No, I don't mind telling you why Tara watches my brother."

"I thought you said he was your foster brother?"

"Same difference. We lived in foster homes together since I was about five and he was seven years old," Craig answered as his bottom lip began to shudder with emotion. "Tara comes over in the afternoons to feed him lunch, and help him stretch his legs so they don't become stiff."

Alan looked dismally downward as his face became an almost pinkish color before asking, "Is there anything I can do? You know, now that I know who is taking care of your brother."

Craig glanced in the direction of the faint voices of Kristy and Tara, and remarkably saw them hugging each other.

"Sounds like my wife made up with Tara", Alan nervously mumbled.

"Like I was saying Craig, is there anything I can do to help? I work odd hours, so there are days I could go over and talk with your brother or something."

Craig paused for a moment and watched as the white stream poured from the end of a jetliner high above. "Yeah Alan, there is something you can do. My brother, Brent, used to fly fighters before he became paralyzed from the chest down."

Alan looked at Kristy and Tara and they were still hugging as his eyes began to mist.

"He was on his way to McChord this time last year to fly a night sortie when he was in an almost fatal car accident." Craig quieted and paused for a reflective few moments before shouting, "Dear God! And to think my brother was only one mile from the Air Force Base front gate."

Craig, still emotional, noticed Alan looking down and could tell he was crying.

"Alan, do you think you could go over to my house a few days a week and just turn on his CD player? He only has one song that he pretty much listens to anyway."

Alan grasped Craig's shoulder and wiped the tears onto his extended arm that remained stilled on Craig for a minute or so.

"I believe I can handle that Craig," Alan happily answered.

Craig smiled and watched as Alan began to walk towards Kristy and Tara. As Kristy and Tara pulled away from each other with tears in their eyes, Kristy saw Alan walking their way and could tell that he knew what she now knew as well. Kristy said her goodbye to Tara as she clasped hands with her husband and walked to their car, got in, and pulled up next to Craig and Tara who were now talking.


"Yeah Alan."

"Just wanted to let you know that I believe in what the sermon was about today, and that I know that your brother will one day fly again."

Alan pushed in his Yolanda Adam's CD of the same song, gave Craig a big smile and looked over at Tara who was moved to tears. As they drove off, both Kristy and Alan could be heard all the way out of the parking lot singing, "I believe I can fly, I believe I can touch the sky, I dream about it every night and day, spread my wings and fly away.. I believe I can soar, I see me running through that open door, I believe I can fly, I believe I can fly..."

When the music and car had disappeared, Craig tapped Tara on her shoulder and pointed up, and they both stared in awe at an F-16 that seemingly, just for them, dipped its left wing very quickly before erecting itself in perfect alignment with the ground.

"Craig, why did the pilot of the jet do that with the plane's wing?" Tara asked.

"My brother used to fly over the foster home where we lived for 11 years. He used to dip his left wing like that for the kids that lived there then. I remember once that he told me that most pilots did it just to check their wing responsiveness and some kind of non-instrument, situational awareness thing. But he intentionally called the maneuver 'God Speed' because he felt that God's timing would be perfect in getting those kids out of that foster home and into a permanent home to live."

Tara watched the plane until it could be seen no more and replied, "That's interesting. I believe Brent was right in both ways. I'll beat you home Craig!" She giggled as they both ran to their cars.

Copyright © 2002 Brian G. Jett brianjett@chrysalishouse.org

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