Friday, March 24, 2017

Segment Seventeen - Escape from the Belfry Copyright 2013 Doris Gaines Rapp

(My assistant accidentally uploaded the last few posts from a pre-edited manuscript. I'll post corrections soon. Enjoy this correct entry. Happy reading!)

Chapter 32
New Year’s Eve
Monday, December 31, 1945

Adam woke up the next morning in the Silvermans’ guest room. He shook his head and tried to clear his thinking. The events of the previous day gathered around the edges of his mind.
            “Adam?” Pastor Silverman tapped on the bedroom door.
            “May I come in?”
            “Sure.” Adam pulled the covers over him again, sat up and leaned on his elbow.
            “A couple of people have been by to see you this morning.”
            “How did they know where to find me?”
            “Actually, Frederica Breman stopped. She said you two had seen each other yesterday. I guess she also knew you had been living in the church’s bell tower.”
            “Yeah, I guess. I’m that crazy boy that lives with the bats in the belfry.”
            “Speaking of bats in the belfry, you know what I found over there this morning? I hope you don’t mind. I had gone up the ladder to get your school books, clothing and stuff. Look what I found.”
            Pastor Silverman reached around into the hallway and brought in B.B. Brumble’s basket-purse turned birdcage. The basket was covered with a white cloth.
            Adam’s breath caught in his throat. Many things tumbled through his mind and B.B.’s basket was another wad to choke on. The little hummer was gone. He didn’t realize until that moment how much the little ruby throated hummingbird meant to him.
            “So you found the basket?” Adam was sure. Once he was found with the silly purse, no one would believe or trust him.
            “That’s right. I found it,” Pastor said.
            “Pastor Silverman―”
            “This is the most appropriate use of B.B.’s bag I can think of.”
            “It’s okay that I had the purse?” Adam was confused. If everything was all right, then why did the pastor confront him with the bag now?
            “Okay? Of course, Adam. The basket-purse was there for the taking.” He pulled one of Mrs. Silverman’s card-table cloth covers from the top of the cage. There in the center of the basket was the little hummingbird.
            Adam leaped from the bed and grabbed the cage. “How did he survive? How is this possible? I thought the little guy was either gone or dead.”
            He pulled the cage close to his face and studied the bird from every angle. Great tears of joy and other feelings he had stuffed away to deal with another time, rolled down Adam’s cheeks. He looked over the bright red throat and the little green feathers and saw how proud the bird looked.
            The hummer appeared to be healthy and strong. Suddenly, he began chirping his long, “Look at me, aren’t I great” song.
            “He’s showing off,” Adam grinned. “He is amazing.” He looked again at the little bird. “I’m shocked, Pastor?” He hitched up the basketball sweats he had used as pajamas bottoms, took the birdcage and sat down on the edge of the bed. He couldn’t take his eyes off his only roommate, as small and amazing as the hummer was.
            “How could any of these things happen? Adam, I don’t know. I’m not the author of any of this. I just know there are so many little miracles that gather around us each day; we would trip over them if we saw them all. Most of us see only a few in a lifetime.”
            “And some of us miss them all,” Adam admitted. How many miracles in his life had he missed?
“You said Fritzy was here?”
            “She left a card she had made. Trust me. I didn’t look at the message. She said she had made the card last evening. She wanted you to have it right away. I guess you two have a date for the New Year’s Party. She also said to remind you that you had promised.” The pastor waited for Adam to reply.
            “Oh, and here is her card,” Pastor offered.
            Adam took the envelope and withdrew the handmade card. There were two verses with a hand drawn cover, just like a card from Woolworth’s. The cover had a watercolor painting of a ruby throated hummingbird, signed by Fritzy. Inside, the words sounded like they had been written just for him. He thought about all that had happened to him recently. He saw the path he had walked written within the ten lines of Fritzy’s poem.

God bless you with–
Truth to speak
The home you seek
Grace for living
A cause for giving.

For This New Year:
I wish you peace to share
Those who care
A song to sing
And hummingbirds in the spring.

            Adam brushed a tear away with the back of his hand. “I wasn’t sure I would be able to take her to the party. I don’t have any money. I lost my billfold on my way back from Mr. and Mrs. Breman’s house.”
            “Now, that is another thing. A man stopped by and asked if I knew where the Schumacher family lived. I said I had just met Adam Schumacher Saturday evening.” Pastor paused to let Adam have time to remember the miracle of that night in the church.
            “Did you tell him?” Adam’s muscles trembled again as he prepared for another flight.
            “Well, yes,” Pastor said. “Isn’t that okay, Adam? He had been driving slowly along the streets he had seen you on before. About a block and a half from here, he spotted your wallet on a small stretch of sidewalk that had been cleared of snow. He gave it to me.”
            “I have met him. I don’t know who he is. Do you know where he is now?”
            “He said he had to get home. He had taken a few days out of his Christmas vacation already, trying to find the Schumacher family. But, he had to go back home. He needed to be with his family for a few days before his children went back to school after Christmas vacation.”
            “What did he want—besides giving back the billfold? I saw him around town long before he found my wallet.”
            “He had a message for you and your mother. That’s all he wanted. He claimed he shouldn’t give the information to anyone but the Schumacher family. He said that someone had told him that a man, believed to be your father, William Schumacher, had been found in an Army hospital. He said the source was reliable. Your father has evidently been there since a Prisoner of War camp was liberated at the end of the war. The man, your father, doesn’t remember his own name, but a patient in the same ward, said he thought he recognized him. No one would believe the other patient because he had memory lapses too. Sergeant Smith said your dad had no identification on him and the VA wouldn’t notify you or your mom without proper I.D. They wouldn’t want to make a mistake. The man, thought to be your dad, was thin and ill but getting stronger. The war buddy of mine said he had picked these up off the battlefield at the Battle of the Bulge. They were found near where your father had been when the enemy dragged him away. Sergeant Smith wanted you and your mother to have them.”
            Pastor Silverman reached in his pocket and pulled something out. He took the bird from Adam and put the cage on a table in front of a window.
            “This is for you and your mom,” he said as he dropped Will Schumacher’s Army dog-tags into Adam’s hand.
            “Oh no! The man in the blue car had these all along? Where is he? Where’s Pops?”
            “Sergeant Smith left his name, address and phone number. He said he would like you and your mom to write to him. He can make arrangements for you two to meet the man believed to be William Schumacher.” The pastor handed the card with the contact information to a stunned young man, the newly renamed Adam Schumacher.
            I will go with you, My Son. I’ll help you find your father, Shaddy blew into Adam’s ear with certainty.
            “I will find him. I know I will find Pops as soon as spring comes. Thank you, Reverend.” Adam grabbed the pastor and held onto the dog-tags. They were the only reality he had known in months. They were not a fantasy. They were a truth about Pops he could live with.
            “I did nothing, Son. You should thank God.” Pastor patted the boy’s shoulders then added. “I saw no suit among your clothes in the belfry. You’re going to need one for the party.”
            “Sounds to me like you promised Fritzy Breman you would take her to the party, and she is an awful nice girl to back out on your promise.” He didn’t give Adam a chance to protest but continued, “I have a suit hanging in the back of my closet that I have not worn in years. I guess I kept the suit of clothes to remind me of how slim I was at one time. My wife can take in the pants a little for you.”

            Could it be? Had I actually witnessed a miracle and almost didn’t see it? He looked at the hummer and the wallet and the dog tags and wondered how much more proof he would need?

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