Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Michael’s Song

The property surrounding the Governor’s mansion has luscious green grass and flowerbeds in every color and shape imaginable. The governor rarely has time to enjoy the view with his life being consumed in politics. His first wife Gracie died leaving him with a son Jared who is now in his early thirties. Jared finished college early and became a lawyer. He works in the State Capital and lives with his father. He assists his father in the writing of legal documents. His second wife gave him another son whom they named Michael. Michael is just 18 years old and planning to go to college to be a professor. He had been a child prodigy and finished high school at fourteen years of age.

The mansion employs many people in charge of its upkeep. One of the downstairs’ maids is named Brianna. Brianna is a widow and lives with her daughter Amy upstairs in the remodeled old carriage house.

When Michael is abducted and held for ransom, the family is thrown into a whirlwind of panic and despair. Jared had always been serious and driven but realizes how much he depends on Michael’s calm and uplifting to ease his mind.

Who is behind this abduction? What part does 10 year old Amy have in this?

Page two

Amy skipped along the sidewalk pathway that wound around the back of the mansion. “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus! Sweetest name I know. Fills my every longing, keeps me singing as I go!” Amy rarely went outdoors without singing. She never sang a song completely as she didn’t take notice of all the words. Amy sang from the heart of an innocent child. Many times she made up songs as she went along. Her mother, Brianna was a minister’s child. Her faith was strong and she knew God was with her as she buried her husband three years before. Brianna had sung with her daughter throughout all the pain and suffering as an offering of worship to God.

The job of a downstairs maid at the governor’s mansion came as a gift from God. Her church had been praying and the minister had sent her resume’ to the governor. The two were old college friends.

To Brianna’s amazement the apartment came free with the job. The old carriage house was remodeled into a two bedroom apartment upstairs. The appliances were all new and the apartment came furnished as well. When she explained that she had a ten year old child, she was nervous she wouldn’t be hired. The governor and his wife assured her that little Amy was welcome. They arranged for a play area and gave permission for Amy to use the sidewalk out behind the mansion to ride her bicycle or skip rope. Amy called the governor’s wife “Mrs. Liana” per her request. Mrs. Monterey’s name was being mixed up to all sorts of mispronunciations as Amy addressed her.

Liana totally enjoyed watching the little girl from the solar room upstairs. “She is such a happy child. She reminds me of my Michael at her age.”

Amy wandered around each day and smelled the flowers as she sang. She’d stop and twirl around and suddenly plop down on the grass to watch the clouds in the sky. She had no idea that Mrs. Liana was upstairs enjoying the antics. Meanwhile Brianna dusted and polished downstairs. She was given special hours to help her care for Amy.

Governor Monterey had an office in his mansion but usually kept long hours in his office at the State Capital. The home life of the Monterey’s was frequently interrupted with special occasions, political meetings, and dutiful parties. The governor enjoyed his life for the most part. It had been a terrible time after he’d lost his first wife Gracie. They had been childhood sweethearts. Yet, he found peace in the arms of Liana. It was a natural occurrence to see the two of them embracing on the lawn or in any room of the house. Rafael Monterey was drawn to hire Brianna when he heard her story. He knew how hard it was to be a single parent. The governor was a Christian and felt the call to protect widows and orphans. Having Brianna with Amy was an unexpected delight.

Liana was a senator’s daughter and knew how to organize the mansion for political purposes. She also had an advisory staff that she got along well with. She spent much time instilling her knowledge into Brianna. Brianna was a quick learner.

Brianna was called on to serve whenever there were guests in the mansion. She would stand far enough away to not be eavesdropping during a dinner but near enough to fill a coffee cup if needed. She spoke when spoken to in an easy polite manner but didn’t start conversations or speak loudly. In short, Liana was delighted to observe that although Brianna was an excellent maid downstairs, she was perfect to help serve guests at any major function.

Brianna stood tall at 5 foot 8. Her brown eyes and dark upswept hair only emphasized her high cheekbones and effervescent smile. Amy was her exact duplicate in miniature size.

The mansion never ceased to amaze the Monterey family. After all, they were only living here while Rafael was the governor. The home was built in the 1800’s out of stone. Masons had been called in for a few repairs and updates. However, for the most part; the mansion still remained unchanged. The wall sconces that once housed candles now were electric lights. The halls held portraits of previous governors and expensive paintings of the state’s capital as it stood over the years. Red and gold intricate patterned carpeting graced the hall floors. The larger rooms had marble tile. French molding with carved swirls and cherubs could be seen from ceiling to floor. Baseboards were painted the same antique white as the rest of the molding.

The chamber pots are long gone and elaborate bathrooms replaced part of the maid’s quarters. Each basin in the bathrooms throughout the mansion are solid marble with gold faucets. The walls had satin striped blue and green with a silver thread entwined. Self flushing toilets were all over the mansion bathrooms.

The mansion has two huge dining rooms. Each is a duplicate of the other. Walls of light green with huge chandeliers hung from the ceilings. The antique furniture from the earlier century still glowed with lemon wax. Sideboards, curio cabinets, and china closets boasted of pictures and crystal from times gone by.

The apartments of the Governor and his wife were also beautiful. Rose colored walls with pale beige furniture and soft yellow lighting that Liana chose herself. Though it was modern, it had a touch of French elegances. Gold framed artwork held the faces of family and glowed against the rose colored walls.

Liana decorated both of their son’s rooms. Jared had little taste for décor and Liana chose colors that reminded her of their personalities. Michael’s rooms were in soft browns and yellow that sported a brown leather front room set with a chocolate bedspread and yellow satin pillows for the bedroom. Michael bought two lamps that were ceramic and in the shape of a lion sitting. He found two soft yellow lampshades and put them on the end tables. Liana shook her head but it really did look nice. Michael chose his own artwork of yellow daisies in a field. For Jared, Liana chose white and black. She added black leather furniture and white pillows that matched the black and white striped bedspread in his bedroom. The lamps in Jared’s suites were simple black wide based with just a splash of white paint diagonal on each. The lampshades were white. Jared didn’t bother with artwork so Liana bought a pair of zebras to hang on the wall.

This year the Thanksgiving dinner would be in the Governor’s private apartment. They would have visitors this year. Rafael made it a point to include Brianna and Amy as part of their holiday dinner. “After all”, Rafael said to liana “what sort of Christians would we be if we left them all alone on a day we give thanks to our God?” Liana had looked up at her husband and gently caressed his face with her palm. “I love you Rafael. You are compassionate and sensitive. This will be a special Thanksgiving. Our last Thanksgiving here at the Governor’s mansion. I can’t believe it’s been four years. I’m so glad you are going to ask Brianna to come home with us. Do you think she’ll like that huge home of ours?”

Rafael smiled and said, “Well, the mansion of my family is not much different in size than this mansion. Yet, the atmosphere is totally different. I think she’ll enjoy it there. Grandfather will be happy to see her too. He’s so happy we’re all returning! Back to being the oil man’s kids eh?”

“Ah Texas, we’re coming home!” Liana shouted. Liana left her husband’s embrace and returned to the work at hand. She had put out her finest china and linens. The silverware graced her table as it had graced the tables of ancestors before her. Her crystal goblets were set in place and candles were lit. Soft piano music playing “Amazing Grace” could be heard as Liana put the final touches in place.

Soon there was a knock on the door and Rafael hurried to usher Brianna and Amy inside. Brianna’s eyes were wide as she scanned the beautiful scene. She was reminded of when she too had family and prepared dinners. Though Amy and she are a family unit, it was different without Ken. “Can I help with anything?” she asked.

Liana was prepared to have just a little something for Brianna to do so she’d feel at home. “Yes, if you’ll follow me to the kitchen we can get finished and sit down quicker.” The two women left Amy on the sofa as they moved to the kitchen.

Michael had been sitting in an easy chair and began talking with little Amy about a game of checkers after dinner. “I have tons of video games too but checkers is more of a challenge to me. I have to warn you, I’m very good at checkers and I won’t let you win just because you are younger and more beautiful than I am.” He smiled and showed perfectly white straight teeth. Amy smiled shyly and declared “Why thank you Mr. Michael but I am undefeated and I’d have to go easy on a gentleman as you.” The laughter bubbled in the parlor as Jared walked in.

The two brothers bore little resemblance except for the piercing emerald green eyes that they inherited from their Irish grandmother. Jared had light brown hair and Michael’s hair was jet black like Liana’s. It was a trait from Liana’s Indian background.

In size Jared was 5’11 and had the physical attributes of someone who lifted weights. Jared in fact did work out each day with weights. Michael was the same height and lanky. Michael inherited his father’s physique and Grandfather’s temperament. He was easy going and relaxed everywhere he went. Jared was very serious and focused. He rarely relaxed with anyone let alone break out in laughter. He was 5 years old when his mother died from cancer. Though he remembered his mother a little, he thought of Liana as his mother. Liana knew Jared was insecure at times and the intense stare he gave people was a façade. Jared had a brilliant mind and was always interested in anything that was difficult to understand. He was a legal expert in his father’s affairs. Soon he would be standing side by side with his father in the oil business of the family. His father knew the business and the people. Jared worked the books and legal aspects. The two were different and very compatible as well.

As Michael kept Amy company, Jared sat with his legs crossed reading a newspaper. Soon the women returned with the food and Jared looked up. He’d never spent much time looking at the maids and sat staring for a moment before he remembered his manners. Nothing passed Michael’s eyes though and he smiled at his brother’s reaction. Brianna was wearing a green sweater dress. It wasn’t clingy or low cut, but it drew the attention to her shapely figure and emphasized her chocolate brown hair and huge brown eyes. Jared tried but couldn’t take his eyes off her for most of the meal.

Rafael made an announcement during the meal. “As you know, I am leaving the office of governor next year. Our family will return to my estate and grandfather will be living with us. Brianna, I am sure your job of downstairs maid will be secure with the next governor. However, I would like to offer you a position to go with my family to my estate and work for us. Now, we don’t need an immediate answer but there will be plenty of room for you and Amy. I will provide all the necessary arrangements for you. Liana and you work so well together in the upkeep and hosting that I’m sure you would not be bored. In fact, you would be doing us a huge favor.

Amy began to swing her feet, for a moment she forgot her manners and began to sing softly “Liana and Brianna perfect as can be, Liana and Brianna sounds so good to me.” Brianna nudged Amy gently, “no singing at the table Amy!” “Yes Mom” Amy answered quickly. Amy picked at the skirt of her soft blue dress and smiled to everyone.

Michael enjoyed Amy’s little singsong and hoped Brianna would go with them to their mansion. He enjoyed watching Amy skip around the house. He’d always wanted a younger sibling and Amy was the kid sister he’d envisioned.

Liana however was anxious to hear a “YES”. “You’ll not lose any money from this move. You’ll enjoy grandfather. He’s a real southern gent who says the sweetest things. My father comes over frequently and they go on and on. We live on an oil field but the house is set where no drilling is heard. In fact there is a beautiful fountain in front of the house. You’d think it was one of those castles from Ireland the way it’s built. I told you that Rafael parents were Spanish and also Irish didn’t I? Those green eyes and black hair are telling signs. Anyway, you would have your own wing. It’s set so you can see the sunset, and it’s set near the swimming pool. I will give you whatever hours you choose. Also, if you have guests you will have plenty of room for them.”

Amy nudged her mom’s elbow, “I think she wants you to say yes right now!” she whispered. Brianna smiled and thought for a moment. It was 100 miles away. Her family could easily make the trip. In fact, her deceased husband’s family would only be 10 miles away. “I would love to move with you! What about church? Do you have one there that you go to?”

Rafael smiled and said “Yes, we do! The minister is Rev. Doyle’s brother in fact.” Brianna gasped, “You can’t mean MY Rev. Doyle?”

Michael began to laugh so hard he shook the table.” Actually, you can’t take ownership of either of the Reverends. They have a full time job taking care of Jared and ME!”

Jared was blinking and trying to stop staring at Brianna. He barely nodded as Michael asked him for confirmation. If only he could have Michael’s easy going personality. Here his mother brings this beautiful woman into their lives and all he could do was gawk at her. All of a sudden his mother was talking to him.

“What did you say Mom?” Jared asked. “I said could you check on the schools for Amy in the area?” asked Liana.

“But, isn’t she already going to school?” Jared was so confused. Michael saved him from embarrassment. “My brother’s sense of humor is there again Brianna! It’s rare but it’s there.”

Amy picked this jingle up and began singing softly “It’s rare but it’s there, it’s rare but it’s there!” until she received a scowl from her mother.

Michael was unable to save the day for Jared when the dessert arrived though. Jared had been trying to think of something intelligent or witty to say when his mother passed him a piece of Dutch apple pie. Jared’s hand slipped and the pie flung itself against his chest. Jared’s face flamed red as he jumped up from the table taking his plate with him. It all looked like a planned slapstick comedy act. Everyone was in hysterics as Jared stood up stunned. Rafael walked around and said “Son, do you wish to go change or I may have one of your shirts in my closet?’

Jared found his voice and thanked his father. “I guess I’ll see if we have a shirt that will fit me.” He was still feeling upside down. He had wanted to charm Brianna and instead he’d made her laugh at him. “Oh Great! She thinks I’m a clown” he thought.

Brianna spoke up “This son must bring you so much joy Liana. I just love this family of yours. Thanks so much for inviting us to come. I can’t remember when I’ve laughed like this. Thank you so much Jared! You are amazing!”

There was no mistaking the grin on Jared’s face as he excited the room. “She thinks I’m amazing?” Rafael put his arm around his son as he led him to his closet. After finding one of Jared’s shirts that had gotten mixed up with his, Jared stood buttoning it up while looking at his father’s expression. “What?”

Rafael wasn’t sure what to say. “Well Jared, I noticed you looked at Brianna closely. Do you think she’ll do when we get back to our estate?”

Jared looked at his dad squarely in the eye and said “She’s coming with us?”

Rafael burst out laughing so hard he had to sit down and wipe the tears away. “Oh Jared, where have you been today? You like this lady a little don’t you?”

Jared looked down at his feet. “She really is special isn’t she? I mean I never saw her before. I mean I never SAW her before. I hope I didn’t act too stupid. Oh no, I did didn’t I”

Rafael took pity on his first son. Putting an arm around Jared’s wide shoulders he said “Let’s see, you forgot your brother’s name once in conversation. Totally missed what your mother was saying about Amy’s school. Then there was the part where you deposited your dessert down your shirt. Yep! Very impressive!” Jared moaned “Oh no!”

Rafael looked Jared in the eye then. “You know what son? Women love that junk! I don’t know why, they just do! If you like this girl take some time and get to know her. I happen to know she’s from a fine family and has had heartache in her life. She loves the Lord too Jared. I know that is important to you.”

“Yeah, I take my faith very seriously” Jared said.

Rafael smiled and said “Jared, you take EVERYTHING seriously. Try to relax with this. Enjoy getting to know her. She’s not a legal project. She’s a flesh and blood human being that needs warmth and love.”

Jared took a deep breath. He and his father laughed a little and then returned to the table.

Brianna watched as both brothers helped clear the table. She entered the kitchen asking

What she could do. Liana had it all planned. “If you don’t mind, I’d appreciate it if you’ would wash the platters and large pans that don’t fit in the dishwasher.” Brianna was glad to be a part of the cleanup. She noted that even Rafael helped to load the dishwasher as the brothers brought in the plates. Only Amy had nothing to do. She sat quietly swinging her feet watching everything around her.

Michael brought out his checker board and sat across from Amy. “Just so you know, I used to play with my grandfather. He never took pity on me and let me win. I won’t let you win either.” He said. Amy smiled wide and replied, “bring it on Michael!”.

All during the game Amy chatted away. Michael was surprised she was really a good player. He was more surprised that this child could talk about simple things and make them come to life with such clarity that he felt he was there. Amy captivated the mind’s eye with her descript yet simple thoughts. It felt like he was being told a story as his mother had read to him as a child.

Brianna watched a very relaxed Michael chatting with Amy. “He doesn’t have to babysit you know.” She said quietly to Liana. Liana was quick to reply, “Michael is like that. He can talk to anyone. He is relaxed and enjoying himself. Don’t worry. My son is so easygoing I can’t remember the last time he was restless. He has a gentle spirit and calm demeanor. He works with the physically handicapped children and abused children you know.” Brianna was quiet a while just observing the two playing checkers. There were so many pedophiles that disguised themselves working with children. An inner voice spoke to Brianna “fear not”. Silently she prayed for her daughter’s safety. “Does he have a girlfriend?” she asked.

Liana began to laugh. “Well, girls sort of follow him around a lot. Michael is praying for a special lady. He asked the Lord into his life when he was thirteen. He went to bible studies and youth groups. As you know, he leads a cell group now. Michael said he heard from the Lord that if he waited, the Lord would send him the desire of his heart. Meanwhile, the Lord seemed to impress on Michael to use his gift of peace and patience to reach out to people most would ignore. I sound like a proud mother and I am, yet Jared would be the first to tell you that he tends to lean on Michael’s strength frequently.”

Brianna smiled at the wonderful praise Liana gave her son.

Life was charged with electricity after Thanksgiving. Brianna was not unaffected by Jared’s presence. However, she had the impression that as a maid in the governor’s mansion it would be improper for her to pursue any sort of relationship with the governor’s son. Her prayers went up for the Lord guide her. If she remained single the rest of her life than the Lord would provide.

Jared however prayed that God would show him how to make time with this lady. He’d walk into rooms she was cleaning and sit down. She’d smile and they would say hello.

He went into the kitchen a few times and watched what times she took a break. One day as she was preparing her list of duties at the table he managed to walk in. She looked up and found him staring at her. Jared was dumbfounded as to what to say to this lovely lady. “Please God; you know I’m good in the court room and strike out one on one especially with women. If I’m supposed to get to know this lady, please let her start a conversation with me. Give me courage so I can sit and have a lousy cup of coffee! Could you give me a sign?”

Brianna was twirling her pencil thinking of what to say him. “Would you like to sit down and have some coffee with me? It’s lousy coffee but it’s all I can offer.”

Jared burst out laughing and sent a silent thank you to his redeemer. He fixed himself coffee and sat across the table from Brianna. Brianna shocked herself by asking more questions about Michael.

“Liana said that you lean on Michael. How can that be?” she asked. Jared didn’t need to think. “Well, Michael is so quick with a positive where I usually analyze things to death. Michael has the gift of gab like your Amy. He never trys to fix my problems. He is like a refreshing shower after a hot summer day. Sometimes with the new legislature that is being put in I have to commit to many hours of work. Then, just when I think the papers are right I’m told it needs changing. Or, I deal with political critics who aren’t happy with the legislature no matter what. Dad handles people face to face. I run the numbers do the research, prepare the background. I’ve sat in meetings that lasted 4 hours and nothing accomplished. When I get home I’m tired, and worn out. That’s when I either phone Michael or go see him. He listens and sees things through different eyes. Also, I love to hear him play his piano. I go to sleep on his couch many nights.”

Brianna was so surprised. “I didn’t know he played.” She said.

Jared was speechless. “You’ve never heard of Mike the Knight?” His songs are in almost every home with children.

“Of course I’ve heard of don’t mean?” Brianna stuttered.

Jared smiled and said “Yep, that would be my little brother! Give him a piano and he makes up a song just like Amy makes up a story. He also plays Bach, Beethoven, Mozart and with his eyes closed. He was a child prodigy. When Michael turned 10 though, he decided that he didn’t want to be in the public eye anymore. He’d heard about what happens to superstars and he asked the Lord for help. He took himself out of the public eye but his music is still all over. Yet, Michael can go anywhere he wants and no one knows who he is. It’s too amazing, only God could have done that!”

This led into another conversation for Jared and Brianna. They began sharing their faith in God. Neither noticed that two hours had passed.

It was midnight and the quiet group stood huddled behind one of the gardener’s quarters. The smell of cigarettes permeated the air along with the marijuana. One fellow just didn’t fit in with his gray suit and dress shoes. “Listen, I want it done! I’ll give you all a huge share but I want it done before Friday. Settle amongst yourselves which day. The cage is set up?”

One of the men nodded yes. The man in the suit turned and left without a good bye. He walked almost a mile to his car after opening the gate with the gardener’s pass key. His mission for tonight was complete.

The next day at the state capital he walked into his office per usual. He thought to himself, “The plan is in effect.” Rafael knocked on his office door. “Hi, I wanted to have a brief word before we go downstairs with everyone else listening.”

Steve chancellor was one of the many advisors for the homeland security statewide. He was shocked at the nerve of Rafael coming to talk after all the words they had spoken. “What more can I possibly say to you Governor? The bill stinks! It allows those foreigners’s more advantage than before! Why do we try to protect our borders if you’re only going to educate them here?”

“Steve, this bill serves the entire people. I know not every kid will turn from drugs and violence. But, for some who want a way out…this bill encourages them to get an education!”

Steve was pacing by now. “You’re taking our money to put someone else’s kids through college when our own can’t afford to send their own.”

Rafael stood firm. “This bill sends needy innocent children who are born in the United States to trade school. It takes would be gang members off the street! It takes women off the street as well! They can find affordable daycare so they don’t have to work as prostitutes

Steve wouldn’t listen now any more than in the past six months. “This country was built on freedom not fee loaders! This bill takes money away from our own. Our kids aren’t going to stand a chance. They might as well be prisoners in their own country! All their rights go elsewhere!”

Rafael walked out of the office feeling defeated. It had been a horrendous six months. He knew all too well the difficulty getting any higher education. His grandfather came from Spain when his father was only twelve years old. His father learned to speak English from the local dress shop owner. He paid her back with delivering her dresses. It was humiliating but his father needed to learn the language. His father had worked hard doing all sorts of jobs to get his education. They knew they owed God many thanks for making it big in the oil industry. It took time; it took money and a good head for business. His father, now known to the family as “Grandfather” since the children were little is very proud of Rafael. Rafael’s father is Miguel Monterey. He had gone to school and later got a college diploma in business by going to school at night. This was after working for his father during the day. They were proud to be citizens of the United States. They felt that with a little extra effort they could obtain the education they needed to provide for them and give back to the community.

Rev. Doyle Senior had come knocking on their door one evening while the entire family was getting ready for dinner. He had been invited to speak with his grandparents about a personal matter.. Rev. Doyle was not shy in telling them about Jesus. He invited them to come to church. Although Rafael was quite little he remembered his grandfather and grandmother kneeling along side of his parents and asking Jesus into their hearts. The Monterey family knew that God had had visited them that day.

Rafael was told about Jesus from a young age. “Jesus is how we have survived and prospered. It’s because of Him! Never forget!”

Rev. Doyle was at their home often. He brought his two young sons to play with Rafael. Benjamin and Isaac were friendly and Rafael soon was climbing trees and getting into mischief with the Doyle boys.

Now that Rafael was governor, it was in his heart to make a change in his state. He didn’t have a lot of say. Yet, he felt the hand of God to speak up on behalf of the children who had no say for themselves. They were born into families who weren’t citizens. They usually lived in poverty where a gang ruled their area. Their parents worked hard to make a new life in the new world. They had heard of the “American Dream”. Yet, before they became citizens they had to find work to feed their family. This left them in dire straights without knowing the language or many of the laws. These were people who had already been trampled on by their own country and were trying to do better for their children. They were at the mercy of criminals on the street a lot of the time. Rafael had lived through many cruel taunts and it had been a miracle he didn’t get hurt in a gang. He had succumbed to gang membership once himself for two years until his father arranged for him to be sent away to a Christian school. This was a blessing of the church who became involved in their lives. The elder Rev. Doyle had sent his own sons to this school. That is where he cemented his relationship with the Doyle brothers.

This bill was aimed at the children who were highest risk for crime. Also the bill paved the way for women to get easier daycare when they had to work. Rafael was thankful that his mother could stay at home because of father. They lived in a shabby home and gradually worked their way up until father had the mansion built. His mother was from Ireland and she helped design the mansion.

His father had employed many locals and treated them fairly. He gained their respect and loyalty. He had seen to it that foreigners had all the information clear to get citizenship. He shared food and helped them but did not hire anyone illegally. His father was did the same.

Rafael knew this was not the case for many. His first wife had been left alone when her mother went to work. Being a sensitive man of God, Rafael had a vision for these people. As usual, Rafael met with his son and a few others to pray before their meetings. Rafael took a deep breath before taking his seat. The arguing lasted well into the night. At the end, only part of the bill was passed. The education part was put into action. This bill was for children who were born in this country. This was no small idea. It required volunteers to teach, a place to teach, a screening of those who would qualify, and guards to keep safety for teachers and some of the students. These were 13-18 year old angry children who barely spoke English. The legislators who passed this bill knew they had much to do yet. But, the first part was over.

Jared went home with his father near 10 p.m. As they sat together in the back of the government limousine their faces were drawn from the day’s work. Jared laid his head back while Rafael looked out the window at the passing lights. He was thinking of ideas that would help the younger children and the illegal immigrants as well. In the end he knew that some families would fall through the cracks. All he could do now was be joyful knowing that he had done what the Lord had given him to do.

They arrived home and were ushered into the mansion. After a brief nod they went to their own rooms and showered. Jared fell into his bed and slept soundly. Rafael was tense when he went to bed. Liana rubbed his back and snuggled. Soon Liana was asleep. Still, Rafael was awake. Too tired to sleep, he got up and sat outside on the upstairs balcony. It was a warm night with gentle breezes touching Rafael’s face as he stretched out on a lounge chair. He looked up at the sky and prayed.

Michael tossed and turned until finally he got up and dressed. He decided he’d take a walk around the house. He did that often when he couldn’t sleep. Michael had something on his mind. What sort of education was he really looking for? He got dressed and walked out of the mansion and began to walk around. The lights around the mansion were on and the guards were all posted.

Rafael looked down and saw his son walking. He was just about to say something when out of the bushes three men in black attire grabbed his son Michael. At first Rafael was too stunned to speak. Michael was hit over the head with a blunt object and carried away.

Rafael was soon shouting and waking the house immediately. The guards were searching everywhere. The dogs were taken out an the flood lights turned on. Jared’s entire body began to shake when his father woke him. Quickly he phoned the FBI, the local police, Liana’s father, and the Lt. Governor. The rest of the chain would be notified by the Lt. Governor.

After three hours Michael was no where to be seen and there was not a trace of anything that led to his where about. The local police worked with the FBI as they seemed to come out of the woodwork and filled the Governor’s mansion. No room was private. Every servant’s quarters or home behind the mansion was checked out. By six a.m. the news of Michael’s abduction was made nationwide.

A ransom note was found in Michael’s room. It was pasted to the window. It read “We want 100 million dollars for Michael’s life. We are watching you as you read this note. By passing this bill for foreigners you are holding our American children hostage from having an education. We want the money in unmarked bills and divided into 100 bundles. Place each bundle on the doorstep of the list of schools listed below by Monday or Michael’s fingers will be mailed one by one to you. We’ll start with fingers, then toes, ears, you get the picture?”

Rafael let out an animal wail as he sunk to his knees. Liana fainted then awoke in shock and was taken to the bedroom with around the clock nurses and doctors. Jared went to his father and found him praying softly.

Jared went into the main assembly room to get the latest updates. Stoically, he answered newspaper reporters until he too could no longer stand up to the pressure. The press was ushered into a waiting room and a policeman was assigned to keep them updated. The coordinator and supervisor for the investigation was an officer named Tammy Meads. She was a no nonsense FBI agent who had served under the last governor. She took this job as a step down from the high profile action she had grown tired of in D.C. Though she had grown tired of the job, she was still extremely qualified and knew every angle of the situation.

Agent Meads was a medium built redheaded Irish woman and her personality went before her. There was never a question of her authority in this case. Agent Meads had seen Jared before. It was hard to miss Jared as he spoke on the floor of the assembly. His facts were always accurate and there was never a hint of merriment as he worked with his father. At the moment Agent Meads saw a different side of Jared. Rather than the polished shaven man in a suit and tie, Jared had jeans and a pajama top on that was not buttoned correctly. He was in need of a shave and the scleras of his eyes were pink. There was no doubt he would be collapsing soon. Per usual, Agent Meads took over and told Jared “you have given me all I need. If you can rest, perhaps you can help me more tomorrow. We’ll be here all night, you get to bed.”

By this time the Senator and Grandfather were at the mansion. The Senator by private jet and Grandfather had his helicopter bring him in. With both their help and soothing Jared went to his apartment. Grandfather drew a bath and Jared reclined in the tub as his grandfather made him drink herbal tea. Both older men had devised a plan where grandfather would be with Jared and the senator would remain with his daughter and Rafael.

The senator was just unpacking when he heard the thump from the Governor’s bedroom. Liana had passed out on the floor. He knocked on the door and then walked in. Liana came to and saw her father. “They took my baby! They took my Michael!” The senator rocked her a moment and was going to help her back to bed when Rafael walked into the room. He had heard something and thought his whole family was going to be abducted one by one. His fitful sleep had been filled with nightmares.

Liana turned around and screamed at Rafael. “You and your politics! They took my Michael! This is your fault!”

This was so sudden that the senator couldn’t believe his daughter capable of such cruelty. Rafael was stunned speechless. His Liana who was so gentle and understanding to him now blamed him for their son’s abduction. Rafael’s throat was choking from lack of air and he suddenly felt weak. The senator recovered quickly and tried to handle this situation. “Rafael, she is in shock and has no idea what she’s saying. Let me get her back to bed. Send the nurses in please.

Rafael turned and pressed the button. Two nurses came in quickly. Rafael meant to go back to the guest room to sleep but crumpled on the floor instead. Suddenly Liana woke up. She scrambled out of bed and reached for Rafael. “Rafael! Please speak to me, Rafael!”

Rafael finally registered his wife was in his arms and held her close. “I’m sorry Liana. I don’t know what to do.” The senator ushered the nurses out of the room.

“I think you two need each other more than the nurses. Do you need help getting to bed Rafael?” Rafael was so tired he barely heard the senator but accepted the senator’s help in steadying him as he walked to bed.

“They gave me some medicine. I’m a little groggy still.” He said. Liana spoke, “I was given something to relax me too Rafe. It’s ok. Let’s just try to sleep.” The senator smiled and left them alone.

In the darkness of their room Liana reached for Rafael. They drew strength from each other and slept spoon fashion for the next ten hours.

When Rafael woke up he hoped that it had all been a dream. However, as he showered and dressed he knew it was real. His son Michael had been abducted. Rafael walked to the guest room where his father was. He knocked on the door and when Miguel answered, Rafael went into his father’s arms.

Miguel knew his son so well. As a boy Miguel simply held Rafael without words. He would relax and sometimes fall asleep. This morning they sat on the sofa for a while with Miguel’s hand over Rafael’s.

Miguel began to speak. “Rafael, do you remember when I sent you away to that Christian school years ago?” Rafael nodded absently. Miguel went on, “Well the day I put you on the train I thought I was going to die. You were and are my precious Rafael. By the time I got home I was unable to hide the tears. My own father was sitting in the parlor and watched me come into the house. He got up and brought me to sit down with him as I am sitting with you. Then he told me that just as we hold our own children; God holds our children as well. As father’s ourselves we must put our children into God’s hands for safe keeping.

“You feel my arms son, but you must always remember that just as I have my arms around you; Michael is in the Father’s arms.” Rafael looked up into his father’s face as Miguel prayed to the Father he knew was in control. He thanked god for bringing the Doyle family into his family’s life. He thanked God for being with the Monterey family for four generations and for more to come. He prayed for strength for all of the Monterey family. “We will praise you in the valley as well as the mountain top Lord.” Rafael agreed and sat up. He held his father for a long time. “Can you stay with us for a while?” he asked. Miguel smiled, “I’m the boss, I go where ever for however long I want! But, God is ever present Rafael. Don’t be afraid.” Rafael was doing better as he went downstairs for news.

Downstairs Brianna watched as Jared stumbled into the kitchen. She didn’t usually fix breakfast. That wasn’t her job. But, Jared needed a friend this morning. Jared stared into his coffee and didn’t see anything but Michael’s face. His brother Michael with the jet black hair and smiling face. In his mind’s eye he saw Michael’s sparkling green eyes smiling into his own. Every resource known to him was out looking for his brother. He felt the kidnappers couldn’t have gone far since his father sounded the alarm so quickly. Floodlights, dogs, and guards searched everywhere. What if they had had a hole in the ground and buried him alive. Frightful ideas pounded in Jared’s mind.

Brianna sat down next to him and touched his arm. “Hi” she said. Jared looked over and found comfort in a familiar face. He’d seen so many new people these past days from cops to FBI agents, and the press. There was always the press.

“It’s good to see you Brianna.” Jared looked so forlorn that Brianna couldn’t resist. She put her arms around Jared. He just held her for a while with neither speaking. Jared took a deep breath and released her. Brianna moved her chair closer and took Jared’s hand. Without asking for permission Brianna prayed out loud for strength for both brothers. She prayed for Michael’s safety and for an end to this nightmare quickly.

When she finished praying she looked up to see Jared’s serious face with eyes open. “You know, I tried to pray but I couldn’t find any words. I just sit here.”

Brianna stroked Jared’s head and spoke gently. “Jared, sometimes taking the time to be in the Lord’s presence is all the prayer He needs. He knows your heart Jared. He’s answering.” Jared shook his head. Brianna told him that he needed some breakfast and she was fixing it.

Jared watched as Brianna moved across the kitchen floor preparing his breakfast. The smell of bacon filled the air and he found he was quite hungry. Brianna placed everything in front of him and put her arm around his shoulder to gently hug him. Amy

came into the kitchen drawn by the smell of bacon. When she saw her mother and Jared she came over to Jared as well. Jared looked at Amy in surprise and she climbed on his lap like it was the most natural thing for this ten year old to do. Winding her arms around his neck she said, “I have been praying for Michael. But, also I prayed that you would be all right.” Jared hugged her close. Just then the Senator walked in. The scene before him looked like a family. The Senator walked away quietly to give Jared this present.

Amy sat in a chair on the other side of Jared as he ate his breakfast. She was quiet while Jared reached over and squeezed her hand. Despite the silence in the kitchen each person knew something good had taken place.

After Jared finished eating he met his father in the conference room that was set aside for family to speak to the Federal Agents. Agent Meads wanted to know the schematics of the mansion as well as if there were any secret passage ways. It was an old mansion and anything was possible. Jared got in touch with the archives expert and soon they were knee deep in old papers.

“The kidnappers did not have time to fly Michael out of here. I’m thinking either Michael is stashed nearby, or they left through a secret entrance. Also, being that you are the Governor I want to have a list of everyone who was against that last bill that was passed. Did anyone in particular threaten you in any way because of this?”

Rafael thought of Mr. Chancellor but almost dismissed him because he was an advisor for homeland security. “Well, Chancellor was hot under the collar about it. Some of the legislators thought it was going to cost too much. I can think of about six people. But, I doubt they’d be capable of a stunt like this. I mean Chancellor works as an advisor for homeland security. They all have his security clearance.”

Agent Meads looked serious. What about some of the heretic groups. I’ll try to get the tapes from their last protests at the State Building and even the White House. I’m going to rattle a few chains over there and see if I can come up with any clues. Also, who were the guards on night duty that night? I want a back ground check on everyone.

Brianna took Amy to their apartments. Amy didn’t understand everything but she knew someone had kidnapped Michael. Brianna sat Amy down to explain what she could.

Amy understood easier than Brianna thought she would. Amy and her mother knelt in prayer as a knock on the door was heard. Rev. Doyle came in quietly and joined them on their knees. Amy prayed, “Lord, don’t let them hurt Michael. I pray that he comes home soon. I pray he sleeps well.”

Rev. Doyle prayed as well and then the trio got up from their knees. Because of the extra guards and dogs in the yard, it was felt that Amy could still play outdoors. She went into the garden and sat on her swing. She began to sing “Mike the Knight”.

Brianna and Rev. Doyle shared a cup of coffee. Rev. Doyle explained the ransom note more clearly to Brianna and the situation with Liana and Rafael. “I’m very glad their parents are here. Do you want me to call your father as well?”

“I’ve already phoned him Rev. Doyle and he has alerted several churches to pray. He can’t leave to come right now because my Mom is quite ill. I told him we would be all right. I’m waiting to see if I need to send Amy to stay with them for a while.”

“I see” said the tired Reverend. “Well, I guess it’s time to check on Rafael before heading home.” After the Reverend had left, Brianna looked out her window. She looked down and saw Jared huddled near the pool. His grandfather was sitting beside him rubbing his shoulder.

It was all so surreal when Brianna went to bed that night. She knew there were hundreds of armed guards around. The floodlights never went off. She fell asleep in prayer.

The next day she received a phone call from her deceased husband’s family. She would come over in a week and bring Amy home with them for a while. Brianna thought this would be a wonderful idea.

Amy was delighted with idea of spending time with her grandparents. They had two dogs that she loved to play with. Grandma always brought her to the ladies’ lunch at church and she was treated like a grown up with tea and cakes. Grandpa told wonderful stories as well. Also, Grandpa loved cookies and Amy knew she would get lots of cookies.

Amy’s prayer for Michael’s sleep was answered. He had a lump on his head the size of a golf ball and he slept for the first two days of captivity. His eyes opened slowly on the third day. He had no idea where he was.

His arms ached and he realized they were tied behind his back. He couldn’t move his feet either because they too were tied. The worst was the awful tasting gag. It smelled of rotten meat and wet dog. His eyesight was blurry but he could make out a man standing in front of him.

The man was behind some sort of cage. Quickly it dawned on him that he was the one in the cage. He looked at the man and recognized Pete as one of the gardeners. Pete wasn’t a mean sort, unless he was crossed. Pete spoke to Michael.

“If you promise not to scream I’ll let you out of the cage and undo the ropes.

Michael shook his head yes. The door was opened and he was jerked out by his shirt. This left him dizzy and he fell to the floor. As the man was untying his hands and feet Michael saw the room go around in circles.

“Where am I? What’s going on?” Michael asked. A voice said “You’re in the cellar. There’s a bathroom over there and I brought you five bottles of water. I’ll bring you five bottles a day. Forget the food. During the day I’ll let you loose in this room for a couple hours at a time before I put you back in the cage. You sleep in the cage, tied up. It gets dark down here, but don’t worry.”

Michael couldn’t believe this was happening. His head was throbbing as he felt the huge lump on his head. His legs wouldn’t hold him up so he crawled to get a bottle of water. He looked up and no one was there.

He put his head against the cold stone wall as he tried to stay calm. He fell asleep and the sound of singing woke him up.

“The King sat on his throne so high

And lifted up his voice

Who is this man who is so shy?

Speak up if that’s your choice

The boy tried hard but shook instead

“I’m just a skinny mite”

The King reached out and touched his head

“Now you are Mike the Knight”

Michael wasn’t sure if he was dreaming or if the voice was real. The voice was a soft soprano. The voice sounded familiar but Michael just couldn’t place it.

“The power of the living God

Still flows through me tonight

I may look skinny and kind of odd

But I am Mike the Knight

Michaels fell asleep listening to that voice.

Michael didn’t know how long he slept but a kick woke him up. “Come, it’s time to tie you up for the night.”

Michael didn’t fuss as his feet and hands were tied. Someone different was in the room. Michael couldn’t make out his face. When Michael was tied secure the two men positioned him in the cage. It was then Michael noticed the flickering strobe light.

The cage was seven feet by six feet. He could lie down if he wanted. “It gets dark own here so we’re gonna give you a light show. Fifteen minutes every two hours. Or 3 times a night.” The light was on a timer.

This was meant to keep Michael from knowing who they were or anything going on. Michael prayed and asked for God to strengthen him. It was the third night of his captivity. Michael managed to turn away from it but the effect was horrible. His head ached and the torture from the pain and light made Michael hysterical.

Each time the light went off Michael would cry out to God. When the light came on again he would tremble and become hysterical. Morning found Michael curled into the fetal position screaming when the men returned to let him out. He found he could not stop shaking. He crawled to the cold stone wall again and rested his head against it while sitting up. All of a sudden he heard it. Faint at first but then it sounded as if it were right outside.

“As you lavish in the quiet

And you find the peace of silence

He’s watching over you

As you labor in the daylight

And you find the joy of sunshine

He’s watching over, over you

He’s watching over you

As you weep the tears of sorrow

And you find hope for tomorrow

The voice faded away and then Michael heard it again. “He’s watching over you” Amy was singing a song she learned in church. It was on a CD that said Michele Tumes. She of course got some of the words wrong but the melody was soothing to Michael

Amy was laying on the grass singing as she always did in the afternoons. She sang many songs that Michael knew, and some of Michael’s own songs. She mangled the melody but it sounded soothing to Michael. Again, Michael fell asleep listening to the music.

Michael drank the water and used the bathroom each day. He was surprised that the bathroom had a toilet and sink. He had no wash towels but could splash water on his now growing beard. He noticed the room in the cellar was about 10 feet by 24 feet. There were two windows on two sides.

This was the third night. Michael was not hungry because of the head injury he thought. His head still was swollen. He sat propped up against the wall and slept until the men came back to tie him up again. Michael could tell day and night from Amy’s singing. He couldn’t remember Amy, but knew that children don’t go outside to sing at night.

Once again he began to tremble as the light began to flicker. He squeezed his eyes closed and cried out to God. He screamed into his gag for most of the night. He woke up with a jerk as he was thrown from the cage and untied. He noticed his clothes were soaking wet. He found he could not stop shaking.

As he sat there trembling he heard it. “Shackled by a heavy burden, neath a load of guilt and fear. Then the hand of Jesus touched me. Now I am no longer afraid” Once again the words were not right but Michael was so glad to hear them. “Please Lord, make her sing some more. I don’t care what.”

“He touched me, oh he touched me. Hmmmm, a caterpillar. Hi little fella.” Michael’s sweaty head was once again against the stone wall. His heartbeat slowed down. He took a deep breath. He was calm enough to sleep.

Amy’s voice rang out some of Michael’s own songs. He could hear her in the background. It felt like a hedge of protection around his mind. “I am the Queen of Never land and hope to find this Knight. I always hear him singing each morning noon and night. He love’s his job of spreading Christ both far away and near. For God is love, tad um deed um I don’t have to fear.”

All after noon Michael listened to that soft high pitched voice that mangled the words of his own songs. He smiled and relaxed and fell asleep.

The fourth night of his captivity left him exhausted. He’d not eaten for four days. He screamed and begged his captors to come release him or turn off the light. He was hysterical. By morning Michael was shaking and crying.

Amy was not going to go outside that day. She was all packed to go to her Grandparent’s house for a week. Brianna wanted Amy outdoors so she could speak to Jared with out her hearing. Amy obeyed her mother and went to her favorite spot. There were daisies in the field and flowers of pink and red and blue. Amy laid her little blanket down and stretched out. Soon she was singing away.

“Make me a blessing. Make me a blessing. Out of my life may Jesus shine. Make me a blessing oh Savior I pray. Make me a blessing, to someone today.”

Michael struggled with all the strength he had to stand and look out the slats of the window. He couldn’t stand for much longer. “Please God, make her see me.” He prayed.

Amy felt someone’s presence and turned around to see the cellar window of the gardener’s home. The window was taped up but she could see some movement through the slits of the tape. She sang “God will make a way, where there seems to be no way..”

As she drew closer she saw Michael’s eyes. Those piercing green eyes like Jared and Mr. Monterey. Michael prayed that she would know it was him. Amy’s wink was all the information he wanted. Quickly Amy knew what was going on.

If she acted in the wrong way all would be lost. The Lord had given her instant wisdom and spoke to Amy. Amy felt the Lord tell her to remain singing and twirl around. She scooped up her jump rope and slowly folded her blanked. She walked slowly to the mansion. She walked up the stairs and then ran as fast as she could to her mother.

“Mom, I saw Michael, I know where they got him!” she yelled. Brianna looked at her daughter and instinct told her to listen. She took Amy’s hand and went to Agent Meads. Agent Meads sat down and listened to what Amy had to say. Rather than doubting, Agent Meads scrambled her team.

It happened so quickly that if you weren’t watching you would have missed it.

There was no warning. The federal agents burst into the house and grabbed the three while they were watching TV. The sound of running feet alerted Michael that someone was coming. He saw uniforms and guns. He knew he was being rescued. Michael could not walk so he was carried out in a stretcher to the ambulance. His eyes scanned everyone and everything around him until he spotted his father in a distance. “Dad! Dad!” he screamed. Rafael ran quickly to stand next to the stretcher and grab his son’s hand. His father was going with him inside the ambulance. Rafael couldn’t believe this thin gaunt bearded man was his Michael.

The lights from the ambulance set Michael off in a frenzied shaking. He lost control of his bladder as he continued to shake and scream “Turn it off! Turn it off!” His screams of agony terrified his father. Quickly the emergency technician asked Rafael if Michael was allergic to anything. “No, I don’t think so. Why?”

“We have to sedate him sir. We can’t let him continue like this or he’ll be unable to go into the ambulance. He’d rip everything and us apart.” Michael was given a mild sedative after the E.M. T. phoned ahead to the E.R. and spoke to a doctor. It took four men and Rafael to hold Michael down for the shot. The stretcher had to be put on the ground.

News of Michael spread through the house and Brianna, Liana and Amy had been restrained from going close to Michael. Liana was screaming “What is wrong with Michael! Oh, dear God!” Brianna held Liana as the men worked on her son.

“Liana, I’m going to the hospital with Michael” said Rafael. Jared was beside his mother by this time. “I’ll bring Mom, go ahead.” Rafael nodded and went into the ambulance.

It took a few moments for the sedative to take effect. When Michael was still, Rafael sat and rubbed his hand. He looked for any outward bruising but only noticed the red welts around Michael’s wrists. Michael was barefoot and covered in a sheet. The EMT noted that both wrists and ankles were red and bruised. Michael’s vital signs were monitored as they drove off to the hospital with sirens and lights.

Michael began to arouse as he was being wheeled down the hall in a gurney. He saw the ceiling lights and began to get hysterical again. Quickly he was taken to a private room and given another sedative. Rafael was asked to step outside while Michael was being examined.

Rafael went out in the hall and met his son Jared and Liana. They huddled in prayer. Agent Meads walked briskly down the hall to where they stood in each others arms. “I need to speak to Michael’s doctor...” she said.

“Michael is being examined but we are to wait out here. You want to wait with us?” said Jared. “Yes, and then I need to talk to him privately. After that we’ll sit down and discuss this. OK?”

Rafael said yes and they waited until the doctor came out of the room. Agent Meads flashed her badge in front of the doctor and the two went down the hall into a room. “I didn’t see any bruising except for the ankles and wrists. I gather Michael was tied up and gagged. The skin around his mouth is badly bruised.” Said the doctor.

“OK, but you need to know that there is a reason for Michael’s behavior tonight. We found a strobe light in the room with Michael. After questioning those goons we learned that it was on a timer and flickered off and on three times a night while Michael was being held tied and gagged inside a large metal cage. It flickered for fifteen minute intervals. He was given no food, but was given water. The first two days Michael was knocked out because of the hit on his head.”

“Yes, I did see a small lump. I’ll have x-rays done. How do we break this news to the family? Michael will have to stay here for a while. They need to know some of the details. Did you find anything else?” asked the doctor.

“According to one of the men we captured, Michael was given a mild sedative each day. It was in his water. I’m not sure what it was. The men said it was put in there by someone else who they won’t tell us. I figure you can find out with a blood test.”

The doctor scratched his head. “Well, I’ll do a blood test and see what we can find out. Plus we can do a lot of other tests as well. Again, the family has a right to know. We’d better tell them gently. His mother was in shock last week and on bed rest. His father wasn’t much better I gather.”

Agent Meads thought for a moment and said “I have dealt with this sort of thing and so have you. It’s always better to inform them. If they respond badly well, what better place to collapse than here in a hospital?”

The doctor wasn’t looking forward to this meeting and neither was Agent Meads. They walked back down the hall and asked the family to come inside the Doctor’s office. They came in quietly and sat down.

The doctor spoke first as agreed upon with Agent Meads. “First I want to give you the good news. Michael was not beaten or sexually abused in any way. He was kept hydrated but not fed in a week. That accounts for his gaunt look. Agent Meads found out more. One thing I want you to know. I’ll be on this case from start to finish.”

Agent Meads sat on the edge of the doctor’s desk. “Michael received a blunt force blow to the back of his head. According to the men we captured, Michael was unconscious for almost two days. During this time Michael was in a cold cellar with ice on his head. The people who captured Michael never meant to kill him. They had meant to fly him to another place but your quick thinking Rafael forced them to hide Michael nearby. They had put Michael inside a 6foot by five foot cage.”

Liana gasped and Rafael held his wife. “It’s ok Liana, he’s out now.” Agent Meads continued slowly. “Michael slept in the cage but was let out to walk in the cellar during

the day. This coldness probably brought down the swelling from his head wound. He will be getting X-Rays of course to be sure there isn’t any other damage. No food was given to your son this entire week. He was hydrated with water that had small amounts of a sedative in it. We don’t know what it was but the doctor is going to do tests to find out.”

Jared asked “Is that why he was so hysterical?” Agent Meads shook her head no. “The sedative and the head wound were bad enough. However, whoever thought this abduction up had a cruel and viscous mind. There was a strobe light in the cellar. According to the men we captured the light was on a timer. It was turned on flicker for fifteen minutes at a time during the night hours.”

The doctor intervened. “I am going to bandage Michael’s eyes for a while to see if that helps. Also, we are going to examine if there was any damage to Michael’s eyes from this.”

Liana was weeping quietly into Rafael’s shirt. Rafael and Jared were stunned. “This is going to be a long haul to recovery isn’t it?” Jared asked. “But, Michael will recover right?”

The doctor was quick to say, “I believe that only time will tell us how deeply Michael was injured emotionally. The physical things from the tests will tell us only part. I think he should have therapy. You are a well known man sir, “he directed his statements to Rafael. “I know you go to church. I truly believe Rev. Doyle should be the one to give Michael emotional therapy.”

Rafael nodded his head. “I’ve phoned him. He should be here any minute.” Rev. Doyle walked down the hall at precisely that minute. He was filled in on what was known at that time. “I see, well first let’s go to the chapel.” The family followed Rev Doyle to the hospital chapel. It was a pretty place with colored windows and plants that surrounded a fountain. Chairs were placed in strategic places for families to come and pray. The group prayed one by one.

Rev. Doyle led the group back to Michael’s hospital bed. Michael was partially awake with a bandage around his head. He knew his family was with him. “I love you guys. I’m sorry I can’t talk, so tired.” He said.

Liana touched her son’s cheek. “Just rest Michael. We love you too.” One by one his family touched his hand or shoulder or face. Jared held his hand and sat in the chair next to the bed. “It’s going to be all right Michael. No one will hurt you again.” Michael squeezed the hand. He could hear but was too tired to speak. He could also feel Jared’s hand tremble. Jared let go and told the group he was going home. Agent Meads gave Jared a ride home.

Rafael took the seat vacated by Jared. At first he touched Michael’s shoulder and gazed down at his son. His eyes were bandaged and his lips were split and bruised purple and red. He tried to keep his composure so as not to frighten his son. “I love you son. Thank God he kept you for us. I love you…” his father bent his head over his son’s hand and Michael could feel his father’s tears. Michael reached up and touched the back of his father’s head. “Dad…” and he fell asleep trying to tell his father he loved him. Rafael got the message though.

At home Brianna looked out the window and saw Jared sitting in a lounge chair near the pool. Amy was sent to her grand parents that afternoon. Without a second thought Brianna went downstairs to Jared.

Jared smiled and asked “Was Amy sent off all right?” “Oh yes, she was so happy to ride in the private jet! That was nice of you Jared.”

“She saved my brother. I’d give her anything. She’s an amazing little girl. I still can’t believe she had the wits to see my brother and continue to act nonchalant until finding you. Those guys. No telling what they’d have done. It’s all a miracle. It’s all a nightmare.” Jared sighed. He had no emotion left for tears.

Brianna saw the rumpled white shirt without the tie. His face was stubbled from five o clock shadow. She leaned down and removed his shoes and socks. Let’s sit next to the pool and put our feet in. “Sure,” Jared thought that was a good idea.

They sat at the edge of the pool in the dusk. Jared looked down and said “I think I’ll go change into trunks and swim. Want to swim?”

Brianna had her suit on under a beach robe. She had intended to swim when she saw Jared from the window. “Sure,” she answered and removed her robe. “I was going swimming anyway.” Jared was surprised that Brianna looked better in her modest bathing suit than some of the girls at the beach in string bikinis. He got up and went to change.

When Jared returned and got into the water the lights were on in the pool. They were set on a timer at dusk. This reminded him of what he’d heard about the timer on the strobe light. He got into the water and swam the length of it a few times. It felt good, as he was so tense. Brianna was treading water a few feet away when he stopped swimming. “I suppose you want to know what happened.” Jared said.

Brianna thought Jared should talk at his own pace. “If you feel like talking I’m a good listener. But, if you don’t want to tell me about it; that’s ok too.” She stretched her arms and swam sidestroke for a while. She ended up sitting in a pool chair floating in the water.

Jared loved the feeling of freedom as he spoke to Brianna that night. He was totally at ease as he relayed every detail of the day with her. “I don’t know when we can bring Michael home. I hope it’s soon. I can’t imagine what the next few days or even weeks are going to be like.”

Brianna was thinking perhaps she have Amy stay with her grandparents a little longer than a few weeks. Jared interrupted her thoughts. “Brianna, you can take a leave of absence if you’d rather be with Amy. You must be missing her. Even though she only left today. She’s a great kid. I’d love a kid like that.” Jared felt foolish that he’d let that one slip.

“Amy thinks the world of you too Jared. She loves it when you smile. She sees your car drive up and hurries to meet you sometimes. I thought at first she had a crush on you. But, I think it’s because she misses her father. He used to talk to her like you do. You have been a blessing to us Jared.” Brianna said. “I hope I didn’t make you uncomfortable. I mean, I know you’re not trying to be her father. She’s only ten years old though and found you very easy to love.” Brianna was glad it was night time. She could feel herself go crimson. Perhaps she could leave now.

Jared was tired and very vulnerable. He thought he’d let it all slide and go on with things the way they were. After all, he had his brother to think about right now. His whole family needed him. Yet, as he saw Brianna blush [because the lights in the pool and out of the pool were shining on her face] he knew he might not get this chance any time soon.

“It’s all right Brianna. I’m wondering though about Amy’s mother. Could she find me very easy to love?” Brianna answered without looking up. “Yes……”

There was silence in the pool. There was only the sound of the filter and the pool thermometer splashing around. Jared stood up in the pool. The water was only five feet where he was standing. He knew he heard Brianna say yes. They were alone in the mansion except for the many staff and guards. Jared bit his lower lip and wondered what to do next. “Tell her the truth” he heard a small voice say.

Jared cleared his throat. “Brianna, I like spending time with you. I don’t know why but I just feel naturally able to talk to you. Could you, would you….”

Brianna took a deep breath. “I’m going to make this easy on you Jared. Although watching you squirm is kind of fun. I won’t embarrass you. I fell in love with you a long time ago. But, I know I am a downstairs maid and you’re the son of a rich oil man. I’ve no illusions. If you like I could go to be with Amy and then get a job else where so this wouldn’t cause you any trouble.”

Jared’s eyes blinked once, then twice. He couldn’t believe his ears. “What sort of crazy idea is that? Downstairs maid? Rich oil man? My father would laugh even on a night like this at that one! We all adore you Brianna! Haven’t you ever read the scripture in Psalms where it says “The Lord puts the lonely in families”? I know you’re not desperately lonely but it’s just you and Amy. You are in my family whether you like it or not. That maid thing was just to help us out and get you nearby. My father is rich but he’s not so stuffy he wouldn’t give his eye teeth to have you as a daughter in law.” Jared’s throat clenched. “I guess I’m moving too fast here.”

How can anyone sweat when they are in a pool? Jared didn’t know but his heart was hammering and his forehead was definitely sweating. He wondered if Brianna would run away.

“Dating at my age sounds so prehistoric. I’m 32. I don’t know what’s in or what the rules are anymore.” Said Brianna.

Jared wasn’t sure what to think. What was Brianna trying to say? He slowly walked toward her. She was still in the water and leaned up against the side of the pool. When he was face to face with Brianna he slid his arms around her cautiously. “I don’t know what’s going to happen in the next few weeks with Michael and getting ready to move to the mansion. Dad is stepping down before his term is over to give full attention to Michael. It sure would go better if I knew you were going to be there with me. I’m 34 by the way. I’m thirty four and want to kiss you Brianna. Can I?” he asked as he lowered his face to hers. Brianna responded by putting her hands on Jared’s shoulders.

At first Jared thought she was going to push him away. Instead Brianna steadied herself and kissed him. Jared stepped back and smiled down at her. The nervous Jared kicked in and began to speak rapidly. He fired fact after fact at her. “Well, I’ve known you for two months. I know you’re a Christian. I know your father. I love Amy. I love you Brianna. I love the thoughtful way you check on me. Yes, I do know you do that. I love the way you are a Godly woman. I’ve seen you here and at church. I love it that you are in prayer many times during the day. I love to look at you and from that kiss I think I’d love a lot more. Will you marry me and put me out of my miserable bachelor life?”

Brianna stood looking at him. The silence lasted almost ten seconds. “First, let me talk to Amy about this ok?” Brianna asked. Jared stood firm. “I’m not marrying Amy, I want to marry you. I can’t wait for an answer. You don’t know what courage I’ve summoned up just to get this far. Oh wait, I’m rushing things and making a mess. If you want to just think of me in your future, would that be ok?”

“Absolutely, positively, yes, yes, yes, yes!” Jared’s eyes grew large and he scooped Brianna up and twirled her around. “I was going to say yes anyway Jared. I just meant I wanted to talk to Amy about it before it’s announced.”

Jared was shocked that he was so happy on a day like this. “Uh, does that mean yes to you’ll marry me or yes you’ll think about it.” Brianna smiled up at him. “You proposed to me and I’m not letting you get out of it Jared. Yes, I WILL marry you!” After kissing Brianna again, Brianna had gone back to her apartment. Jared was dressed and waiting for his parents with a huge grin on his face.

Liana and Rafael walked into the parlor slowly. They had so much going on in their heads that they felt weak. Liana was amazed to see Jared in such good spirits. “Jared?”

Jared had prepared a small snack of crackers, cheese and ham sandwiches for his parents. They sat down with seltzer water and were quiet for a spell. Jared spoke up first. “Even though we are at the beginning of a difficult time for Michael; we can still celebrate that Michael is alive and will recover!”

Rafael said “Amen to that! I’m sorry Jared we do thank God for his survival. It’s just that seeing him like that. Knowing what was done. It takes the wind out of you.”

Liana drew strength from Jared’s joy. “I think I will praise God though!”

The three of them sat and praised God in prayer. Jared looked at his parents and decided to tell them the rest. “I don’t know why God plans things the way He does. But, something else good happened today. Please don’t think I’m forgetting Michael. I’m not. But, something really good happened to me today and I need to tell you.”

Rafael looked at Jared and could see that Jared was very nervous. “We could certainly use some more good news tonight son. What’s up?”

“Well, Brianna and I have been spending a lot of time together getting to know each other. She is a true woman of God. She’s also the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen. She’s kind, thoughtful and.”

Rafael interrupted him “Yes Jared, we all know Brianna and adore her. So, what is the news?”

“We are going to get married!”

Liana smiled and shouted “Thank you Jesus!” She went to Jared and hugged him tight. “Oh sweetheart, today both of my sons have been shown favor by God!”

Rafael was grinning from ear to ear. “I said to get to know her. It only took you two months. How soon is the wedding? Tomorrow?”

Jared was so relieved. He told his parents that he was nervous that they would think it poor timing for him to get married.

“No date has been set for the wedding. Not sure if a big wedding would be good for Michael anyway. I don’t want to get married without him.” Jared said.

Rafael hugged his son for a long time. “You have chosen well Jared. She’s a lovely and precious girl. What do you think of having an instant family?”

Liana chimed in then. “He’ll be as thrilled as I was! Jared, you were so precious when we first got married. You came to me and told me that if I could love you, you would love me forever. I all ready did love you Jared. I was thrilled to have you and Rafael. I’m positive you’ll be terrific with Amy. I know she all ready adores you.”

The three of them sat up until three in the morning discussing Michael and Jared’s plans. They retired and slept until nine a.m. the next day.

While the rest of the family was waking up for the new day, Michael was still in bed. He couldn’t see anything but knew he was no longer in a cage. He heard soft footsteps approach him. “Michael, don’t be afraid. I’m Dr. Adams. Do you know where you are?”

Michael said “No” his hands went up to grab the bandages that were hiding his eyes. “It’s all right Michael. You can remove those if you want to. I put them on because the florescent lights were upsetting you.” The doctor reached over and helped Michael remove the bandage. There was soft lighting in the room and the drapes were shut.

Michael looked at the middle aged gray haired doctor and recognized Dr. Adams. “You are in the hospital Michael. You were rescued yesterday. I understand you went through quite a horrible week. I want to help you.”

The doctor looked for signs of recognition and waited to see if Michael would scream or shake. When he appeared calm, the doctor explained why the I.V. was set up. You were not given any food for a week and I can’t give you solid food right away or you’ll be ill. You need the I.V. for a few days. I can authorize some liquid broth and gelatin. Do you think you can try it?”

Michael was still a little confused but said “I guess so. I’m thirsty too.” There was a pitcher of ice water in the room and the doctor poured Michael a foam cup full. He was pleased to see that Michael was not shaking. “Would you like some juice Michael?”

“That would be great!” Michael started to get sleepy again. The doctor felt this was because of the meds in his system. He had determined from the tests done during the night that Michael was given steady low doses of a sleeping drug. I am hoping they gave him over the counter antihistamines. That would explain Michael’s thirst. The drug made him thirsty and the fluids that he was given was drugged with the very reason he was thirsty.

Rev. Doyle walked into the room and said a silent prayer for Michael before saying anything aloud. Michael was glad to see the Reverend. The doctor excused himself and said he would be back later.

Rev. Doyle sat down in a chair next to the bed. “Do you know what happened to me Rev. Doyle.?” Michael asked.

“Well, yes I know it was a horrific experience for you. You seem to be doing well this morning Michael. I’m not going to ask how you feel. I’m sure you are a little confused by it all. I wanted to let you know that your family knows what happened. You won’t have to explain over and over. The three who did this are in jail. However, if you need to talk Michael, we are all here for you. No one goes through an ordeal like this without needing help. I want you to try to come around slowly. Don’t push yourself to act normal.”

Michael reached out and took Rev. Doyle’s hand. “I’m not sure how to act. I just want to go to sleep and get away from everything.”

“That’s an honest response Michael. Actually, the doctor wants you to sleep off and on for a while. It will help your body strengthen.” Rev. Doyle said. The reverend knew that the medicine would take a while to leave Michael’s system anyway. A tray was brought to Michael and he opened the foil from a cup of orange juice. Michael drank it slowly.

“That tastes delicious!” Michael said after he finished it. He looked to see what else was on the tray. A cup of lemon gelatin and some tea were left on the tray. “What a breakfast!” said Michael. He finished everything on the tray and continued to hold the reverend’s hand without realizing it. When he was finished with the tray the reverend moved it away.

“How long can you stay Rev. Doyle?” Michael didn’t want to be left alone. Even though on a conscious level he knew where he was, he still was frightened. His lips quivered and his teeth began to chatter. Rev. Doyle noticed everything and squeezed Michael’s hand.

“I will remain until your family arrives Michael. But, let’s pray right now. Would that be all right?”

Michael nodded his head. He felt calmer knowing Rev. Doyle would stay with him. He heard the Reverend’s voice as he fell asleep. The reverend smoothed Michael’s thick black hair and continued to speak gently as he heard Michael’s breathing relax. He continued to rub Michael’s hand or touch his arm so that Michael would know he was there. Once, the reverend left to use the restroom and returned to find Michael shaking with his eyes closed. The reverend returned to where he was and touched Michael and spoke softly to him.

When Liana and Rafael went to see Michael the Rev. was still there. Liana took the chair on the other side of the bed and spoke to Michael. “Michael, its mom. I love you precious! You just sleep. I just want to hold your hand.” The reverend let go and waited to see how Michael reacted. Michael stirred and saw his mother. He relaxed and fell asleep again.

Out in the hall the reverend spoke to the doctor. “He is terribly frightened. He asked if I’d stay with him until his family arrived. When I went to use the rest room I returned to find him shaking.” The doctor said “We will have to make sure someone is with him at all times for a while then. With all the drugs and the emotions he’s bound to respond a little bizarre.”

Rafael listened as the reverend spoke to the doctor. “Our family can take turns if we’re not in the way of the hospital staff.” He said.

The doctor reassured him that he had a great idea. The reverend would also take a turn. Soon it was time for Michael to have a CT scan to determine if the blow to the head had caused any other damage. Rafael stayed with Michael through this. The doctor put thick white gauze patches on Michael’s eyes. Rafael kept talking as the CT scan was being done. The family prayed that Michael would be able to withstand the procedure. Michael strained to hear his father’s voice. His father read Psalm 91 as the pictures were being taken.

When Michael was through with the procedure his father saw all the tears flowing down Michael’s face. “Dad, Dad, are you there?” Rafael removed the patches while telling him that he was right there. Michael’s shoulders ached from being tied up for a week but he still managed to grab his father. His father dried Michael’s face and held him. “It’s all over son. I understand, it’s all right. It was awful, I know. It’s all over. I’m right here.”

It took over an hour for Michael to calm down after the scan was done. Michael’s entire body shook after it was all over. He had been catheterized the day before so Michael’s gown was dry. Rafael helped put Michael to bed. He stayed with Michael until 3 in the morning. At one point Michael had a horrible nightmare that he was still in the cage. “Let me out, please. I’ll do what ever you want, please let me out!” He screamed over and over. Rafael held his son in his arms while sitting on the side of the bed. Michael settled down after he knew his father was holding him. “Dad? Can you stay?” Michael repeated this over and over. His father reassured him each time. Jared came to relieve his father at 3 a.m. Jared spoke to Michael as Michael had awoken when his father moved. “Michael, it’s me Jared. Can I stay with you a while? Dad has to go check on Mom. Michael, its Jared.”

Michael reached for Jared. “Hi Jared. Can you stay?” Jared was stunned but after looking at his tired father he masked his facial expression. “Yes, if you’ll let me Michael. I want to be here. Come here Michael.” Jared held his brother and then laid him back down. Jared sat down in a chair next to the bed and watched his father leave the room.

Jared spoke to Michael as never before. “Did I ever tell you how jealous I used to be when you could play the piano and make up music before you were six? You are amazing Michael. I’m so proud of your songs and stories of “Mike the Knight.””

Jared was startled when Michael started to cry. “No Jared, I’m a coward. I was so afraid. I thought they were going to kill me. I cried and cried and begged them to let me out of that cage. They laughed at me. I’m a coward. I’m still afraid. I’m so afraid.”

Jared moved to the bed and turned Michael into his arms. “Michael, I would have been just as afraid. Even the bravest of men get afraid sometimes. It’s ok, I’m here with you.”

Jared prayed out loud as he held his younger brother. He knew that Michael was going to be all right. It would take time but God would heal him.

Michael seemed to quiet down after that. He was watching Jared drink a cup of water when he spoke. “Jared thanks for staying with me.”

Jared put the cup down and smiled. “Sure, but I have something huge to tell you! Are you awake enough to hear?” The family and doctor had decided it would be a good idea for Michael to have something to think about even if he couldn’t absorb it for long.

“Yeah sure”, Michael laid his head down. “Michael, I’m getting married.”

Jared said it quietly and Michael was not answering so he thought he didn’t hear him. The soft lighting looked pale though against the sudden smile on Michael’s face. “Awesome! Is it Brianna? “

Jared told him yes. The two brothers talked for twenty minutes about Jared’s news. It was decided that Michael would be the best man. At last Michael fell asleep with no further nightmares. Jared held his hand and then kept his hand on Michael’s shoulder as he sat back in the chair.

Morning came and the sound of breakfast trays being wheeled down the hall woke up the two brothers.

Liana went to see her son at ten in the morning. Jared said good bye and that he’d be back later with Brianna. Michael was glad to see his mother and relaxed as she fussed over him for a while. The main topic of conversation was Jared’s new life. Liana was glad that Michael had something different to focus on for a while. The breakfast was served and Liana sipped some coffee from Michael’s tray. The nurse brought in more coffee in a carafe for them to share as well. They were glad to see Michael drinking and encouraged this to flush out his system along with the I.V.

After breakfast was finished the nurses came in with a basin and towels for Michael’s sponge bath. “You get a sponge bath today, but tomorrow you get in the shower. We also want to get those legs moving. We’re going to start physical therapy today. Liana went out of the room and found the rest room. She stood inside praying and asking God what he wanted her to do. The family had been thanking God for Michael’s return and now was petitioning the Lord on his behalf for a quick recovery. Liana had been updated on Michael’s previous night.

Rev. Doyle walked down the hall just as Liana came out of the rest room. “Well, good morning Liana! I guess we’re headed in the same direction.” Liana explained that the nurses were bathing Michael and getting him out of bed to go for a walk.

“That sounds encouraging!” said Rev. Doyle. “How about we sit in the lounge for a spell then.” The two were sitting in the plastic chairs of the lounge when they heard Michael scream. They stood up simultaneously and looked down the hall. Michael was curled in a ball and shaking. “Turn out the lights. Turn out the lights” he screamed.

The nurses quickly covered Michael’s eyes and brought him back to a lounge chair in his room. The doctor was called in as Michael was shaking and crying. The doctor squatted down in front of Michael and spoke so he could hear him. “Michael, it’s all right” but Michael couldn’t hear anyone. The terrors of the strobe lights were brought back when he saw the florescent lights of the hallway. The orderlies were called in to help Michael get back into bed. There would be no walking this morning.

Rev. Doyle and Liana sat on either side of Michael and spoke softly to him. After an hour Rev. Doyle was able to elicit an answer from Michael. “Can you hear me Michael?”

“Yes” said Michael. Liana spoke as well. “Michael, its mom.” Michael relaxed a little and looked up at her. He was still in the fetal position. Michael had been trembling for almost an hour and his hair was wet from sweat. Liana took a washcloth and sponged down Michael’s face. After a while Michael fell asleep.

Rev. Doyle held Michael’s hand as Liana went to the desk to speak to the doctor. Dr. Adams had ordered that Michael be given very dark sunglasses when he walked. It was to be explained to him before he was walked in the hall again. Liana thought this was a good idea and went back to sit with Rev. Doyle.

Rafael was busy in his office at the mansion. He’d made three phone calls and Agent Meads was on her way to the Governor’s mansion to meet with him. Although the three men in the gardener’s house were in jail, there was a mastermind of the abduction who was yet to be made known.

Just as Rafael hung up the phone, the Lt. Governor walked into the room. “I’m sorry to abandon my post like this Jack but I just can’t see how I can function with my family in chaos right now.”

Lt. Governor Bird was a short stocky man of 56 yrs of age. “Well, that’s why they made this position Rafael. The rest of the team will be here in a few hours. Is there anything private you need to discuss before they get here?”

Rafael had known Jack Bird for 6 years. He knew he could trust him. “Jack, I think I know who might be the mastermind of my son’s abduction. However, as I think hard I have to admit there are at least three names who I am giving Agent Meads.” The governor and Lt. Governor spoke for an hour before Agent Meads was ushered into the room. Agent Meads was given the few names of potential masterminds. She was also given some important information regarding the recent bill that was passed.

“Well, that gives us a lot to chew on. We’ll do background checks on everyone in this state legislature of course, but I think we’ll do some extra work on these other three names. Thanks.” Agent Meads didn’t tell them that a few fingerprints were found on the strobe light. Some were from the men who were in jail but there was another set that were being checked out. As soon as she returned to her office the result would be in. Agent Meads left for her office.

That afternoon Rafael officially stepped down from office. He had a speech prepared and the press was to meet in their usual place for questions. Jared stood next to his father as he read his speech.

“In every man’s life there has to be priorities. For me the first priority is doing what the Lord wants me to do. When I ran for office of Governor I did it with the intention of carrying out the Lord’s command. Whether that is politically correct to say or not, it is the truth. In no way have I tried to set aside the laws in place in favor of creating my own agenda. I read the laws, obeyed the laws and worked for the people in this wonderful state.

When Jesus walked on the earth he did not try to make people disregard the laws of Caesar. In fact, he said “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, but give to God what is God’s. I appreciate the way the press has handled the issue of the abduction of my son. My family and I want to thank you for your prayers.

At this moment in my life I feel my family needs me more than I am needed in this office of Governorship. It would be a disservice to my family if I tried to handle both. It would be a disaster to this state if I tried to govern in crucial matters while my mind is on my family. For that reason, I am stepping down as Governor effective January 31. I will be moving back to my home with my family. I know that I leave this state in capable hands of Lt. Governor Bird. We have worked hand in hand for many years and there is nothing he does not know about this legislature. It is my firm belief that he will serve the people of this state with honor and justice. I will answer questions now, but please be reminded that my son’s abduction is a case that is ongoing and I can’t answer some questions.”

The newspaper men and women stood up and applauded. This was a surprise and Rafael put up his hands and said “thank you”.

They asked how Michael was doing and Rafael was honest and brief. “He is taking things one day at a time. We are pleased to see progress.”

One reporter was brave enough to ask the obvious “Do you think this is in direct retaliation for the bill that was recently passed? Are you sorry that you helped push this bill now?”

Rafael was ready for this. “As you know, we received a ransom note that referred to this bill. I can not tell you what was in the mind of whoever orchestrated this abduction. I can tell you this though, if I had not taken the step to write this bill someone else would have. I will not take credit for the wonderful results that this bill will bring forth. It was a team effort and as I said before, someone else would have seen to it if I did not. I truly believe that we are one nation under God. God would have found another person if I was unwilling to comply with his will.”

The news meeting was broadcast worldwide on all the major channels. Liana was never more proud of her husband. Michael watched as his father spoke and then left the podium. He and Liana had watched from the TV in his hospital room. “My father is the most humble and wonderful man I know” he said. “He will never be forgotten”

The press room was silent for a while as Rafael shook hands with a few people and walked away. The only thing on his mind at that time was getting back to his son.

Agent Meads met Jared and Rafael as they were almost to their awaiting limousine. “I’m afraid we have some bad news. “Can you get in and tell us on my way to the hospital?” Actually, I need to have the two of you in my office right now. There has been a video sent out over the internet regarding your son. Whoever abducted him had a video of him taken while in that cellar.

Jared and his father stood there and both felt nauseous. “We’ll meet you in your office right away.”

The driver was redirected to the office of the FBI agent. In moments they were ushered into the office. Rafael noticed that Agent Meads was very brisk and stiff. A few other agents were there as well. Also, Rev. Doyle was asked by Agent Meads to be present for the sake of Rafael and Jared. Agent Meads began to speak. She turned on the video and sat down. The video had sound with it. They watched in horror as they saw Michael gagged and tied up inside the cage. They saw the flickering lights as they heard Michael’s screams. Then the camera switched to a scene of Michael crawling to the side of the room and resting his head against the stone wall beneath a window. They watched him shake. The video that Agent Meads played had been mailed to the FBI office with a message. “The whole world will see what will be done to those who steal from America” Rafael became ill and Rev. Doyle brought a waste basket to him quickly.

Jared had a stoic look on his face. “There is noise in the background. Can you figure out what it is? The lab technicians had figured out how to find out what was the background noise before everyone got there.

“Actually, that is someone singing. As you look at Michael’s face in this frame of the video you can see that although he is sweating and shaking; he is actually smiling and mouthing the words. But, the actual singing seems to be coming from outside the room.”

The sound was turned up. Rafael was trying to hold himself together. Jared strained to hear and recognized little Amy’s voice. “That’s Amy! The play yard that we made up was between the mansion and the gardener’s house. Dad! Look at Michael’s face? Amy was singing to him every day! What the evil animal meant for us to see was Michael going insane. Yet, during the day Michael was praising God. Listen again and see if you can pick out Michael. I can.”

Silence filled the room as the voices were separated by the lab technicians. “I will bless your name at all times. Your praise will be in my mouth. “As the video went through a series of different scenes going from Michael at night and Michael during the day it was discovered that Michael sat next to the window each day and prayed and sang with Amy.

Rev. Doyle felt like the Lord was prompting him to speak. He asked Agent Meads if he might say a word. She had invited him in case the Monterey family needed him. It was unusual but she just felt it would be right. “I guess it’s all right” she answered not knowing for sure what he was going to do.

“First of all this isn’t all bad news. I feel like we need to play it up as something positive to the family. I’m not trying to tell you how to do your job Agent Meads. I’m only thinking of the Monterey family. I feel like we need to sit down and speak to Liana and even let Michael himself know that this has been done. I don’t want him to find out without one of us there. I also don’t want him to feel any shame in those pictures. Let’s turn the shame and humiliation around and point it to those who deserve it. Rafael, do you think that’s a good idea?”

Rafael was getting a little calmer. “Well, how do we go about telling them? I was going to say hide it from Liana. But, we can’t can we?”

The Rev. put his arm around Rafael. “Rafael, do you remember what the bible says? Bring everything out of the darkness into the light. It can’t hurt us if it’s exposed for what it is. You will have to have a press conference again on this I am sure. I believe now is the best time to do this.”

Agent Meads agreed that a press conference would be a good way to go. “Somehow, we have to flush out the one behind this abduction. I think he or she will want to be there as you speak. We’ll have extra cameras at all angles and more agents in plain clothes as well. Do you want to set this up for tonight?”

Rafael was reluctant but knew it had to be done. All of a sudden he had an idea. “I’m going right over to the hospital and talk to Michael. I’ve got an idea. With his permission I want to have one picture of him in that cage. I want just one picture to put on the wide screen behind me as I speak. I want to ask the nation “Is this the face of freedom?”

Jared fell into step with his father’s vision for this press conference. The glow came to his face as he could see how his father would fight this attack. The two hurried off to talk to Michael and Liana. Rev. Doyle followed them out the door.

Agent Meads looked over the paperwork that the investigators had pulled from the personal files of everyone who worked at the State Office. She sat down and typed in a name into her computer.

The three men marched down the hall to Michael’s room like men on a mission. In fact they were on a mission. Michael and Liana greeted them warmly. “I’m so proud of you dad!” Michael said. Rafael hugged his son and then his wife.

“Michael, are you able to hear some bad news?” Michael’s eyes got wide “sure, I guess” Liana wasn’t sure what was going on.

Rev. Doyle asked if they could stop for a moment while he prayed for this newest action. Rev. Doyle stood back after he finished praying. Rafael and Jared knew they had better speak gently. “Michael, we are in this fight to put things right in your life. We are in it together. You know that right?”

Michael smiled. Rafael went on. “Michael, whoever abducted you was the scum of the earth. They tried to break you son. They only bruised you. You are having times when you shake and fear overwhelms you. I understand that. However, you do bounce back. With God’s help you do come out of those dark moments. I want you to listen and be very brave son. You don’t have anything to be ashamed of. Those people who did this are the ones who need to be ashamed.”

Michael was getting a little uncomfortable but nodded his head. Rafael went on. “Michael, while you were in that cellar you were videotaped.” Michael stared in horror.

Liana gasped and tried to make Rafael stop talking. “Rafael, please not now…”

“I’m sorry, but it has to be now. I don’t want Michael to find out by anyone but his family. Michael, the video was sent to the news media.”

Michael’s face held no expression. His thoughts were a blank. The worst time of his life was now on public view. How many times had he been staring at the television when someone else’s life had been made public? Michael stared at his father. “Michael, they tried to break you but they didn’t. They showed what heinous people they are. But, part of the video was of you praying and singing with Amy. Amy didn’t know you were there. But, we heard the sound of her voice and also yours a little as you sat near the wall during the day. This was a victory video. What they meant for bad, we want to turn to good.”

Michael still didn’t reply to his father. There were no tears or screams heard that day. Michael kept those inside.

Rafael bent down and kissed Michael’s head. “It’s a horrific video Michael. It’s been banned from the internet. However, I want to have a press conference about it. With your permission I want to make something good come from this.”

Michael looked down and asked if he could talk to his father alone. Everyone left the room except Rafael. Rafael went to sit next to Michael’s bed. When Michael was still quiet he spoke up. “I want to tell you what I saw in that video. I witnessed a very powerful man under horrific stress. I witnessed a man who cried out to God, and praised God while in this dungeon. I’ve never been more proud of you Michael. I want to make sure this never happens to another person. I need your permission though.”

“I don’t want to speak to the press.” Michael said quietly. Rafael took hold of his son’s arm.

“No, Michael I will do all the talking. I need to answer this situation before it grows into something even bigger. It could get uglier if I don’t address it.” Rafael didn’t want to go into how it would get uglier but he wanted his son to know how important it was for him to address the situation.

Michael turned his head toward his father and Rafael didn’t recognize his son just then. The sweet gentle boy was gone. His son’s eyes were glazed and his face was flushed. His lips were pressed together and the teeth were clenched. Michael looked like a raging animal as he looked at Rafael.

“OK Dad.” Michael looked over at the television. “Dad, I’d like to be left alone tonight. Tell the nurses to sedate me, whatever; I just want to be left alone. I’ll watch you on TV. Could everyone stay away for a few days until I can go home?” Michael was retreating into himself and Rafael knew it.

“Son, I’ll make sure your left alone just tonight. But, just tonight. You understand me Michael? Whatever your feeling right now needs to come out or it will hurt you worse than those men hurt you. You need to...”

Michael’s interruption of anger startled Rafael. ‘Just get out and leave me alone! Quit preaching at me. Get out of here. Go away, leave me alone!” Michael turned over and began to shake. Soon everything went black for Michael.

Rafael watched as his son curled into the fetal position. He went out to the desk and alerted the staff that Michael was having another spell. The family wemt home that night. Rev. Doyle stayed at the hospital and watched Michael from a chair in the corner. He prayed for Michael’s mind to rest, he prayed for the family and for a conclusion to this horrible ordeal.

That night at seven p.m. Jared and his father walked to the podium and stood before the press.

“Once again I want to thank you for letting me speak on behalf of my family. As you can see by my son’s presence with me at the podium, we are united in our family. I thought it only natural to have Jared stand by my side. He will not be speaking and neither of us will be answering any questions when I am finished. I want to turn your attention to the screen behind me. Most of you have all ready seen this video on television or via the internet. However, with the latest technology the FBI have been able to track sound in a way that you will see what my son was actually saying. Before the video is turned on, let me explain that whoever did this has a very sick mind. In retribution for my working on a bill in congress that would free some of the teens on our streets; they kidnapped and tortured my son for a week. I am thankful that he was unconscious for two days out of five. I am also thankful that the CT scan and MRI have shown nothing that would indicate any problems for the future of my son.” No one could see Jared’s hand steadying his father’s back as his father was talking. Rafael needed his son’s support as he was tired and shaky.

“I can only believe that the perpetrators of this crime wanted to humiliate and harm me and my family in every way possible. My son Michael is very precious to this family. I’ve always been proud of my son’s commitment to serve the community. His free time is spent at hospitals where he plays music or volunteers with handicapped children. I have a little more freedom as I speak to you today because I am not running for any political office. I am not speaking on behalf of any political or religious sector. As you know my family has made a stand to follow after Jesus Christ. I’ve never hidden it from public view. I’ve never used it to gain entrance or hidden it to further my career. Now I want you to see the real face of freedom. As you can see I have only one still photo of my son in the cage. What price do we as legislators have to pay for freedom? Do we have to worry that our family members be abducted as we work to ensure that freedom be available for everyone? What about the press? If you take the wrong picture do you have to worry that your family will suffer as mine did? I am not ashamed or humiliated by these pictures. In fact I want you to hear what my son was saying as unbeknownst to him he was being filmed.”

The sound turned on then and the first sounds were of Michael crying while gagged. Yet, you could hear his crying out to God. “Oh God help me, oh God help me!”

When the video turned on with Michael sitting on the floor unbound, the sound in the room was silence. Michael’s voice was then heard as he sang” I will bless the Lord at all times.” It was an emotional video without the sound. Yet with the sound of Michael’s voice singing, some people in the press room began to cry. Others began to cheer and sobbed loudly. Yet, one man stood in the back with wide eyes. Never would he have guessed this meeting would have gone this way.

Rafael held his hands up after a while. “We are in recovery right now from an enormous insult to our senses. Yet we are also in victory. We are not walking in fear of what to come. At this time we are gathering together as a family in prayer. We have no idea if there are any further videos out there. There might be worse ones than what we have seen here. The videos show what heinous people the perpetrators are. They do not show any weakness in my son. Thank you again for your time. My last statement is this. I love this country and feel thankful for the freedom that I have. One of those freedoms is education. I never thought my son would have to pay for that freedom this way. However, he did well under pressure. Don’t you think?”

The press room was loud with pictures snapping, people clapping and well wishers yelling out to Rafael to tell Michael “Well done”.

With that final word Rafael turned and Jared escorted his father out of the room. Jared held his father in his arms a few seconds before letting him go. They hurried to the limousine and drove home. Liana and Brianna were waiting for the men.

Brianna leaped into Jared arms and clung for a few moments. Rafael and Liana were hugging as well. They shared a light snack and went to bed. Rafael’s voice was hoarse after speaking so long yet he remarked to his wife how astounded he was at the response of the press. “Liana, they aren’t even Christians. Well, some might be. But, it reminded me of when Christ said that in the end every knee shall bow. They weren’t clapping for me or even Michael. They didn’t know it but they were bowing to the work of Jesus Christ.”

That night in the hospital room Michael had mixed emotions as he watched the speech. He didn’t feel very strong. As he tossed and turned in bed he had another nightmare. He dreamed he was back in the cellar with the men who abducted him. In his dream he was bound and gagged with the light back on him. He began to scream and shake. Rev. Doyle was alerted and came to his side to awaken him. The nurses came in with a sedative as well.

Michael clung to Rev. Doyle as he held him. Michael sobbed for ten minutes before the sedative took effect and Rev. Doyle laid him back down.

The next day Jared brought Liana and Brianna to visit. Michael was distant and quiet. Jared could sense his brother’s uneasiness and spoke to his mother. “Maybe we should go. He had a rough night last night with nightmares again.” The three left after a short visit. Soon after they left, the nurses came in with Michael’s sunglasses. Michael was soon walking up and down the halls. Rafael met his son in the hall as he came in. “Hi Michael.” Rafael suddenly didn’t know what to say to his son.

Michael didn’t smile but said hello to his father. “My legs are fine now. These glasses aren’t too bad either. I’m just going back to my room.” Rafael didn’t wait for an invitation in case he didn’t get one. Michael was acting so unlike himself that Rafael didn’t know what to make of it. Yet, he assumed it was a normal reaction to stress.

Soon Michael was sitting up in a lounge chair and Rafael was sitting across from him. “I saw your speech last night dad. Thanks for saying all those things. You know, I want to go home. When do you think I’ll get sprung from this place?”

Dr. Adams walked in just at that moment. “Well, so you don’t like our company anymore? That’s great. You can go home tomorrow. I just have to talk to you a little first. OK?”

The doctor sat down and spoke to Rafael and his son. “Michael, I’m going to be honest here. You may not want to hear it but I have to tell it to you straight. You’re going to need an experienced counselor. Your nights are going to be rough for a while and I don’t want to keep medicating you to help you sleep.”

“Well, uh, what can I do then?” Michael asked.

“I guess we have to isolate some of the problems. Are you aware that you have hysterical spells?” the doctor asked.

Michael looked embarrassed and nodded his head. “Good, can you tell me what happens when you’re beginning to have a spell?”

Michael thought for a moment before he spoke. “Well sometimes if I see a really bright flash or light I feel myself losing control. It’s terrifying. I don’t hear anything and then everything goes black. Other times I feel like I’m on overload with what’s going on. It’s like I can’t handle even talking about the cage or the lights or those jerks who tied me up. I feel myself shaking and once again I see black. I can feel it coming on, but I can’t fight it.”

Dr. Adams had been in the marines and seen Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome many times. He also knew that Rev. Doyle was well acquainted with it and was skilled in dealing with it. “Michael, I believe you are suffering from “Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome” Though you haven’t been in the service, what you are describing has some characteristics of what men from battle suffer. Rev. Doyle has been actively involved in treating cases like this. I know you are close with Rev. Doyle. Do you think you might be able to receive counseling from him?”

“I guess so.” Michael said.

Dr. Adams was quick to tell Michael that this syndrome was not unusual and in fact he had enlisted Rev. Doyle and a few others members of the clergy to help with counseling at times before. Rev. Doyle has already agreed to counsel you; I will leave it up to you or your father to set up times. I am giving you a low dose sedative to take for a week. After that I want you to taper off per the instructions on the bottle. You are on a light diet for now but you can try eating whatever you want. Just don’t overdo it. I want you out of bed during the day. No extreme exercise but I want you walking or doing some form of movement. You will tire easily so take naps during the day. But only for an hour. Set your alarm clock.”

Rafael was pleased to be bringing Michael home the next day. After Dr. Adams left, Michael was quiet again. “Michael, what’s going on? I’m your father Michael. Please don’t shut me out son.”

“It’s just that I’m not sure what I’ll do when I get home. What if I have a spell in the middle of the night and well, you know?” said Michael.

Rafael was quick to reassure his son. “Well, at first I thought of installing a monitor in your room so if I heard you scream I could go to you. But, I think someone in the family should stay in your room with you for a few days. What do you want Michael?”

Michael was quickly getting tired. “I don’t know. Could it be just you and Jared? I’m not sure about Mom.”

“Well son, I wasn’t going to have her stay with you anyway. She would hover and you wouldn’t get any sleep. Plus, she is still a little shaky herself. What do you think?”

Michael was half asleep but nodded his head. Rafael sat with his son until Jared came in to relieve him. The next day they brought Michael back home.

Rev. Doyle was there to greet him when he stepped into the mansion. Michael still wore his dark wrap around sunglasses so the glare from the sun hadn’t bothered him on the way home. The family gathered together for a while to greet Michael and then gave him some time alone with Rev.Doyle. “Michael, are you up for going for a walk?”

Rev. Doyle wanted to make sure Michael wouldn’t be afraid to walk outside. To his delight, Michael said yes. The two walked outside around the mansion a few times and then Michael veered off towards the gardener’s house. As he gazed down at the window where he had been kept, he said “How on earth did Amy see me through all that tape on the windows?”

“Well, she didn’t actually see all of you Michael. She saw your green eyes and knew it was you. Your father and both Jared and you have striking green eyes. I believe the Lord gave her a word of knowledge too. If she had jumped up and down like most children her age would have done, you might not have been rescued.” Said Rev.Doyle.

Michael remembered watching her that day. “Yeah, it was odd. I thought she didn’t see me. She just twirled around singing and walked over and picked up her jump rope. She didn’t run away either. I remember she acted so nonchalant that I thought she didn’t see me.”

As they continued on their walk the Rev. gave thanks that Michael was calm and enjoying being outdoors. They walked back to the veranda and sat down. Someone had poured iced tea for them. “I guess your supposed to get in my head aren’t you?” asked Michael.

The reverend laughed. “Well, Michael you were always to the point! I remember talking to you when you were five or six. I was trying to explain salvation to you. You sat there and told me “You must have sinned a lot more than me, I’m only six! How come Jesus wants me now? Can’t I have a few good years of sin first?”

The two of them laughed for a while and Rev. Doyle told Michael he was going to come back in a few days. “Michael, I don’t know what we will have to deal with here. You are recovering from a severe experience. We’ll know more when I return. OK? Call me anytime though.”

Michael knew the reverend well enough to give him a hug before he left. He sat on the veranda and looked out at the scene. He could see the flowers and envision Amy stretched out talking to cater pillars. He fell asleep on the front porch swing.

Secret service men were stationed where Michael wouldn’t feel like he was watched. It was Liana who went out to awaken Michael. “Hi Michael” she said as she bent down to kiss his forehead. Michael smiled and sat up. “I guess I dozed off there. It’s good to be home.” They sat and talked on the swing for a while before going inside.

For the first time Michael noticed a couple of moving vans. “Is someone moving?” he asked.

“Yes, we are” she answered. “Grandpa and our whole family are moving back to our own mansion. When you come in to our private apartments you’ll see boxes everywhere. Don’t worry; I’ve hired people to do the packing. Brianna and Amy are coming with us as well. Since Jared is going to have them for his own family soon; we felt it only right to give Brianna and Amy a place in our home. It will soon be her home as well.”

Michael found out that his mom was planning the move to be the following week. “What about Rev. Doyle? I thought he was going to counsel me?” he asked.

“He’ll come over here for now and then he’s offered to make the trip. Grandfather is having him flown in on the helicopter.” Liana said.

Michael thought about it and smiled down at his mother. “Ok, I guess that settles it then.”

The next 14 days were spent packing and getting everything settled and ready for the new occupants of the Governor’s mansion. Michael slept fine during the night. No one noticed that he was taking two pills at night rather than one until he was all out of them.

Rafael looked at his son and said, “Michael didn’t you read the bottle? The doctor wants you to be off of these pills soon. You’ve been taking too many.”

“Well, I haven’t woke up during the night though. Isn’t that something good?” Michael answered.

Michael’s father nodded and walked away. He left Michael sitting on the porch. His cell phone was in his pocket and he phoned the doctor when he was beyond Michael’s hearing. “Yeah, Dr. Adams it seems we have a surprise here. Michael’s been taking two sedatives at night instead of one every night. The bottle is empty. What do you think we should do?”

This came as a surprise to Dr. Adams. “Well, I should have expected Michael would do a stunt like this.”

Rafael became upset. “What do you mean by that? Michael has never been sneaky before.”

“Calm down, I’m not accusing Michael really. I just should have had you give him his medicine rather than him self medicating. He’s got a lot of fear still. He dreads the nightmares. How’s he been doing with the spells during the day?”

Rafael told him he was doing all right even though it had only been a week. The doctor ordered more sleeping pills with the instructions that Rafael be in charge of dispensing them to his son. “I know he’s eighteen and not five years old. He’ll get angry. But, it’s better than having him dependent on these things.” Said Dr. Adams.

When the day came for everyone to leave the Governor’s mansion the Monterey family said their final good byes to the staff and flew to their home in West Texas. The company that was hired did all of the lifting and carrying of boxes. Other staff helped with unpacking.

Rafael was upstairs getting ready to descend the stairs when he heard the commotion downstairs.

Someone was yelling and asking to see Rafael quickly. Rafael went downstairs quickly and was met with Steven Chancellor. “I have to talk to you. Is there some place we can talk?” Steven Chancellor was weeping and shaking. Rafael ushered him into the study. After a brief introduction to his father, Rafael showed Steve to a chair. The man was shaking uncontrollably. “I didn’t do this Rafael. I would never do something like this. I didn’t agree with that bill but I’d never, never hurt you. But, I found….” The man’s voice broke and he began to shake again.

Miguel and Rafael moved closer to the man. Steve got himself under control enough to explain what had happened. “I found more tapes of Michael. They were tucked away in my nephew’s book shelf. I was looking for something I’d loaned him.” Steve lips were quivering and his hands swept through his hair as he held his head. His elbows rested on his knees as he lowered his head. “He thought he was doing me a favor. I practically raised this boy. I’ve kept him with me you know.” Steve was babbling incoherently and Miguel put his hand on Steve’s shoulder.

“What are you saying Steve?” asked Rafael. Miguel had already surmised what Steve was saying. He looked up at Rafael and shook his head. Rafael was getting red in the face and Miguel was warning him to stay calm. “I would never do something like this. I wouldn’t ever think of anything like this.” Steve sobbed. “I just found out 3 hours ago and I had to tell you. I was making arrangements for my nephew to get help. He’s been in to those war games videos and reading those trash books on bondage and so forth. He was starting to scare me with some of his ideas at work. He overheard me talking on the phone about this bill. Rafael, you got to believe me I’d never…” Steve broke down again.

They waited a moment for Steve to regain some composure. “I all ready called the FBI. My nephew is in custody. My Joey! I was the one who turned him in. There were fingerprints on the strobe light…Joey’s. I’m so sorry Rafael. I’m so sorry! Joey had clearance to State Capital. He worked under me. The three goons in the jail all indentified him. I’m so sorry!”

The phone rang just then and Agent Meads confirmed all that Steven Chancellor had said. Agent Meads informed Rafael that Steven Chancellor quit his job that same day as well. He was cleared from any involvement. Rafael looked at the crumpled man sitting in his study. Miguel had his arms around Steve and held him. After another hour and many embraces Steve Chancellor started for home to tell his family. “How am I going to explain this?”

Miguel went to him and said “Steve, we can’t always predict what our children will do. We do the best we can and let God do the rest. This isn’t your fault. Tell your family honestly and if needed, give me a call. I want to be here for you.” Steven looked at Miguel in surprise. “But, you don’t even know me. And it was your grandson…”

“Michael will rise above this in time. We all will have changed a little. Your family will need to heal from this as well as ours. I know that you heard Rafael tell the world that his family stands for Christ. Let me show you.” Miguel said quietly.

“It’s over, “said Rafael after Steve left the mansion. “The loose end was tied up. Now, the healing begins. I was shocked by what you said to Steve just then Dad. But, I think it’s wonderful. I wanted to help him but I didn’t have a clue.” Rafael looked over at his father. He was a sturdy man with just a hint of gray in his hair at the age of seventy two. Someone who didn’t know him would mistake him for Rafael’s brother.

Rafael walked over and reached out for his father. “Did I ever tell you how much I love you Dad? Will you help me tell the rest?”

Miguel smiled. “I love you too son. Sure, I’ll come along. This is a time to praise God and pray for the Chancellors family as well.”

The family was surprised when Miguel asked them all to come to the main dining room. He asked Brianna as well. Little Amy was still with her grandparents. Miguel was glad for that.

It didn’t take long for Rafael to announce what Steve Chancellor had said. The final missing link to Michael’s horror was put to rest. Miguel watched to see Michael’s response. Michael was silent and serious.

Everyone had a chance to say something. That was the Monterey way in such matters. No one was chastised for having an opinion. However, they were reminded of how a Godly person responds to situations.

Miguel began to speak slowly. “It’s one thing to tell people that we are Christians. But, now is the time to remember what that entails. We set a standard here. We don’t fight against flesh and blood but rulers and principalities. Our fight is not with the Chancellor family. In fact, this is a time to pray for them. Years ago when my father was swindled out of the ranch that he came to this country to have, Rev. Doyle Sr. came to the house. He spoke about Jesus. He told my father and I how Jesus heals all wounds. But, in order for my father to move forward, he had to take a step in forgiveness. I’m not asking a show of hands or a spoken word of agreement here. This is a personal thing between you and the Father. Our family needs healing though and I think this is the place to start. That’s all I wanted to say.”

The family did pray together after that, all except Michael who went back outside to sit on the porch swing. The cool wind drifted over his face as he sat in silence. That evening his father gave him a sedative and he slept fitfully.

Miguel offered to sleep in the spare bed in Michael’s room the following night. He often awoke during the night. This night he sat up in an easy chair and prayed for his grandson’s freedom. It was obvious to him that Michael was fearful, angry and confused. He was not the Michael that had once been. Miguel prayed that he would come out of this a stronger more powerful Michael.

After two weeks Michael was being weaned off the sedative. He had mood swings. Often he preferred to sit out on the swing or be alone in the music room. He played his piano with energy unlike ever before. One melody kept playing in his mind. He couldn’t remember it all and it bothered him. He asked his family if they had ever heard it but no one had. “Perhaps its something you had begun before all this began?”

Michael kept trying to find it and also played his other songs as well. He didn’t feel the creativity as he had before. The music was just a way to escape for Michael.

He began to play tennis again with some of old friends. During the day he would either play tennis or basketball with his friends. He seldom had much to say. He kept himself busy. In the evenings he would be at his piano. He’d made the decision to go back into the public eye. At the age of eighteen he was an accomplished pianist. He wrote music during the evening or played the piano. The family enjoyed the sounds each night. Michael however was edgy and quick to reply sharply. The calm caring Michael was never seen.

He had graduated from high school at the age of fourteen. College was finished and now he was considering being a music professor at the age of 18 years old. Though Michael’s I.Q. was higher than most his own age, he still managed to maintain friends. In a month he began to go out to parties after the flashing lights no longer bothered him. He resumed driving his sports car as well.

Yet, Michael was always tense and on edge. Some afternoons he’d sit with his grandfather on the veranda.

In the distance he could hear the piano playing the melody that had been looking for.

“Who’s that playing?” he asked. Miguel answered. Little Amy is playing the piano. She learned while she was away with her grandparents. She is quite good for not having ever played before. Don’t you think?”

Michael rested his head back and drifted away. The piano music was soft and Amy’s voice was a high soprano that gently soothed Michael’s tension. Soon, Michael was asleep.

Miguel noticed the relaxed look on Michael’s face. The next day after Michael played tennis he went back on the veranda with a drink. He had a headache from the tension he felt. Once again, Miguel came out and sat with him. He watched as Michael got up and set the drink down. He paced back and forth a few times.

Michael was unhappy in spite of the fact that his life was pretty much back to normal. He soon would be on stage again. The concert in Dallas was a sell out soon after it was announced. Yet, Michael wasn’t happy about his talent. He had been going to parties and getting bored as well. His outlet in tennis only tired his restless energy.

In the distance Michael could hear Amy’s piano. “I will bless the Lord at all times” she sang. Michael sat back down and listed as Amy went through six songs. He had laid his head back against the swing and was relaxed again.

Miguel smiled at his grandson. He had an idea too. “I think Amy practices the same time every day. I always come out here to listen.” He said.

Michael was silent a moment before he said, “I can see why, it’s beautiful to hear her sing.:

“She’s singing at Jared and Brianna’s wedding you know.” Miguel said.

Michael was stunned. He had forgotten all about the wedding. “When is the wedding Grand father? I forgot all about it.”

Miguel laughed. “In two weeks time.”

They sat in silence as Amy continued to play her music. All of a sudden Amy played a familiar tune. Michael sat up to listen closer. Miguel asked him “Is something the matter?”

“It’s that song that’s been in my head. I’m going to go see Amy. See you later.” And with that Michael bounded for the music room. Amy was a little startled to see Michael come charging in.

“Hi, uh what’s the matter?” she asked.

Michael wasn’t sure how to ask. He was the famous musician and couldn’t figure out a simple tune. “Well, it’s that music you’re playing. It sounds sort of familiar but I can’t seem to place it.”

“Oh, that. Well I made it up to go along with a prayer one time.” Amy’s eyes were as big as saucers. “Did I do something wrong? It’s ok isn’t it?”

Michael shook his head. “A prayer song?” “Well, yeah. It just came to me one day as I was praying for something.”

“Well, I’d like to play the music in my concert. I’ll give you the credit for it. Is that ok?” asked Michael. It was a spur of the moment thing.

Amy looked down at her keys and closed her eyes. She was asking God what to do. “Well, ok I guess”

Michael thought she should have been ecstatic and jumping up and down like the Amy he knew. “It’s a beautiful melody Amy. Can I hear the words too it?”

Amy swallowed and didn’t know what to do. “Well, “she closed her eyes again and asked for help. It seemed to her like she should sing it to him. She placed her fingers on the piano and began the music again. After playing the melody she then played the music with the refrain. Michael was astonished.

Please set Michael free

Father hear my plea

Bring him home to me

Set his spirit free

Let him magnify thee

Please set Michael free

Father hear my plea

It’s been so long

Since he’s been gone

Though he sits right next to me

Eyes once sparkled free

Now he seldom sees

Lord I see so well

Michael’s in a shell

Only you can make him see

Please set Michael free

It’s been so long

Since he’s been gone

Though he’s sits right next to me

I long to see his smile

To laugh with him awhile

He showed love to me

Your love can set him free

Please set Michael free

Father hear my plea

It’s been so long

Since he’s been gone

Though he sits right next to me

Amy sat looking down at the piano once her song was finished. She was afraid to look up. This song was a prayer of intercession for Michael’s complete healing.

Michael’s heart was melted. This little child had been praying for him each day and he never noticed. Her music soothed his soul. More than that the Father touched Michael that day and answered the song of intercession.

Michael sat down near Amy. “Amy?” Amy lifted her head and presented two huge brown eyes that overflowed with tears.

“What’s the name of your song Amy?” Michael asked in a tight voice. He was definitely going to include this in his concert along with his testimony of how God healed his heart with a song.

“I just call it Michael’s song.” Amy replied. Michael sat closer to her then and hugged the tears away.

“Thank you Amy! I am sure that I am totally free!”

A month later the entire Monterey family was dressed in their finest for Michael’s concert. They were given box seats. The newly weds sat holding hands and beamed at each other. Amy was excited to have Jared be her new Dad. She loved the entire Monterey family. Tonight though, Amy was very excited to have Michael play her song. “It was going to be played at the very end. The ‘grand finale” he had told her.

The audience was clapping as Michael came out in his white tuxedo to take his place at the grand piano. The piano was white with gold trim to match Michael’s tuxedo. A hush went over the room as the lights over the audience were dimmed and the spotlight was on Michael.

Michael started out with some of his older songs and mixed in some of his newer songs as well. He played for over an hour and then reached down to get a glass of water. He took a few sips and left the piano. Amy wondered what he was doing until she saw him kneel at the side of the stage.

He got up and went back to the piano. “This last song I’m going to play was written by a lovely lady named Amy. After I was rescued last year, I was still in bondage with emotional difficulties. Amy wrote this song as a prayer of intercession. The words are on the back of the stage. My heart had grown bitter and I was angry. The Lord healed me and set me free as I listened to Amy sing this song to me. When I asked Amy what the name of the song was, she said “Michael’s song”.

Michael’s fingers glided over the keyboard as the words were posted on the back of the stage. The audience erupted in a huge applause. Miguel came to the box seat and asked Amy to come with him. Amy walked with Miguel to the stage as Michael had asked him to. Michael then went over and took Amy’s hand. “Take a bow with me” he whispered to her. Together they took a bow.

Michael then took the microphone and spoke to the audience again. I’m going to play this song again. For those of you who have loved ones who need to be set free, I want you to sing their name where it says Michael. This time I play the song I’m going to have Amy sing the words for you. Wherever I have a concert, I will always play this song. Now, without further ado we give you “Michael’s song”.

No comments:

Post a Comment