SET FREE - PART 2
A week later the three boys left school early and drove to the Claremont State Hospital in Martin’s car. Once they arrived Martin parked as close to the hospital gardens as possible.
“Okay. I’ll be bringing him through there,” Tommy said as he pointed toward the gardens.
He went inside the building as Martin and Alan waited in the car. “I have a bad feeling about this,” Martin said shaking his head.
“Quit being such a baby,” Alan said. “It’ll be fine.”
Tommy took a deep breath to calm his nerves before walking up to the front desk. “Hello,” he said to the receptionist. “I’m here to see Paul Richards. Is he in the rec room?”
“Probably,” the receptionist answered. “If he’s not there try his room. Fill out this form and I’ll give you a visitor’s pass.”
“Thank you,” Tommy said as he signed in.
Moments later Tommy walked into the recreation room and saw his uncle in the same corner as before. He looked around and noticed there was only one orderly in the room. He quickly walked toward his uncle and once he reached him he didn’t quite know what to do.
“Uncle Paul,” Tommy said. “It’s Tommy. Do you remember me?”
At the sound of Tommy’s voice Paul turned toward the boy. “Tommy?”
“Yes sir. I’m Matthew’s son. Do you remember me?”
“Tommy?” Paul repeated.
“Would you like to go outside to the garden with me?” Tommy asked.
“He’s waiting for you in the garden. He’s come to take you home,” Tommy said and repented immediately for lying.
Tears welled up in Paul’s eyes. “He’s come to take me home?”
“Yes sir. Please come with me and I’ll take you to him.”
Paul allowed his nephew to help him to his feet. They made their way out to the garden and around the building.
“Where’s Matty?” Paul asked nervously.
“He’s waiting for you in the car,” Tommy said and again repented.
Moments later Tommy helped his uncle into the back seat of Martin’s car. He ran around the other side and slipped in beside him.
“Where’s Matty?” Paul asked again.
“We’re going to take you to him,” Tommy said.
Paul began to panic. “But you said he was in the car!”
Paul wasn’t the only one panicking. “Tommy, what do we do?” Martin asked fearfully.
“Drive!” Tommy shouted.
With the tires squealing, Martin accelerated swiftly out of the parking lot. It didn’t take long for them to arrive at their destination, a wooded area about a mile from the hospital.
Paul looked at Tommy, crazy-eyed and maniacal. “YOU’RE ONE OF THEM! YOU KILLED MATTY DIDN’T YOU? DIDN’T YOU?”
Tommy began to question whether he had made a huge mistake in taking his uncle out of the hospital. “Uncle Paul, it’s Tommy, Matty’s son, remember me?”
“LET ME OUT! LET ME OUT!” Paul shrieked as he tried to open the car door.
“You call this a little excited!” Martin roared from the front seat.
Martin finally brought the car to a stop in a small clearing. He jumped out of the vehicle with Alan following suit. The husky young man paced while Alan watched. “Why don’t we just pray for him in the car?” Martin suggested to Tommy.
“Help me get him out,” Tommy said.
The two football players dragged the terrified man out of the car and forced him to kneel. Tommy anointed Paul’s forehead with oil and then laid hands on his head. “By the authority given to me in Christ Jesus, I command the spirits of trauma and fear to go, and I command Uncle Paul's mind to be healed in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Paul began to sob and the boys released his arms.
“Uncle Paul, are you okay?” Tommy asked as he helped his uncle to his feet.
Without warning Paul grabbed Tommy and slammed him into Martin causing the two youths to tumble to the ground. Alan tried to grab Paul but received a knee kick to the groin for his efforts. The teen dropped to the ground like a sack of potatoes. Paul terrified and desperate escaped into the woods.
“Now we’ve done it!” Martin shouted as he got to his feet.
“Come on! We’re faster than he is! We can catch him!” Tommy shouted as he raced after Paul. Martin looked down at Alan writhing in agony on the ground. He shook his head and followed Tommy into the woods.
It was an hour later that Tommy had to make the call to his father. “Dad, I’ve done something really stupid. I’ve lost Uncle Paul.”
It took the police less than an hour to assemble a search party after Matthew called explaining what his son had done. It was getting dark by the time the Search and Rescue team began the operation.
“Your brother’s in quite a dilemma, Mr. Richards. In his state of mind, he could be a danger to himself and others,” Captain Taylor said.
“He’s never been violent,” Matthew explained.
“That’s not what your son’s friends said. And it seems he thinks we’re aliens and we’re hunting him…”
“Hunting?” Matthew asked angrily. “I thought this was supposed to be a search and rescue operation!”
“Of course it is. I’m sorry to be blunt, Mr. Richards, but your brother is a mental patient who’s escaped from Claremont and he thinks aliens are out to get him,” the police officer said. “We have to take every precaution for his safety as well as ours. And one more thing, we’re supposed to get rain tonight. If it starts bucketing down, we’ll have to call off the search until morning,” Captain Taylor said and walked off.
Matthew joined the boys who stood around Martin’s car.
“Dad, I’m so sorry,” Tommy said as tears streamed down his face.
“What were you thinking?” Matthew shouted. “Your uncle could get seriously hurt! You’ve done a stupid, stupid thing!”
“I read about it in a book and…”
Matthew was fuming. “You read it in a book? And, what, you thought you’d use your uncle as a guinea pig?”
“Sir,” Alan said. “Tommy was only trying to help.”
“I DON’T WANT TO HEAR IT!” Matthew screamed. “Now go home! I’ll deal with you later!”
“Dad, you’ve always taught me that the bible is the Word of God and that it reveals the truth,” Tommy said. “You’ve always told me that faith is to act on God’s Word. The bible tells us that if we lay hands on the sick they will recover. And Jesus tells us in the Word that we can do the same works as he did. I believe what the bible says. Do you?”
Suddenly the anger in Matthew dissipated. He looked at the three teenagers and his heart overflowed with love and compassion. He went to his son and embraced him.
“Dad, we’d like to stay and help with the search,” Tommy said.
“Okay, but you better stay close to me. Do you hear?”
“Yes sir,” the boys responded in unison.
Paul ran until he couldn’t run any longer. The pain in his side was excruciating and his legs felt like they would give out from under him. He had to stop and rest. He looked desperately for a place to hole up until he could catch his breath. Several feet away he found foliage in which he could hide. Paul was exhausted and laid down on the ground.
“I am with you, my son.”
Paul sat bolt upright. He was used to hearing voices screaming in his head but this voice was different. The voice was soft and gentle.
Paul looked around. “Who are you?” he asked but there was no reply. He stood and walked out into a gully. “Where are you?” Paul asked but again there was no response. Paul thought maybe if he kept walking the voice would speak to him again, and maybe that voice could help him find Matthew.
An hour into the search the torrential rain came. The heavy showers were so severe the search party couldn’t see anything in front of them. It didn’t take long before Captain Taylor called off the search.
“We’ll come back first thing in the morning,” Captain Taylor told Matthew. “I suggest you take the boys home.”
Knowing there was nothing else he could do; Matthew followed Martin back to the boy’s house and explained to his parents what had happened. Martin knew his parents were reasonable people. The boy also knew his parents wouldn’t really kill him, but they could ground him for the rest of his life.
As Matthew was leaving Martin walked him to the door. “Mr. Richards?”
Matthew knew what was on the youth’s mind. “I’ll let you know as soon as we know anything,” Matthew said.
Oblivious to the rain, Paul walked along the gully in the deep mud.
“Do not be afraid for I am with you.”
There was that voice again. “Please tell me where you are!” Paul called out. “Can you help me?”
Suddenly a thunderous roar came from behind Paul. He slowly turned to look, and before he could act a wall of water smashed into him, knocking his feet out from under him and swept him away.
Paul wasn’t much of a swimmer and the rushing water took him under. He somehow managed to fight his way back up to the top and kept his head above water. But the raging river was taking its toll. Paul knew he couldn’t fight the force of the water for much longer.
“HELP! HELP ME!” Paul cried out.
Before he knew it, Paul was wrapped around several large roots that had been exposed by the rushing water. He crawled to the top before exhaustion overtook him. He lay on the top of the roots dangerously close to the raging river below. Then unexpectedly a pair of arms lifted him from the dangerous spot and placed him on the edge of the embankment.
Paul turned over to thank his rescuer, but to his amazement there was no one else around. He managed to climb to the top of the mound and found a clump of trees lining the top. He crawled beneath the canopy of the trees before succumbing to exhaustion.
The rain finally stopped. Matthew and Tommy had been waiting since before dawn along with the Search and Rescue team for the storm to end. Back home Elaine and Tracy had called a prayer team together to meet at their house. Prayer was fervently going out as the team prepared to continue the rescue operation.
As the rescue team continued their search a lone man ran up to Captain Taylor. “I’ve found a man lying unconscious,” the man said. “He’s just over there. I’ll show you.”
Before Captain Taylor could ask any questions the man ran off. “Hey, wait a minute!” Captain Taylor called after him. “Wait up!”
The police officer and a volunteer ran after the jogger and came across Paul lying in a fetal position under the trees. “Where’d that jogger go?” Captain Taylor asked the volunteer.
“I don’t know. He was just here,” the volunteer said, looking around for the stranger. “I don’t see him anywhere.”
The officer and volunteer looked at each other with uncertainty. Captain Taylor shrugged and radioed in that they had found Paul. Moments later Matthew’s team leader received the call. “Mr. Richards,” the team leader said. “Your brother’s been found.
Matthew burst into tears as Tommy embraced him.
Paul was rushed to the hospital and lay in critical condition suffering from pneumonia. The Richards family had been told Paul had a fifty-fifty chance but Tommy knew better. He knew in his spirit that his Uncle Paul would be just fine. Martin and Alan joined the prayer team which had congregated in the hospital waiting room.
Two days later, Paul opened his eyes to find his brother asleep in the chair next to his bed. “Matty?”
Matthew’s eyes shot open. “Hey, buddy,” Matthew said as he held Paul’s hand. “How are you feeling?”
“Did you hear the voice too?” Paul asked.
“No,” Matthew said. “What voice? What did it say?”
“It said ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ What does that mean Matty?” Paul asked.
“It means Jesus is watching over you and there’s nothing to worry about,” Matthew said as tears welled up in his eyes.
“Jesus is real?” Paul asked.
Matthew beamed. “He sure is, Paulie. I'll tell you all about Him when you're feeling better. I promise.”
Paul smiled, closed his eyes and fell asleep.
A week after Paul had left the hospital Matthew received a call from Dr. Walters from the Claremont State Hospital.
“Mr. Richards, this is Dr. Walters. Is it possible for you to come to the hospital as soon as you can?”
“Why, what’s the matter?” Matthew asked.
“Something has happened to Paul,” Dr. Walters said.
Matthew was getting frantic. “What? What’s happened? Is he all right?”
“He’s more than all right, Mr. Richards. I don’t understand how this has happened but Paul’s mind has been restored and I can’t find anything wrong with him.”
Matthew let out a yelp. “I’m leaving now!” he said and hung up the phone.
Elaine rushed into the room. “Matthew? What’s the matter?”
Matthew took his wife in his arms. “Our prayers have been answered! Paul’s been healed!”
“Oh, Matthew! Tommy acted on God’s word and the Lord honored his faith with a miracle.”
“Call the school and tell them I’m picking my son up in ten minutes,” Matthew said as he rushed out the door.
Matthew and Tommy arrived at the Claremont State Hospital in record time. They found Paul reading under the oak tree. Paul smiled and stood to greet his brother and nephew. “Hi Matthew. Hi Tommy.”
Matthew rushed into Paul’s arms and the brothers held on to each other for a long moment. Matthew held Paul’s face in his hands. He could see Paul’s eyes were clear and alert.
“You’re all right now, Paul. God’s healed you. You've been set free,” Matthew said.
“I haven’t felt this good since I was a kid,” Paul said. “And I don’t hear the voices in my head anymore.”
Paul looked to Tommy. “It’s because of you, Tommy. You saved my life.”
“No, Uncle Paul, Jesus saved your life. I just helped him a little,” Tommy said.
(© 2010 Connie Lanyon-Roberts – All rights reserved. Written material may not be duplicated without permission.)
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