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RANDY had the over-weight laundry cart rumbling down the
basement corridor so fast that he could hardly stop it when it reached
the door by the trash dumpster. He threw open the door just as Joe
Fontaine and Larry Hickman pulled up in Joe's old Thunderbird.
"Hey, kid, what's up?" Larry grinned, popping out of
passenger side and brushing back overgrown blond bangs that
threatened to cover up his face, if ever they were allowed to fall fully
forward. Those were Larry's trademarks: a perpetual boyish smile
and a forehead overhung with yellow hair that continually needed to
be brushed aside. He kept it cut short at the sides and back, of course,
fulfilling the requirements of a proper "theocratic" haircut, but let the
front flirt with forbidden lengths, his disarming grin defusing anyone's
While Larry leaped up onto the loading dock and clasped
hand in both of his, Joe sat rigid at the steering wheel, his deepset
dark eyes sweeping the empty parking lot. Joe's frown was as
constant as Larry's smile. And you could easily imagine him
explaining, in his softspoken serious tone, that he avoided laughter
because it would wrinkle the thin mustache glued to his upper lip.
Joe and Larry were "pioneers"--that is, they were
the Watchtower Society as full time workers, committed to spending
nearly one hundred hours each month in the house-to-house
preaching work. As pioneer "partners" they roomed together and
shared together in most aspects of their door-to-door ministry, a
continuation of the arrangement begun at the Society's Brooklyn
headquarters where they had been roommates for four years. They
worked together at the same secular job: cleaning office buildings
after hours on a subcontract basis for brother Haselip. And, unknown
to their fellow-Witnesses, Joe and Larry also shared together a dark
"Come on, Joe!" Randy called as forcefully as he
actually raising his voice. "Give me a hand!"
"Sorry we were almost late," Joe apologized, finally
car and joining the other two young men on the loading dock. "At the
last minute I realized I was low on gas, so we stopped for a fill-up.
With Tommy in the car, I won't want to stop for gas until after I cross
the state line. I won't dare to."
Stepping inside, the three of them began throwing laundry from
the cart in every direction, digging to uncover their secret stowaway.
"Hi, guys!" a smiling Tommy chirped, as the
remaining linen was
lifted off him. "Where are we? Where's my mom and dad?"
"They're going ahead of us in their own car," Larry
lifting the boy out of the cart and leading him out the door. "Come on!
This will be fun," he added, opening a rear door of the Thunderbird.
"Fun?" Tommy asked blankly, removing a piece of
the blacktop that had stuck to his bare foot.
"Yeah! Lots of fun!" Joe agreed, his serious
expression belying his
words, as he climbed back behind the wheel.
Randy reached through the open driver's window over Joe's
shoulder and handed the youngster in the back seat a brown blanket
he had rescued from the laundry. "Lay on the floor and cover up with
this, just in case someone looks into the car."
As Tommy obeyed, Joe gunned the engines and took his powerful
automobile around the hospital, through the parking lot, out the front
gate, and down Centre Street with speed worthy of hot pursuit,
although there was no one following--at least, not yet.
Randy waited until they were out of sight, or, rather, until
were out of earshot--the old Ford, in need of a new muffler, could be
heard for some time after it passed from sight.
"Someone else's car should have been used," Randy
thought, as he
finally stepped back inside and closed the door. "That antique attracts
too much attention to itself. I sure hope they don't get caught."
Then Randy bent over and started tossing the hastily-removed
laundry back into his cart. Most of it was still strewn about the floor
when Mr. Thompson turned the corner and approached. Randy's heart
sank as he straightened up, dropping a sheet from his suddenly
weakened grip. Caught in the act, he stood there resigned, back
against the wall and arms hanging by his side, as if Mr. Thompson
were about to arrest and handcuff him.
"I told you to watch it with that cart, boy!" the
as he stepped over and around the obstacles in his way. "Now look
what you've gone and done! I knew you'd end up spilling it."
Randy took a deep breath and heaved a deeper sigh as he
watched Mr. Thompson walk on by and lumber away down the hall,
all the while shaking his head and mumbling to himself more loudly
"Thank you, Jehovah!" Randy prayed silently as he
picking up the remaining items. "Thank you, God, that I didn't get
caught. And, thank you that we got Tommy Troulson safely out of the
hospital. You know that I did all this for the sake of your laws--to
keep these doctors from forcing Tommy to take blood in violation of
what you have commanded us in your Word the Bible. But I know,
too, Jehovah, that you tell us to obey the authorities. Yet, we are to
put your law above their law, even in the face of persecution or death.
Please correct me, heavenly Father Jehovah God, if what I have done
tonight is wrong, and please forgive me."
Randy felt proud of himself on account of having smuggled
Tommy out of the hospital, but he also felt guilty. What if what he did
was actually wrong? What if he was acting like the ones mentioned in
the Bible who 'had a zeal for God but not according to accurate
knowledge'? What if he was mistaken in thinking that Jehovah
wanted him to aid in Tommy's escape? What if this action now put
him in line for destruction rather than for everlasting life?
Randy hated situations like this. Being raised in the Truth,
usually knew what was right or wrong in every situation. If the Bible
didn't clearly spell it out, he could consult the Watchtower Society's
books and magazines. All he had to do was find the subject in the
Publications Index, look up the references in the literature, and read
the answer. The organization's publications interpreted the Scriptures
and told him whether a particular course of conduct was right or
wrong. But this was one of those 'gray areas' that Randy hated. The
black and white distinctions that made decision-making simple here
became blurred and left Randy feeling uneasy, confused, guilty and
"It's wrong to take blood," he thought, trying to
settle the matter
in his mind, "but the only way to keep Tommy free from blood was to
break the law, and that's wrong too--unless you're breaking man's
law to keep God's law. Then it's Okay." That's the conclusion Randy
reached each time he went over it in his mind, but still he felt uneasy
about the whole thing.
"There, that's the last one," he congratulated
himself as he picked
up the final piece of linen and tossed it on top of the rest. "Life should
be like that. Every action is either in God's will or out of God's will,
just as the laundry is either in the cart or out of it. I guess the
problem is that I can see the laundry cart and I can see whether
something is in or out. But I can't see God's will plainly enough to
know for sure."
Pushing the cart slowly along toward the laundry room, Randy
glanced up at the mirror-like kitchen window and watched his
reflection walk alongside him, pushing the reflection of a cart.
"Ha! That's me! The same jerk I see whenever I look in a
What a hypocrite I am!", Randy condemned himself loudly inside his
head. "Here I am agonizing over this issue, worrying about whether or
not I sinned against Jehovah God in this gray area, as if it might spoil
my otherwise perfect record--when I know full well that I do wrong
all the time in matters that are clear as black and white. Last night at
Kingdom Hall while Terri McNeil was in front of the audience giving
her student talk, instead of listening to what she said I was thinking
about how sexy her voice sounded, while in my mind I took her
clothes off piece by piece. What a righteous man I am! And later,
while lying in bed before going to sleep, I kept visualizing her naked
in my arms, and . . . From what Jesus said about committing adultery
in your heart, I'm condemned and deserving of death a hundred times
over. So, what does it matter whether I did right or wrong in helping
Tommy's parents get him out of the hospital tonight? If I'm a hero, it
won't redeem me from my sins; and if I'm a villain, it won't make me
any worse than I already am."
"Oh, Jehovah God, please rescue me!" Randy cried out
despair. But he knew there would be no answer to such a prayer.
After all, God had already provided the answer in the form of His
organization. The organization was there to lead men to peace with
God and eternal life in the future Paradise earth. It was up to Randy
to obey God's laws as outlined by the organization and to go out in the
house-to-house ministry preaching the Good News and offering people
the organization's magazines and books.
"Everyone at the Hall tells me what a good Witness I am
well I do in giving student talks and in placing magazines at the doors
-- but Jehovah God knows the wickedness of my heart, the evil
thoughts I think even while sitting right there in the House of God.
And Jehovah sees the horrible things I do in the darkness, even
though I keep promising Him and promising myself that I'll never do
it again. When Armageddon comes, I'm sure to be among those who
Deep in these despairing thoughts, Randy let his body operate
auto-pilot, pushing the cart down the endless corridor toward the
laundry room. He didn't even notice Jill French standing in front of
the Coke machine, digging in her purse for coins.
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