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Chapter Eight

JILL French had heard the sound of the approaching laundry cart even
before Randy turned the corner with it, and she was pleased that her
timing had been right. But she kept digging in her purse for coins
without looking up.

"Oh! Oh, excuse me, Jill!" Randy stammered with difficulty,
awakening from his daydream and jerking the cart to a halt just in
time to avoid hitting her. "I almost knocked you over. I'm sorry." He
knew that her slender frame would not have absorbed the impact like
Mr. Thompson's belly.

"It's my fault, Randy. I heard you coming and should have
stepped out of the way. Anyway, you didn't hit me, so it doesn't

Pressing her body against the Coke machine to let him pass with
the cart, Jill smiled at him in her unique way that always made Randy
feel glad that he knew her--even though he had never exchanged
much more than a "Hi, how are you?" with her as they passed during
their separate nightly routines. Because she did not attend the
Kingdom Hall she was a 'worldly' girl--out of bounds for Randy now
and forever. So he had always avoided getting into a conversation
with her, even when it seemed that she may have have been opening
the way.

"Randy," Jill's call made him stop and look back, "What do you
think of all the excitement upstairs in Pediatrics? Lucie told me I
looked so shook-up I should go get myself a Coke, even though it isn't
my break time. Do I look shakey to you?"

"No! You look okay," Randy managed to say, although the other
words that flooded into his mind to describe how she looked made
him blush. He was sure that Jill French was the best-looking girl alive
on earth. Saying that she looked okay was such an understatement
that it made him feel almost guilty of lying. "What happened in
Pediatrics?" he asked, feeling guilty about this deception too. "Did
something spill? Is there a mess of soiled laundry for me to pick up,
or something?"

"It's a mess, all right. But nothing you can clean up. The Troulson
boy disappeared from his room. The door was closed and we thought
he was in there with his mother, but when someone said they had
seen her downstairs we opened the door and he was gone!"

"The Troulson boy? The one who's supposed to get a court-
ordered blood transfusion?"

"Yeah! You know him, don't you? Don't you go to the same
church as his family?" Randy had never talked about religion with
anyone at Memorial Hospital, but word had gotten around among his
fellow workers due to the magazines they saw him read at break,
together with his returning their Merry Christmas! greetings with a
Thanks! You have a good day, too! reply.

"Yes, we go to the same Kingdom Hall."

"His mother must have slipped out of the room with him right
after you left the floor with the laundry cart. You didn't run into them
in the stairways or corridors, did you?"

"I took the elevator." Randy didn't know whether the sweat was
running down his ribs on account of the interrogation and his effort to
be truthful yet evasive, or just because he was excited to be talking to
this young woman who fascinated him but whom he had always
regarded as off limits.

Jill inserted her coins into the machine while talking and
retrieved the soda can that rumbled its way down to the opening. "I
can never drink a whole one of these. I always end up throwing half
of it away. Here, take one of these paper cups and split it with me."
The torture of her interrogation mixed strangely with the delight
Randy found in hearing her voice and watching her lips. Somewhere
in the back of his mind, he accused himself of submitting to
masochistic pleasures.

The small snack room next to the coke machine was vacant at this
time of night, although during the day it would have been full of
laundry room workers and other employees on breaks.

"Mrs. Gibbs told me to go ahead at take my break," Jill said,
swinging herself sideways onto one of the plastic benches. With her
back leaning against the wall and her feet drawn up onto the bench in
front of her, she crossed her arms on her knees and gave Randy that
same smile that was quickly becoming addictive to him.

Randy sat down on the bench opposite hers and let her pour half
of her drink into his paper cup. "Thanks, Jill!" he responded, his
mouth going dry from the excitement of being with her. "I was
getting a bit thirsty."

"Randy, this whole thing about refusing blood transfusions has
me confused. Since you go to that church--I mean Kingdom Hall--
could you explain it to me?" She gazed at him with eyes wide open, as
if waiting for him to pour the answer in through them. Randy felt like
pouring his soul into her eyes, but when he opened his mouth the
answer came out with difficulty.

"It all goes back to the time of Noah's Ark and the Deluge." Randy
remembered giving a Thursday night student talk at Kingdom Hall on
this very subject a few months earlier, but he found it easier to speak
before an audience of a hundred people than before Jill French's two
blue eyes. "When God spoke to Noah and his sons after the Flood, He
gave mankind permission to eat the meat of animals, but he
specifically excluded the blood, saying that we shouldn't eat blood.
It's somewhere in Genesis, chapter nine, I think. And then centuries
later when God gave Moses the Ten Commandments and the rest of
the Jewish Law, He told them too not to eat blood. I forget the
chapters and verses, but it's somewhere in Leviticus, I think. And
then in Acts chapter 15 the prohibition is repeated to the Christian
congregation as a permanent law of God not to eat blood."

"Okay . . ." Jill responded hesitantly and then paused with the tip
of her tongue in one corner of her mouth, a sight that threw Randy's
mind into confusion more effectively than a complicated counter-
argument on her part. "I'll have to check out those verses in my own
Bible when I go home, Randy. But, I still don't see what that has to do
with a transfusion. My great-grandmother came from England and
she used to talk about eating blood pudding--Ugh!--when she was a
girl. So, maybe a Jewish person would avoid eating blood pudding just
like they avoid pork or food that isn't Kosher. But, what does that
have to do with a transfusion?"

"Well, you know, Jill, when you nurses give fluids intravenously
to a patient who can't take anything by mouth?"

"Yeah?" Jill was only a first-year student nurse, but was familiar
with the procedure.

"Well, that's called intravenous feeding," Randy explained. "So it's
eating. And a person who receives a transfusion is eating blood

"Okay! Now I see where you get it." Jill smiled when she got the
point, but then frowned just as quickly. "But I'm not sure if that
interpretation is what the Bible actually meant. I've got to look up the
scriptures on this one and check it out."

"It's always a good idea to check the scriptures for yourself,"
Randy responded with mixed feelings. He was glad to know that Jill
read her Bible, but at the same time he was depressed to think that
this meant she must be a member of a false church.

"Tell me one thing, though," Jill continued. "Do Jews refuse to
take blood transfusions because of their dietary law against eating

The question was not one that Randy was accustomed to hearing
at Kingdom Hall training sessions, so he was unprepared to answer it.

"Well, umm," he looked around the snack room as if hoping to find the
answer written on the walls. "That's a good question. I'll have to do
some research to answer that one." Randy really meant he would ask
an elder at the Hall.

"Oh, don't go to all that trouble just for me," Jill replied,
apologizing for posing such a tough question. "Actually, I think I
already know the answer. Now that I think about it, during the week
when I assisted in Post-Op and the Recovery Room there were several
Jewish patients who received transfusions."

"Yeah? Really?" Randy's head was spinning inside over Jill's
question and the possible implications of the answer. It threatened to
undermine his whole belief system. Could it be that the men at
headquarters who write the Watchtower magazine are merely
teaching their personal interpretation on this matter? And, if so, then
what other teachings of theirs might also be suspect? In a split
second, Randy pondered the possibility that his religion might be false.

"Say, I'd better get back upstairs," Jill excused herself and stood
up to leave. "Lucie will be needing me."

"Yeah. I'm not even on break. I'd better get back to work, too."

Randy was following Jill out the door of the snack room when she
spun around to say something and he bumped into her, grabbing her
arms at the elbows to keep from knocking her over. "Oh, excuse me!"
he stammered, dropping his hands to his sides and taking a step back.

"Excuse me, Randy! That was my fault. I just wanted to
apologize for asking so many questions about your religion. After all,
that's a very personal subject, and I hardly know you."

"Oh, that's okay, Jill!" he chuckled with joy that transcended his
distress. "It's a subject I like to talk about. And when I get some
more information on your question, I'll buy you a soda and we can
talk about it again."

"Good! Let's do that!"

Jill sailed off down the corridor, with Randy watching in a daze.
After she turned the corner he want back and sat down, stunned. So
many different thoughts competed for his attention that he felt his
brain was short-circuiting. The inner conflict over smuggling Tommy
Troulson out of the hospital had been bad enough. But now Jill's
questions raised the possibility that he had done it all for nought, in
obedience to an erroneous interpretation rather than in obedience to
God--that he had broken the law and risked arrest unnecessarily--
that the doctors may have been right in obtaining a court order to
administer the transfusion--that his own actions may have
endangered little Tommy's life. How would God view him then, if that
were really the case?

But these troubling verbalizations kept being crowded to the edge
of Randy's consciousness by powerful mental images impossible to
verbalize: the feel of Jill's arms when reflex action had put them
momentarily in his clutch; the thrilling way that such closeness to her
had electrified him from head to toe; the almost imperceptible
fragrance that had made him inhale deeply as if to capture more of it;
the sweet melody of her voice and the magnetism of her eyes. And
then there was something special that Randy couldn't even name or
identify, something that made him feel he had looked into her inner
being and had met her on a level of communication he had never
experienced with any other person. It was as if his heart and hers
had each had the happy surprise of finding that the other was beating
in the same rhythm; as if their hearts had then begun beating
together in a thump-thump duet of perfect harmony, with his still
keeping time with hers, awaiting her return.

Yet these pleasant musings kept being shattered by blasts of fear
and waves of guilt: Could Satan the devil have sent Jill to tempt him
away from the Truth? Could her charming femininity be the ultimate
weapon forged to break his integrity toward God? Was it her physical
appeal to the flesh that made her words sound convincing to the
mind? Throughout his childhood Randy had heard repeated warnings
against the women of the world and their alluring charm. Was he now
about to fail his test and accept spiritual poison from Jill's hand,
ignoring the lesson of Adam and Eve?

Adam ate fruit that God Himself had personally forbidden him to
eat, Randy finally reasoned. But the prohibitions I've learned growing
up came to me through other people--people who could be misled
themselves just as easily as the people in Jill's church. I've got to
check into it myself and find out if what I've been taught is really "the

Standing alone in the hospital employees' snack room Randy
bowed his head and appealed desperately in prayer: Jehovah God,
please reveal the Truth to me, and hold me back from error. Please
give me wisdom to discern truth from error, so that I may do what is
right. And please forgive my errors and sins. In Jesus name, Amen!

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