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Chapter Twenty-two

Unaware that Ruth and Ralph troulson were seated in the next
booth, Randy rejoiced at the brilliance of his maneuver in taking Jill to
dinner where they could be alone. He almost chuckled as he
unwrapped his cheeseburger and then helped her open the dressing
for her salad.

"I've been thinking a lot about what you said last night," he began,
blushing at the thought of how much he had actually been thinking
about her. "And it makes a lot of sense."

"I know it must be hard for you, Randy, having been raised to
believe that way." She reached over and patted the back of his hand,
innocently and unknowingly sending sending shivers of delight down
his spine.

"Rejection of blood transfusions does seem to be unique to
Jehovah's Witnesses," he continued. "And, like you said, even the Jews
who insist that slaughtered animals be bled and their meat koshered
-- even they see nothing wrong with medical use of blood in

"I don't mean to be critical of your religion, Randy," Jill said
apologetically, "but it seems to have a history of outlawing certain
types of medical treatment, only to reverse the teaching after a few
years and allow what had previously been forbidden."

"Really?", Randy asked, struck with how beautiful she was when
she was so intently serious.

"Yes! According to a book I borrowed from my pastor, the
Witnesses used to believe that it was wrong to be vaccinated. And
then after that they said it was wrong to have an organ transplant --
like a cornea or kidney transplant. But now both are allowed."

"Well . . .", the reality of her words began to hit Randy as he
thought back to conversations he had overheard among older
members of the congregation over the years. "Come to think of it, I do
remember my Grandma Ginny talking about a time when we couldn't
have transplants. I think someone she knew lost their sight during
that time, and couldn't have a cornea transplant to restore it."

"Oh! How awful!," Jill exclaimed, covering her mouth with her
hands. "I'm sorry, Randy," she added, recovering herself. "I didn't
mean to react like that. I realize your friends are sincere in their

"And old brother Pollock was talking once out in service -- I
remember it now -- about how his parents would not have him
vaccinated but got him into school anyway by having a doctor friend
burn a mark on his arm with acid to look like a vaccination. You
know, I never connected any of those old stories with what we believe
now about blood transfusions."

"There might not be any connection," Jill commented. "But the
point this book was making was that maybe the group's leaders will
someday say that transfusions are okay, just like they say now about
vaccinations and transplants."

"That's a scary thought!" Randy was indeed scared -- a lot more
than he was willing to tell Jill.

"Sure," she continued, "can you imagine if little Tommy Troulson's
parents had succeeded in running away with him, and then he had
died without transfusion therapy, only to have their religious
organization abandon the doctrine a year or two later and announce
that it's all right to take blood for medical reasons? The poor parents
would probably go out of their minds."

Eavesdropping in the adjacent booth the Troulsons were indeed
about to go out of their minds. Ralph had managed to keep Ruth quiet
as they listened up to this point, but now she jumped up from her seat
and confronted the young couple with fire in her eyes.

"So . . . !" she accused.

"Mrs. Troulson!" "Sister Troulson!" -- Jill and Randy gasped in

"Good evening, nurse! How are you, Randy?," Ralph interjected,
joining his wife in the aisle. Hoping to avoid creating a scene, he took
his wife's arm and turned her toward the exit.

The young people sat in stunned silence. Jill was embarrassed, but
Randy's heart was filled with terror.

"You ought to be ashamed of yourself, brother Mason," Ruth
blurted out, breaking free from Ralph's grasp and turning toward their
table. "How can you talk like that after helping us get Tommy out of
the hospital last night? You didn't turn traitor and turn us in, did
you? And besides," she added, looking at Jill with utter contempt,
"you know better than to be dating a worldly girl. You know what
they're like. Wait 'till your grandmother hears about this. And the
brothers at Kingdom Hall!"

"Come on, dear," Ralph spoke tenderly as he put his arm around his
wife. He had never seen her fight like a cornered she-bear before.
But he knew that the anger was brought on by pain, and he wanted to
comfort her. "It's time for us to be going over to the hospital." They
walked away, staggering from the emotional blows.

"Oh, Randy! I feel like such a fool! I had no idea your friends were
sitting right there beside us!" Jill's eyes filled with tears.

"Don't worry! Everything will be okay," Randy assured her,
wishing he could believe his own assurances.

"Did you really help sneak the Troulson boy out?"

"Yeah. He was in my laundry basket, under some sheets." Randy
watched for Jill's reaction, but he could not read her face. She was
frowning thoughtfully and avoiding his eyes.

"And what did that mean when she said she was going to tell 'the
brothers' about us?"

"Oh, that means the elders at Kingdom Hall. Witnesses aren't
supposed to date worldly people, and going to supper together like
this would be considered a date."

"Yeah," she continued thoughtfully. "Mrs. Troulson referred to me
as a worldly girl and said you knew what worldly girls were like.
What was all that about? Did you see how she looked at me?"

Randy was becoming ashamed of his beliefs as seen through an
outsider's eyes. "Well, I'm embarrassed to say it, but they teach us at
Kingdom Hall that girls who aren't Witnesses have no morals."

"Oh!" Jill had read those thoughts in Ruth Troulson's eyes, but now
it hurt her even more to have the accusation verbalized.

Seeing her pain, Randy grabbed her hands protectively in his. "Jill,
that's not how I feel. I know your heart is pure. I can tell that you're
the sweetest, most innocent person I've ever met. I -- I -- [he almost
said love] -- I admire you, Jill."

She pulled one hand away to dry her eyes, then brought it back to
caress the backs of his hands. "Randy, I've really gotten you into
trouble, haven't I?"

"No, I've gotten myself into trouble. I could lose my job for
smuggling Tommy out of the hospital -- or maybe even go to jail. But
actually I think I've been in trouble all my life, without knowing it,
and I'm starting to get out of it now."

"You mean your religion?"

"Yeah! It's more than just a religion. It's like a whole different
world. An upside-down world, I'm beginning to realize."

"What will 'the brothers' at Kingdom Hall do to you, Randy?" She
pictured a group of Mafia-like men in suits coming after him and was
concerned for his safety.

"Oh, nothing!" Thoughts of the shame of being disfellowshipped
and shunned ran through Randy's mind. "They'll just want to meet
with me. They'll question me about you and about our relationship."

"What sort of questions?"

"Oh, they'll start off asking about what brother and sister Troulson
just overheard -- whether I've become an apostate by rejecting their
teaching on blood transfusions. They'll ask whether I've gone with
you to your church. And then they'll . . . Oh, forget it!"

"Then they'll what?" Jill persisted

"They'll ask if I've had sex with you."

"What? You're kidding!"

"No. They really think the worst of 'worldly' people, and they
assume that any young Witness who spends time with a 'worldly'
person of the opposite sex is being seduced."

"How horrible to be so suspicious and distrustful of people!"

"But probably the biggest thing on their minds will be what we
were saying about blood. The elders view taking a transfusion as
worse than committing fornication. They'll ask me about my beliefs
and whether I'm beginning to have doubts or to question things."

"They don't even let you question things?"

The more Randy thought of how to explain it to her, the more
absurd he saw his situation to be. "Jill, you won't be able to believe it,
but if I give the wrong answers to the elders when they meet with me
I could end up losing my family and all the friends I've ever had. If
they decide I'm an 'apostate' in my thinking, they can tell everyone
else at Kingdom Hall to stop having anything to do with me."

"Randy," she was looking straight into his eyes now, "what do you
think God wants you to do?"

"God wants me to speak the truth and not be intimidated by men."

"I think that's what God wants you to do, too."

"Jill, will you be my friend?" Randy felt childish after he said this,
but he continued, "With you and God, I think I could face losing
everything else."

"I am your friend, Randy." They sat holding hands and looking
deeply into each other's eyes, silently communicating things spoken
words could not have communicated nearly as well.

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