Bait: Chapter 1 – Last Stop, Gethsemane – excerpt 3

cover of Bait - a novel - showing "bait" spelled with a Christian fish and a fishhook

Excerpt from Bait – a Novel

Chapter 1 – Last Stop, Gethsemane (continued)

Of all the girls he’d dated ― and a few times, nearly married ― I’d rarely heard him talk about a woman like this.

“Sounds like you do too, now,” I said. “You’re starting to sound like your old self.” I wasn’t so sure that was a good thing. I had liked the newly cynical, doubting Danny, than the old devout Daniel, and I’d felt more comfortable around him, too. Truth to tell, over the past months I had started to wonder if he hadn’t grown out of his religious devotion in the same way he’d finally grown out of his favorite old ripped and faded weekend painter pants. But whether from the high of the trip, or the change of scenery, or the impact of this Jenn-with-two-n’s, the tone in his voice rivaled what I’d heard him use in high school, when his shiny-clean, virgin religious fervor still promised all the answers to the world waiting for him beyond graduation. His shoulders were squared for a change, not slumped. His chin was up, and his gaze was clear and steady. In this light, in this mood, my brother was a handsome man.

“Oh, I’m back to my old self, alright,” Dan said breathlessly. “Even moreso. After trying so many things ― counseling with my pastor, seeking out spiritual mentors, talking with trusted friends, spending an extra hour each day in meditation and prayer ― and still feeling nothing, I was starting to worry my faith was gone for good. Just like so many of my friends. They’ve drifted . . . he shook his head sadly, to Eastern religion, New Age philosophies, other denominations . . . they’ve completely lost touch with their evangelical roots, and it’s sad to see. I just couldn’t let myself get to that point.”

“Well, I’m glad you could get out of the country for a little while, as well as spiritually rehabilitate.”

Danny customarily ignored my sarcasm and leaned forward with even more enthusiasm. “The trip was just what I needed. It really rekindled the dedication I thought I’d lost. I’m back at my old level, and this trip was the key. I mean, think about it . . . the people of Oberammergau have been performing the Passion Play ― the last days of Christ ― since 1635. If they can stay that committed, so can I! And what a blessing that I could get that ticket. I feel so much more grounded, so centered, so filled with grace. It’s just amazing. Truly amazing grace.”

“So,” I said, weary of the revival talk, “when are you going to see this Jenn person again?”

“I saw her Monday evening . . . and last night,” he blushed. “And again tonight.”

All night, last night?” I exclaimed. “Danny, did you get lucky?”

“No ― not all night!” He jumped to his feet and headed for my refrigerator. “You know I’m not loose, like that.” He pulled open the door and looked through the contents for something to drink. All I had was beer and a couple of already-opened sodas.

“I know, I know . . .” I said regretfully.

He closed the door with a shake of his head. “And neither is she, he added piously. But we did have a couple of great dinners together at that little diner down on South Street.”

“You were in the neighborhood, and you didn’t bring her by my place?” I said, trying to sound hurt.

“Some other time,” he replied in a suddenly impersonal tone which told me she really was a nice girl. The kind of proper, acceptable-in-the-eyes-of-the-Lord girl he didn’t want his contrary, lesbian, guitar-playing sister to meet. Not this soon, anyway.

“She must be very nice.”

“Oh, she is,” he assured me. “She is.”

To be continued…

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