Brother Tom is an award-winning author who has written over a dozen literary works, including screenplays, teleplays, children’s books, textbooks, books of poetry, books on C.D. and C.D.’s of poetry. By far his Magnus Opus, “The Angel and the Rowboat” & “The Angel and the Wheelchair” are the first two books of the “Witness” Saga, the story of the two witnesses talked about in Revelations 11, who prepare the world for the second coming of Christ. For these two works he won first place for speculative fiction at the Florida Christian Writer’s Conference. He’s had three books published through Author House. He has his own website: ReadBrotherTom.com (hey, it rhymes!) He has written a teleplay which will be made into a made-for-TV movie at the Catholic Community Television Network. He is a discalced Carmelite Monk in the Roman Catholic Church, hence the moniker. He was ordained at the Assumption Grotto in Detroit.
He has a Bachelor’s Degree in psychology which he earned with honors. He has had a wide array of careers in his lifetime, ranging from a mechanical designer in the automotive industry in Detroit, MI to being an Adult Case Manager at Life Stream Behavioral Center in Leesburg, FL. He also oversaw an interactive V-Tel communication class which was the very first educational hub connecting instructors from Michigan and Florida with students at the Angolan Catholic University in Luanda, Angola.
He worked at Focus: HOPE where he introduced 3-D modeling to the Design program and extended the curriculum to include 2-3 times more material. In addition, Brother Tom has been involved with land deals at Focus: HOPE, researching different apartment buildings to develop new dormitories.
He has a second-degree black belt in Tae-Kwon-Do, is active in mountain climbing, spelunking, white water rafting, and parachuting.
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The First Book of the "Witess" Saga.
God inserts a teenage boy and his rowboat into the stories of the Bible, wh`
ere they see the conflict between angels & demons, Heaven & Hell, and God & Satan.
|Fantasy Biblical Historical Fiction|
|9 publishers interested|
These are two books thirty years in the making. When I was in my early twenties and still in college I had one of the most productive and creative phases of my life in which I wrote one incredible poem after another. But then I wrote a line which baffled me: “Angel’s wings torn free from shoulders, snow white feathers drenched in blood; flesh & sinew, cartilage & hollow bones, twisted anger shorn from God and Eden’s curse is with us still.” I knew it wasn’t a poem. I wasn’t sure wat it was.
After six months God gave me the answer – it was the very first line in an epic tale that He wanted me to write. But He wanted me to understand that this would be an incredibly difficult and arduous undertaking – it would take decades to complete. “Are you prepared for that long of a project?’ I said, “Bring it on.” So, we began the process together. The first fifteen years I just wrote on weekends and holidays, but it soon became apparent that I would have to work on the books full time.
God said, “If you trust Me, I will arrange it so you will do nothing but write until it’s finished.” I said O.K. First, I got laid off from my job and then received three and a half years of unemployment, but after a while even that dried up. So, I started digging into my savings. I was rapidly running out of money. I told God I should quit writing and get a job to pay for my bills. He said, “No, keep writing, keep writing.” So, I kept writing. Finally, I had only forty-eight cents to my name. I shook; I cried. “I’m going to be homeless now. Why did I trust God? Why did I trust Him?” Two hours later I got a phone call from my Aunt Virginia, “Oh, hi Tom, this is just to let you know that the sale of your mom’s house finally came through (which I had inherited) and we’ll be transferring the funds into your account later today. Love you, bye.” I gasped. God knew the exact date that house would sell and He arranged for my funds to peter out on that day just to test my faith.
And God had a story that He wanted to tell. This book is about the Harrowing of Hell. In between Christ’s Crucifixion and Resurrection, He plunged down deep into Hell and rescued the righteous who slept in Sheol, the only holy territory in all of Hades. This is one of the most exciting and dramatic stories in the history of Christendom, and yet no one has ever written a novel about it before. Well, God felt that it was about time that this story should finally be told, and you now hold in your hands the product of that divine inspiration.
The Angel and the Rowboat. Prologue – Cry for the Bad Man. Part I – The Woodshop. Chapter 1 – Road Rage. Chapter 2 – 1971. Chapter 3 – Out of Body Experience. Chapter 4 – Judge Watts. Chapter 5 – Constance.
Part II – The Problem. Chapter 6 – In the Beginning. Chapter 7 – Triassic. Chapter 8 – New Earth. Chapter 9 – The Deluge. Chapter 10 – The First Battle. Chapter 11 – The Two Gates. Chapter 12 – Rejuvenation. Chapter 13 – Prayer Daggers. Chapter 14 – Essence. Chapter 15 – Brothers. Chapter 16 – The Rape of the World. Chapter 17 – The Seven Strata of Heaven. Chapter 18 – The Last Human Outpost. Chapter 19 – The Second Deluge. Chapter 20 – The Nine Circles of Hell. Chapter 21 – The Coliseum. Chapter 22 – The Ark. Epilogue in Heaven. Epilogue in Hell.
The Angel and the Wheelchair. Prologue. Part III – The Plan. Chapter 1 – The Fall. Chapter 2 – The River of Blood. Chapter 3 – The Altar. Chapter 4 – Ildeth. Chapter 5 – Jackson Prison. Chapter 6 –Moses. Chapter 7 – Five Smooth Stones. Chapter 8 – Two Little Prophets. Chapter 9 – The Dream.
Part IV – The Solution. Chapter 10 – The Stable Cathedral. Chapter 11 – Get in the Boat. Chapter 12 – Head and Soldiers. Chapter 13 – Spiritual Healing. Chapter 14 – Transfiguration. Chapter 15 – Get out of the Boat. Chapter 16 – The Angels were Silent. Chapter 17 – The Inferno. Chapter 18 – The First Day. Chapter 19 – Legion. Chapter 20 – The Second Day. Chapter 21 – The Third Day. Chapter 22 – Resurrection. Chapter 23 – The Cross. Chapter 24 – The Voyage. Chapter 25 – The Empyrean. Epilogue.
The Angel and the Rowboat is the story of how God picks up a teenage boy (Daniel), his rowboat (Constance) and his Guardian Angel (Enola). God puts them in different stories of the Bible, but they can also see behind the scenes – the angels and the demons who influence those events and the animosity between St. Michael and Lucifer and the war that rages between Heaven and Hell.
Chapter 1 begins with Daniel barreling down the highway, weaving in and out of traffic. Daniel gripped the wheel tighter; white knuckle madness – zig zag in and out brashness; he veered for position, left wheels straddling the divide, trying to bust loose and find a place to survive. The oncoming traffic sped by, like a solid chunk of cruising metal. What he wouldn’t do for a toothless grin instead of the metal works bear trap that hedged him in and prevented him from stomping down on the accelerator pedal.
Three angels of Heaven protected the passengers in all the cars involved. If he had only waited a few moments more he wouldn’t have been penned in anymore but in a foreshadowing of twisted metal and gore they hurtled straight towards the passenger side door. But it didn’t happen – the three angels of Heaven made sure that it didn’t. In a flash of bright lightning dash, Michael, Enola and Ekklisia protected all three occupants from the horrifying crash. But the ancient elm tree is destroyed by the car wreck.
In Chapters 2 - 5, Daniel meets his mentor – Jonathan Font. John the Baptist was the reincarnation of Elijah the Prophet and Jonathan Font is the reincarnation of John the Baptist, so he has trod in three different countries in three different centuries. Jonathan Font and Daniel build a rowboat from the remains of the tree that Dan had plowed into. Then God picks up Daniel, the angel and the rowboat with these words, “You have been chosen.”
In chapters 6 - 9, Connie, Daniel and Enola witness the creation of the universe and the rise and fall of the dinosaurs. In chapters 10 & 11, they witness, first hand, Satan’s plan to destroy the entire human race. His initial attempt is the First Battle between Heaven and Hell, where he tries to imperil the beginnings of life on earth – Satan threatens full scale war if his ultimatum is not met, that there should be no human race. Once diplomacy fails, violence erupts. Angels and demons fight against each other in a great swirling battle with flying swords and angels’ wings drenched with blood and everything else in between. God is victorious and the demons then condemn themselves to life in Hell. Enola, sadly, also cast herself down amongst their lot and she is also plunged down deep into Hell.
Daniel falls from a very great height and breaks his back in two. Jesus heals him with bands of light that act as a conduit around his spinal column, so he can still walk and run while on this amazing journey, but Jesus warns him that this is only a temporary solution and that, eventually, he will live his life in a wheelchair.
In chapters 14 & 15, Daniel witnesses The Garden of Eden, the downfall of Eve and Adam and Cain’s brutal murder of his brother Abel. When Abel is murdered his soul spirits up into Heaven, where God intends to let him live with Him for all eternity, but Abel feels unworthy of the honor and runs off in search of Hell instead. There God gives him the only gift that he can still receive: He grants him the gift of sleep in a spiritually induced coma, and lets him rest peacefully in Sheol, the only holy territory in all of Hell. Years later, when Cain dies, he also enters Hell but, when God tried to give him the same gift of sleep that He had given his brother, he refused that gift as well. His attitude was, “I don’t need You! I don’t need anybody!” From then on all who enter Hell fall into one of two categories: those who slept and had pleasant dreams and those who were wide awake and suffered the worst nightmares. As God looks down upon Abel’s pathetic attempt to ingratiate himself to the hobgoblins of Hades, Ekklisia joins Him by His side and looks down over the edge too. “He was the first Messianic prophet,” she said with sad dismay. “If he doesn’t feel worthy of Heaven, then who will?” “That’s what I’m afraid of.” God replied. “If people think they must first merit the Seven Strata before they can enter, then no one will.”
In chapter 16, Satan derides his loyal henchmen: “After you tricked Cain into murdering his own brother, you said you could do the same thing, over and over again, until you wiped out the entire human race. You’ve conjured up a few more homicides since then, here and there, but it hasn’t been enough to slow down their numbers! Their birth rate still exceeds their death rate and their population grows by leaps and bounds. I want some real suggestions on how we can exterminate the entire human race…completely!”
“Lord,” The Serpent replied, “we think we have one.” They create a new race of demons: incubi and succubi, disgusting sexualized devils. Later, the entire carnal army attacks men and women all over the globe, including Lucretia, who is surrounded in her bed by a cabal of invisible demons. Unable to see her assailants, they attack her and implant their demon seed. Nine months later, women all over Earth give birth to half-human, half-demon grotesqueries. In time the era comes to be known as the Epoch of the Nephilim, the race of giants to which Goliath belonged. Through them Hell sought to destroy the entire human race. It was the most successful campaign in all of Hades’ history.
After this holocaust only a single human family survived in chapters 17-19. All others had been either murdered or bred out of existence with demonic filth. God sought to save the human race through this last human family. First, they dispatched angelic protectors who slaughtered every assassin sent to murder them. Then an entire army of angels defeat an army of Nephilim, who sought to destroy this last drop of human blood. While the angelic army protects the family, the family builds and builds. Finally, God destroys the Nephilim through a world-wide flood and safeguards Noah and his family in a mighty leviathan craft.
After the Nephilim are destroyed, all of their souls plummet down into Hell. Although they would have far preferred human souls, it still seemed to the demons like it was raining money. Here we see what’s become of Enola. She is put on display in the center of the coliseum, with demons flying all around her. She is torn into shreds by an instrument of torture like a wood chipper, but then her body reconstitutes itself in front of the amazed eyes of the demon crowd. Then the Galgal – Ezekiel's Wheels – appears and strips all of the incubi and succubi of their spiritual genitalia, so they can never again rape another innocent victim. Two demons – one an incubus and the other a succubus – escape God’s attention. Satan hopes to build a whole new race of giants from these two devils. “The Nephilim shall rise again!” The demons cheer.
Thus begins the adventures of “The Angel and the Wheelchair”. The Angel and the Wheelchair is the continuing saga of Daniel and Constance. However, because of Enola’s abdication, Ekklisia (an eternal cherub) takes over as Dan’s Guardian angel.
In chapters 1 - 4, the three of them watch two mountain climbers scaling up a treacherous cliff, complete with ropes, harnesses and belay stations. These two climbers turn out to be Abraham and Isaac, on the way to the mount where Abraham will sacrifice his son. (This is the prophetic drama which foreshadows Christ’s sacrifice for all mankind.) After God releases Abraham from his life debt, the father and son rappel down the mountain for their return journey home. After they vacate the sacrificial altar, Satan and his demon henchmen slam Enola down upon the flat slab of the altar surface. “We shall show Him what an altar of sacrifice is used for.” However, once again, they are unable to break Enola’s spirit.
In chapter 6, Daniel and his entourage see firsthand St. Michael disputing with the devil over the body of Moses. In chapter 7, Daniel sees that Hell has been busy. Thanks to the efforts of the incubus and succubus the Nephilim race now numbers into the thousands. But after David defeats the greatest Nephilim of them all – Goliath – the Israeli army swarms over and destroys the entire mutant race. “Vengeance is Mine,” says The Lord…and glad was He…that the Nephilim were no more. In chapter 8, Daniel witnesses Elijah’s triumphant journey into Heaven aboard a fiery chariot, though he recognizes him as his mentor for a summer – Jonathan Font. In chapter 9, the three of them see a Great White Shark swallow the reluctant prophet – Jonah – for a submarine ride to Nineveh.
In chapters 10 - 14 we finally enter The New Testament and we witness the birth of Christ, Jesus and Peter walking on the water and the decapitation of John the Baptist and his walk-of-shame entry into Hades. “You thought you were so clever when you circumvented Hell in your Chariot of Fire. Well, we’ve got you now.”
But then eventually, inexorably, in chapter 16, we end up at the crucifixion. There Satan taunts Jesus at the foot of the Cross. “He is not even a shadow of a warrior. He is not fit to lick my feet,” as Jesus breathes His last Breath. At the death of Christ, death emerges from the Golgotha dirt. Taller than the Tower of Babel, he ensnares Jesus in his fist and then gobbles Him down in a single grotesque gulp. “Such is the fate of all those who suffer and die. To reach my Kingdom Down Below, they must first pass through the entrails of death itself.” Then diseased fingers and cloven hooves drag Daniel away, whisked down into Hell’s fearsome and fiery furnace flames.
In chapters 17 - 22, we are in Hell. Daniel is chained to the ground, completely helpless. For five straight chapters Daniel suffers the most horrible of tortures – sometimes physical but more often psychological. While Daniel is being tortured, Hell’s Army has marched upon the Kingdom of Heaven. They tear down Heaven’s Gate and march upon the Seven Strata. Lucifer himself kills St. Michael and then rips his wings from off his dead body. Then the triumphant army returns to Hell as conquering heroes. Then, with the syncopated rhythm of a death knell drum, Satan hammers the wings of St. Michael to a Pergola Arch. “Angel’s wings torn free from shoulders; snow white feathers drenched in blood; flesh & sinew, cartilage & hollow bones; twisted anger shorn from God and Eden’s curse is with us still.”
Finally, Lucifer’s collection was now complete: on one side, the head of John the Baptist, on the other, the wings of St. Michael, and betwixt the two, his masterwork of spirit and of metal – the great Jesus Christ, powerless, nailed to an upside-down cross, a kind of pendulum, keeping time and a sort of runic rhyme to the tortures going on down below.
For the first time since they had cast themselves down into the fiery pit, Lucifer laughed. The laughter resounded and echoed and resounded again. It was a blanket that kept in the cold and caused goose flesh to ripple. It ricocheted and trebled off the walls of Hell; a perverse bacchanalia; a flaunting of victory; an orgy; an orchestra; a Parthian shot. Then, with a scientist’s detachment, and with the calm demeanor of an inquisitor at work, Lucifer opened his enormous, prognathous jaws and lowered Daniel in. Daniel looked into the mouth of Satan – the innermost circle of Hell. Inside, the ruined spirits of Judas Iscariot and the unrepentant sinner circled around, like they were caught in the great swirl of a black hole, like they were excrement flushed down the toilet, like they were caught in the vortex of a monstrous maelstrom, their wailing souls at the mercy of the Charybdis – a monster dwelling at the center of a whirlpool. Satan’s tongue twirled round and round and slurped them down.
Then, in chapter 22, the ticking stopped. The wings of St. Michael suddenly burst back into life. They ripped free of the nail that held them in place and the wings flapped against the stale, stagnant air. Then, like two hands pressed together in prayer, the wings opened, and there stood St. Michael, wrapped in a cocoon of his own wings. When they reopened, his face shone forth, with a great and elegant glory, and his quills shimmered as he preened his feathers, like how a crystal chandelier reflects light in every direction. At that very same moment, The Holy Spirit miraculously healed John the Baptist. His old body replaced the stake upon which his head had been skewered, but gleaming with glory – resurrected and radiant.
Then, Jesus leapt down from his upside-down grave, light shining forth from Spirit. No longer some timepiece slave – no – He had become the centerpiece of all time itself. In a very real sense, Jesus had become the hinge of history, where infinity and time intersected. Already the Firstborn of all creation, He had now become the Firstborn of all resurrection as well!
Jesus rescued Enola. He had sent her on a secret mission. She had been sent back in time to the First Battle between Heaven and Hades. If an incorruptible angel cast herself down into the pit of Hell, at the same time when all the other angels had cast themselves down, then her entry would not arouse suspicion. She knew that, eventually, God would plunge down deep into Hell and rescue all the lost souls in Sheol. Then Jesus led a caravan of saved souls up into Heaven.
In the epilogue, Daniel wakes up by the Huron River, where all his adventures had begun. With the fragrance of apple blossoms all around him, he felt a kiss delivered to his cheek. With that, he knew that, in the future, he would doubt again. But there is nothing quite as reassuring as the kiss of an angel.
At this juncture Brother Tom is only concentrating on his two novels, “The Angel and the Rowboat” & “The Angel and the Wheelchair”, which will eventually become a six-title series. His marketing strategy focuses on Christian Speculative Fiction, which is a notoriously difficult audience to break into but, once achieved, becomes the most successful campaign in literature. He believes that his first two finished books have the potential to become as popular as anything by Lewis or Tolkien. The reason why he became interested in Publishizer in the first place is because he knew of their tendency to use videos to advertise to potential publishers. “My work is extremely visual in nature and so I created a 21-minute video that I believe will whet the appetite of anyone looking to discover the next big splash in Biblical Fiction, which I believe The “Witness” Saga is destined to become.” This 21-minute video can be accessed on my website: ReadBrotherTom.com
I have a concrete marketing plan that includes a Facebook page (Facebook.com/BrotherTomBooks), and my own personal web site (ReadBrotherTom.com) – hey it rhymes! My books are also available at AuthorHouse.com and Amazon.com. I also have used Pressbooks so my books have been made available in libraries across the country. I am also using Pressbooks Public on Biblioboard so the ebook version is also made available to customers. I believe that I am ready to begin the next stage of promotion – namely getting my work in the hands of traditional and online network publishers.
Dante’s, “The Divine Comedy,” published in the 13th century by Britannica. A tour of Heaven, Purgatory and Hell. Mine is superior because I don’t just provide a tour but also an exciting story with one of the greatest plot lines in history – literally the Greatest Story Ever Told.
Milton’s “Paradise Lost,” published in 1667 by Samuel Simmons. A lengthy poem that illustrates Satan’s fall from grace. Mine is superior because Milton is now considered archaic by even the most educated reader. I provide a modern retelling of the story.
C.S. Lewis’ “The Screwtape Letters” in 1942 by Geoffrey Bles. The original inspiration for my book came from Wormwood talking of what it was like to witness the Harrowing of Hell. But Lewis just talked about it, I actually show it.
Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings,” in 1954 by Allen & Unwin. The greatest masterpiece of the twentieth century, yet Tolkien often interrupted the story with lyrics to ancient hymns that ground the story to a halt. I use poetry to further along the action and heighten the excitement.
Frank Peretti’s “The Oath” in 1996 by Word Books and Frank Peretti’s “Piercing the Darkness” in 1989 by Living Books. A very successful spiritual author who nevertheless still writes on a terrestrial plane. My writing actually takes place on Earth and in Hell and Heaven.
William P. Young’s “The Shack” in 2007 by Windblown Media, FaithWords, Hodder & Stoughton. The Shack was extremely thought provoking but occasionally heretical. (For instance, the God portrayed in The Shack seems unconcerned with holiness). The Angel and the Rowboat is consistently Biblical in nature.
David Gregory’s “Dinner with a Perfect Stranger: an Invitation Worth Considering” in 2005 by Random House. Again, very thought provoking, but there is almost no action whatsoever throughout the entire book, similar to “My Dinner with Andre”. My two novels are action-packed from beginning to end.
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“The sins of the father are laid upon the child, but it is a mistake to confuse the child with an angel.” - Paul Thomas Anderson
Three angels of Heaven glided high above the Ann Arbor traffic, in a tight, military delta formation. For a while, they flew alongside a flock of honking geese – a kind of noisy geometry – also in a pyramidal shape. But then, eventually, their two paths diverged, and the birds and the angels flew off in two different directions.
To the left flew the first of the angelic trio – Ekklisia – tiny and lithe, an eternal infant cherub. Her wings were as light as film, with webs of gossamer tissue that appeared washed in sheets of gray opalescence. Because of their structure – they resembled nothing so much as the wings of an insect – she could fly with quick, precise movements that allowed for great accuracy. She not only had phenomenal quickness but also unexpected strength. At first glance, she might seem to belong in a crib or a baby carriage but, rather, she had the bearing of a powerful green beret. She had been Enola’s mentor for many centuries and one of the most respected angels in all of Heaven.
Enola herself, gliding on the right, had been a muse and a guardian angel for many, many centuries. She had been assigned to the young man below, whom she had protected ever since birth. That intimate, insider knowledge made her an important addition to this heavenly trio. Enormous purple and silver wings, which powered her way up above the morning transit, adorned her shoulders. Immense, they billowed about her, like the long, long scarf that Cyd Charisse wore in the movie, “Singing in the Rain,” swelled by an off-camera wind-machine
Daniel Marto barreled recklessly down I-94, as he navigated around one SUV and sedan after another. He slipped past and around one vehicular obstruction after another; he changed lanes with the speed and grace of a street surfer. He moved fast, accelerated hard and swerved back and forth, as he detected one hole after another in the ongoing traffic.
However, when he exited onto the cloverleaf off-ramp and merged with Stadium Boulevard, a two-lane highway, he could no longer pass any car unless the oncoming lane was empty. At first lucky, he weaved back and forth through the Tetris traffic but, eventually, his luck ran out. Soon, a slow-moving Cadillac Seville blocked their path; like being trapped behind a globule of cholesterol in a clogged artery, he could not circumvent around it.
“Get out of the way! Get out of the way!” He screamed. “We’re never gonna get there on time!” he blared, loud enough to make his passenger’s ears ring. Patrick, in the seat next to Daniel’s, looked at him with escalating alarm. Dan glared at the Seville blocking their path. “My God – he’s got a V8 under the hood, why doesn’t he use it?!” The old man in the Caddy thwarted their every effort to get to the University of Michigan athletic offices on time.
As they slowly puttered past a fifty-five MPH speed limit sign, to which the rickety old driver seemed to be in no hurry to adhere, Daniel roared with growing indignation. “This guy drives like my grandma, and her feet can’t reach the pedal!” As the guy in front of them coasted along at a leisurely forty, and blocked them every excruciating, dilly-dallying, foot-dragging step of the way, Daniel shrieked, “Move it!” As he hollered and screamed, the scars and burns on the right side of his face twisted with anger.
He tailgated the vehicle dangerously close – fifteen feet, ten feet, five. Pat grabbed onto the door handle, “For Cripe’s sakes Dan, slow it down! Let’s get there in one piece!” Even when terrified he still wouldn’t take the Lord’s Name in vain.
Dan heard Pat’s call for restraint and dismissed it. “If we’re late for this meeting, it’s your butt too, Pat; both our wrestling careers are on the line!” With that, he once again hair-raise tailgated the tortoise Seville.
The two of them seemed an ominous pair. They both displayed the surly demeanors of well-seasoned warriors (or at least that’s how they liked to think of themselves). Though Dan short and Pat tall, they both sported the thick necks and powerful builds that came from hours in the weight room and hours more learning bone-crushing and arm-bending wrestling techniques. While studying at Milliken High School, they had both attained the pinnacle of their sport, in their respective weight classes. That championship standing had earned them this interview with the almost legendary University of Michigan wrestling coach, Paul McFarland. His recommendation alone would secure them both full athletic scholarships!
That is, if they could get there on time! Traffic jam-packed the opposing lane; in their own lane, however, beyond the Seville, it was smooth-sailing. If they could just get around this one guy, they could coast the rest of the way – but he couldn’t find a way around.
Worst-case scenarios flashed across Daniel’s mind. Afraid that Coach McFarland would laugh at them for being so late and then give the wrestling scholarships to somebody else, he drove all that much more aggressively.
The Evanescence CD “Fallen” blared over the speakers. One of Daniel’s favorite groups, Evanescence featured heavy metal licks juxtaposed against a woman’s beautiful voice – a real dichotomy of music and sound – like a power-saw pruning a rose bush. Clef trebles fountained up out of the four loudspeakers, like four auditory roman candles. Right now the song, “Tourniquet” shrieked in their ears.
“I tried to kill my pain
but only brought more (so much more).
I’m dying, praying, bleeding and screaming.
Am I too lost to be saved? (Am I too lost?)
My God; my Tourniquet.
Return to me Salvation. (Return to me Salvation.)
My soul cries for deliverance. Will I be denied Christ?”
Dan gunned the engine and then idled; gunned the engine and then idled. The horn in his 2000 Ford Cobra-R had long since been broken, so now it was the only way for him to roar his disapproval. With its dual side exhausts and V-6 style rear diffuser, the Cobra was essentially a street legal racecar.
His father only ever gave him two things that he actually cherished: this Ford Cobra and his old drum kit, which he played at all hours of the night and day, much to his mother’s chagrin. He banged out the percussive baselines of grunge rockers like Nirvana and Pearl Jam, and more recent bands like Adele, Bruno Mars and, of course, Evanescence, with a little bit of U2 thrown in for good measure.
His father wrote him that he now drummed during church services inside Jackson Prison, where he was serving a twelve year term. He didn’t much care about that. He just cared that his father, once incarcerated, had let Danny keep the Cobra. As soon as he had gotten his license on his sixteenth birthday, he drove the muscle car around like in some Ben-Hur styled chariot race. He treated all Michigan roadways and byways like his own personal NASCAR racecourse and he had a long string of violations and speeding tickets to prove it. His license had long since been revoked, but he went ahead and drove anyways, confident that he would never face any consequences.
They just passed by Hill Street and “The Rock,” a boulder which had long ago been declared a local monument. Dozens of layers of spray paint covered it – a local Greek tradition to commemorate any significant event: “Happy Birthday Shirl;” “We miss you Eddie – and we luv u;” “Beat State!”
Dan inched up closer and closer to the jalopy’s bumper and the cretin found within.
“Coach McFarland told us when to get there by ten and, by God, we’re gonna get there by ten!”
Now they tailed the caddy so close that Patrick could actually see that the driver sported a salt-n-pepper ponytail. “Look at him,” Pat quipped, “he’s got a ponytail, just like Steven Seagal, but when he busts a move on somebody, it’s his wrist that snaps like a twig.” He stretched his lips over his teeth, in an all gums impersonation of an octogenarian with brittle bones, “Oh, that’s gonna leave a mark!” he mimicked, as he held up his faux ailing elbow.
Pat cracked the joke in the hopes that it would defuse Daniel’s dangerous tirade. It worked…for a while. Daniel laughed and eased up on the accelerator and that pleased Chris, but the moment didn’t last long. Soon enough, Daniel blared again. “Holy crap, now he’s going thirty-five.” He didn’t hear Pat at all anymore. “I don’t believe this! Why does this only happen when I’m in a hurry?” Dan gunned the engine in a raging attempt to pass the lurching Cadillac on the left – straight toward a car in the oncoming lane.
“Are you crazy?!” The Cobra had not been equipped with passenger brakes but Pat couldn’t resist the urge to slam his feet down on the floor mats anyways.
Dan accelerated to fifty and throttled straight towards the opposing traffic. He figured there was just enough room for him to swerve ahead of the little runt boat car. He figured wrong. He had badly miscalculated and, on the verge of a horrific head-on collision, Dan took decisive action – he didn’t panic for a second. He gently applied the brakes, decelerated to thirty and then slid neatly behind the offending craft’s bumper. A slew of oncoming cars missed them by inches and then…they were stuck again.
Pat gasped and panted, like a near-death experience had just brushed up against him and, really, that’s what had just happened. Dan, unperturbed, glanced over at his passenger’s distress. He smiled at his panic – a 6’2” trembling Goliath.
The smile cracked Daniel’s scars. Grease-fire burn-marks disfigured the right side of his face. Pat, amidst his own thoughts of mortality, stared at the burns and cranial fractures that had never totally healed. He remembered how Dan’s own father had disfigured him like this, still in prison for the offense. He had actually taken a wrought iron frying pan and smashed in the right side of his face. That part of his skull had literally been caved in and the lower orbit of his right oculus had cracked. A miracle that he hadn’t lost the eye, he still had to peer through a slit that looked like the collapsed crossbeams of a dilapidated A-frame farmhouse. A permanent red stain clouded the cornea of his eye, in deep contrast to his brown iris. Dan routinely hid his fractured orbit behind a pair of sunglasses that, with his weather beaten leather jacket, made him look like one of the Lords of Flatbush – take your pick, either Rocky or Fonzie.
With adrenaline still pumping and heart still pounding, Pat wondered if the other rumor about Daniel might also be true – that he really was crazy. He wouldn’t be surprised if he had gone a little bit nuts – what he had gone through would’ve been enough to push anyone over the edge – but there was no arguing with success. In just six short years, he had transformed himself from an uncoordinated weakling and nerd to one of the highest ranked wrestlers in the state of Michigan and one of the best in the country; he had a serious shot of making the Olympics and maybe even medaling.
But his fierce temper often exploded in unacceptable ways, like right here and now. When Dan fixated on the road, he seemingly transformed himself from a safety conscious pedestrian to a raging out-of-control road hog; from a mild-mannered Bruce Banner to a “Me smash now!” Hulk. Pat knew better than to challenge him with his hands still on the wheel – that would just make a bad situation even worse.
Actually, when not twisted in anger, Dan’s scars and fractures were less noticeable – he even had a likable glint in his eye.
But right now
only tunnel-rage vision
and infuriating frustration
filled his eyes now.
Daniel gripped the wheel tighter;
white knuckle madness –
zig zag in and out brashness;
he veered for position, left wheels straddling the divide,
tryin’ to bust loose and find a place to survive.
The oncoming traffic sped by, like a solid chunk of cruising metal.
What he wouldn’t do for a toothless grin
instead of the metal works bear trap that hedged him in.
and prevented him from stomping down on the accelerator pedal.
Finally, he blared out: “Enough!!” He gunned the engine and, this time, swerved to the right, up onto the shoulder. Like how Hell Drivers of Shanghai used to crash their cars through burning brick walls, back in WWII, so too did Daniel crash through three matchstick mailboxes and then thunder on through two more. He accelerated to fifty and then barreled on ahead, leaving behind a swirling dervish of dirt, broken sticks and unopened envelopes behind him.
The old man, oblivious to the skirmish going on behind him, signaled his right-hand turn blinker and turned into the driveway of his home (his final destination) and directly into Dan and Pat’s path.
If he had only waited a few moments more
he wouldn’t have been penned in anymore
but in a foreshadowing of twisted metal and gore
they hurtled straight towards the passenger side door.
But it didn’t happen – the three angels of Heaven made sure that it didn’t.
In a flash of bright lightning dash,
Michael, Enola and Ekklisia protected all three occupants from the horrifying crash.
Ekklisia wrapped a bubble of protection around the old man and his car and kept him safe from harm.
St. Michael, like an RC enthusiast,
redirected the boy’s trajectory
and flung them headlong into an ancient tree,
smack dab in the middle of the old man’s property.
The crash was a crunch and the light had been blinding. The tree screamed, and air bags deployed in a powder-puff uppercut that broke both their noses and scratched both their faces,
while the Cobra wrapped itself around the tree.
The smell of apple blossoms and danger, intermingled in a relationship both odd and delightful, filled the interior of Dan’s car. The fragrance of flowers exuded from Enola, who performed her important celestial task – she winced as she allowed the two nose breaks to occur, but she also protected them from further harm.
After the first vehicle had rolled to a stop, and the second vehicle had crunched to a stop, the angels, sensing that the danger had passed, rose and flew back up into the Seven Strata of Heaven.
While blood gushed from Dan and Pat’s broken noses, two little demons conspiratorially observed them; short and squat, no more than two feet tall – Legion and Java. They looked like short, ugly demon ant mounds. Insidious and invasive, penetrating and pervasive, they were the trolls that even other demons called fiends; lost souls feared them more than any other hobgoblins of Hell.
The two of them always carefully scrutinized St. Michael’s movements on Earth. Of course, heavenly angels flitted back and forth all over the world, every day, each of them performing their respective angelic duties. But Hell knew Michael to be very special, who participated in only the most important of earthly tasks. Whenever he flew down to the world, the demons of Hell took notice. This collision involved Michael, which meant that, somehow or another, heavenly importance infused it. They had no idea how this car crash figured into God’s Designs but, being so close to the Second Coming of Christ, they knew Heaven must be on the verge of a very important and strategic military maneuver. So, both of them flew down to the Nine Circles of Hell, knowing that Lucifer would want to be informed of this unexpected turn of events.
On their way, Legion made a disturbing remark. “There’s something about those boys I don’t like.”
“What?” Java didn’t see anything unusual about them.
“I don’t know, but there’s something strangely…familiar…about one of them. I can’t quite put my finger on it…it’s like I’ve seen one of them before, a long time ago.”
As all of this happened, Daniel and Patrick, unaware of the spiritual warfare that raged all around them, merely tried to stop the flow of blood from their broken noses. “Oh no,” Dan muttered to himself, as he remembered all of his unpaid tickets and suspended license, “I am in so much trouble.”
He had no idea just how right he was.
“See, I will send the prophet Elijah to you before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes. He will turn the hearts of the parents to their children, and the hearts of the children to their parents; or else I will come and strike the land with total destruction.” - Malachi 4: 5-6
Jonathan Font had been the old man who had blocked Dan and Pat’s path, though he still thought of himself as middle-aged. Jon had the rare ability to see and hear citizens of both Heaven and Hell. After he had seen the angels depart and the devils scamper away, he called 911 on his cell phone and informed the dispatcher as to the nature and location of the crash. Then he got up out of his pristine Seville and walked on over to the wrecked Ford Cobra. “Are you boys all right?”
Jon didn’t wait for an answer as he saw the blood gushimng from their broken noses. He hurried into the house, grabbed some rags, darted back outside and then shoved the cloths into their faces. “Keep pressure on the wound and lean slightly forward. Pinch the nostrils for about ten minutes.” As they did so, screaming sirens filled the air and, soon thereafter, police officers and E.M.T.’s parked their vehicles all over Jon’s front yard.
Dan looked up at Jonathan, who had shoved the rag up against the bridge of his nose, with both gratitude and resentment – grateful for the quick first aid but also furious that he had summoned the authorities, not to mention the fact that he considered this dawdler driver to be the cause of the wreck in the first place. Pinned beneath the steering wheel, and with cops already walking all around and asking questions, he could see no chance for escape.
Once the ambulance drivers extracted them from the interior of the vehicle, the paramedics gingerly slipped braces around Dan and Pat’s necks and transferred them to stretchers. A police officer gruffly demanded of them both, “License and registration.” His name tag read ‘Officer Roman’.
As Dan and Pat handed over the required paperwork, the cop looked them over. “Daniel Marto and Patrick Livingstone. All right, I’ll be right back.”
Jon’s ears perked up at the mention of their names. “Daniel Marto? Are you any relation to Christopher Marto?”
“Yeah, he’s my father.” Dan propped himself up on one elbow and looked Jon straight in the face – his opinion of the guy had just been reduced by about a thousand percent. “How do you know him?” Accusation filled his one-and-a-half eyes.
“I’m a prison minister. I worked with him. My partner and I, Linda, were with him when he died.”
“Died? What’re you talking about? Died? He’s in a maximum security prison, sure, but he’s not on death row.”
“No, the state didn’t execute him; a fellow prisoner murdered him.”
(Pat, realizing the significance of their exchange, grew silent and merely listened to the rest of their conversation, without comment. He seemingly seeped into the background.)
The news stunned Daniel. He stared ahead like in some kind of drug induced trance. He didn’t say anything for the longest time but then, finally, blurted out, “When? How?”
“About three days ago. He died in my arms while Linda held his hand. I wrote the letter of notification to his wife – your mother, I guess. I’m surprised she didn’t mention it to you, or maybe she hasn’t received it yet. If she hasn’t gotten it already, then she should get it pretty soon – today probably.” He fixed an expression of compassion on Daniel. “You know what, he gave me his last confession. More than anything else in the world, what he wanted was reconciliation between the two of you, and now, three days later, we meet like this. What’re the odds, huh? You can really see God’s Hand in all this.”
“God’s Hand?! What are you talking about? God’s Hand?!” Dan appraised him with derision and a curious tilt of the head. “What are you – some kind of Jesus Freak or something?”
“You betcha! I am absolutely a Jesus Freak!”
Dan jabbed a finger of accusation into the burn marks scorched across his young face. “If there is a God, then that means He sat on His Hands and did nothing while my father did this to me.” HIs hand, which had once sported an accusatory finger, now languidly fell back to his side. “For me, it was just easier to believe that there is no God.”
“God disciplines those whom He loves, so if you’ve had a hard life up until now, that just means He has Big Plans for you.”
About to blast him with another atheist rote retort, Officer Roman interrupted his intended lambast, as he gruffly extracted a pair of handcuffs from his belt. “Daniel Francisco Marto, you have three warrants out for your arrest: expired license plate tags, speeding 45 in a 25 zone and no proof of insurance.” He shackled Dan behind his back, not an easy task, given that he lay on a flat gurney.
“Oh please,” Jon objected. “Is that really necessary?”
“Yes sir, it is – this is standard operating procedure. Please, do not interfere with my duties.”
“No, I won’t.”
Jon empathized with Daniel’s rough treatment. He had been imprisoned once before too, when he had been in Herod’s jail, shortly before his execution.
As they lifted Dan up into the back of the ambulance, the paramedic apprised the hospital dispatcher of the situation, “Victim has severe facial lacerations and a nasal fracture with pronounced epistaxis; BP 131/88; heart rate 120. Please be advised that patient is a criminal suspect and will be arriving with police escort in tow.”
“Epistaxis? What the heck is epistaxis?”
“That’s the technical term for a nosebleed.”
“Oh for cryin’ out loud Roger, just call it a nosebleed.”
He laughed, “All right then, it’s a nosebleed.”
After the doors had snapped shut and the ambulances and police cars drove away, Jonathan glanced sorrowfully at the tree that Daniel had plowed into. Long ago, a plaque had been bolted to its trunk, which now hung above the smoldering automotive wreckage, to commemorate its iconic status. “The Founder’s Tree. This tree has been officially declared a city landmark, planted here on February 12th, 1824 by the four founders of Ann Arbor: John & Ann Allen and Elisha & Ann Rumsey. By combining together the names of their two wives (Ann) with the Latin word for tree (Arbor) that is how the city got its name.”
They named the little tree Constance and they watered her and sang and danced around her. As their families grew, so too did Connie; over the next two centuries, Connie’s branches reached up into the sky and rejoiced when she felt little boys and girls swing from her limbs or giggled when squirrels scurried up and down her bark.
Until now. Her life as a tree had now been cut short.
Jon thought about the blood that gushed from Pat’s and Dan’s faces. He remembered when, as a thirteen year old boy, his nose had also been broken, on his Confirmation, of all days.
Confirmation is a Christian ritual in which a child, when they reach the age of consent, confirms their baptismal vows, which had been made for them when they had been infants. Since babies cannot make decisions for themselves, the church sets apart this day to reaffirm their faith. Like a Jewish boy’s Bar Mitzvah or a girl’s Bat Mitzvah, many considered this a coming-of-age ceremony. During the six-week preparation time, the children ready themselves for the rite through hours of study and community service. Lastly, they choose a new name for themselves, which they would then insert between their middle and last names.
When Jon’s eighth grade class underwent the confirmation sacrament in the nave of the church at Guardian Angels Parish in Clawson, Michigan, a long line of children waited their turn to be renamed by Archbishop John Patrick Destry. Many of the children giggled at his oddball appearance, not realizing the centuries old tradition behind each article of clothing. His tall, red ornamental headdress, called a miter, looked like a stiff-as-a-board Santa Claus cap that someone had ironed with too much bleach: his red cassock likewise lent him a jolly appearance, which the boys and girls smiled at. The Shepherd’s Staff that he held in his left hand, however, seemed to impress the eighth graders very much. Called a crosier, it reminded them of Jesus as shepherd and their thoughts turned to the Twenty-Third Psalm.
One at a time, he placed his right hand on each child’s head, and then announced their new chosen name to the congregation, indicated by a name tag on each of their lapels. “Therese!” “St. Peter!” “Matthew!”
Once Jon reached the head of the line, the Archbishop read the name he had chosen. He considered it a peculiar choice, but he announced it to the church-goers nonetheless: “Elijah!”
As Jon returned to his seat in the pew, he felt The Holy Spirit anoint him, as with Holy Oil; rejuvenated holiness drenched him like a full-immersion baptism in the Jordan. To the amusement of the other children, he lifted his arms up and spread them wide, as though in the act of receiving God.
The three boys behind him thought he had gone crazy. One of them smacked him upside the head, while the other two hooted and hollered. Archbishop Destry heard the disruption and interrupted the ceremony long enough to glare at the boys, “That’s enough of that!” But he too had noticed the boy’s strange behavior and had thought him rather odd. The bullies stopped their mischief, confident they could further lambast their classmate in the parking lot outside, after mass.
They were right. After Jon survived the beat down they gave him, he ran into the boy’s bathroom, where he tended to his bloody and broken nose – reminiscent of the ones that Dan and Pat would suffer more than forty years later. As he shoved wads of toilet paper up into his nostrils, a voice startled him from behind. “Did you really think you could walk in the Footprints of Christ and not suffer some ridicule?”
Jon turned around. Raphael, the Archangel of Physical and Spiritual Healing, stood before him. Though not as colossal as Lucifer or St. Michael, he still stood over ten feet tall. He had curly hair and a beatific face. He touched the tip of Jon’s nose with his finger and the bleeding stopped immediately. Jon chucked the reddened and now unnecessary paper down the toilet and flushed it away.
“It is time to remind you of who you really are. Your name is now Jonathan Theodore Elijah Font. Why do you think you chose that name?”
“I don’t know. It just seemed right.”
“It seemed right because, a long time ago, you were Elijah. In all of human history, there have only been two recorded instances of reincarnation, and both of them involved you, young man. John the Baptist was the reincarnation of Elijah the Prophet, just as you are now the reincarnation of John the Baptist.”
(One time, a Pharisee had actually challenged Jesus, “You cannot possibly be the Messiah, for the scriptures plainly state that first Elijah must first return and foretell the coming of the Messiah.”
Jesus replied, “Yes, Elijah has already returned, and YOU have already murdered him. He was John the Baptist.”)
As his two past lives flooded back into his memories, like two tributary streams that fed into a mighty twice-as-big river, he now knew that he had trod upon the earth in three different countries, in three different centuries. Now, knowing his true identity, he readied himself for his next great mission on earth, whatever it might be. “So, what does God require of me now?”
“In time, when you are an adult, you will become a teacher to a boy. He hasn’t even been born yet but, in the fullness of time, he too will become a mighty prophet, even greater than you were; with your help, he will usher in the Second Coming of Christ.”
“Wow. When will this happen?”
“There is no way for you to know, so always be on the lookout.”
Now, back in his own time, Jonathan stood in the middle of his front yard. He remembered, back in New Testament days, how Simeon had waited decades for God to fully realize His Promise – that he would someday hold the Baby Messiah in his arms. Now, like Simeon, Jon knew that, somehow or another, one of these two boys would also fully realize Raphael’s prophecy, made so many years before.
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