Head in the clouds. Feet on the ground. Heart in the story. Christa Kinde is a cheerful homebody whose imagination takes her new places with every passing day. Making her home between misty mornings and brimming bookshelves in Southern California, she’s been writing for more than a decade, but the Threshold Series is her first foray into fiction. Learn about Christa’s books, Bible studies, short stories, weekdaily serials, and more at ChristaKinde.com.
Part Three: Paper Boy
You can find Part 1 HERE
You can find Part 2 HERE
“Marcus, this is our landlord, Russ McIntey.” Mr. Turnquist turned to the old man. “Russ, this is Marcus Truman. He’ll be living here for a while.”
Their neighbor stood and offered his hand. “Marcus, is it? Welcome.”
“Yes, sir. Thank you, sir.” He quickly accepted the greeting and held on tight. The light in Russ’s eyes was unmistakable, as familiar as an old friend. No doubt about it. He’s a believer.
“Making yourself at home?”
A bemused smile. A searching look. Marcus wasn’t sure what Russ came up with, but the man switched to a two-handed clasp that felt almost . . . protective. “I live on the first floor of the house next door,” Russ said. “It’s just me these days, so if you ever need a place to go or a listening ear, I wouldn’t mind the company.”
“I’d like that.”
The old fellow gave him a one-eyed squint that was suspiciously close to a wink. “You’re not just being polite, are you?”
“Nope. I mean it.”
Mr. Turnquist chuckled. “Why don’t you show Marcus around? He can’t be expected to play tea party with Flopsy every afternoon.”
Russ’s eyes widened comically. “No wonder you’re so eager to humor an old man.”
Marcus tried to protest, but Mrs. Turnquist said, “Go have a look at Russ’s garage. He works wonders in there.”
“May I?” Marcus asked. He still had a hold on Russ’s hand, and as far as he was concerned, he wasn’t letting go for anything. After spending so many weeks at the end of his rope, he’d needed a lifeline. Maybe friendship with Mr. McIntey was the haven he needed. “Please?”
Marcus held up a piece of green glass in the shape of a leaf. The rich emerald greens reminded him of his mentor’s wings. Smiling faintly, he said, “You’re an artist.”
Russ waved a hand. “I’m a handyman with a hobby.”
“Why stained glass?”
“Oh, it’s hard to explain. One thing led to another.” Russ peered around his workshop with an air of embarrassment. Sheets of colored glass. Lamp bases and leading. Coils of metal. Clamps and snips. The old man shifted a pile of catalogs and magazines off a stool and gave it a pat. “I started in with this stuff because of my work. Had no idea I’d love it so much.”
Perching on the stool, Marcus looked up. Dozens of sun catchers twirled on their hooks—starbursts, flowers, diamonds. “Because of work? What kind of job’s that?”
“I’m the custodian at Trinity Presbyterian, the big church on Main Street. A while back a bad storm damaged two of their stained glass windows. When we looked into having them restored . . . well. It was pricy, so I offered to try my hand.”
“Nice.” Marcus flipped through the topmost magazine in the nearest stack, which had dazzling photographs of everything from cathedral windows in Europe to whimsical blown glass installments in urban museums. Pointing to a picture of some East Coast millionaire’s impressive collection of art nouveau lamps, he asked, “So you do this stuff?”
“That’s the idea.”
“Can I watch?” Marcus asked.
“You must really dislike Flopsy’s tea parties.”
“Nah.” Marcus reached for a delicate glass wing that was destined to be part of a dragonfly lamp. Its iridescent shimmer reminded him of yahavim. “I like all the colors.”
Russ reached for a pair of glasses and perched them at the end of his nose then hit the switch on a florescent desk lamp. With most of his attention on the plans for a pink water lily, he asked, “Looking forward to school starting?”
“Might be good to make some friends closer to your own age.”
The teasing remark brought back a vivid mental picture of the boy he’d met during the placement tests. Ransom. But Marcus shook his head. He was much happier spending time with a believer who’d pretty much just called him a friend.
Marcus’s favorite hours came between sunset and sunrise. While the Turnquist household slept, he’d slip out of the room he shared with eight-year-old Landon. Down the hall, past his sisters’ bedroom, he stopped in front of a gilt door that nobody ever noticed. It was a recent installment, courtesy of one of Marcus’s new Flightmates.
Apple blossoms covered its entire surface—lavish, lustrous, and more than a little girly by Marcus’s standards. Not that he didn’t appreciate the beauty of nature and the wonder of springtime. But he’d spent an awful lot of time being a twelve-year-old boy. So he had to wonder why Abner thought something so flowery was appropriate.
When he opened the door, warm air riffled though his hair as heaven’s light washed into the hallway, turning his eyes to gold and his thoughts toward heaven. It was time for evensong.
“Punctual as ever,” Jedrick said, who stood beneath one of the slender trees that filled the peaceful glade.
Marcus’s heart swelled at the note of approval in his mentor’s tone. “Is someone late?”
“Baird and Levi,” Jedrick replied. “Milo went to see if he could hurry them along; however, they are currently engaged in some kind of ‘jam session.’”
“That could take a while.”
“No matter.” Jedrick loosened the ties on his sword and set it aside. “Shall we pick up where we left off?”
Training! Lessons with Jedrick were nothing like what Marcus had expected, but more real than anything he’d ever been taught in school. Even when all they did was hammer at basics, he wasn’t bored. This was right and real. Yeah, it was slow going, but a few weeks ago he was going nowhere. Still, Marcus cast a longing look at his mentor’s weapon. “When will I get my own sword?”
Jedrick hesitated, and for a moment Marcus was afraid his mentor was trying to find a polite way to say he wasn’t good enough. But that wasn’t where he went at all.
“Every young warrior must endure long courses, building strength and endurance. But it is equally necessary to test your aptitude with various kinds of weaponry.”
Marcus’s voice cracked. “Are you saying I can have a sword?”
The hint of a smile flitted across Jedrick’s lips, but he answered seriously. “Before I usher you into the armory, we should see to your armor. We must visit the forges of the opanim.”
Swallowing hard, Marcus whispered, “This is so awesome!”
“For now, we will practice wing positions. Unfurl.” He obeyed, but a passing thought sent his enthusiasm diving. Marcus stepped closer to his men
tor and furtively asked, “Do they even make armor in my size?”
Jedrick’s gaze softened. “Trust me, Marcus. I will see you both fit and fitted for battle.”
Marcus showed his gratitude the only way he knew how. By zealously throwing himself into his courses.
Early the following morning, Marcus sat on the garage roof. His arms hung heavy at his sides. Every muscle in his legs ached. His weariness was bone deep, yet he stubbornly continued his wing exercises.
Unfurling in the middle of a neighborhood was about as subtle as a signal fire, but the Guardians of the Turnquists’ Hedge covered for him. Enemies weren’t likely to notice a runty cherub when the suburban rooftops still bristled with the night guard. And any humans who were up and about this early were more focused on travel mugs of coffee and beating rush hour than on a random kid taking in the view.
Head tipped back, eyes out of focus, Marcus ran through the wing positions that were basic to battle formations—glide, arrow, slow, pivot, rise, glide, arrow, slow, pivot, rise. He followed the drills with sweeping wingbeats, sneakers braced against the shingles to keep from lifting off.
All of a sudden, bike brakes screeched to a stop at the end of the short driveway. “Man, does that feel good! Looks like you found the only breeze in the neighborhood.”
Marcus started guiltily.
Ransom grinned up at him, a bag of newspapers slung across his shoulders. “Marcus, right?”
“Wanna tag along?” Ransom pointed in the direction he was headed. “There’s a Doberman on the next block. I could use some backup.”
“Did you do something to offend Kitten?”
“Her name’s Kitten?”
“All I did was throw a paper onto her welcome mat, but Kitten took exception.” Ransom made a helpless gesture. “Been on her bad side ever since.”
“Come on. After I finish my route, we can hang out.”
Marcus waited to see if he was Sent, but going with Ransom seemed to be entirely optional. Assuming Mrs. Turnquist doesn’t mind my going off to who knows where with the paper boy.
“Guess I could protect you for a while,” Marcus said, backtracking up the roof to his bedroom window. “Let me grab my jacket.”
Next Month: Angel Unaware, Part Four: “Big Brother”