Arts & Culture

A Soldier’s Search – Chapter 5

The fog enveloped the hazy road. I stared blankly at the houses we passed, not even
caring about the articles I had to finish editing nor the flashback I just had. I felt guilty, though.
Here I was with a stranger whom I didn’t even know, yet he lent me a ride, and I failed to make
conversation with him. Perhaps I didn’t want to. Besides, what was so interesting about me? A
single mother who worked at the St. Louis Chronicle: I was pretty boring so I thought. Even
though I worked at one of the most popular newspapers, I failed to create a writing career for
myself as I was turned down by multiple publications simply because I was a woman. Still, I
didn’t know what to say to the cowboy as he kept his eyes focused on the road. Bored, I casually
began examining the contents inside his truck. It was fairly clean. A tool box was propped
against the dashboard, some rodeo equipment, a half-eaten sandwich that hadn’t been finished in
a long time, and… the Bible—the very same Bible that somehow prompted me inside his truck.
Of course, I only did it because I needed a ride. But there was something about that old book that
made me feel at ease and on edge all at the same time.
“So,” cleared the cowboy’s throat after several moments of silence.
“So?” I questioned not knowing what more to say.
“Whose company do I have the pleasure of enjoying?”
I was startled, surprisingly. I should have expected him to ask such a thing. But I hadn’t
said a thing the whole time and all I caused for him since we met was trouble: blaming him for
an accident his mule had caused, not him. I gulped trying to swallow the knot in my
esophagus, “Ruth. Ruth Hollister.”
“Nice to meet you, Mrs. Hollister,” he answered politely.
“Oh, it’s Ms. Hollister, actually.”

He said nothing, just nodded gently. There was an awkward pause to the casual
conversation.
“Um,” I stuttered. “What’s your name?”
“Tal Livingston.”
“Tal?”
“Yes, Tal, and don’t ask me why.”
I tried to hide my chuckle but failed desperately. Tal Livingston, what an unusual name.
“Well, it definitely suits your profession,” I giggled, and a smile crept across his face.
“So, Mr. Tal Livingston, where are you from? Perhaps Texas?” I asked playfully.
“No, not Texas. Not all cowboys come from Texas you know.”
“Oh, really?” I quizzed, amused.
“Yes, really. In fact, Ms. Hollister, I’m from Wyoming.”
“Just as I figured!” I laughed uproariously.
He scorned sarcastically. We continued our sort of “small talk” for a while until I gazed
yet again at his Bible. There was just something different about that book, but I couldn’t figure
out what. I couldn’t help but ask him about it.
When I finally gained enough courage, I gazed up into his clear, blue eyes, “So, tell me
about the Bible you have propped up on your dashboard?”
He raised an eyebrow, “What do you mean? Are you asking if I’m a Christian?”
“I-I don’t know,” I answered not really sure of what I meant either.
“Are you asking if I’m a Christian?” He pressed.
“I suppose,” I replied.
He didn’t even to hesitate to answer, “Yes.”

I didn’t know whether or not I was surprised, but I cocked my head and furrowed my
brow. I couldn’t remember the last time I heard somebody openly admit to being a Christian. At
least, not as strongly and proudly as he did.
“What about you?” he asked.
The words stung. I didn’t really know. Was I?
“I don’t know,” I continued. “When I was a little girl, my parents took me to church and
made it absolutely necessary for me to pray, read my Bible, attend Sunday school. But, one day,”
the words choked my heart. “My father left. I was only twelve, but mother still insisted that I
continue my journey with God. Then, I married young. Too young. Then, I got pregnant and he
left me as well. At that moment, I realized God had taken everything away from me that I loved.
So, I set my Bible on a shelf and I haven’t opened it in years.”
He didn’t say anything. I suppose there wasn’t much to say. He just kept his eyes on the
road, his brow furrowed as if processing all I had said.
***

When we arrived at my home, he stopped. We didn’t say anything and I forgot all about
the time and the work that still needed to be done.
“Meet me for lunch tomorrow at Lucy’s,” he stated when I had gotten out of the vehicle.
He drove away leaving me speechless. Should I do it? Why was this man so persistent about my
well-being? Guilt? I didn’t know for sure, but the next day at exactly noon; I met him at Lucy’s.
For the first time in a long time, I felt relaxed.

2 Comments

  1. Wow!! This is VERY good!! Good job!! Keep up the good work!!! I hope to read more of what you’ve written sometime soon!!

  2. Keep up the good work!!! I am anxiously awaiting your next article!!!!!!!!!!