Visits From A Man Named Nobody 54

Visits From A Man Named Nobody 54

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“She has better grades than you,” Jordan said.

Paul cocked his head. “She does?”

Jordan gave a laugh. If Paul didn’t know any better, he’d say Jordan was frustrated. Paul looked over at Lidia. For a moment, he tried to imagine dating her, being with her. But the picture that formed in his mind depicted the moment he stood over Stacy’s new boyfriend. He became a monster over a girl. If Paul was being honest, he didn’t feel that way about Lidia. Of course, he’d been busy. 

You shouldn’t be with anyone. You’re too dangerous. You’re too much like him.

Paul wanted to dispute the thoughts, but he couldn’t make himself. He took a deep breath. “I think I have a solution.”

He didn’t wait for Jordan to respond. Instead, he walked over to the table beside Lidia. “Have you eaten?”

She nodded. “I figured you’d be here talking, but I had dinner already.”

“Great,” Paul said. “Let’s go to a movie!”

She smiled.  

“”The three of us should have a great time,” Paul added.

Her thin smile vanished. “Three of us?”

“Yeah,” Paul said. “Jordan doesn’t have anything to do.”

“Actually,” Jordan said.

“You don’t have anything to do,” Paul said again. “We were going to sit here and talk for hours on end, so a movie is fine.”

Jordan shot Paul a look that read, “What are you doing?”

Paul shrugged. He didn’t really know. He had an inkling of an idea, but he didn’t have anything remotely resembling a plan. Mostly, Paul just wanted to avoid being alone with Lidia in a way that didn’t make her feel rejected. He didn’t like her that way, but he didn’t want to hurt her feelings. 

“Um,” Lidia said. She looked at Jordan. Maybe he was right. She seemed to want to be alone with Paul, but Paul didn’t have any business being alone with a woman. “I suppose that would be fine.”

“Of course! It’ll be fun,” Paul said in agreement. Yeah, Jordan was right. One mention of a movie and she forgot all about studying. How had he not noticed?

Paul turned and started walking.

“Where are you going?” Jordan asked.

“I thought we all just agreed to watch a movie,” Paul replied.

“You meant now?” Jordan actually yelped. Paul wasn’t sure he’d ever heard his friend yelp before. 

“What else were we going to do?” Paul started to walk again.

“But we haven’t even picked a movie,” Jordan said.

“We can pick one on the way,” Paul replied.

“I haven’t had a chance to get dressed,” Lidia said. 

Paul was about to start walking again, but the comment brought him up short for the third time. “You’re already dressed.”

“Not for a movie,” Lidia replied.

“Wait,” Paul said. “You have a movie outfit?”

Lidia smiled at him. It was a pretty smile. “A woman wants to look right for the occasion.”

“You look wonderful,” Jordan said. “Let’s just go. He’s impossible to stop once his mind is set anyway.”

Lidia gave him a tiny smile and a nod of the head. 

Paul grinned. It seemed his idea had a little bit of merit. 

… to be continued …

Visits From A Man Named Nobody 29

Visits From A Man Named Nobody 29

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April 2, 2027, 3:33 p.m. 

18 Years, 349 Days Ago

Paul plopped down from the wall behind his house and walked through the back door. Bill was there in the dining room. He turned to Paul in surprise.

“Why are you coming in through the back door?” he asked.

Paul froze. He wanted to rush up to Bill and start asking a million questions he’d had from the last time they’d spoken a few days ago. Bill had visited at least another two times since they first met, but this was the first time Bill was at the house before him. 

“It’s a shortcut,” Paul lied.

“No it isn’t,” Bill said. “You’d have to walk a block in the wrong direction to even get to that wall.”

Paul’s mouth froze open. His mother bought the lie when he’d used it, but his mother probably didn’t think about directions. She was happy if Paul was happy. Bill on the other hand, liked to understand things. In this case, the habit was pretty unfortunate.

Paul shrugged. “I just … “ Lying took a ton of effort. “Think it’s cool walking on the walls.”

Bill raised an eyebrow. “And the neighbors don’t mind? Doesn’t one of them have a dog?”

Why on earth does he ask so many questions? “No one’s ever asked me to stop.”

“So what brought this on?” Bill asked. “You were just walking home one day and thought, ‘Gee, I wonder what it would be like to walk on those walls over there?’”

“Sure,” Paul said. It was a lot easier to lie when someone gave you one to approve. 

Bill shook his head. “You’re not that sort of adventurous. What’s really going on?”

“What, you know me for, like, two weeks, and suddenly you know everything about me?” Paul shouted the question.

“Of course not.” Bill’s tone didn’t change a bit. He even kept a gentle smile on his face. 

“But you’re gonna interrogate me like you have some right to? Are you my dad now? You and Mom get married while I wasn’t looking?” The more Paul thought about the questions, the more justified he felt in shouting them.

“What is going on?” His mother’s question came out in a series of slow, emphasized words. She’d come from the kitchen and didn’t look too pleased.

Paul froze again. It was one thing to have a tirade against Bill. Actually, Bill didn’t deserve it either, but it still felt more wrong for his mother getting involved.

“Do you think Paul and I could talk?” Bill stood up from the wooden dinning room chair. Strangely, his tone only became more gentle. 

“It doesn’t sound like you’re talking. Paul, are you being rude?” His mother tried to look at Paul, but Bill used a pair of fingers to gently turn her chin back toward himself.

“Sweetheart, it is your right to discipline your son,” he said. “But I’m asking you to let me talk to him.”

Paul coked his head. Why did Bill talk like that? 

His mom let out a deep sigh. “I’m fine with you two talking.” She looked at Paul. “But if you raise your voice again, I’ll use my right to discipline you until you graduate college.”

Paul’s had sank in shame. “Yes, Mother.”

She backed out of the room as if taking every moment she could to observe Paul’s behavior. 

After she’d been gone a few seconds, Bill turned his attention back to Paul. Those brown eyes of his were so kind. Paul shouted at him, and he just kept that patient tone.

“Why are you so defensive about what you were doing?” Bill asked.

“I’m not defensive!” Paul said defensively. 

Bill smiled at him. “In my experience, I’m the most angry when I’m the most ashamed, embarrassed, or afraid.” 

Paul just stood there in front of the door. 

Bill narrowed his eyes. “If something is bothering you, I’d be honored if you trusted me enough to share it with me.”

Paul just looked down at his sneakers. 

“You’re a good young man,” Bill mused. He sounded like he was talking to himself, but he definitely wanted Paul to hear. “So I don’t imagine you’re ashamed or embarrassed. Besides, what would using the back door hide that you’d be ashamed or embarrassed about?”

“It’s this guy,” Paul muttered. 

Bill immediately stopped talking. He moved back to his chair and took a seat, offering Paul the one next to him. 

Paul sat. “He stands there or rushes out of his house to tell me all about how I’m going to Hell and … other things.”

Bill cocked his head in thought. “So he claims to be a religious person?”

“You’re religious,” Paul argued.

“I’m Christian, which is a religion, but not all religious people are Christian,” Bill explained. “What does he base his opinion of you on?”

Paul shrugged. “I went to his church once. It wasn’t fun.”

“What’s the name of his church?” Bill asked. 

“The Way,” Paul said. 

Bill grimaced. 

“You’ve heard of it?” Paul asked.

The only way Paul knew Bill was frustrated was the odd moment he spent thinking before he answered. “Yes,” Bill said. “What’s this man’s name?”

“Mr. Dorny,” Paul said. 

“And Mr. Dorny has you so worked up, you’ll use parkour to avoid him?” Bill asked. 

Paul shrugged. When Bill said it like that, it felt stupid. It felt cowardly. 

“He’s just super aggressive, and he won’t let me go. He doesn’t, like, touch me or grab me, but he gets in my way and makes it sound like I’m a bad person for not listening.”

Bill nodded. “He lives down the road, the one you’d use to come home from school?”

Paul nodded. 

“Mary!” Bill called her name, and she eventually returned from the kitchen. “I have to take Paul out for just a few moments. We should be back in about half an hour.”

“What’s going on?” she asked. 

“I’ll explain everything, but would you be OK if I waited until after we got back?” Bill asked.

“I’ll explain, too,” Paul chimed in. “It’s sort of a long story.”

Mary looked at Bill. “What are you going to do?” 

Paul looked at Bill. He’d be interested to hear the answer as well.

“We just have to talk to someone,” Bill said. “There’s a disagreement that needs to be resolved. It won’t take long.”

Paul’s mom shrugged and let out a deep breath. “I’ll just wait for the explanation. Just be home before dinner get’s cold.”

Bill nodded and started walking toward the front door. Paul darted after him. Bill seemed to be walking more quickly than normal. Paul had to move at a pace that was one step below a jog just to keep up. He glanced at Bill, whose lips were moving, but Paul couldn’t make out any words. Is he praying?

They moved purposefully out of the cul-de-sac in which Paul lived and came to Mr. Dorny’s house, which was right at the choke point of road. 

Mr. Dorny was outside, sitting in his chair. He saw Paul and smiled. 

“Well it’s certainly been a while,” he said. Something about his tone sounded smug. Paul already wanted to hit him.

“He’s not here to talk to you,” Bill said. “I am.”

“And who are you?” Mr. Dorny asked. He got up from his metal beach chair. The motion looked like a lion getting up after eating a fat zebra. 

Book Review The Freedom of Self Forgetfulness by Timothy Keller

Book Review The Freedom of Self Forgetfulness by Timothy Keller
The cover image for this book was taken from its Amazon buy page for review purposes under Fair Use doctrine.

The Freedom of Self Forgetfulness by Timothy Keller is a book designed to correctly orientate a believer’s thoughts in the correct direction. This book is extremely short. It’s less than an hour to listen to. The book is based on a segment of 1 Corinthians in which Paul declares he doesn’t care what others think. He doesn’t even care what he thinks (1 Corinthians 4:3).

I hesitate to say much more about the content of the book because of how short it is. It’s a lovely sermon, but I found myself thinking, “That’s right, I shouldn’t care … but I do, so how do I stop?”

And therein lies the problem I had with the book. It felt like I read this amazing prologue to a book I’d love to read, only I didn’t get the whole book. My problem is not in understanding how I should think, but in training myself in that correct way of thinking.

That’s what I wish the book had. This book had a beautiful message, but it didn’t have much if anything in the way of actionable guidance. Naturally one should seek scripture, and I am working on it. This book correctly identifies the problems of “anxiety” and “shame” and their origins. I just wish it had the rest of the content.

The basic premise is perfect, but as someone who does struggle with this issue, I wish there was more applicable or actionable information.

The portrait of Timothy Keller was taken from his Amazon author page for review purposes under Fair Use doctrine.

One takeaway I had from this is to constantly remind myself, “God is my judge!” Honestly, that’s helped. Even in what was a particularly stressful time recently, that helped me (or at least I think it did). So this book becomes a call to action for me that lacks the directions after the call is answered.

This isn’t to say the book isn’t good. I enjoyed what I heard. It’s a wonderful message.

Thanks for reading,