Chapter 8.19 – Afraid

Luke drives home from the airport with Sandi, who is still dazed and asking why she hadn’t seen the facts for herself.
Luke ran to catch a plane as soon as Sandi’s father had been neutralized. Sandi hadn’t argued a bit when he bought an additional ticket on the same flight home. Many, many emotions (some of them conflicting) surface, rendering Sandi mostly unable to speak. Anger, grief, shame, embarrassment, disappointment; they all run the gambit through her already emotionally charged personality. But these emotions are highly concentrated as a result of the encounter with her father at the airport.
Sandi calls Luke early that next day. She had stayed overnight with a friend, being afraid to return home. She invites him over to talk about what happened. When he arrives, she has just returned from City Hall. She had turned in her resignation as Town Councilwoman as soon as the offices opened in the morning. Sandi expresses to Luke how much she had always hated the job; and how, inexplicably, she had done it only because she was told to. She’d never questioned her father, never disobeyed him, and had always done just what he wanted her to do.  Ironically, Sandi had always perceived herself as being a strong, forward-thinking, modern, and independent woman. But the reality of it, is that she has been little more than a lackey.
Sandi continues talking while Luke listens, saying very little. Inevitably, the topic of conversation finds its way to their stalled romance. Sandi explains how, on the night of his birthday, she became very emotional when thinking about their future together. When he confessed his love for her, she was completely unprepared to respond. The problem, it seems, is that the word love had been completely absent from the family since her mother’s death.
Her father had always been an antagonistic man, critical of anybody or anything not in line with his world view. Because of him, she had learned to place blame for the hardships she encounters in her life. That night, after after hearing Luke’s expression of love, she thought of her mother. Without ever really having dealt with her grief, Sandi just simply blew up at Luke. She went home after the incident, with the intent of sharing these thoughts with her father. But instead of comforting her, he just added fuel to the fire. The entire “giant slayer” idea was his. The result? Her father had succeeded in finding a way to make her hate Luke instead of him.
There is something she still doesn’t understand, though. Why does her father want to kill Luke? Having remained completely silent until now, Luke brushes a stray lock of hair from her face. He voices how, over the years, he has found there are some sims who value power, status, and decadence above all other things. They value gratification over morality. Some are even willing to exchange their humanity to attain it. Her face is expressionless and tired, and it takes a long time for her to respond after Luke has finished talking. Finally, Sandi closes her eyes and asks him to say those words he said on his birthday.
No smile erupts from his face. No swelling of love pours out from his heart. And the words refuse to form on his lips. Instead, something unexpected happens. He sees Anna’s green eyes and her contagious, sly smile in his mind.
Luke hugs Sandi, then kisses her firmly on the lips. He shakes his head and cautions her about taking smaller steps. She nods a hesitant agreement, and leans in to kiss him with a genuine tenderness that catches him somewhat off guard. She smiles then tells him that she’s got a lot to think about; and quite probably a lot of phone calls to answer after quitting her job. But she quickly adds that she’d like to see him again tomorrow. Luke smiles and nods, again accepting her gentle kiss.
Just as he is about to leave, Sandi runs outside calling his name. Then, with tear-filled eyes and her voice heavy with remorse, she quietly apologizes.
**gospel music plays**
 HE has come to you offering FREEDOM from your bondage.
**woman from audience shouts AMEN!** Hallelujah! AAAAMEN SISTER!!
Throw off the shackles of SIN and sing and REJOICE in HIS eternal LIGHT! **gospel music plays**
Anna lives in a small apartment building just on the outskirts of town. From the outside, it could easily be mistaken for an old, run-down motel. The tinny sound of cheap televisions and AM radios blaring through open windows, gives him reason to suspect that these rooms lack any kind of air conditioning. In a way, it feels like walking back through time to the way things were when life was simple; such as it was when Moira was alive. He knocks on the decrepit door to Anna’s apartment and waits for an answer. After she fails to respond, he knocks again and announces that he’s not going away until he sees her.
Through one of the neighbor’s open windows, Luke can see that the occupant, an old woman who is watching some kind of revival show on tv, has adjusted her chair to give her a better view of the drama. Then, after another moment, the deadbolt on Anna’s door slowly slides open. Luke can hear her shuffling to get out of the way of the door as it opens inward.
A half-dressed, scruffy-looking, junkie leaps from her bed and yells at Luke to get out; coloring his angry demand with a few choice expletives. Luke, who is focused only on Anna, calmly tells the thug to take his things and leave.
When the junkie produces a blade, then takes a threatening step toward Luke. The young Barimen meets him half way. Luke grabs the guy’s wrist and twists his knife-wielding hand upward. Deftly grabbing the falling knife with his off-hand, Luke then maneuvers the scumbag into a painful arm-lock. He calmly repeats his request for the guy to quickly leave; adding, that if he does not, he will require a colonoscopy in order to retrieve his knife.
Anna has hung silently in the shadow of her darkened apartment during the scuffle. Drug paraphernalia lay scattered across the kitchen table, and her unkempt apartment reeks of the vile stuff. She looks to be in really bad shape. After ushering the scumbag out, Luke turns to her and struggles for something to say.
He has never been the type to spook easily, but when he sees how the blood has drawn from her colorless face, and the unsteadily manner in which she sways on her feet, Luke is forced to catch is breath. Anna attempts to look at him. But her badly dilated eyes roll lazily around their sockets and refuse to obey. Luke hardly has time to react, but still manages to catch her as her knees give out.
He lays her gently down onto the floor, barely subduing his panic and quietly mumbling a desperate prayer for help. He calls quickly for an ambulance, then he begins performing the life-saving techniques he thought he’d never have to use.
And for the first time in his life, Luke is afraid.
I have a confession to make to you, brothers and sisters. **man shouts out from audience — TESTIFY brother!**
AMEN, brother! **preacher mutters inaudibly** Brothers and Sisters, I have SINNED! **gospel music plays**
But through the POWER of HIS SALVATION, my SINS have been washed away and I have been HEALED!! **all shout AMEN**
TESTIFY! Brothers and sisters! TESTIFY and your sins will be FORGIVEN!! **gospel music plays**

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