Saturday, December 02, 2006


Darkness had fallen, obscuring William's tree lined path. His heavy footsteps seemed to be amplified with the passing twilight as William trekked deeper into the wooded trails of Weston Bend State Park. William sporadically paused, listening for clues that might lead him to his destination. Nervous, he trembled at the sound of every snapping twig.

A cold breeze swept through the night air, and William was beginning to wish he had have worn a heavier coat. Cold temperatures and Christmas shopping had driven most park visitors away; any remaining visitors would have left when the park closed at six. Shivering, William watched his breath dance like dervishes in the winter air. He pulled the zipper on his coat higher and continued trudging.

The forest thickened as the trail drew close to the Missouri River. Winter had stripped the trees of their colorful splendor; their bare branches swayed in the strengthening winds. The breezed seemed to whisper various threats and demands as it weaved through the skeletal trees.

You shouldn't be here. Leave now.

They will find out.

William had chosen this location for privacy. Just south of Weston, a Kansas City suburb, and
across the river from the Fort Leavenworth Army Base, the park was close in proximity, but also far removed from the seminary where William was Dean of Admissions. His meeting with an anonymous financier would be frowned upon by his colleagues, so secrecy was essential. The drive was fifty minutes from William's home in Lee's Summit; his school office, business, and students were centered on the south side of Kansas City. This park, an hour to the north, was not a common excursion. Yet, it was familiar. William had grown up in Leavenworth, and his father was a preacher at a church in Weston. In years past, William's family frequented Weston Bend for summer recreation.

The wind whispered again, You're being followed. William turned around to find an older gentleman dressed in white.

"Hello, William," said the man in white. Everything about this man radiated in contrast to the night and the forest around him. His cropped silver hair revealed a widow's peak similar to Grandpa Munster’s. Crow's feet and laugh lines had been permanently etched into the old man's face, yet his smile portrayed a deceptively youthful spirit.

"Here," William pulled a manila envelope out from under his jacket.

The old man reached out a hand, his white leather glove matching the white slacks and parka. He took the envelope and torn open the seal.

"Why do you think he will make a worthy candidate?" asked the old man.

"He could have been a great pastor."

"Your school is a seminary. No? Had he been a student of yours, he was training for ministry. Yes?"

William released a hesitant chuckle. "Yes, he was a student. He is no longer with us though, and he will not be allowed to finish his studies."

"That bad?" the old man asked hypothetically. He removed a series of documents and digital photographs out from the envelope; methodically thumbing through high school and college transcripts, school's mug shots, and candid pictures. As a private businessman and financier, his team was assembled and functional. There was one skill none from his team had yet acquired.

"Aramaic?" asked the businessman.

"Yes," said William, "our school requires a mastery of a dead language, for Bible translation."

"But he knew more. Yes?"

"He did. He learned Spanish during childhood; Latin, German, and Japanese in high school. He tackled Koine Greek and Hebrew while earning his bachelors degree."


"It is a gift."

The old man shook his head. "Yet, you still turned him away."

William nodded. "What he spoke of, some might call heresy." William had not been directly involved in the student's dismissal, but the subject had been highly debated among the faculty. "He returned to school after a camping trip with a few of his friends, talking about seeing things that church people don't believe in."

"His friends contradicted him. Yes?"

"They did. It was a source of dissention; he had to leave."

"You have faith in him though. Yes?"

William nodded.

"So, he will have no objection to our prey. No?"

William learned of the financier's unorthodox business when William first came to Kansas City as a professor. The financier was a hunter, yet his hunts were secrets to society. William had doubts whether the hunts were real, or if the prey existed.

"No, he will not have objections." William answered.

"Where is he now?" the old man asked.

William hesitated, "I could lose my job over this."

The old man did not respond.

"He must not know I sent you to him." William said.

"None of our recruits know they were nominated," the old man assured William. "They all believe they've been discovered. Your identity will remain anonymous."

"His parents live in Seattle, he has no where else to go."

The old man studied a picture of a blonde man with an ambitious smile, short hair parted down the middle.

"It is late, I must go home." said William.

"I thank you for your support." said the old man. "Merry Christmas."

William walked back to his car, eager for his car's heater, and thankful that the meeting had been brief. This was the second meeting between William and the financier. At the first meeting, the old man was asking for support from members of the religious community. William was given a list of positions the financier wanted to fill. The ideal candidate for the financier's empoly would need to be an outcast.

William had been doubtful he would ever assist the financier's business needs. Most of the seminary's students were too conservative for that line of work. Yet, the opportunity arose, and William contacted the financier to set up the private meeting.

The financier followed William to the parking lot and out along Highway 237. William provided better directions to Kansas City International Airport than the GPS unit built into the rental car. Once on I-29, the old man dialed his cell phone. After three rings, an airlines representative answered.

"I need the first available flight to SeaTac." The old man took his exit for the airport, and watched William's tail lights drive off into the night.


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