Two men. Two eternal destinies. One common hope.
College grad Nick doesn’t trust God. Unimpressed by God’s work in his father’s life, Nick wages a daily war to thwart His holy advances. No verbal blasts. No waving “God is dead!” banners. Just a simple message written across his heart: “God, you’re not welcome here.”
Wayne, former pastor and current factory employee, drifts in doubt’s strong current. He’s God’s man, all right. He just hasn’t felt like it in a while. A past failure holds his heart hostage.
On a beautiful Thursday in May, death’s specter burns both men’s names into its appointment book. Each embarks on an amazing journey—one doused in dread, the other dripping with delight.
As heaven’s light shines, a troubled Wayne wants to hide in the dark. Will he overcome doubt’s drift to sail home in confidence?
Nick, lost in hell’s night, can’t escape God’s searchlight. His memories force him to reevaluate his father’s weakness and the strength of his father’s God. For Nick, will regret become an itch he will have all eternity to scratch?
Dark Eyes, Deep Eyes examines life, death, faith, and hope against the backdrop of heaven, hell, and modern-day San Antonio.
Nick awakened in his own bed in his own apartment, fully clothed, minus his shoes. One sock slid halfway down the arch of a foot, a single dangling witness to the previous night’s struggle with a recalcitrant shoe. The sound of falling water came from the bathroom. Nick lived alone so who else would be taking a shower? Driven by pure instinct, Nick put a hand on the back pocket of his blue jeans and felt for a wallet. Touching the familiar bulge, he exhaled. He pulled out the slim piece of brown leather. Credit card, driver’s license, money—yep, all tucked away in their proper places. But was that all of it? He couldn’t remember. Obviously no one had tampered with the wallet. The rest of last night’s details remained fuzzy. He surveyed the room, but its general disarray told him nothing more than what he already knew. A thief breaking in would have looked around at the mess and said, “Ah, nuts! Someone beat me to it.” Nick sucked in a big breath then crinkled his nose. “Yuck! Smells like someone puked in here.” He tipped his head down, pulled his shirt toward his face and sniffed. No, not him. So where was the smell coming from? He followed the scent to the floor and noticed an unfamiliar shirt crumpled between his iPod and Robert Jordan’s Knife of Dreams. The letters W-I-R of a WIRED magazine peered out from beneath the purple shirt. Purple? Lavender? He remembered the girl’s name. Had he brought Lavender home? What a dumb, stupid, idiot move—bringing a strange girl with a weird name home. Maybe she was nuts. And now she knew where he lived. Too much shades of Freddie-Krueger-Nightmare-on-Oakdale-Way stuff. The shower shut off. She’d be coming out soon. What should he do? Be cool. Just a girl. With a strange name. And maybe a sicko personality. But she seemed normal enough. Normal? Where’d that idea come from? Nick couldn’t remember much more than the girl’s name. His mind was so screwed up he couldn’t say if the girl was whacked in the head or up for the Nobel Peace Prize. Heck, for all he knew she could be a Panamanian terrorist. Did terrorists come from Panama? Nah, not Panama. Cuba maybe, Middle East definitely, but Panama? Hardly. Maybe she’s a terrorist all right. But not from Panama. Through Panama? Yeah, that’s it. She’s Cuban, been through the freaking Panama canal, and she was here to blow up something. Like his apartment. The bathroom door opened. Lavender stood with a neon-blue and banana-yellow beach towel wrapped around her. She had large brown eyes, long black hair, but looked nothing like a terrorist. Perhaps Cuban or Panamanian and... She looked better than Nick recalled. Of course, last night’s images came through a foggy memory and a darkened car interior. So far the rest of the night remained shoved away in a vault to which Nick had no access code. Nick waved. “Hey.” “Hey.” “It’s Lavender, right?” “Yeah. And you’rrrrr…?” “Nick.” “Yeah, that’s right. Nick.” Lavender scanned the room. “This your place?” “Yeah.” “Kind of a mess.” Nick laughed. “Yep.” “Just you live here?” “Had a roommate but he moved out a week ago.” “Oh.” Nick wanted to move past this monosyllabic conversation. His dying-to-know curiosity shoved his macho-man pride aside. “Did weeee, uh...?” Lavender’s cheeks flamed. “No! Oh, no. I’m sure we didn’t, uh, well, you know.” Okay so they didn’t do the dirty deed. How’d he feel about that? Relieved? Disappointed? He had no recollection of last night’s goings on, so what difference did her response make? Whether they did it or didn’t do it, the result remained the same. He flat out couldn’t remember. And forgotten pleasure was no pleasure at all. He might as well have been hugged and kissed on the lips by an old doting aunt. At least that would be worth forgetting. It’s just that she didn’t have to answer like he’d flicked a burning match at her. And what about the here and now? The previous evening’s forgetfulness didn’t need to carry over to today. He would remember if anything happened now. He flashed a so-what-do-you-say smile and waggled his eyebrows. “Well, it’s never too late.” Nick might as well have slapped Lavender in the face and pulled out a bundle of ropes for the look she shot back at him. Her lower lip quivered and her terror-stricken face shouted, “Serial rapist!” Tears appeared ready to spill. One teeny lascivious remark, one foolish suggestive foible, and the dam would shatter. “Oh, I’ve got to go. I need to get home now. My folks must be worried sick. I’ve never done anything like this before in my life.” Boy, did he feel like a schmuck. What was he thinking? Well, duh. Sex. He wanted sex. Was it going to happen? Well, double duh. No. More like 9-1-1, cop cars, and rape charges. As if he had been transformed into Noah’s dove, Nick extended a peace branch toward her. “Hey, hey, listen. No need to get all worked up. Give your folks a call and let them know you’re all right.” Lavender’s face brightened. “Thanks. Could I?” Could she? Why did she need his permission to call her parents? Maybe she needed reassuring—after all, she’d waked up in a strange guy’s apartment. Boy, he didn’t envy her position at all. “Sure. Go ahead.” Lavender didn’t move. She stared at Nick for a moment. “Only one problem.” “What’s that?” “I don’t have a cell phone.” Nick must have telegraphed his you’ve-got-no-cell-phone shock because Lavender reddened. “I…uh… I dropped mine in the…uh…” Come on girl. Spit it out. You dropped your cell phone and it broke? You dropped it and lost it? You dropped it and what? “In the…” She giggled. “In the…” She giggled again. “Toilet.” “Ooooh, that’s not good.” “Happened a coupla weeks ago, and my folks still won’t get me a new one. Isn’t that the pits?” “Yeah, that blows. You can use mine.” Nick patted down his pockets. He looked at her. “That is if you can find it. It’s gotta be around here somewhere.” He started moving the floor debris without any immediate luck. “Hey, Lavender, why don’t you give the living room and kitchen a once over while I keep looking in here?” “Sure.” She pirouetted toward the front of the apartment. Mid-stride through the room, she stopped and turned back to face Nick. “So what am I looking for?” “A blue Samsung. I’d prefer an iPhone but just can’t afford one yet. And my dad’s not going to waste any money on me.” Boy, was that ever the truth. Daddy Dearest spending money on Wayward Son? No way. So where was the cell phone? Did he leave it at the… the… Where in the world had he gone last night? Bennigan’s? If the phone wasn’t in the apartment, where else could it be? No idea unless maybe, just maybe the Samsung had fallen out in the car. If not here or there, then where? And what if the thing disappeared, lost forever? What would he do until he replaced it? Before he succumbed to a full-blown panic attack, Lavender yelled from the other room. “Found it.” Nick peered around the corner to see the cell phone in her upraised hand. “Where’d ya find it?”
T. Neal Tarver, a native Texan living in Wisconsin, has served churches in Texas and Wisconsin. He, his wife Ellen, and his son Daniel lived and worked for three years as missionaries in the Russian Far East. Tom speaks enough Russian to both converse and confuse.
In 2010, Tom was selected as a semi-finalist in the American Christian Fiction Writers’ Genesis contest. He has written articles for the local newspaper and an international magazine. He currently writes from his home in Richland Center, Wisconsin, or from wherever his travels take him. He posts articles weekly at www.tnealtarver.com.
Tom has spoken in churches across America, and in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. In the heart of Packerland, home of the Frozen Tundra, he roots for the Cowboys and longs for a beachside view of palm trees.
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