Over the next week, Mrs. Larsen and Mr. Larsen slowly eased up on Rich. He got the radio back. However, the only way to baseball games or practice was by bike or the generosity of one of the other players’ parents. On two occasions he brought up the money, but Mrs. Larsen and Mr. Larsen remained firm. Rich remained suspicious his dad would use it for a night on the town.
Toward the end of summer, Rich was at the Carpenter’s Market. Monty came in to buy a pack of cigarettes.
“Those’ll kill ya,” Mr. Carpenter said to Monty.
“This is my last pack,” Monty said. “I swear.”
“I thought the last pack was the last pack,” Mr. Carpenter said.
“I didn’t swear that time,” Monty said.
Monty suddenly noticed Rich. “Hey, son, ya got a little time?”
“Sure,” Rich said.
“Let’s get in the car, I want to show ya something.”
They drove to a secluded graveyard about a mile from the Winters’ farm.
Monty drove into the driveway of the graveyard.
“Let’s take a walk,” Monty said.
They walked to the back of the graveyard to three gravestones.
One had the name of Claire Winters, the one in the middle was Chester Winters, and the other was Lilly Winters and Son, Chester.
“This was a part of Chet’s letter to me. You see, there are some people who are willing to do some work in order that I keep their secrets,” Monty said.
“Do you mind if I just think for a while,” Rich said.
“That’s why I brought here and frankly that’s why I came here too,” Monty said. “I don’t want ya thinkin’ too much on yer own. Everybody has to have somebody to think on.”
“It’s hard to figure the reason for Mr. Winters’ suicide. If only I went in the house to use the bathroom, the light in the barn would not have been my distraction or curiosity. Mr. Winter’s secret would have stayed with him and he might have died a very old man with family around his bed. Perhaps you would not have been involved and Lilly and her son would be laying in the ground in an unknown grave, far from where she is now.”
“Life is so full of ifs,” Monty said. “Those ifs make sure a lot of bad things don’t get done also. It all evens out.”
“I suppose,” Rich said.
“One question,” Monty said, “You might know the answer.”
“What?” Rich said.
“Why did he hang himself in that barn?” Monty asked.
“Did he hang himself at sunrise?” Rich asked
“Yeah,” Monty said curiously.
“That is where he proposed to Lilly and she accepted, at sunrise, forty years ago to the day,” Rich said.
“By the way,” Monty said. “The ring, it’s on her finger.”
Graveyards have a note of finality. The way things are meant to be, the way they are. It is where all secrets are and all secrets belong.
The next day, Rich rode his bike to Don’s house. They sat in lawn chairs in the garage catching the late summer breezes. The conversation was lighthearted. They talked about starting back to school and their class schedules.
Rich became quite serious for a moment and asked, “Do you remember what we talked about in Tuttle’s tent earlier this summer?”
“Sure,” Don said, “about belief in God.”
“Not exactly,” Rich said, “but about God making all things work out.”
“Yeah, right,” Don affirmed.
“God doesn’t do that,” Rich said.
Don started to walk away.
“No,” Rich said, “wait, let me explain.”
Don turned around and stood a comfortable distance from Rich, perhaps concerned that lightning just might strike both of them.
“We must make decisions that reflect what God would do.” Rich began. “Even if we put ourselves in a bad situation, it is our decisions that will make it good. God has given us great power and trust. You know, ‘do unto others,’ that’s a trust. When we do the right thing, we see and feel God. No one can take that away from you.”
Don smiled and said, “I think you’re saved after all. Mom’s got some ginger ale in the frig, ya want some?”
Don went inside and got two bottles of ginger ale. He handed one to Rich and he took a satisfying swig. Rich smiled as he looked at the bubbling remains in the bottle. He mused to himself, “So many religious people drank ginger ale, it might have been the backup beverage if the water had not been turned into wine.”