Meningsbee didn’t recognize the name. Carl had left a note: “Please call Cam Collier.”
Then there were three or four different numbers. The end of the note read, “Very important.” The two words were underlined.
When Meningsbee dialed the number he was still trying to retrieve who Cam Collier was. Even when Mr. Collier answered the phone, it still took Meningsbee a moment to recall that this gentleman was Kitty’s husband–the successful millionaire with all the silos.
He simply asked if Meningsbee would be in the office tomorrow morning at ten o’clock, and if he would mind a visit. Meningsbee agreed and then spent the rest of the day trying to figure out what it could possibly be about.
Could Cam need spiritual counsel? Were there problems in the marriage?
So the next day at ten o’clock, when Cam walked in the door and sat down in Meningsbee’s little office, his curiosity was about ready to burst.
Since they had no history with one another, there was no real need to catch up. Cam just launched into his purpose.
“This is hard for me,” he began. “Matter of fact, I would deeply appreciate if everything I share with you is kept private between the two of us.”
Meningsbee reassured him that confidence was secure.
“You may remember that I married Kitty and we came back here and picked up Hapsy to start our life together.”
Meningsbee inserted. “Is there a problem with Hapsy?”
“No, no,” said Cam. “She’s a sweet little girl.”
Meningsbee questioned, “Then are you alright?”
“No, no, it’s not me. So you probably can figure–it has to do with Kitty. I don’t really know how well you know Kitty–she always talked like you two were old friends.”
Meningsbee nodded, not wanting to blow Kitty’s cover.
“And since you probably were friends,” continued Cam, “I apologize for not getting ahold of you sooner.”
Meningsbee inquired, “Is there a problem in the marriage?”
Cam paused. “Well, not exactly. There’s a problem with Kitty.”
Meningsbee leaned forward. “Is she sick?”
“No, Pastor. It’s beyond that. She’s…well, I guess you’d have to say she’s permanently damaged.”
“I don’t understand,” said Meningsbee.
“Of course you wouldn’t,” replied Cam. “How could you? Let me put it as gently as I possibly can. Even though I did love Kitty–though I must admit to you, man to man, most of it was lust. But it did have an element of love in it. I always knew she didn’t love me. She needed me. Sometimes she even liked me. I suppose I might even have amused her from time to time. But it didn’t take long after we were married for her to start flirtin’ and eventually cattin’ around. You know what I mean, right?”
“I do,” said Meningsbee quietly.
“I didn’t think much about it,” said Cam. “I suppose I’m not a prideful man. I do know I’m not handsome or a great prize. Hell, my money barely makes me passable. But I did not expect it to happen.”
“Has she left you?” asked Meningsbee.
“No. Not physically. I mean, she’s still around.”
Cam took a breath. “About two months ago we were vacationing in Florida, and Kitty got a hankering to go water skiing. Well, I don’t even like boats that well, let alone gettin’ on two sticks and skippin’ across the stream. So she found a guide and several young folks who were going out to ski and spend the day in the sun. I knew she was attracted to one of the young men. I think she knew I knew. Well, anyway, he brought along some… what do they call’em? Recreational drugs? So they were partying really hard.
“One of the young men had never driven a boat before, so while Kitty was on her water skiis, he got behind the wheel, took off, and zoomed as fast as he could, with the boat pulling her.
“Well, they were all laughing and screaming. But right when she was about to come up on one of those–I don’t know what you call ’em–where you go up on your skis in the air?”
Meningsbee inserted. “A ramp?”
“Yeah. That’s it. Well, like I said, the boy was inexperienced and he thought since they were coming up on a ramp, he should slow the boat down. When he did, it caused her to hit the ramp at an odd angle, and she went flying into the air, straight into the ramp, head first.
“They thought she was dead at the scene. But they got her to the hospital, put her on life support. They weren’t sure what would happen next. After two weeks, she regained consciousness, but she wasn’t right.”
Cam broke down in tears as he finished the last thought. Meningsbee pushed a box of Kleenex in his direction. He took a tissue, wiped his eyes and wadded it up in his hand.
“She’s… I don’t know what’s the right word. She’s retarded. She can’t think or do for herself totally. I’ve asked the doctors, and they believe she’s stuck right where she is.”
“Now, Reverend, I know that my wedding vows say ‘in sickness and in health,’ but I’ve got to be truthful with you. I lied.
“I could tolerate that girl as long as she was healthy. But I can’t live with what’s left. I didn’t sign on to be a care-giver to a woman who was determined to cheat on me.
“She doesn’t look anything like what I wanted, and I think I would do her a horrible injustice by having her around me and despising her…well, at least despising the situation…every minute of the day.
“So you see, what I’ve got is money.”
He looked up. “I didn’t come and talk to you first. I know you preachers.”
Meningsbee interrupted. “Well, you don’t know me.”
Cam continued. “So you’re saying you wouldn’t have told me to be patient, hang in there for a while and see how it works?”
Meningsbee smiled. “Well, I might have.”
“Sir, I can’t hang in there. I’m a doer. I want things and I want ’em now. I’m not saying that makes me a good man. I’m not saying that makes me a bad man. I took on a young girl to be a lover, not a patient.
“So before I came to see you, I went to see Matreese.”
“You went to see Matreese?” asked Meningsbee, surprised.
“Yes. I didn’t meet her for very long, but I liked her. There’s a toughness and a tenderness in her that’s rare. I told her what happened to Kitty. You know, she never blinked an eye. She just listened.
“When I got all done, she interrupted me. Now listen–here’s what she said to me. She said, ‘So you want to get rid of her but you don’t want to feel bad about it, so you came here to see if I would take care of Kitty and Hapsy.’ Pastor, she blew my mind. She was right on the button.
“I told her I was willing to pay. Without cracking a smile or even moving a muscle in her face, she said, ‘You better be. You’re asking a lot.’ Long story short–well, I guess that’s not possible, is it? Well, anyway, she told me what she would require to take over the care of Kitty and Hapsy.
“She said, ‘You write me a check every month for forty thousand dollars and I’ll take on your responsibility. And I’ll do a good job.’ Can you believe that? Pastor, I married the wrong woman.
“Well, I didn’t have my calculator and it took a minute, but I figured out that was almost a half million a year. But it’s worth it to me. Hell, it’s worth it. Just to know that I don’t have to do it, but the girl’s taken care of.”
Meningsbee waited for a moment, and then realizing there was a silence, he spoke up. “Where do I come in here?”
“Matreese told me I had to come and get your approval for this deal, and also that I needed to donate five thousand dollars a month to the church.”
Meningsbee desperately tried to remain still, but the thought did cross his mind how five thousand dollars a month would help in the work.
He asked, “Will you visit them?”
“No, I won’t,” said Cam. “I suppose I should tell you that I will, but then I would just end up disappointing you. It may sound like a bad joke, but it seems that Kitty and I just ended up being ships passing in the night.”
Cam stood to his feet, stuck out his hand, and the two men shook on a most unusual deal.
When Kitty arrived–delivered, as it were–three days later, Matreese brought her to the church. Her wounds had mostly healed, except for a few scars on her head. She was lovely, with what seemed to be a permanent smile affixed to her face…and the mind of a four-year-old child.
Matreese had two little girls, and would soon have a young girl who was meant to be the mother of a flourishing woman. It would be odd.
But it would be paid for.
And God had one of his best angels at work on the job. Matreese would find a way.
And God would make all things possible.