A CAUTIONARY TALE OF HELL AND HIGH WATER
He was a swashbuckling opportunist who painted himself as a local hero, a preacher whose message was beginning to have influence beyond the locality in which it was heard. But there was a fly in the ointment in that not many knew about all his alternate activities, which were the real money-makers. Cameron Wesley was a much loved face in and around Houston and if his name was mentioned it brought a smile of recognition and a nice word or two in recommendation of his sterling character. What would these credible people think if they knew of the incredible? They’d say YOU, the bearer of such news, were the foolish one, lying, a victim of believing character assassins, who wanted to destroy a righteous Christian man who was trying to deliver the Word of God, the Words having the patina not of lies but TRUTH! Cameron NEVER lied and if you didn’t believe it, just ask him!
If you told them of dog fighting, cock fighting, puppy mills, horse trading for meat, land swindles involving endangered species and in Texas, being a petrol economy, OIL, you would most likely be run off, being called a maligner, slanderer of a good man! A recently purchased local television channel enterprise was adding to the cash flow nicely, doubling sales of books (plagiarized from lesser known screeds…did the populace think he wrote books? He can barely read his sermons). The brochures, artful religious pictures were increasing his renown even further. His homilies and sermons, quoted and discussed, were adding to his godly reputation, with an associated increase in donations to his various causes, always circuitously finding a way into his own pocket. But his well-publicized charitable donations remained curiously untraceable.
Unknown to his public, this man’s fate was becoming increasingly burdened by the weight in stones he would be required to carry on his back for each deception, deviation from grace that his defiled soul had sustained. Would he have believed such a thing? He had God’s grace, did he not? This was his belief, he was sure God led him in the direction he was meant to follow. And of course his escapades were not readily available for public consumption, grace aside. Cameron was much too clever to sully his reputation by allowing his name to be entangled in any legal wrangling with these sordid enterprises.
Grace and avarice were uncomfortable passengers in the vehicle of Cameron’s soul. But It would cause one to wonder, however, why a supposed man of God would choose the creatures of God’s kingdom as money-making tools. But as Cameron often said to himself, you just follow the easiest path to the cash! Did anyone really think, despite protestations of God’s hand pointing the way, that he had some sort of affinity or relationship with the Almighty? How naive! Can’t even the most obtuse figure out that all his paths led to Mammon? And that his endeavors were borne of covetousness and avarice? He was fond of saying he raised himself by his own bootstraps with God’s helping hand, to his present prominence but that too, is a lie. God didn’t provide it, he grasped and stole it, walking on the bodies of those from whom it was stolen! It didn’t hurt that Daddy’s money greased the wagon ruts of his journey to independent wealth!
He had his eye on a single masted sailing yacht, ocean going, an alternate source of power was the engine, when the wind wasn’t up to speed. When you got right down to it, 250,000 was right cheap and he could afford it. He was rich and in any language that spells wealthy he chortled. RICH!……I AM……RICH! His voice carried to the unblinking sun! If there had been a question as to what his money could buy, Cameron had only to point to his wife, Annalise, a former West Texas bar girl, companion to cowboys, now a Houston high society matron.
It was 750 miles from San Diego to Cabo San Lucas on the Baja peninsula and Cameron signed JimBob Cornish, his real estate lawyer, and Anson Mallon, go-between in animal matters, as mates. “I’ll go along with a landlubber sailor” said Mallon, “a man of God like you ought to be as safe as a bug in a breadbox.” We’ll have a hell of a time” promised Cameron, explaining the virtues of his boat “Every Witch Way”!
The storm boiled up just about out of nowhere, but to be more accurate they weren’t all that expert at reading weather charts, which would have warned them. Cameron, as was explained, couldn’t read much of anything, and as a boat captain, he was less than qualified. The mast, old enough to still be aluminum, carrying the radio transmitter and lights had bent in the storm, was now hanging useless, rendering radio signals unreceivable, and impossible to radio for help! By the way, how old is this tub? During the second night the boat gave up the ghost and capsized, after the storm had revisited. Everything went flying, GPS equipment, useless radio, maps, there was nothing left to do but abandon ship and “this captain ain’t going down with the boat” declared Cameron. The three swam and waded to the beach, which looked as vacant as the sky, no civilization around. They were castaways but probably as close to habitation as a walk, although who could tell and in what direction? How you gonna take a chance? See what I mean? No water, how you gonna carry water when you’re swimming? Water, water, everywhere but not a drop to drink. Same for food. “Oh get over it you whining pantywaists, there’s bound to be a town nearby.” The sun was a boiling presence in the reflecting sky and lack of water immediately began a calypso beat. White sand, white hot sun. Three mornings later, two were done and gone.
Cameron’s last words were “I’d give it all up, money, everything for some water”, as the grains of white sand fell like snow through his fingers. His swollen eyelids opened to slits, viewing puppy mill victims as they stared mournfully from their cages, bloody paws dripping from wire cuts, a torn and bleeding fighting dog, begging for help gazed with sadly accusing eyes, while the horses kicked dirt at him, then partook of clean, sparkling water! “MAKE YOURSELF AT HOME” boomed a voice from an unidentifiable place. “YOU’LL FIND IT GETS KINDA HOT AROUND THESE PARTS, PARTNER!”
“He told us we’d have a Hell of a time,” declared Anson Mallon, who could be heard but not seen. “Did he mean a Hell of a Time or Time in Hell?”