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“STUNG! A Theophilus Hornby Mystery” (Ch. 12)

23 Jun

~~ Ch. 12 ~~
Faithful Bible College’s cafeteria would never make the cover of Martha Stewart’s “The 50 Most Attractive College Dining Halls in the States,” but the meals prepared by Sissie Borden were delicious. Students often had to be asked to leave the cafeteria when it was closing because they could have seconds or thirds and the atmosphere was perfect for meeting in small groups and talking about their classes.

The other perk in the dining hall was that there was no separate faculty dining area. The teachers at FBC would eat with the students to discuss course assignments, questions about life, or just to shoot the breeze.

On every annual review of FBC’s facilities students always gave the highest marks to Miss Borden’s menus and especially the faculty regularly being available for conversation.

Although most of the tables were designed to seat 6-8 diners, there were several smaller tables in the corners of the dining hall for more private conversations.

Hornby entered the cafeteria and immediately noticed Michael Delganey sitting by himself at one of the smaller tables.

“Mind if I join you?”, Hornby asked.

“Of course, Professor Hornby. I’d be honored!” Michael stood up as Hornby took his seat.

“Michael,” Dr. Hornby said, “do you mind telling me a bit about your family and your background?”

“Well, sir, it’s kind of complicated. My family is originally from the Chicago area, but we moved away years ago.”

“Why did your family move away from Chicago?”, Hornby asked.

“It’s a bit embarrassing, but it was well known that the Delvaney family (that was our last name before . . . well, I believe I shared that with you already) were, shall we say, major players in the criminal world of Chicago. My father had nothing to do with his brother or his cousins. In fact, my Dad had shared the gospel with each of them — and was scoffed at for believing ‘all that stuff.’”

“Did you lose all contact with your family when you moved away?”, Hornby asked.

“Pretty much. I did, however, have a favorite uncle. We called him ‘Uncle Bubba.’ He was a huge man, but very gentle and friendly. When I was small he gave me horsey-back rides when he came to visit.”

“You say ‘he was.’ Is Bubba still around?”

Michael’s eyes filled with tears. “No, he passed away about a year ago. I miss him terribly. He used to take me for a ride in his beautiful Lexus.”

Hornby cautiously said, “Do you mind telling me how he died, Michael?”

“Well, sir, he was being charged with some very serious crimes. There were rumors that some key witnesses had gone missing. It appears that after celebrating being found innocent in court, he just drove off a cliff!”

“Drove off a cliff? Why would he do such a thing?”

Michael looked down. “I don’t know, Sir. The police have no explanation. There was no evidence that another car was involved or that he skidded to avoid a deer or anything like that. And I know my uncle. He would not have committed suicide!”

“Michael, I’m so sorry for your loss,” Hornby said.

“But, Dr. Hornby, that’s not the worst of it!”

“What do you mean, Michael?”

“I mean, if my uncle died without a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, he is lost forever!” Michael burst into tears, not caring if any other students saw him crying in the cafeteria.

Hornby tried to comfort Michael, but felt quite inept in his attempt. “Michael, I will be praying that the Lord will give you comfort. Please drop by my office anytime that you want to talk.”

“I will, Sir. And thank you for listening.”

As Hornby left the cafeteria, he thought to himself, I wonder why more of us don’t have that kind of love for those we care about who die without being in Jesus. Hornby also thought about how he would love to find out exactly why Bubba drove over that cliff.

 

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