A Great and Dreadful Day, Part VI: The Third Nephite

The catch-all forum for general topics and debates. Minimal moderation. Rated PG to PG-13.
_Bob Bobberson
_Emeritus
Posts: 110
Joined: Thu Apr 14, 2011 6:39 pm

A Great and Dreadful Day, Part VI: The Third Nephite

Post by _Bob Bobberson »

Part SIX


The Third Nephite




“Therefore, more blessed are ye, for ye shall never taste of death; but ye shall live to behold all the doings of the Father unto the children of men, even until all things shall be fulfilled according to the will of the Father, when I shall come in my glory with the powers of heaven. And ye shall never endure the pains of death; but when I shall come in my glory ye shall be changed in the twinkling of an eye from mortality to immortality; and then shall ye be blessed in the kingdom of my Father. And again, ye shall not have pain while ye shall dwell in the flesh, neither sorrow save it be for the sins of the world; and all this will I do because of the thing which ye have desired of me, for ye have desired that ye might bring the souls of men unto me, while the world shall stand.”

--3 Nephi 28:7-9




- FIFTY -


“Did you see the paper this morning?”
“No. Why?”
“There was a fall. Someone fell out of the Eldorado in Reno. They fell from one of the upper floors. Over twenty stories.”
“Fell? How is that possible? Those casinos are stringent about safety. You can’t even open the windows, or if you can, you can only open them a crack.”
“I’m just telling you what it says in the paper.”
“Okay. Sorry. I didn’t mean to get snippy.”
“Don’t worry about it.”
“So I assume the guy’s dead?”
“Oh, yeah. There’s no way you would survive a fall from that height.”
“I wonder what he was doing. Was he leaning up against the glass and it gave way? Or what? Or was he drunk?”
“There really aren’t many details in the article. They don’t even have a name for the guy.”
“That’s a shame.”

* * *

“How did it happen? You were told to be more careful than this.”
“We were careful. I don’t think anyone could have foreseen things playing out in this way.”
“You’re a fool. You never should have left him by himself. It’s akin to two missionaries staying by each other’s side, and you were the senior companion.”
“I’m sorry.”
“As you should be. But that won’t remedy the situation. Phone calls need to be made.”
“What do you want me to do?”
“I don’t want you to do anything. You’ve done more than enough already. You are hereby released from your calling.”
“But… With all due respect, I feel there’s more for me to do. The Lord hasn’t finished with me in this regard.”
“Elder, you are treading a fine line of insubordination. You are to do as you’ve been told. And what you have been told is that you have been released from your calling. Now go thou and sin no more.”

* * *

“Who should we contact?”
“As few people as possible. Contact only those at the highest levels of authority, except where doing so would place people in excessively compromising positions. Make certain that loyalty is assured. Remind them of their covenants. Remind them of potential disciplinary action, if necessary.”
“Yes, sir.”
“Has the matter in Washington state been settled?”
“Yes, I believe so. Both the deputy sheriff and the medical examiner are brothers of ours.”
“Good. And in Reno?”
“We have men in place there as well.”
“Good, good. And how are they handling things?”
“As well as one might expect. We hadn’t anticipated anything of this magnitude.”
“Yes, I realize that. It was inevitable that the Adversary would place obstacles in our path.”
“This is one heck of an obstacle.”
“That it is. That it is, my dear friend.”

* * *

“Have you seen this, Elder?”
“No. What is it?”
“A man fell out of the Eldorado hotel-casino in Reno. That would be newsworthy in and of itself, but it ought to interest you for another reason.”
“How so?”
“Well the papers haven’t released a name, but I found out by other means that this man—he’s one of ours. His name is Jarod Kreditor.”
“Kreditor? Is he any relation to Alma Kreditor? The mine people? Those Kreditors?”
“The very same.”
“That’s terrible. What a tragedy for their family.”
“Yes, it certainly is. He worked for Church security, he did.”
“Is that so?”
“Yes. I didn’t know him well, but I knew who he was.”
“It’s a terrible loss.”
“It sure is.”
“Wait just a moment, though. You said he worked for Church security? Was Church security assigned to the Eldorado?”

* * *

“What in damnation are they doing? Why was he in a suite? Had the room been registered in his name?”
“That, among other things, is what I’m trying to determine.”
“Was he with any others? Was he there alone, or were there others from among the twelve who met with President Pitt?”
“I don’t know. I’ve been trying to move as quickly as possible but there are already other forces in play. There are elements that are working against us.”
“This is an outrage. What could he possibly be thinking? Is he trying to besmirch the lot of us? He’s lost his mind.”
“Well I think we can all agree that this needs to be handled with caution.”
“Yes. Absolutely. It’s a very delicate matter.”
“I’m certain that people will be cautious with what they know.”
“I will pray for that to be so.”
“Me too.”
“Very well, then. Get back to work and update me the second you know anything further.”

* * *

“We were able to convince both a brother and a sister to step forward. They will give conflicting accounts.”
“Good.”
“The sense will be that it was an accident.”
“It was an accident. There can be no other explanation for it.”

* * *

“One question no one seems to be asking is: Who pushed him? The notion that he simply fell seems ridiculous on its face.”
“How ridiculous is it, though? Couldn’t it just be that the window wasn’t firmly in place? That it was loose or whatever?”
“Suppose that’s the case. If so, how is it that he would have found himself leaning up against the window? What scenario can you envision where that would take place? I’m just not seeing it.”
“You’re better at visualizing things like that than I am.”
“That’s why I used to do what I did.”
“Okay. So what if he slipped, then?”
“Again: possible, but unlikely. The way he fell, the position of his body. This suggests him being pushed. And remember that some of the testimony they sent said that there were two people who fell out of the building.”
“Oh. I didn’t know that.”
“Well, that’s neither here nor there.”
“So you think it was one of the apostates who pushed him?”
“Who else would have done it?”
“I don’t know.”
“There’s one other thing that supports my theory. Do you know what that is?”
“No, what?”
“He had drawn his gun.”

* * *

“Were we able to get it back?”
“Yes. You-know-who didn’t arrive at the scene soon enough to handle matters there, but it was made to disappear from the evidence room.
“It is an antique. An artifact that belongs to the Church.”
“And it is back in our possession, right where it belongs.”

* * *

“What about the surveillance within the hotel? Might that be an avenue worth exploring?”
“We don’t have the right people in place to do that. And ultimately the decision has been made to treat it like an accident.”
“It’s going to look fishy. People are going to ask questions.”
“It already looks fishy. But we’ve got our people in place and they’ll supply all the answers to the questions.”

* * *

“What name was the room in?”
“Huh?”
“The suite. The room or whatever. The registration. Whose name was it in?”
“Oh. I see what you mean. You’re going to love this. It’s listed as ‘Heber J. Kishkumen.’”
“Oh, now that’s funny. Real cute. Rubbing our noses in it. They just relish in it.”
“They sure do. Bunch of scumbags.”
“A bunch of Korihors.”
“Ain’t that the truth.”

* * *

“I can’t shake this feeling. We know that some people claim that they saw two—two, and not one—people fall out of the building. What if they’re telling the truth? This really, really bothers me. We’ve been called upon to do the right thing, and to demonstrate our obedience. And we know that the Adversary is working against us. But what if… Naw. I can’t say it. It makes me feel sick.”
“And it doesn’t matter either way. Our job is to act righteously. Wait, though. Are you actually saying that you think that it could have been him, manifested in the flesh?”
“That’s exactly what I’m saying.”
“That is a scary thought.”
“I know.”

* * *

“It’s a test. Of course it’s a test. This is not the first time the Saints have been faced with adversity. This isn’t the first time we’ve faced challenges from the Adversary, nor is it the first time we’ve been tasked with responding in kind. The scriptures are filled with the accounts of men who were asked to do such things by the Lord. Early in the Book of Mormon we are told that Nephi was commanded to cut off the head of Laban. Nephi was a righteous man, and he was not inclined towards violence, but he was also an obedient man, and when the Lord commanded him to do this, he did as he was told. It can be read in a symbolic way as well. It teaches us a lesson about obedience, but it can be understood from the standpoint of strategy as well. When Nephi smote off Laban’s head, he delivered a terrifically powerful blow against the Adversary. All of which is to say that I think you know what I’m getting at here, Elder.”
“Yes, I do. But we still don’t know his name. It’s remarkable. It’s practically as if he doesn’t exist.”
“Clearly, though, he does. And I want his name.”
“And you shall have it.”
“Don’t let me down.”
“I will not fail you.”


Next time: Bennett's test....
_Dr. Shades
_Emeritus
Posts: 14117
Joined: Mon Oct 23, 2006 9:07 pm

Re: A Great and Dreadful Day, Part VI: The Third Nephite

Post by _Dr. Shades »

WOW!!

As a certain little English girl once said, "Curiouser and curiouser. . ."
"Finally, for your rather strange idea that miracles are somehow linked to the amount of gay sexual gratification that is taking place would require that primitive Christianity was launched by gay sex, would it not?"

--Louis Midgley
_malkie
_Emeritus
Posts: 2663
Joined: Mon Oct 01, 2007 11:03 pm

Re: A Great and Dreadful Day, Part VI: The Third Nephite

Post by _malkie »

Heber J. Kishkumen?

He's not a Seedy Academician, is he?
NOMinal member

Maksutov: "... if you give someone else the means to always push your buttons, you're lost."
_Bob Bobberson
_Emeritus
Posts: 110
Joined: Thu Apr 14, 2011 6:39 pm

Re: A Great and Dreadful Day, Part VI: The Third Nephite

Post by _Bob Bobberson »

- FIFTY-ONE -



They left immediately, following a series of dirt roads and out-of-the-way, two-lane highways. Sam rode with Cathy and Don; Bennett traveled with Christian. They wound their way northwards, and then east into Utah, which seemed like a bad idea to Sam, but he didn’t say anything. At one point Bennett called on the mobile phone and asked to speak to Cathy. She sat there listening for what seemed like a long time, and then she hung up and told Don to pull over. Just up ahead was a turn-off leading down a dirt road, and so Don slowed down and stopped on the shoulder.

“Where are we?” asked Sam. “And why are we stopping?”

“We’re just past the Utah/Nevada border,” said Don.

“We’re stopped because you’re changing cars. So get your coat and head on over to Bennett’s car. He wants you to drive.”

“All right,” said Sam, hesitantly. He pulled on his coat and stepped outside. Christian was walking towards him.

“Drive safe,” he said, and he put the keys in Sam’s hand.

Sam watched him get into the back seat of the other car, and then he climbed into the driver’s seat of Bennett’s black Buick and started the engine. The interior of this car was dimmer on account of the heavily tinted windows. Sam glanced over his shoulder at Bennett in the back seat. Beside him on the seat was an open briefcase filled with folders, along with Bennett’s phone, and a copy of the newspaper. Bennett had one of the file folders open on his lap.

“Hello, Mr. Younger,” he said, without looking up. “Let’s get going. We don’t have any time to waste.”

Sam started the engine and they drove off, following Don’s lead.

“Where are we going?”

“We need to make certain that we don’t have any tails. After that, we’ll be meeting up in Utah.”

There was very little traffic on the roads, and yet Sam found himself looking again and again in the rearview mirror—checking to see if they were being followed, and also to see what Bennett was up to, which wasn’t much, apart from being absorbed in whatever it was he was reading. At one point he dialed a number on his phone and spoke for a while, though Sam couldn’t really make out what he was saying. After he hung up, he cleared his throat.

“Sam,” he said, “I want to thank you for what you did yesterday.”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean your prompt response to the phone call that was made to you. I appreciate the fact that you hustled straight over to the Eldorado. It means a lot to me. Above all, it tells me I can trust you.”

Sam blinked and looked at Bennett’s reflection in the rearview. “Yeah,” he said. “No problem.”

Bennett met his gaze. He seemed to be nodding slightly, and thinking, perhaps—his expression was difficult to read. “I suppose Cathy and Christian told you what happened.”

“A little,” said Sam. “But I have to admit that I feel like I’m still in the dark.”

“That’s going to change pretty quickly.”

“Oh yeah?”

“Yes.”

Sam waited for Bennett to finish the thought, but nothing happened. When he looked again in the rearview, Bennett had again diverted his attention back to the folders. And then:

“Sam, can I ask you a question? What are your thoughts on Jesus?”

“My thoughts on Jesus?”

“Yes. What’s your opinion of Jesus Christ.”

“I don’t know what you mean.”

“I mean, simply, what do you think of him?”

“You mean, like, do I believe in the atonement?”

“Sure.”

He thought about it. “To be honest, I don’t know any more.”

“You don’t believe that Christ rose from the dead. You don’t believe in resurrection.”

“I mean I don’t know. When I was still faithful in the Church, I would have said that I believed it, but any more: who knows? I guess I don’t know what I believe. As for Jesus, though—I guess I’m still not sure what you’re asking me.”

“Do you think he was a real person?”

“Yeah, sure. I mean, there’s historical evidence for that, isn’t there?”

Bennett seemed to nod slightly. “What about his divinity?”

“I think that’s pretty much along the same lines as the resurrection.”

“If you view him as a man, then—as an historical figure—what is your opinion of him? Would you agree that he was a powerful person?”

Up ahead, Don’s car seemed as if it was speeding up slightly, and so Sam stepped on the gas pedal. “Yeah, I guess so.”

“What does he represent to you?”

“Nothing.”

“Nothing at all? What about redemption? If you and I were to agree that Christ symbolizes redemption, what would that mean, in your mind?”

“I always understood it to mean that you could be cleansed of your sins.”

Bennett closed his eyes briefly. “That’s not at all what it means, nor is that what Christ’s story represents. What people want it to mean is eternal life. People are afraid of dying.”

“I can’t disagree with that.”

Bennett was again smiling his odd smile. “But Christ never asked anything of us. We owe him nothing.”

Sam frowned. “He gave up his life for us.”

“Did he?”

“Well, yeah. I mean, if you’re a believer, he did.”

“Did you ask him to do that for you? Did anyone?”

“No.”

“What did he get in exchange for it?”

Sam shook his head. “I don’t think I’m following,” he said. “He died and it was a sacrifice so that humankind could be redeemed. I mean, that’s the story, right? That’s what we’re supposed to take away from it? Besides, I’m not a believer any more so I don’t see why it matters.”

“How does it not matter? I think you do see, Sam. I think you realize that Christ earned his own immortality at our expense. He lives on some thousands of years after his death, not having to suffer, not having to endure the endless conflicts that have arisen on account of his empty promises. Not only does he live on, he’s worshipped. People fear him every bit as much as they claim to love him.”

“Okay,” said Sam.

Bennett was staring directly into the reflection of Sam’s eyes in the rearview mirror. “Do you know who those men were, Sam? The ones at the Eldorado?”

“I assumed they were Church Security.”

“In a manner of speaking, I suppose that’s true. You’re lucky to have escaped from them. Some of us weren’t nearly so lucky.”

“You mean DeWitt?”

“Yes.”

“Cathy said it was suicide.”

“You tell me—” said Bennett. “How often is it that a man commits suicide by cutting his own throat from ear to ear?”

“How do you know?” said Sam.

“Because it’s my business to know.”

Sam glanced at the rearview again, but Bennett had looked away. Sam realized that the phone was ringing, and Bennett had turned to answer it. He heard Bennett say something about Ogden, and then he hung up and punched in a number, and based on the subsequent things he said, it was clear that he was talking to Christian in the other car.

When he was done, he set the phone aside and said, “It looks like we can definitively move forward with our plans. Just follow Don. We’ve got a friend in Ogden who can offer us safe harbor while we finalize everything.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” said Sam.

Bennett looked up at him. “I think you know what it means, Sam. We’re going to take care of the ones who’ve betrayed us. Every last one of them.”




It was dark by the time they arrived at a modest brick house in a suburban neighborhood in Ogden. They parked on the street and filed up to the front door, where a woman named Lucile greeted them. She had short, silvery hair and a long, rather horse-like face. Inside, they met her twin sister, Lucinda, who was a spitting image of Lucile, save for the fact that her hair was longer. If it hadn’t been for that, Sam doubted that he would have been able to tell them apart. Lucinda led Sam around, showing him where he’d sleep, and so on. Sam was to share a room with Don. Meanwhile, Bennett spoke with Lucile and Cathy in the dining room, where pleasant smells were emanating from a dutch oven on the stove. Lucinda had Sam help set the table, and then they all sat down to eat, save for Bennett, who was off making phone calls and settling arrangements. As they finished up with the meal, people began to arrive at the house, and the two Lucys took turns getting up to answer the door. A couple of the new arrivals seemed familiar—possibly people that Sam had seen at the conference, but for the most part they were new faces to him. Cathy helped Lucile, Lucinda, and Don clear away the dishes, and then they all gathered around as Bennett took a spot at the head of the table.

“My friends,” he began, “we have much to discuss.”

A silver haired man who’d taken up a position at the corner of the table interjected: “We’ve been hearing rumors about DeWitt and Gary. Would you care to fill us in on the details?”

“I don’t know all the details,” said Bennett, “but surely it’s not hard to figure out. DeWitt has a been major source of funding for us, so of course he was a logical target.”

“Is he okay?” asked one of the new women.

The silver-haired man said bitterly: “He’s dead. It was made to look like a suicide.”

The woman turned pale and looked over to Bennett, who was impassive and implacable at the head of the table. “These acts are a sign of desperation,” he said.

“That’s not what I heard.” This was another of the new faces—an extremely well-dressed, well-composed woman in her fifties. She looked wealthy—like she was a business executive or a lawyer, perhaps.

Bennett tilted his head to the side, like a dog hearing an odd sound. “By all means, Phyllis. Tell us what you know.”

“Yes, by all means,” added the silver-haired man. “What news comes from 50 N. East Temple?”

She shot him a look and the smugness evaporated from his face.

“It’s something to do with Elder Pitt,” she said, “but no one seems to know what.”

“You know this for certain?” said Bennett.

“I didn’t say that, nor did my contact say that. Rather, there is suspicion that Pitt is up to something.”

Christian spoke up: “So it’s true, then, that President Baylor is incapacitated?”

“Oh, yes,” she said. “There’s no question about that. He’s definitely failing.”

“So maybe this is Pitt making a preemptory move to seize control.”

Phyllis held up her finger: “There’s something else, too, though I’m not sure if it’s related.” She paused for a moment, perhaps to swallow, or to gather her breath. “There is some rumor floating around about a revelation.”

“Yeah, right,” said Christian, and he was laughing slightly.

“Not a formal revelation, was it?” asked Don.

“I don’t know for sure,” said Phyllis. “All I know is that President Baylor apparently got some revelation and that there is contention among the Brethren concerning the validity of it.”

People at the table looked at one another and frowned.

“When was the last time that the Church announced an official revelation?” asked Sam.

“1978,” said the silver-haired man. “It was the granting of the priesthood to blacks.”

“That wasn’t a real revelation,” said Christian. “That was just the Church caving in to social pressure.”

“I’m just sayin’.”

Bennett held up his hand for order. “The real point,” he said, “is that we have reason to believe that there is contention among the leaders of the Church. Phyllis, do you know anything about the content of the revelation?”

She shook her head. “My source didn’t know.”

“I wonder if the revelation is in some way linked to the activities we’ve observed. Perhaps it has something to do with President Pitt’s behavior.”

There had been a low hum of chatter around the table in the wake of Phyllis’s comments, but now it all dwindled away and everyone turned to Bennett.

“Clearly,” he said, “there is division and contention within the Church at this time, which means we need to act now.” Both of his hands were flat on the table. “I doubt that there has ever been a time in any of our lives when we’ve had such an ideal opportunity lying at our feet.”

“Are you sure that’s wise, given everything that’s happened? The Church’s antennas are up,” said the silver-haired man, whose name, Cathy whispered to Sam, was Rex Jorgenson.

“I realize that, Rex,” said Bennett. “But bear with me, and measure out all of the confluences. We have a situation where the Church has sent people out to attack us. There is some kind of schism among the Brethren, and the Prophet is knocking at death’s door. The time to move is now—to steal in, like a thief in the night.”

Rex Jorgenson merely nodded his big, saturnine, silver-haired head.

“I trust each of you implicitly,” said Bennett. “You all know what to do. I will be arranging a meeting with our man in Draper in the next couple of days and we’ll look to carry out our plans by the end of the week.” He stood up. “That’s all. I’ll be in touch. Stay on your toes and stay safe.”

Where he sat, Sam was baffled. He watched as people mulled about, muttering to each other, nodding goodbye, and he saw Bennett gesture to Christian, who moved over so that Bennett could whisper something in his ear. Christian nodded, and then he walked over to Sam.

“Come with me,” he said, and they moved quickly over to a corner of the kitchen. “Don’t ask any questions, and don’t “F” around,” said Christian, and he put a set of car keys into Sam’s hand. “What you’re going to do is get into my car, start it up, and leave the headlights off. Once we’re done talking, you go and get your coat, and go out and sit in the car. You wait there until I come out, and then you follow me in the car. And keep your goddamn distance. It shouldn’t be obvious to anyone that you’re following me. You understand?”

“Yeah, I guess so. What the hell is this about?”

Christian looked vaguely ill. “Don’t you know? It’s about a little dough-head. Now go get your coat.”

Sam did as he was told, and as he went to exit the house through the side door, he caught sight of Christian patting Rex Jorgenson on the shoulder.

Outside the air was cold and very dry and the stars hung palely overhead. The arms of the trees were threadbare and emaciated in the light cast by the streetlamps. A few of the other people from the meeting were filtering out of the house and fanning out towards their cars on the street. Sam went around and got into the front seat of Christian’s car and waited. He leaned back so that, with the car’s tinted windows, it would be more difficult to see him sitting there.

Before long, Christian and Rex emerged from the house and strode down the sidewalk. Rex was smiling and laughing and Christian was staring out, straight ahead. As they walked past, Sam heard Christian thanking Rex for agreeing to help out with “this errand.” They went down the driveway and across the street to where Rex’s minivan was parked. Sam waited until it pulled away, and then he started the engine and began following them.

It was close to 11:00 p.m. as Sam drove through the deserted streets of Ogden. It was difficult to maintain enough distance on Rex’s minivan given the sparseness of the traffic. Sam had to make sure that he didn’t wind up side-by-side with the minivan at an abandoned traffic light, which sometimes meant pulling over to the side of the road. Eventually, the minivan turned into the parking lot of a 7-Eleven, and Christian climbed out and went inside. From where he sat, he could see Rex Jorgenson moving in his seat inside the minivan. The white reverse lights pulsed on and off, which meant that Rex was putting the car into or out of gear, and Sam wondered if he would try to drive away. Sam watched the grey exhaust stream out of the tail pipe like smoke from a cigarette. Then Christian emerged from the 7-Eleven carrying a small paper bag, and he climbed back into the passenger’s seat. Sam held his ground, and then he began following them again.

After a few minutes, it became evident to Sam that they had passed into a shabbier neighborhood. The cars on the street were more beat-up, and there were more apartment complexes—more trash and litter on the street. Was this where Rex lived? Sam maintained his distance and watched the minivan disappear down an alley. He sat there, the car idling, unsure of whether he should follow, and so he waited, listening intently, until he heard a strange noise, like a bottle being uncorked. A minute or two passed, and Sam glanced out to see Christian striding rapidly across the way, both his hands stuffed into the pockets of his coat, and with his breath rising in visible, vaporous streams from his mouth and nose, which was already red from the cold. He jumped into the passenger seat and said, “Let’s go.”

Sam immediately pulled away from the curb. “I don’t know where I am,” he said.

“It doesn’t matter right now,” said Christian. “Just drive for a while. Let me get my bearings.”

“All right,” said Sam, and he just drove.

It was strange, the way the town was lit at night. Everything slept, and yet there were parking lots and gas stations all lit up, scarcely any different from the daytime, apart from the emptiness. The loneliness. Sam made his way clear to the edge of town, and then turned back around and drove further along, until they found themselves in an unfamiliar suburban neighborhood. Some of the houses here had strung up Christmas lights and other holiday decorations. It looked both festive and lonesome. At one point, as they drove, Christian adjusted the radio until it was tuned to what turned out to be the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, singing Christmas songs.

“Well, how about that,” he said. They had been driving for 15 minutes in silence. “That’s one thing that I could never really get mad at or upset about in Mormonism—the Tabernacle Choir. I still listen to them every Christmas. So great. So beautiful.”

He seemed to lose himself in reverie for a moment, and then he told Sam to make a right at the next streetlight. “This’ll get us back to the Lucy's place,” he said. Then: “Did you hear anything, Sam? While you were sitting there waiting?”

“No,” said Sam. “I didn’t hear anything.”

“That’s good,” said Christian. “Hopefully it’ll just look like Rex got himself into trouble with drugs. A deal gone bad.” He laughed a little. “All the cops out here are LDS. They’ll think that he was just yet another apostate junkie who left the Church so he could sin, and that this was his just desserts.”

“How did you figure out that it was Rex?” asked Sam. “How did you know it was him?”

Christian shrugged. “I didn’t know, but Bennett did somehow,” he said. “Bennett has his ways.”



...Next time: Elder Pitt contemplates his next moves...
_Dr. Shades
_Emeritus
Posts: 14117
Joined: Mon Oct 23, 2006 9:07 pm

Re: A Great and Dreadful Day, Part VI: The Third Nephite

Post by _Dr. Shades »

Do the ends justify the means?

If not, then the line dividing "the good guys" and "the bad guys" becomes blurry indeed.
"Finally, for your rather strange idea that miracles are somehow linked to the amount of gay sexual gratification that is taking place would require that primitive Christianity was launched by gay sex, would it not?"

--Louis Midgley
_Bob Bobberson
_Emeritus
Posts: 110
Joined: Thu Apr 14, 2011 6:39 pm

Re: A Great and Dreadful Day, Part VI: The Third Nephite

Post by _Bob Bobberson »

- FIFTY-TWO -

Once again, there was blood. Elder Pitt had been bleeding like this on and off for a few weeks now, but he hadn’t yet told his doctor about it, nor had he told his wife, Margery. After all, it would always clear up after a day or two, only to return a few days later. Now, each morning, he had begun to dread its reappearance. It was as if he was decaying from the inside out—as if some piece of this wicked world had surreptitiously made its way into his body, polluting him. He knew in his bones that he would be entirely reconstituted—down to each and every molecule—in the Celestial Kingdom, and he knew that if his faith was strong enough, he could very easily dispel his fears. So he said a silent prayer as he went about his business that morning.

When Elder Milne arrived to take him to Temple Square, Pitt paused to gather his thoughts and review his schedule. Today he was to meet with representatives from the mission efforts in South America. That would take up at least an hour and a half of his morning. Then there was the issue concerning who would dedicate the new temple in Florida. This wouldn’t take place for some time yet, but some of the Brethren insisted on discussion well ahead of time. Then of course he needed to meet with Elders Brotherton and White. White in particular had been rattled over what had taken place in Reno. Pitt was more than satisfied that the matter had been taken care of by the appropriate people, but some of the Brethren needed additional reassurance.

“Well, President Pitt,” said Elder Milne, who still had signs of baby fat in his young face. “Are we all set to go?”

“Don’t rush me, young man,” he said. He was sitting on the lime-green sofa in the living room. In spite of his position in the Church, Pitt lived quite a modest life. He lived in an ordinary, ranch-style house in an ordinary neighborhood near Sugar House Park, and he was proud of this. His home, he felt, had been both a beacon and an anchor during the troubles of the past decade. But there was another reason he was proud of his modesty. He well knew that ministries in other churches featured clergy who profited handsomely from their positions. This wasn’t so in the LDS Church. Pitt could still remember when, back in the ‘70s, the First Presidency began to insist that the Brethren cease their associations with corporations. Many of the Brethren in older times had been the heads of successful companies, but this move towards unpaid or minimally paid clergy was entirely proper, in Pitt’s view. The Lord’s anointed needed not the things of the world.

“Elder Milne,” said Pitt, glancing again at the itinerary in his hand. “Why is there nothing listed in this block of time in the afternoon?”

The dark-suited younger man leaned down to get a better look, and Pitt could smell his cologne.

“I don’t know, President Pitt,” he said. “I think Sister Phillips said it was confidential.”

Pitt hadn’t the foggiest idea what he was talking about, but he nodded anyhow. “Right, of course,” he said. “I remember now.” He hunched forward and put his hands on his knees and went to stand up but found that he felt very weak and lightheaded.

“Sir, are you okay?” said Milne.

“Help me, damn it! Don’t just stand there like an idiot.”

“I’m so sorry, President Pitt.” He hooked his arm through Pitt’s and helped the apostle to his feet. “Maybe we should get you to a doctor?”

“No, no, I’m fine,” said Pitt. “And I have a busy day ahead of me, so let’s get moving.”

Milne led him out into the bright December morning, cold and brittle and beautiful, with the sun shining gloriously above the peaks of the Wasatch to the east. Pitt had spent virtually his entire life along the Wasatch front, and he never tired of its beauty. It really was Zion, just as Brigham Young had said. He got into the back seat of the car and sat in silence as they drove to Temple Square.

Things had been so busy and momentous as of late that Pitt scarcely had any time anymore to pause and reflect. His life had been transformed into a whirlwind in the wake of President Baylor’s revelation, and his responsibilities had doubled after the prophet became incapacitated. And there was still the matter of informing the rest of the Brethren about the revelation—a task which needed to be addressed later this week, on Thursday, during the weekly meeting of the Quorum of the Twelve and the First Presidency. Pitt felt himself up to the challenge of relaying the message, though he knew it would not be an easy task. The spirit of contention was to be felt amongst some of the Brethren, especially Elder Steele. Ultimately, the role of the Brethren, Pitt felt, was to usher forth the Second Coming, and to guide—via the Lord’s hand—the growth of the kingdom on Earth. Joseph Smith had paved the way for the restoration of the gospel, and it was up to the contemporary Brethren to maintain and extend that legacy—to guide the saints into the next millennium.

Pitt thought back to the day in September when President Baylor had told him of the revelation, and he felt a small twinge of jealousy. He had of course read the histories of the old apostles and prophets—he’d looked through some of their diaries following some of the troubles with the Sunstone people and the historians at BYU—and so he was aware that certain kinds of revelations and visions had diminished since that time. The Brethren during the 19th Century were committed to persevering until each of them, on account of his faith, had seen the Lord Jesus Christ in the flesh. These men had seen the savior, by way of a personal visitation. In the 20th century though, this sort of witnessing gradually came to be replaced by powerful spiritual assurance received through the Holy Ghost. Or, at least, that was Pitt’s impression. It was a subject that the Brethren treated with both reverence and reticence. When Pitt had been a junior apostle, and when Elder Hafen was in the process of mentoring him, he had been counseled to seek after one of these visions. Of course he did as he was told, and just as with all of the other General Authorities, he had felt a burning conviction that the Church was true, and that Christ was the Savior. But the fact remained that, even now in his eighty-fourth year, he still hadn’t seen Christ in the flesh. Nor had he ever experienced a vision on a par with what President Baylor had witnessed. He knew not why, and he lacked the ability to conceive of a reason why the Lord would deprive him of such things. He had, to his mind, lived an exemplary spiritual life. His calling and election had been made sure.

As the car roared on and as they drew closer to Temple Square, Pitt simply reassured himself that these concerns were the flaws of a fallible man. Everyone, he knew, has been given a special set of challenges to overcome on the way to salvation, and this was merely a small obstacle that the Lord had placed in his path.



...Next time: Elder Steele makes his move...
_Bob Bobberson
_Emeritus
Posts: 110
Joined: Thu Apr 14, 2011 6:39 pm

Re: A Great and Dreadful Day, Part VI: The Third Nephite

Post by _Bob Bobberson »

- FIFTY-THREE -

It was midway through the morning when the final pieces of the puzzle fell into place for Elder Steele. The key bit of evidence was the presence at the Eldorado of Elder Jarod Kreditor, who had been working for Church Security. He had technically been on-duty at the time of the accident, though obviously there was no reason that anyone could determine for an agent of Church Security to be at the Eldorado at that time. This fact presented two problems for Steele, the most immediate of which was the possibility that this information could in some way be used against the Church. In the wrong hands, the information could be spun so as to suggest that the Church was using its security team to conduct surveillance and intelligence-gathering and other perhaps worse things of that nature. Of course, that is precisely what Church Security was supposed to do—particularly in the wake of the recent bombing—but the outside world, especially the Church’s critics, wouldn’t necessarily see things that way. Great strides had been made in terms of aiding and improving the Church’s image, and something like this—if it were to wind up in the wrong hands—would represent a major setback.

The second problem was that someone clearly ordered Kreditor to that location, and given that Kreditor was among the 12 men who had secretly met with some of the Brethren in Holliday, Steele suspected that Pitt was ultimately at fault. After praying on the matter, and after consulting with Grant Toynbee, Steele was of the opinion that Elder Pitt needed to be rebuked. He still wasn’t entirely sure what Pitt’s orders had entailed, though it was now apparent that, whatever the case, his recklessness had gotten someone killed. Perhaps even more grave was the fact that he was using his position in the Church to do so. It was time to act.

Steele immediately had his secretary arrange a meeting with Odell Swift, who worked out of the FBI office. He knew that Rulon Cook, head of Church Security, was loyal to Pitt, and hardheaded to boot, and would therefore offer little in the way of help. Besides, Steele already had a Church Security contact in the person of Grant Toynbee. But Odell Swift, he knew, was likely to occupy a position of authority within this peculiar quorum that Pitt had arranged, and furthermore, Steele was old friends with the family of Swift’s wife, who was a second cousin of Steele’s own wife. So this was his best means of effecting an intervention of some kind on whatever it was that Pitt was doing.

That afternoon, when Odell arrived at Steele’s office, he ducked slightly as he came through the door.

“I think you are actually getting taller, Odell,” said Steele.

“Well, some days I feel like I’m shrinking, Elder Steele.”

The two men shook hands, and Steele instructed Odell Swift to take a seat. Sitting there, with his long, spidery limbs, Swift seemed too big for the chair.

“So how’s Sister Swift?” Steele asked.

“Oh, she’s good. Doing fine. Busy with baking and what-have-you for the Christmas season. The house always smells good when I come home.”

“That’s wonderful,” said Steele. Then he leaned back slightly in his seat and switched gears: “Now, Odell,” Steele began. “I would imagine that you know why I’ve summoned you here today.”

Swift raised and lowered his huge hands on his legs. “Haven’t a clue,” he said. He had sad, drooping eyes that were nonetheless cold and focused. That is: he simultaneously gave off the impression of both gentleness and angularity.

Steele frowned and rested his hands on the desktop. “What I’m hoping is that you and I can have a frank conversation about a certain matter.”

Swift’s face was expressionless.

“Now, I know that you and eleven other men met with some of the Brethren not long ago. Including President Pitt.” Steele carefully watched Swift’s face, to see if he showed any sign of reaction, but there was nothing. “And now, Odell, we have this business in Reno. You do know what I’m talking about, don’t you?”

Swift stared back at him for what seemed a very long time, and then he let out a long sigh and cast his gaze downwards. “It’s about obedience, Elder Steele. And about covenants. All of us pledged oaths with President Pitt.”

Steele nodded. “I understand that. And I also want you to understand that whatever is said in this room will remain private—at least so far as I am able to help it. Is that clear? And you need to remember, Odell, that I am your priesthood superior, just as Elder Pitt is.”

“I realize that,” said Odell Swift, and he swallowed, his big Adam’s apple bobbing on his neck.

At this point, Steele was confident that he had played his cards exactly right. Of all the twelve men on the list, of course Odell Swift was the most likely to feel conflicted. “Now then,” he went on, “can you tell me why Elder Jarod Kreditor was at the Eldorado in Reno?”

“He and Elder Higbee were following a lead. We were tasked with tracking down apostates.”

“Which apostates?”

“Dangerous ones. Apostates with a mind to cause harm to the Church.”

“Of course,” said Steele. “President Pitt has always been especially defensive when it comes to that. All of us are, naturally. But I have to ask you this, Odell: what is more likely to do damage to the Church—its enemies, or loyal members who behave recklessly?”

“I don’t have an answer to that.”

“What do you think would happen if it were to come to light that leaders in the Church had arranged for a quorum of men to track down and pursue apostates? And what was the end goal supposed to be? When you found and located these ‘dangerous’ apostates, what were you supposed to do with them?”

Odell Swift stared back impassively.

“My God,” said Steele. “This isn’t what the Church is supposed to be about. The LDS Church must—it must be a force for good in the world. We have not been tasked with exacting revenge or meting out justice upon those who have threatened, insulted, or harmed us. That is God’s role. I know in my heart, Odell, that you feel the same way.”

At this, Odell Swift’s composure loosened and he lowered his head and brought his huge hand up to rub his brow.

“Now I won’t force you to violate the oath you took, Odell. But I do expect you to help me set things right. We have to put an immediate end to this. Is that understood?”

“Yes, I understand. Please believe me when I tell you that I was acting out of obedience to my priesthood leaders.”

“I do understand, Odell. I do. But now is the time to set things right. You need to send out word post-haste that all activities of this quorum are to cease immediately. You can tell them that this carries with it the authority of both the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles—in the form of myself—and the First Presidency—in the form of Elder Walker.”

“President Pitt claims authority in the absence of President Baylor. Counselor Marshall was there at the meeting, presiding alongside President Pitt.”

“I will attend to President Pitt at this Thursday’s temple meeting. You are to do as you’ve been told.”

“I will, Elder Steele.”

“Good. The sooner this is stopped, the sooner we can ensure that there aren’t any more messes to clean up.” Steele stood up to escort Swift out of the office. “Look after yourself, Odell. I’ll be in touch soon enough. Do be sure to send my regards to Jessica.”

“Thank you, and I will,” he said, and the two men shook hands a final time.



...Next time: Revenge is a dish best served cold...
_Bob Bobberson
_Emeritus
Posts: 110
Joined: Thu Apr 14, 2011 6:39 pm

Re: A Great and Dreadful Day, Part VI: The Third Nephite

Post by _Bob Bobberson »

- FIFTY-FOUR -


It sounded like a code word: F Vault. And the skeptical response was immediate: “How can you know for certain that you’ll find anything in there?”

Sam had sat there motionless, listening carefully as Bennett explained what he planned to do. On Sunday evening, with the bulk of the city’s Mormon population at home in honor of the Sabbath, he would lead a team of people up to Little Cottonwood Canyon. It was there, tunneled deep in the side of the mountain, that the LDS Church had constructed a series of massive vaults where various things—records, journals, artifacts, and so on—were kept. Bennett’s plan was brutally simple: they would force their way into the Church’s heavily fortified system of vaults, and they would take whatever they found there, and this would serve as their means of helping to expose the Church’s fraudulence and manipulation. Though most of the people in the group were already sold on Bennett’s plan, there were still questions.

Bennett addressed the skepticism: “We know based on information given to us from a variety of sources that there are valuable materials in the vaults. Key historical documents, diaries, and so forth. Just getting a hold of the William Clayton diary would be a real boon for us. The Church doesn’t want anyone to see what was written about Kinderhook, among other things, I’m sure, including the minutes of the Council of 50.”

“I just have a hard time seeing how we’ll be able to find anything that is definitively damning. You think that if there was really something that bad, the Church would have burned it or destroyed it by now.”

“No—you’re forgetting that Joseph Smith himself commanded the Saints to keep thorough records. Destruction of historical items would be tantamount to spitting in the prophet’s face.”

“But what about Kate B. Carter?”

“That’s just one lone sister acting out of her own volition. We’re talking about the institutional Church here.”

Sam listened to the back and forth and watched as Bennett led them all towards agreement. Watching Bennett, Sam realized how little he actually knew about this man, with his sonorous voice, his olive skin and neck-length hair. You could look at him and almost not see him. He had the quality of not quite seeming to exist, or rather, to only partially exist in the flesh. He was like a ghost. He never seemed to eat, or sleep, or grow tired. He was always animated, always on the move, always ready to steer the group wherever it needed to go. Sam had never seen or known anyone like him, and yet it was like he’d known Bennett all along, or, at least, that Bennett had known him.

And he felt a sense of excitement and satisfaction at his own role in what was happening, his own growing importance. Everything began to unfold for him as if he was living in a dream. He sat there and listened, and as a matter of course, Bennett led the people in the room to a consensus, and the final plans were sketched out. Everyone split up, and Sam bided his time.

Then on Saturday, the team gathered at a house in American Fork. There was a man there who was friendly to the cause who had a large collection of guns, ammunition, and other items. They assembled everything they needed, though the man only had three Kevlar vests for a party of five people.

“I greatly appreciate you doing this for us, Mick,” said Bennett. “But you do realize that there is a chance you won’t get these things back, and that these could be traced back to you.”

Mick shook his head. “I know that,” he said. “You guys are the ones putting your neck on the line. I figure it’s the least I could do.”

Once they were done in American Fork, Christian and two men Sam didn’t know—Lawrence and Albert—got into a green minivan and he and Bennett climbed into a midnight blue pickup, and they parted ways, with plans to meet up again tomorrow at the base of the mountains just after 10 o’clock. Then Bennett and Sam drove into Draper, to Reed Woodruff’s garage.

Reed himself was a greasy-looking man in his fifties with grimy hands and a substantial belly. He wore bifocals and a stained Utes ballcap. He came out to meet them and waved the pickup into the garage. They hopped out and Bennett went around to shake his hand.

“It’s good to see you, Reed,” he said. “I’d like you to meet Sam Younger. He helped us to take care of you-know-who.”

Reed Woodruff nodded and regarded Sam suspiciously. “All right then,” he said, and he shook Sam’s hand.

“So,” said Bennett, “how long do you expect this to take?”

“Not long,” he said. “I’ll get her installed, and we can get a good night’s sleep before I arm her and get her all set up, look her over a final time and whatnot.”
As he listened to this, Sam wondered if Reed had been the man responsible for the bomb that had blown up near Temple Square back in September.
“This has been a long time coming,” Reed continued. “I think this is the move that all of us have been waiting for.”

“I hope so, too, Reed,” said Bennett. “We’ve been extremely careful up to this point, and my sense is that this will be just the right means of striking. Frankly, I don’t see how it can fail.”

Reed Woodruff’s face turned slightly red and he smiled hugely, with yellowed and rotten teeth: “Well, you could get caught,” he said, wheezing slightly. “You could get ya self killed.”

Bennett smiled back. Sam smiled too. “There’s a clear reason why we’re doing this, Reed. It’s worth the sacrifice. If the Church winds up killing us, it’s going to be on their heads, and it’ll stir up precisely the kind of attention that’s needed.”

Reed shook his head: “God damn you old Bennett. You always got it all figured out.”

“We’ll let you get to work,” said Bennett, and he slapped Reed on the shoulder.

They climbed the short set of wooden stairs and went into the house that was attached to Reed’s garage. The interior of the house was dark, though it was still obvious in the low light that it was in desperate need of a thorough cleaning. A smell like raw meat permeated the air. Bennett found a light at the edge of the kitchen and flipped it on. Sam could see him looking into the next room.

“Well, Sam,” he said. “Now comes the hard part, which is waiting for tomorrow evening.” He smiled, and gestured into the front room. “I’ve got to make a few phone calls, but I’m sure you can help yourself to Reed’s, uh, movie collection.”

Sam made his way over and saw that Bennett had been waving at the dozens of VHS porn tapes that lay in uneven stacks throughout the room.

“Whatever you do, just lay low. If you need to head out, fine, but stay discrete, don’t attract attention, etcetera.”

“Okay,” said Sam, and Bennett shuffled off down the darkened hallway and closed himself up in one of the rooms in the house’s bowels.

Sam went over and looked through some of Reed’s tapes. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d watched a porn film, though obviously it was something he’d sworn off entirely when he joined the LDS Church. Some of the other people in the apostate groups had pointed out how crazy the Church could be in its denunciation of porn. One of the people had theorized that the General Authorities were worried about the possibility of orgasm being a legitimate competitor with religious epiphany. Sam thought the guy had a point—what was the more profound experience, after all? Certainly, the one was more accessible and easier to repeat. Regardless, it was just one more thing, one more aspect of people’s lives that the Church sought to control.

When he got bored of looking at big, colorful porn boxes, with their tangled limbs, splayed orifices, and expanses of skin, he tiptoed down the hall and stood still as he tried to listen to Bennett talking behind the door. All he could make out was a vague, muffled voice. He went to the end of the hall and used the bathroom, and then he made his way back to the living room and went out the front door, out into the winter afternoon.

The light outside was as clear and brittle as glass, and the mountains loomed hugely in the east. Overhead, a plane rumbled across the pale blue sky, and Sam watched its passing. He wondered where it was going as he walked with his hands stuffed into his coat pockets. He thought about the way he felt. It was a kind of calmness. In his earlier years, when he’d gone along to rob convenience stores, there had always been a giddiness or a nervousness, but that was absent now. Maybe that would change as the time to act drew near. For a very brief moment, he thought about walking away from everything. He thought about walking to the end of the street, and continuing on, just walking until he reached the edge of Salt Lake City, and then hitching a ride out of the state, and maybe out of the country, up to Canada or down into Mexico. He wondered what reason there was for doing anything. He smiled bitterly at this: there was no longer any need to work towards salvation within the Church, so what was his reason? His nose was running a bit from the cold and he reached up to wipe it away. He realized that he didn’t know. He was drifting, directionless, save for his involvement with Bennett and the others. He thought angrily of Kaylee and Emily—how they’d been taken from him, and he tried to push the thoughts out of his mind, but he couldn’t.

He walked on a bit further, until he reached the end of the block. Way down towards the end of the street, in a cul de sac, was a group of a half-dozen or so kids playing. Sam could hear their voices carrying through the cold air. They had on coats and mittens and hats, and they were clearly having fun. Then a woman emerged from the house and stood on the porch with her arms curled around her chest. She was calling them in; it was time to come back in the house.

Sam stood there watching them until he realized that his standing there might seem conspicuous. He wiped his nose again, and then he turned around and made his way back to the house.



...Next time: Elder Pitt's Last Gambit...
_Bob Bobberson
_Emeritus
Posts: 110
Joined: Thu Apr 14, 2011 6:39 pm

Re: A Great and Dreadful Day, Part VI: The Third Nephite

Post by _Bob Bobberson »

- FIFTY-FIVE -


On Thursday the Brethren gathered in the council room of the Salt Lake temple, just as leaders of the Church had been doing ever since construction of the temple was completed in 1893. They filed into the room according to seniority: Elder C. Rigdon Pitt entered first, followed by 2nd Counselor Lehi Arlen Walker, and then Elder Talmage B. Steele, with the rest of the brethren, all dressed in well-tailored suits, following behind. They all came in and took their seats, though their ranks had been diminished: President Baylor was absent, as was Elder J. P. MacDowell, who had fallen ill, and Elder Christopher Samson Dellinger, who was attending to Church business in Hawai’i. Elder Brotherton started the machine so as to take the minutes of today’s meeting, but Counselor Walker stopped him:

“We may want to hold off on that.”

“I agree,” said Elder Pitt. “I believe that we should depart momentarily from the protocol on this fine Thursday morning.” Some of the other brethren looked confused.

Walker held up his hand. “First we should open with a prayer. Elder Jergens, would you mind?”

Jergens nodded solemnly and went around to the kneeler and knelt and offered up the opening prayer, making sure to emphasize the desire of everyone in the room that the Lord would look after President Baylor. When he was done, all of the brethren said “Amen.” He returned to his seat, and Walker spoke again.

“There are a number of matters that need to be addressed today, chief of which is the operation of the Church in light of President Baylor’s current situation.”

“Pardon me, Elder Walker, but I wonder if you aren’t speaking out of turn,” said Elder Pitt. To the ears of some of the men in the room, Pitt’s voice sounded weaker than normal, and there was a somewhat grayish aspect to his complexion.

“I disagree, Elder Pitt. It has always been such that the First Presidency offers up its remarks first.”

“I am the ranking General Authority,” said Pitt.

“No,” said Walker. “President Baylor is the ranking authority, and so long as he still breathes the air of this earth, his ordained First Presidency will maintain and uphold the proper priesthood authority.”

“The prophet’s health is failing,” said Pitt. “This can’t come as a surprise to anyone in this room.”

Several of the men nodded.

“Nevertheless, in the interim, we know what to do,” said Walker. Then he frowned slightly and glanced briefly at Elder Steele, who was wearing a very dark grey suit. “On that note, though, I wonder if you would perhaps like to enlighten the rest of the brethren concerning the prophet’s last vision.”

Pitt’s eyes were wide and he seemed taken aback. A small smile crept across Steele’s lips, and White, Marshall, and Brotherton looked alarmed. The rest of the brethren all turned their attention to Pitt, and a curiosity-filled stillness came over the room.

Pitt laughed hoarsely. “It’s true,” he said. “President Baylor, shortly before falling ill, was given a revelation concerning the last days.”

“Where is the text of the revelation?” asked Elder Stevens.

“You’re speaking out of turn,” said Pitt.

Walker held up his hand for order: “I’m sure all of the brethren would very much like to hear the contents of the revelation as you heard it, President Pitt.”

“In the vision,” said Pitt, “it was revealed to the prophet that the latter-days are upon us. In the scriptures, the Lord has instructed us to gather up and burn the tares.”

“The scriptures allow a great deal of room for interpretation,” said Elder Marlin P. Christenson.

Steele finally spoke up: “Are you going to tell the rest of the Brethren what you did, Elder Pitt? Tell us about the quorum you assembled.”

“You keep your mouth shut, you Judas,” spat Pitt.

There was a low murmuring amongst the Brethren in response to this.

“We mustn’t make insinuations or accusation,” said first counselor Marshall, who had been silent up to this point. Elder Brotherton, meanwhile, who had been Pitt’s right-hand man, but who was the junior apostle, looked helpless. “It is unseemly and uncouth to engage in such behavior in the house of the Lord.”

“I agree with my fellow counselor,” said Walker. “One of the critical goals for these meetings has always been for us to come to an accord, and to find points of agreement. We must all face the same way.”

“Elder Pitt,” said Steele, interjecting once again. “Why wasn’t this revelation presented to the brethren for consideration?”

“Yes,” said Elder Stevens. “This is all coming as quite a shock to me, as I’m sure is the case with most of us in the room, though it’s clear that some of the brethren were privy to this revelation and some were not.”

“As has already been pointed out,” said Pitt, wheezing slightly, “I am not currently the president of this church. It’s not my place to convey revelation to the rest of the brethren in so formal a setting as the Thursday meeting.”

Stevens again: “To whom did President Baylor speak of the vision?”

“To Elder Pitt, and to both of us,” said Marshall, who had grown rather pale.

Stevens looked in Elder Steele’s direction: “And am I to understand that actions were taken prior to the brethren coming to a consensus on the validity of this revelation? Elder Steele or Elder Pitt?”

Steele rubbed his chin. “I’m afraid I’ve been mostly in the dark on this matter, Elder Stevens. Elder Pitt has seen fit to conduct his activities largely in the shadows.”

Stevens let out a short groan. “That isn’t proper at all.”

“Are you rebuking me, Elder Stevens?” said Pitt.

“I’m trying to get to the bottom of this.”

“It is unclear to me,” said counselor Walker from the head of the room, “whether these clandestine activities are in any way connected to the business in Reno, though it concerns me that they might be.”

“I’m afraid you’ve lost me there,” said Elder Christenson.

“As you should be,” said Pitt, “because it is completely irrelevant. Now I urge you to listen to me. We have been commanded, as prophets, seers, and revelators, to look after this church, and to protect it from its enemies. This is a sacred duty that each of us has agreed to carry out. None of you can fault me in this regard. I fear that some of the brethren have become so soft and fearful that they would even go so far as to tolerate direct attacks on the Church. Some of us in this room, I fear, were a bit too quick to forget the attack that first put President Baylor in the hospital.”

“If I may interrupt you, Elder Pitt,” said Marshall. “We also need to remember that we have been commanded to love and support one another—to love each other like the brothers that we all are. All of us are Heavenly Father’s children, which is a truth that one cannot be reminded of often enough.”

“I agree with the first counselor,” said Walker. “There have been times in the past when the men in this room were asked to pray over matters of revelation. We all know that these aren’t things to be taken lightly. Nevertheless, in President Baylor’s absence I’m sure that we can all agree that matters pertaining to the Second Coming should be put on hold until all of us can pray on it, and until President Baylor recovers and is able to pass along the revelation to us either in person or in the form of a written note.”

“That’s absurd,” said Pitt.

“It is the manner of things,” said Walker. “It is the prophet’s revelation, is it not?”

“You heard it from his own lips, Counselor Walker.”

“I was asked to pray on it,” said Walker. “And I did. I was prompted by the spirit to present the matter to the rest of the brethren for fuller consideration.”

Marshall spoke up: “I can see no reason to fault Elder Walker. Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.”

“Yes, I believe the First Presidency is in full agreement,” said Walker. “We are to pray on the matter in lieu of any further explanation from the prophet himself. No further actions are to be taken outside of this room. Now, if you did assemble a quorum of some kind, Elder Pitt, you are to disband it immediately.”

Pitt sat staring straight ahead, at nothing in particular, with his hands folded in his lap.

“You put all of us in jeopardy,” said Steele.

Walker held up his hand: “Now, Elder Steele, I see no further need for any accusation or recrimination.”

“I think it needs to be said,” Steele went on, “that things were done without counseling first with this quorum. Melchezidek priesthood holders were made to believe that they were acting with the full approval of both the First Presidency and the Twelve, though it is as plain as day from this meeting alone that we have not arrived at anything remotely resembling an agreement.”

“Elder Steele—” Walker had raised his voice. “I believe you’ve said enough.”

Elder C. Rigdon Pitt still offered no reaction. He sat still and silent and toad-like, and he looked greyer than ever.

“Now then,” said Walker. “Is there anything further that any of the junior apostles would like to bring up concerning this matter? I personally think that we have arrived at a wise course of action to follow: meaning that we table the question of the revelation and wait until we’ve all prayed on the matter. Does anyone disagree?”

Apostles Kelly, Maplethorpe, and Dellinger were shaking their heads.

“Very well then,” said Walker. “We can move on to other things. Elder Brotherton, would you mind switching the machine on?”

And with that, Elder Gregory Y. Brotherton switched on the recording device. The tape made by the device would later be transcribed and filed away in the Church’s vaults. It would provide a record for future Latter-day Saints, historians, and researchers, so that they might have some insight into the decision-making process of the LDS Church’s hierarchy. The recording device was actually a somewhat new addition to the weekly Thursday meetings. In the past, the minutes were taken by hand, but as with other aspects of the Church, things changed. For the most part, no one even noticed that the machine was on, but if you listened closely, you could hear it making a soft whirring noise.
_Bob Bobberson
_Emeritus
Posts: 110
Joined: Thu Apr 14, 2011 6:39 pm

Re: A Great and Dreadful Day, Part VI: The Third Nephite

Post by _Bob Bobberson »

- FIFTY-SIX -


Word had spread among the last of them that Odell Swift had been told to shut everything down. Rulon Cook met with Elder Pitt, though, and the news he relayed on Friday was vague. The quorum had been “officially released,” though Elder Pitt made sure to emphasize the fact that priesthood ordinances cannot be revoked by a flick of the wrist. To Elder Donald Higbee, still freighted with guilt in the aftermath of Elder Kreditor’s death, this represented a chance for redemption. Certainly, he believed—along with Rulon Cook and a few others—that their work was incomplete. Elder Mortensen had gotten wind of something brewing along the Wasatch Front, something that seemed big.

But what lifted Higbee’s spirits the most was what Mortensen told him next:

“We finally have a name.”

“A name?”

“Yes. The name of the guy pulling the strings.”

“What is it?”

“Bennett.”

“Huh.”

“Here’s the photo they snapped up in Ogden before we lost sight of him. Kind of blurry, I know.”

Higbee stared at it. “You know, there is something familiar about him.”

“It’s funny that you say that. Take a look at this.”

It was a composite drawing, done by a sketch artist. “What is this? This is the same guy?”

“Well, you tell me. This was a description they got from one of the people down on the street in Reno.”

“So this is the invincible man, huh?”

“Like I said: You tell me.”

Higbee stared for a long time at the images; he couldn’t tell the two men apart.



...Next time: The Calm before the storm....
Post Reply