I’ve mentioned before that I can always tell when an out-of-the-ordinary visitor has stopped by the lobby requesting to speak to someone in the newsroom. The receptionist’s voice will take on a certain cautionary tone, or it will drop to a near whisper.
Usually our visitors just want to talk to a person, not a machine, because they don’t trust machines. (I don’t blame them. I don’t trust machines either.) Usually a few minutes of our time where we exchange names and phone numbers suffices and we go our separate ways.
Sometimes we get visitors who defy definition. Such an instance happened about two weeks ago.
Receptionist: “Leah? There’s a … gentleman in the lobby. He wants to speak with someone in the newsroom about a…uh…a story he wants published.”
Me (sighing, not too subtly): “Really? I’m so busy. Can you take his name and number? Or tell him to leave a copy?”
Receptionist: “He won’t leave until he speaks to someone personally.” (Big pause while I tried to figure out a way to squirm out of the request.) Then she whispered, “He said God told him to come.”
Me: “God? As in, you know, the guy upstairs…in heaven, I mean?”
Receptionist: “Yes. God. THE God.”
Me: “I’ll be down in a minute.”
I’m not sure why I gave in so easily, relatively speaking. Maybe because I was interested in what he had to say.
Whatever the reason, I went downstairs and introduced myself to the man. He was older, maybe mid-60s. He called himself “Golden Boy.” And he proceeded to tell me he’d done terrible things in his life. Because of his choices, he’d lost his wife and his children. (Thankfully he clarified that they were estranged, not dead.) He’d been to jail and served time for serious crimes.
While he spoke, his eyes remained on mine, steadily. Without a blink.
In his hand he held a sheet of standard printer paper. On the paper he’d copied a note written on a 3×5-inch notepad. At the top of the sheet he’d written his name. He handed it to me and watched while I read it.
The note consisted of a series of sentence fragments, prophesies of the end of the world by means of cataclysmic natural events.
Man: “The word needs to get out.”
Me: “I’m sorry, sir. We can’t publish this.”
Man: “I didn’t say I wanted it published in the paper. I said I wanted the word to get out.”
Me: “I’m not sure why you came to the newspaper then.”
Man: “I came because you are the newspaper. You can get the word out.”
Back to square one.
Me: “We won’t publish this.”
Man: “I don’t care what you do with it. God told me to bring it here. I’m looking in your eyes. I can see you understand. You do with it what you will.”
With that, he turned to leave, looking back as he shouldered the door open. “God put it in your hands now. You’re the one.”
Even now, shivers skitter up my spine as I think of it that moment.
After he left, the receptionist and I looked at each other and wondered if it was a full moon. I don’t think I even remembered to check when I got back to my desk.
When I told the editor about it, she asked me why I hadn’t called security. I said, “He seemed harmless enough. It’s not like he was going to kill me with paper cuts.”
“Leah,” she said with a kind of tone she typically reserves for her misbehaving puppy, “if someone comes in the lobby and says God sent him and that you’re the one, call security next time. Would you, please?”
I know she’s right. And I know I’m terribly gullible at times. But part of me couldn’t help but ask what if.
What if God did send him?
What if it was God’s nudging that made me go down that day?
What if there is some message in there I’m supposed to impart to the world?
Then the man visited again. This time he didn’t ask to speak to me. He dropped off a follow-up message.
It was another note, this one on a 3×5-inch piece of fuchsia notepaper. At the top was the word “promulgate,” followed by the dictionary definition — to publish, to formally proclaim.
And the note was laminated. (I guess he knows how messy my desk is. Can’t miss a hot-pink piece of laminated notepaper.)
I’m still not sure what to make of it. It still gives me the willies.
If I figure it out, I’ll let you know.
In her normal life, Leah works full-time in a busy newsroom, and in her spare time writes stories of mystery and romance, good and evil and the redeeming power of love. Please visit her on LeahStJames.com, friend her on Facebook, follow her on Twitter or check out her writing storyboards on Pinterest.
Alexandra Anderson has a loving husband who provides for her every need, a beautiful home in the suburbs, and money to fulfill her slightest whim. But after a lonely childhood, what she wants more than anything is a baby, a family of her own.
Sam Herrmann is married to his college sweetheart, and together they have three healthy, boisterous boys. Sam spends his days running numbers as a government accountant, and his nights and weekends trying to keep up with the grueling family schedule set by his wife – a wife he can barely remember.
What happens when two married people take a look at the perfect lives they’ve created
and decide it’s not enough? What happens when those same two people catch the eye of
a stranger, and like what they see?
Christmas Dance. A story of love and marriage. A story of hope.