Breach of Promise

Breach of Promise by James Scott Bell Read Free Book Online

Book: Breach of Promise by James Scott Bell Read Free Book Online
Authors: James Scott Bell
needs, and if that doesn’t work, I’ll try a little Zen Buddhism, and if that doesn’t work, I’ll try wealth and power, maybe some self-actualization. It’s like asking five women to marry you, and then waiting to see which one says yes.”
    Paula had said yes. Once.
“It’s an insult. On the contrary, we must place our faith and trust in God alone, with no backup and no contingency plan. The key to answered prayer is not the amount or strength of our faith, but the object of our faith. ‘I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, “Move from here to there” and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.’ The power doesn’t come from our faith; the power comes from the One in whom we have faith.”
I didn’t quite get that yet, but the thing about the mountain got me curious.
He finished off the sermon by talking about praying in Jesus’ name. Frankly, that sounded a little like a magic formula. And I couldn’t quite connect it all up. But when it was over, I felt like I was glad I came.
And Maddie didn’t want to leave, she’d had such a good time.
Why couldn’t it have lasted? Why didn’t I just take her home? Did the thing in the park have to happen? What would the preacher man say about that?
2
    Serrania Park is in the Woodland Hills area of the Valley, next to a development of some of the most expensive homes in town. It’s a place you get a better class of parent and kid, not to mention dog. Maddie liked the swings at Serrania, because you could go so high.
    A daredevil, Maddie.
We—Paula, Maddie, and I—had come here three or four times. I remember trying to teach Maddie how to throw a Frisbee here, when she was four. She got the hang of it real quick, as Paula applauded my efforts from a bench under a tree. Best applause I’d had in years.
Today there was some good activity in the sandbox, like a toddlers’ convention, along with some kids Maddie’s age taking to the slides and swings. Since the good high swings were taken, Maddie headed to the digging part of the convention. She is a natural conversationalist and immediately invited herself to join a boy’s shoveling near the stone camel.
I took my flip-flops off, sat on the far edge of the box, and wiggled my toes in the sand.
And started to think about what Maddie would be when she grew up. I didn’t see her going into acting, like her parents. Too unstable a profession—unless an Antonio Troncatti picks you out of thin air for a major flick.
I thought Maddie would make a good lawyer. She knew how to argue, could dig in her heels when she had to, and was already gaining a fine appreciation of the art of charging outrageous sums of money for her efforts. One day she asked me for a twenty-dollar bill.
“Twenty dollars? What for?”
“I cleaned my room.”
I laughed. “But you’re supposed to do that.”
“Okay.” She thought a moment. “Then give me ten dollars.”
Smiling at the thought, I watched my daughter negotiate the plastic shovel out of the boy’s hand.
“Yours?”
It was an attractive woman about my age. She was looking at Maddie and the boy.
“Yes,” I said. “She’s five.”
“Mine’s four,” the woman said. “But big for his age.”
“Yeah, he is. A middle linebacker, I’d say.”
“His father was. Played in college. Really.”
“Mark Gillen,” I said, standing.
“Kay Millard. You live around here?”
“No, I’m from the land of the studios. Maddie just likes this park.”
“Maddie? Short for Madeleine?”
“Yeah.”
“I always liked that name.”
“What’s your boy’s name?”
“Duncan.”
“Scottish, isn’t it?”
Kay Millard smiled. “Very good.”
“I know that from the Scottish play.”
“Ah, Macbeth.
“Shh!” I said. We were having fun. Not many people know the actor’s superstition about Shakespeare’s most notorious play. You’re never supposed to mention the title, so the belief goes, or something will go wrong

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