Authors: Nancy Hopper
A Walk in the Wilderness
By Nancy Hopper
Copyright 2013 by Nancy Hopper. All characters, places and situations in this novel are fictional. Any similarity to any (past or present) person, place or thing, is unintentional.
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Caitlin Kilpatrick took the receipt out of the computer, tore off the customer copy and handed it to Mr. Tyler with a smile. "There you go, you're all set. I do hope that you enjoy your stay with us."
Mr. Tyler smiled and nodded, but he was already turning away. It was late, and he had a tired family waiting in the auto.
Caitlin nodded at the Tyler group as they trudged by the reception desk. Then she sighed, and rubbed her neck tiredly.
The graveyard shift worked well for her, but sometimes the nights could surely get long and lonesome. She didn't start until eleven, and she was on duty until seven in the morning.
It was her uncle’s inn, and she felt lucky to have such a good job. They were scarce just now, and Caitlin was trying to work her way through school.
The phone rang, and she answered it with much more pep than she felt inside. "Kilpatrick Manor."
"Hey, Caitlin. It's Patricia. How are you?"
"Good." Caitlin answered enthusiastically. Patricia was a friend she'd met in college, and she enjoyed their friendship a great deal.
"Did you like the CD I gave you?"
"Oh." Caitlin hedged. "Actually, I haven't had a chance to sit down with it. It's been very busy tonight."
"Oh. Well, you know, I just found out that the artist who did the CD, is coming on tour to Scotland and Ireland. I'm going to catch his concert, and I thought maybe you'd like to come with, if you enjoyed him."
"Well, that's interesting. I'll try to listen to it later, and see what I think. If you think he's that good, why not? Unless I hate his CD, I'll go with you." She laughed.
"Super! Thanks, Caitlin. I hate to go alone to these events, you know. Makes me feel like an old maid, or something."
Caitlin laughed. "That you'll never be, love." She said teasingly. Patricia was very beautiful.
Two men were walking by, as Caitlin said those words. They looked at Caitlin askance, and she blushed as she realized how it must have sounded. The two men looked at one another with a wry smile; and Caitlin hid her eyes with her hand. They were both quite young, handsome, stylishly dressed – and obviously single. A girl could tell.
"Oh, how embarrassing." She whispered into the phone. "Uncle will skin me alive, if they tell."
"What?" Patricia yawned.
"There were two very handsome men walking by when I called you 'love', and they looked at me so horribly, as if they thought I was talking to a lover, or something. Oh, I hope they don't complain. Sometimes I'm so foolish!"
"Nah. Don't give it another thought." Patricia snorted.
"When exactly is this concert?"
"Actually, he opens tomorrow night. If that won't work, he'll be here a few different nights, but I'd like to catch him right off, if it works for you."
"Um ... yeah. All right." Caitlin agreed. "Why not? I have that one exam to study for next week, and of course I have to keep working on finals; otherwise I'm in the clear."
"Great. I'll pick you up, say, about five. We can have something to eat, and then be off."
"Excellent. What luck – tomorrow's my night off."
Patricia laughed. "For sure! I can't imagine keeping your schedule. Well, listen. I'm going to bed, and I'll see you tomorrow in class, all right?"
"Yes. Thanks for thinking of me, I'm sure we'll have fun."
Caitlin was already pulling the CD out of her purse as she hung up the phone. If this guy was a flop, she wanted to know right away. She put her portable CD player out on the counter and put the thing in.
His picture on the cover was dark and mysterious-looking, in teal with black shadows. He had dark, curly hair and brooding eyes. His name was Skyler Vaughn. Caitlin pursed her lips, and raised her eyebrows. He looked interesting.
His voice was actually rather captivating. It had a rough edge, and had a tendency to break at times; yet it was rich, for a tenor. He had a delightful, light accent that Caitlin correctly guessed to be Canadian.
His pronunciation was clear and clean. He sounded sexy. The music was wild and interesting – rock and roll, but with heavy percussion and sweet flutes, and varying keyboard fill sounds.
Caitlin blinked and stared, as she listened to the lyrics.
"You alone I come to. You alone I can see. You alone are the one I need. I was going nowhere into darkness. Oh, you came and captured me. You set me free!"
Caitlin read the cover and chuckled, shaking her head as she listened to Skyler growl. Then the heavy rock guitar went careening into a solo.
"I owe my very life to Jesus. I give Him the glory, the honor, the praise. Thank you, Lord, for my ongoing salvation and my hope. I trust in you alone." She mumbled, reading the inset. "Oh, brother. What have I gotten myself into?" she grumbled.
But, she listened to the CD. He was good. Darn good! She sighed, and shook her head, again. She supposed it wouldn't hurt to go hear him. It was a concert, not a church service, after all.
Still, she was a bit uncomfortable with Patricia the next morning. She'd had no idea that her friend was into this kind of thing. She sincerely hoped that Patricia hadn't recently befriended her in hopes of an opening to preach at her.
But, Patricia didn't. All she asked was, "Did you listen to him?" And when Caitlin admitted that she had, "Did you like him?"
Caitlin agreed that he was good. And that had satisfied Patricia. They went to dinner, and talked about their Ergonomics class together, over Pasta and salad. Then, Patricia drove them to a large auditorium across town, and she produced two tickets.
"Already paid for. I got them from a friend. She distributes his CD's over here, so
-- we're in free!"
"Excellent." Caitlin chuckled. "I had no idea you were so well connected."
"Well, neither did I. My friend told me to listen to the CD, and she told me if I'd buy it and help Skyler's name get out, I could have free tickets. Pretty sweet deal, I thought."
"Yeah." Caitlin agreed hesitantly. Oh, she hoped she wasn't going to regret coming.
They showed their tickets at the door, and were ushered directly in. To their amazement, the tickets were front row, center. They looked at one another in shocked amazement. They were seated directly under the bench of a magnificent, black grand piano. The stage was set with blue, green and purple lighting and white Greek columns, here and there. There were potted trees and shrubs. It was very elegant.
They looked with interest at the various instruments positioned on the stage. There was a very large harp, some guitar equipment, and an extensive percussion section. As they watched, some musicians filtered in, and sat down with stringed instruments in the shadows – it looked to be two violins and a cello.
The auditorium filled to capacity in no time flat. Soon the harpist was seated, and the lead guitarist and bassist were strapping on their instruments. Three women in flowing dresses of royal blue and purple in sparkling knits came on stage with radio microphones.
The band started playing some deep, rumbling, ominous introductory music, and a man came on stage, bringing cheers and applause from the audience.
“Good evening, ladies and gentlemen! My name is Robert Rowan, of the European Christian Concert Coalition; and I am your host, this evening."
He waited for the applause to die down.
"Tonight we have the unprecedented honor of bringing to you a musician and worship leader whose music is sweeping the world! I am certain that it will touch your heart. Please help me extend a warm welcome to Mr. Skyler Vaughn!"
The crowd responded with roaring applause. Patricia and Caitlin looked at one another with raised eyebrows. "This guy is bigger than I thought." Patricia mumbled. "He's got a whole lot of fans, doesn't he?"
"It would seem so." Caitlin agreed.
As his figure emerged from the shadows, the band began a hard-driving rhythm. A roar went up from the crowd as the spotlights hit him, and he smiled a dazzling smile.
"Hello, Scotland!" he roared into a headset mic, waving an arm in the air. The crowd response was so overwhelming that the girls couldn't help catching the excitement.
He was very dashing in a black, collarless suit and sleek, black boots. His royal blue shirt was open at the collar, and the buttons were offset for an interesting flair. His hair was dark and loosely curly, hanging over his collar and actually on his shoulders in the back. He was very handsome, very trim and muscular. He wasn’t very tall, but rather wiry and well-knit.
He sat down at the piano and after a long slide down the keys, he fell in with the band.
It soon didn't matter to Caitlin one whit whether this guy was a fanatic Christian or not. He was phenomenal. He could play like no one she'd ever seen!
The crowd was going wild, and she could feel her heart pounding with excitement. He was right above her. She could see his eyes roving the keys, she was so close.
"Do you feel the liquid fire? Do you feel the heat? Revival fire's coming,
deep calls unto deep. Pouring over dry bones, let the fire come. Let us be surrendered to God's only son. Deep unto deep! Liquid fire, burning strong. Deep unto deep! Passion for the Son."
He was passionate and unrestrained. They could see the concentration in his eyes, the sweat pouring down his temples. The percussion section was hitting a heavy jungle rhythm that had the crowd clapping enthusiastically. When they finally finished the song, the crowd literally went nuts. Patricia and Caitlin were with them, on their feet.
He rolled right into a melodic, dissonant chord and let the sound die slowly away. "My very soul cries out." He sang, sounding raw and hungry, passionate and sweet. "There must be more. I can't go on, anymore. I need you like never before. Jesus, are you there?"
He played a few slow, full chords before he went on. "I can't take what this world is giving me. I'm weak and without you, I have no hope. Can't you see, I must be free. But with you I have compassion for the heartless; the homeless; the angry and abused. Through your eyes I see my own need; just as great as any one's. But with you I can have hope and strength, all that I have need of. You're the only one -- yeah, the only one."
By the time that he got done with the song, the girls were just sitting, riveted in their chairs, holding back tears. This man had touched their hearts and their souls. They knew that he'd bared his heart, they felt his struggle between his humanness and his search for God. They’d seen his heart seeking provision for the ills of the world. And he had touched them all, with his plea.
There was a long silence, and then applause rang out. There was a standing ovation. Skyler lifted up his head and looked out over the crowd. A smile broke his lips, and he stood and bowed back to them. Then he sat down again, and went on.
Halfway through the program, he stopped and took off his jacket. "Can't take it anymore, I hope you won't mind. It’s hot up here." He told them with a chuckle. He proceeded to roll up his shirt sleeves and talk to them. Just talk, so naturally done.
It was his first trip to Scotland. He was going all through the Isles. He told them a joke, told them little things about his life. He was altogether delightful, and while his words were not blatantly Christian, they were deep; they caused one to think. He was very compelling.
When it was finally over, he'd given them a good hour and a half. The crowd went wild, begging for more. He bowed and picked up his coat, then he walked off stage. The crowd didn't stop. They just became more intense.
They could hear Skyler laughing through his mic from backstage, and he came back with a tired grin. “All right, then." He laughed. The crowd was ecstatic. He played for another fifteen minutes. When he was finished, he bowed again.