Excerpt from Misled: The Klansman
This is a section from one of my favorite segments I ever wrote. To set things up, even if you never read the book, Tyree is a 10 year old witness of terrible crimes. Tyree is struggling with bad dreams because of the things he has seen, and he gets to spend some time with my main protagonist, Agent John Knox. Knox shares some info with the kid to help him whenever he is afraid. I just enjoyed writing this story, and trying to envision things from a child’s perspective. Please read, share, and enjoy:
“Agent John – I mean John – do you ever have nightmares?”
“I sure do. As a matter of fact, I had some bad dreams when this Klansman that you saw started appearing on the news.”
Tyree’s eyes opened wider.
“You have dreams about this Klansman, too?” he asked his temporary babysitter.
“Well, not exactly. But I had dreams about a similar group of men that wore white hoods, just like the man you saw, that killed those people in their cars.”
“There’s more than one man in a white hood?” Tyree asked in great consternation.
“Well, there is only one killer like the man you’ve seen. No – these men were scary fellas I saw when I was just a little older than you…a long time ago. They won’t be bothering anyone anymore.”
“Did you have bad dreams about them when you were a kid my age?” Tyree asked.
“As a matter of fact, I did. And I still got a little scared for a while when I would see movies about those men in the white hoods – all the way up until I was about 15 years old. But I was used to some of those scary dreams by then.”
Tyree was impressed with Agent Knox; he had looked up to the man ever since he saw him the first time he and Malik had visited the apartment. He was even in awe of the two FBI men when he had seen them at that first crime scene, before he cut and run on them. He wanted to know what made men like Agent Knox and his partner so brave.
“So Agent – err, um – John…what did you do to stop having the nightmares?”
John had been thinking of what to tell Tyree; he knew this question would come.
“Well Tyree, my dad was a preacher…and he told me about a certain verse in the Bible,”- Tyree interrupted.
“John – my grandpa; my mean dad’s dad – he is a preacher, too. He’s the one who told us to get away from his son…because he was so mean to me and Mom.”
John raised his eyebrows; that would have to be a story for later, probably told by Tara.
“Anyway, Tyree, he told me about Psalms 23 in the Bible. Do you know what it says?”
Tyree answered, “Mom and I read the Bible at Christmas sometimes, but I don’t know if I have heard that or not. The Bible’s a big book!”
Knox smiled at the innocence in the boy. Then he recited the verse from Psalms 23 from memory.
“Tyree, Psalms 23 was written by a King named David. David was a shepherd when he was young, so he knew a thing or two about shepherding a flock. And this is what he said:
The Lord is my shepherd; I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me by still waters, He restores my soul. He guides me along the right paths for His name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of shadow and Death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
So you see, Tyree, the Bible tells us that God is our shepherd, and he protects us from evil – just like a shepherd would protect his flock of sheep.”
Tyree sat on the edge of the bed that was almost too high for him; it was the first time Knox noticed he was pretty small for a ten year old. He kicked his legs back and forth a couple of times, then spoke up again.
“Mmm-Hmm, I get that…but what does all that other stuff mean, John?”
“Ha! I had a feeling you’d ask that, too. Well it kind of means the same as the other thing that my dad used to tell me. Tyree, do you know who Jesus is?”
The ten year old boy looked up in the corner of the room for a second.
“Well I know He was supposed to be God’s son; I learned that at my grandparents’ church. But there was something else special about Him…oh yeah! He was supposed to be dead, but came back to life. Is that what you’re talking about?”
“That’s right Tyree; Jesus died on the cross for all of us; for you, for me, for Malik…anyone who chooses to believe. But the fact that He came back to life – that was God already conquering evil. So you see, Tyree, there’s no reason to keep being afraid of this Klansman guy. Sure, he is scary, and would be even scarier if you ran into him…but it doesn’t matter. God has already won; he beat all evil when Jesus came back after dying on a cross. So take this,” he was saying as he unwrapped a small extra present he had kept in his front pocket. He stood up to give the small gift to his host.
“Take this and read it every night. It should help you, whenever you’re scared.”
Tyree looked down at the small book. It wasn’t a whole Bible, but it was meant to be the most comforting words from the Bible – the Book of Psalms, and the entire New Testament. It was in a green, fake leather binding and cover, and had gold lettering on the outside. Tyree got a little excited just because John had given him another surprise. Then he jumped off the bed and wrapped big John Knox’s legs in a tight bear hug.
“John – thank you so much for my presents!”
Then the small framed kid jumped back on the bed and Knox sat beside him once again.
“Mr. John – I have another question,” the rambunctious boy started again.
“Sure, fire away!” John let the ‘Mr.’ title slide this time.
“If God is the shepherd protecting us all from evil…what does that make people like you, and your partner, and the police outside my apartment?”
John hadn’t thought about that, but he went with an old law enforcement adage.
“Tyree – we’re the sheepdogs. When shepherds have to go wondering further away to chase after a lamb or sheep that wonders off, he sometimes leaves a sheepdog behind to protect the other sheep from the wolves. That’s us, Tyree. See – Jesus left us after He died and came back…He left us for a time to be in Heaven. So sheepdogs like us are still here to watch over you, and to be the peacemakers. But do you know what else the Bible tells us?”
“What?” the boy asked with intense curiosity.
“He said that He will come back one day. That’s good news, right?”
Tyree nodded. He seemed content with John’s answers, and he changed the subject. The next forty-five minutes or so, the two of them watched Power Rangers. Then John told the boy he would have to catch up with him again soon, and he patted him on his almost bald head and said good night. He bade Mr. Willingham farewell, and then Agent John Knox left Tyree with his neighbor, Mr. Willingham. He told Tyree before he left that whenever he was afraid at night, to just open his new mini-Bible to the page Knox had marked, and read the words highlighted in yellow. He told Tyree to read those words over and over, until he got sleepy.
So later in the evening, when restless Tyree was finally tired, he started to close his eyes, but began to see the Klansman’s face once again. He flipped on his night light and opened the book John had given him. He read Psalms 23. When he finished, he read it again…and again…and again. Finally the young boy went to sleep – and little Tyree slept soundly for the first time in days.