Sloppy Joe awoke and saw sunlight coming in through the windows. He didn’t get much sleep during the night because the ropes hurt his stomach. He turned his head to Concord and Honest. They were wide awake and trying to move a little in their bonds. They looked tired and afraid.
Sloppy Joe tried to cheer them up. “Hello guys. Did you sleep well last night?”
Concord replied, “No, not a wink. It’s hard to sleep when you are uncomfortable and when a mob of people are against you. I am not looking forward to seeing them again this morning. There’s no telling what they will do to us.”
Honest trembled in his seat and cried out to the Good King to save them from their captors. Then he said to his brother and to Sloppy Joe, “I hope they don’t tear us apart. That’s usually what an angry crowd does to those they hate.”
Sloppy Joe grimaced at the idea. “Let’s not dwell on that, Honest,” he advised. “We must believe that the Good King is still with us today. He has heard our cry. Let’s trust Him wholly, for He will never fail us. He will sustain us through this trial.”
Concord and Honest took their friend’s advice and committed their souls to their King. Whatever happened to them, they would remain true to their Lord and their God.
Hours later the door opened and three tough looking men walked in. They undid the ropes that held the Believers and forced them to their feet. Then they marched them out of the room and down a long hallway. When they reached two doors that were shut the thugs opened them and pushed the Believers into a large room, where the crowd and their leader were waiting for them.
“Good morning, gentlemen,” said the man with the black bandanna. “My friends and I are very happy to see you on this fine day.” He then turned to the crowd and asked, “Aren’t we?”
The mob answered by shouting and holding their banner up high. “Death to the wretches!” they yelled.
Honest turned to Concord, “It was nice knowing you, bro,” he whimpered.
Sloppy Joe looked at the leader and the crowd. “You folks really wouldn’t harm us, would you?” he asked them.
Someone from the crowd threw a glass bottle at him and the motel owner quickly ducked out of the way. The bottle shattered on the floor.
Concord ran to him. “You’re not hurt are you, Sloppy? That bottle really exploded when it hit the floor.”
“I’m okay,” Sloppy Joe answered as he got up from the floor.
The black bandanna man walked up to Sloppy Joe and kicked him. The motel owner howled in pain. The leader kicked him again and again and again. With each kick Sloppy Joe howled with tears in his eyes.
Concord got between Sloppy Joe and the black bandanna man. “Stop it!” he said sternly. Honest stood next to his brother.
The leader laughed, “Oh, it looks like I have some competition!” he then turned his head to the crowd and said, “I think I’m going to need some help here.”
The mob then advanced toward the Believers and began to kick and punch them. Concord and Sloppy Joe fell to the floor bruised and knocked out. Honest seeing what happened to his brother and friend feared that they were dead. Soon he felt himself going weak and he also fell to the floor. He was bruised and his lips were bleeding. The crowd kept on beating him up and Honest knew that he couldn’t hold out much longer. He started to pray the Lord’s Prayer to keep up his courage. When he got to “for Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever” his world turned black.
The leader told the crowd to stop the beating and then knelt down to check their pulse. He frowned and growled deeply, “Rats! Still alive!”
The crowd booed. They had hoped that the treatment they had given the motel owner and the two brothers had killed them.
One of the thugs who had dragged the Believers to the room said to their leader, “So what do we do since they are still alive?”
“I’ll figure it out, but for now take them back to their room and tie them in the chairs again,” he answered.
The three tough looking men dragged Sloppy Joe, Concord, and Honest out.
The leader mused to himself as he watched the unconscious Believers being taken away: “Though we’ve beaten them to a pulp, they still live. What keeps them going?”
To Be Continued.