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Thirteen, Fourteen ... Little boy unseen (Rebekka Franck Book 7), Page 3

Willow Rose

  When the head bishop had told her the church was ready to change its views on homosexuals and let them get married, she hadn’t believed her own ears. She knew it was being debated. She knew there were forces of evil out there trying to change things, but she had never thought they would succeed.

  “Never,” she had replied when he told her this applied to her as well, that if a couple came to her and wanted her blessing and to be married in her church, she would have to do it.

  “It says very clearly in Leviticus,” she had continued. “You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female. It is an abomination.”

  The Head Bishop had told her that this was the way it was going to be, no matter what she said. There was no way out of it. She had an obligation to do as she was told.

  “Never,” she now whispered into the small office in her vicarage, where she had lived for the past fifty years.

  No, Pastor Kemp didn’t like the way the church was going or how the devil had been allowed to darken everyone’s mind and poison them with all this, making them believe they were just being open-minded and embracing the new.

  “We shouldn’t exclude anyone from the church,” one of her colleagues had said a few years ago at a conference. “If God is love and two people love one another, who are we to judge? How can we tell them their love is not real? Isn’t it between them and God? After all, we can’t discriminate in the church. We’re supposed to bring a message of love to the people.”

  Pastor Kemp had referred to the Bible and told him all homosexuals were sinners, and if they gave them their blessing, that would make them sinners as well. “You’ll rot in hell,” she told him, pointing at him with her cane. “All of you will. Mark my words.”

  But would they listen? Of course not. This entire country was going to burn in hell. She told them over and over again, whenever the newspapers came to her for a comment. They thought she was raving mad, but that didn’t stop her. No one could. Not even her Head Bishop, who kept telling her that they would retire her. She didn’t care.

  So, last Sunday, Pastor Kemp had spoken to her congregation about it once again.

  “There’s a movement within the church that wants us to embrace homosexuals and bless them in our Lord’s name. But, I tell you, they’ll all rot in hell. It’s Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve,” she had said, quoting one of the worst movies she had ever seen. Her own daughter, Camilla, had made her watch it many years ago, to make her understand her choice of lifestyle and how she was going to die. Pastor Kemp had watched Philadelphia over and over again after she put her daughter in the ground, after watching her wither away due to the gay-plague, due to her choices in life that ended up killing her. Just like her mother had told her they would. No, this atrocity had to be kept down. The opinions on this subject in the population were getting worse; people were accepting homosexuality and talking about it like it was the most normal thing in the world. With the result that more and more people were deceived into this…this lie…this disease from the pit of hell.

  Pastor Kemp still remembered the day her daughter came to her and told her she was one of them. Told her she had a girlfriend. That she wanted to live her life in the worst sin possible. She had asked her to understand, asked her mother to bless them and what they called their relationship. She had asked her to open up her mind and told her this was the hardest thing she’d ever had to tell her mother, and that she had been terrified for years to let her know, because she knew how she felt about homosexuals.

  Pastor Kemp hadn’t cried that summer day in 1995. Not even when she told her to get out and never come back. Not when she looked into her daughter’s eyes and told her she wasn’t her daughter anymore. Not when her daughter cried and begged for her mother’s acceptance.

  But she did cry three years later, when Camilla came one day to the house holding a VHS-tape with the movie in her hand. Her face was pale and her body wasting away.

  “I don’t know how else to explain all this to you, Mom. But I hope this will,” were the final words she ever said to her mother. Pastor Kemp watched the movie and that was when the tears started rolling across her cheeks. Three weeks later, Pastor Kemp received a call from the hospital in Copenhagen, telling her that her daughter was very sick and that it was time to say goodbye. Camilla hadn’t been conscious and never knew that her mother sat beside her deathbed for three nights straight, crying and cursing the devil and all his lies. Knowing her daughter had lived her life in sin, that the devil had ruined her life and taken her with him to a place where she was burning up for eternity, was the worst part about this whole damn thing.

  She knew then that fighting this disease would be the thorn in her side. Just like Paul’s, she knew God would never take it away, and even if she asked him to remove it from her on a daily basis, she would have to struggle with it till the day she died.

  Pastor Kemp hadn’t yet finished writing next week’s sermon when the doorbell interrupted her. She sighed and put down the pen. She looked at the old clock on the wall.

  “Now, who would ring my doorbell at this hour?” she grumbled, annoyed. She was on a roll here, and really wanted to finish tonight. Who on earth would come to someone’s house this late? Had people no manners anymore?

  Thinking it could be someone who needed God’s word for the night, she got up with much restraint and walked, leaning on her cane, towards the door. To make sure it was safe to open the door, she pulled the curtain to the side to see who it was, and spotted an officer outside in the streetlight.

  “Yes?” she said, and opened the door, slightly irritated with being interrupted. She hid her irritation with a fake smile.

  “What can I do for you, Officer?”

  It wasn’t until he took a step forward and she could see the officer’s eyes that she realized that this time the devil had come for her.


  “Yes, Pastor. Me.”


  “WHAT DO you want?”

  The man looked at the pastor with a smirk. He could tell she was afraid. He chuckled. He was holding his baton in one hand and letting it drop into the other with rhythmic movements.

  The pastor looked at the baton with fear in her eyes. The man was enjoying this little display of power.

  “Listen,” she said with a pleading voice. “We only did what we thought was best for her…I never thought…”

  Pastor Kemp stopped herself. She looked at the man while biting her lip. The man stared at the old woman, who was all of a sudden so humble. It was so unlike the pastor the man remembered from his childhood. The pastor that came to their house so often.

  “You must fight this,” he remembered her saying, her voice hissing like that of a cat when she spoke, sitting in their kitchen. “This kind of thing needs to be grabbed at an early age before it’s too late. It’s a lie from the devil, is what it is. It’s a disease, and you need to cure her.”

  The man stared into the eyes of the pastor, those narrow blue eyes staring right back at him. He scrutinized them, searching for a small sign of regret, just a little something telling him that she felt bad or was sorry for what they had done. But he saw none.

  “I still believe it was for the best,” she said.

  The man chuckled. Of course she still believed that. Of course she had no idea how much pain she had inflicted upon the people around her. Of course she had no idea how much power she had and how she had misused that for so many years, making people’s lives miserable. He had listened to her sermon last weekend, and he knew exactly how she felt. She hadn’t changed since then. She didn’t regret a single thing. There was no way of changing her attitude or her beliefs. But there was a way of making her pay for what she did.

  The man lifted the baton and swung it at the old woman, striking her on the cheek. The blow made her fall backwards into the hallway of her house. She landed on the carpet with a loud thud.

  She was still conscious when he stepped inside the house and closed the door behind him
with a slam. She was still awake, just enough to look him in the eyes with a deep fear. It gave the man such great pleasure to see her beg for her life.

  “Please,” she sobbed.

  The man lifted the baton again and slapped her on her chest. The woman moaned in pain. The sound made the man even more agitated, and he hit her again with great pleasure, while he heard the pastor’s voice from back then in his parents’ kitchen.

  “You must train her. You must not let her give in to this. Pray over her every morning and every night. Pray that God will remove this sin from her life. Train her into understanding how wrong it is. And, if that doesn’t work, you must do what is required.”

  That was when the pastor put a whip on the kitchen table. From the crack in the kitchen door, where he was listening along with his sister, he remembered vividly seeing his mother stare at the whip, then back at the pastor.

  “You can’t be serious?” she said.

  The pastor nodded. “I’m afraid I am. I think you need to be as well. You must do what it takes to make sure your daughter doesn’t fall into sin. Whatever it takes, my child.”

  “Please, don’t hurt me again,” the pastor now moaned.

  But the memory of the whip and what followed for years after for his sister removed any doubt the man might have had about his mission. He needed to make her pay for the anger she’d caused from hearing his sister scream in pain at night in the bunk bed underneath him, the anger from hearing her cry and the pain he would feel on his own burning skin when they dragged her to the bathroom and whipped her again and again. Didn’t they know that when they hurt her, they hurt him as well? Being her twin, he felt every whiplash, every slap across her face, and even every humiliating word they used to try and make his sister change her ways.

  He would never be able to forget.

  “Please…” Blood was running from the old pastor’s lip. It had spilled onto her white shirt.

  “That’s exactly what she said,” he said, and lifted the baton once again. “That’s exactly how she pleaded for her life when she was beaten again and again. Do you remember that? I bet you don’t, old woman. But I do. I remember every scream, every plea and every night spent in pain. That’s what I believe is hell. That is the hell I’m living in every day. Because of you, because of what you did. Now, there are many opinions of what hell really is. Will we burn for eternity? Will we be in pain? No one really knows, do they?”

  The man chuckled and looked into the eyes of the old pastor as he slammed the baton into her head so hard the light in her eyes went out. She stopped breathing immediately, and he leaned over and whispered in her ear, “But I guess you’re about to find out.”


  “SO, WHAT have you got for me?”

  Jens-Ole sounded like he was in a good mood.

  I stared at the blank paper in front of me. I had been so busy with smoothing away conflicts at the house and trying to make things better between Sune and me that I had completely forgotten to try and find ideas. The morning at the house had been a nightmare, and I felt exhausted. I held my phone close to my ear, trying desperately to come up with something.

  “Come on, Rebekka. Spit it out. I don’t have all day,” Jens-Ole said. “Got a newspaper to fill, remember?”

  I stared, baffled, at the paper, then at the screen in front of me with yesterday’s article of the boy and the dog. I had no idea what to say.

  Just say something! Anything!


  I looked up. In front of me stood Sara. She handed me a small note. Then she smiled.

  Who goes fishing in the winter? It said.

  My eyes met hers. She shrugged. “Just a thought,” she said, and walked back to her desk.

  I stared at the note, and then up at the article wherein I stated that it was a drowning accident. She was right. Sara was right. Something was off here. The lakes had been frozen for at least a month with the tough winter we had. The ice was hardly thick enough to walk on, anyone knew that. But still, they couldn’t get a boat in the water. I stared at the note.

  “Rebekka, are you still there?” Jens-Ole said.

  “Who goes fishing in the winter?” I asked.

  “What? I don’t know. Lots of people, I guess. What are you talking about?”

  “Only hardcore sports fishing men, the way I see it. And they would have to be dressed for it, right?”

  “What on earth are you talking about, Rebekka? Fill me in here,” Jens-Ole said.

  “That couple that was pulled out of the lake. The boy, Steffen, told us they were both wearing clothes. Ordinary clothes. He said he thought it was odd that they weren’t even wearing jackets. And another thing he noticed was that the woman was wearing a suit and tie, whereas the man was wearing a red dress. That struck me as odd, but I left it out of the article, since it didn’t seem important.”

  Jens-Ole was quiet for a little while, then he cleared his throat. “Sounds like something you should look into. They might have been drunk and fallen into the water, but ask around. If your nose tells you something’s off, then I trust that cute little nose of yours.”

  “Thanks, Jens-Ole,” I said, chuckling. I gave Sara a thumbs-up and she smiled back.

  “Don’t let me down,” Jens-Ole yelled from the other end.

  “I won’t.”

  “I owe you one,” I said to Sara when I had hung up.

  She laughed. “My pleasure.”

  “Have they mentioned anything on the scanner about the bodies today?”

  “They haven’t, and that struck me as a little odd as well. Yesterday, they talked about it constantly. But today, there’s nothing. They’re all very quiet. It’s very unusual for them.”

  “Hm.” I walked to the kitchen and grabbed another cup of coffee. Sara had bought pastry, and it was sitting in a bag. I grabbed a couple and put them on a plate, then served one for Sara. We ate and drank coffee in silence in front of our computers for a little while.

  “Is Sune coming in today?” Sara suddenly asked.

  I shrugged. “I know he had an assignment for some magazine early this morning, but that shouldn’t take long. Other than that, he’s not doing anything. I don’t have anything for him yet.”

  “Maybe you should call him and ask him to come in,” she said, sounding very secretive. “Let him use his computer skills a little bit.”

  I nodded with a smile. I knew exactly what she meant.

  “I’ll text him right away.”


  LISE KNUDSEN was upset. She grabbed her bike and rode it along the Fjord with tears rolling across her cheeks. In the distance, she could see the white church peeking up between the old houses. For all of her seventy-six years, she had lived in Karrebaeksminde; she had gone to this church every Sunday. She had gone there with her parents as a child, and again as an adult with her husband and two children. She had loved going there, and thought it was the right thing to do, the right way to bring up her children.

  “Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it,” she would always say, quoting the Bible, when her husband protested that they had to go every Sunday when he would rather stay at home and sleep in.

  Despite her husband’s many protests, Lise Knudsen had always been an eager churchgoer and rarely missed a sermon. And, she had liked Pastor Kemp when she became pastor of Karrebaeksminde Church some fifty years ago. Lise had enjoyed her sermons and thought of her as having a fresh perspective. She was frank and always said things the way she saw them. Lise had liked her directness.

  But she felt the dear pastor had gone too far this past weekend. She had told the congregation that all homosexuals were sinners and would rot in hell. It had upset Lise in a way she had never suspected.

  After her husband, Finn, had suffered a stroke last month and passed away, Lise had discovered something about him that he had kept a deep secret from her for all of their years of marriage. In his closet, behind all his clothes, she f
ound a suitcase. To her chagrin, it was filled with women’s clothing…dresses, skirts, stockings, and high heels. Lise hadn’t understood what it all was until she called her daughter, who had explained it to her.

  “Dad was a transsexual, Mom. I thought you knew?”

  Lise had almost suffered a stroke herself. “He was what?”

  “He dressed up in women’s clothes when you weren’t home, or when he was on business trips. You mean to tell me you never knew this, Mom? Per and I have known since we were teenagers. We walked in on him one day when school was let out earlier than usual and he was home alone. He was dancing with the vacuum cleaner in the living room, wearing a gorgeous purple dress and stilettos. We always assumed you knew about it, but chose to never talk about it.”

  “I…I…I never did.”

  Ever since the conversation with her daughter, Lise had wondered about the husband she thought she knew. She couldn’t say she understood him or what he had been, but she knew that she still loved him. If he was gay, she never knew, but she should have suspected it, since he hadn’t seemed interested in her sexually since they’d had the children. She always assumed he’d simply lost interest in her, and since she was raised to believe that sex and lust were sinful, she had never enjoyed the act, and realized she liked not having to do it anymore.

  She never thought it could be because of that.

  In the weeks after the discovery, Lise Knudsen realized it didn’t change the way she felt about her late husband, to discover that what saddened her was the fact that he had led a double life that she hadn’t known about, that he didn’t feel comfortable enough with her to talk about it. That’s what troubled her the most. Until last Sunday, when Pastor Kemp, with thunder, declared that all gay and transgender people would go to hell.

  “It’s a sin, no matter what you call it,” she had yelled from the pulpit.

  It wasn’t the first time Pastor Kemp had declared something like that, but it was the first time Lise Knudsen had listened thoroughly, and now she was upset. She hadn’t been able to stop wondering if Henning was going to burn for eternity, just because he liked to dress as a woman. Just because he might have been gay? It didn’t seem fair. Henning had been such a loving father. Such a good husband. Was he supposed to suffer for eternity because of this strange double life? It wasn’t right. Not in Lise Knudsen’s book. There had to be some sort of redemption for people who otherwise led decent lives and were good to others, right? Henning hadn’t been a bad person; he had been the best among people…always caring, always loving. It couldn’t be right that he should be punished like this. It simply couldn’t. Where was the love in that?