Second Coming: Chapter 9
Despite showing off every form of identity I had on me, including email from the pastor on my phone, the men were insistent I had no relation to Joseph or the campaign. It must have been twenty minutes that I was in their custody and held sitting against the back of one of their cars when someone came looking for me. It was, unfortunately, Jess, who was immediately panicked.
“Ms. Cummings, do not go anywhere. We’re here for your father’s sake.” The lead agent spoke up to her, approaching her with hand out from across the parking lot. She found the door locked and inoperable and began to run back around to the main entrance of the church, from which people were already leaving. Not a short time after, Joseph himself finally made his way outside.
“Can I ask what may be happening here?” He said, approaching with his wife and daughter, the man, as well as Pastor Sim.
“Joseph Cummings,” The lead agent spoke to him, the leather badge holder in his hand and presented outward. “Please don’t be alarmed. We’re here to serve you.”
“Under what power?”
“They say they’re with the service.” I spoke up. I was treated to a nudge from one of the other agent’s shoulders.
Joseph eyed me warily before furrowing his brow. “Well, at this time I’d like it if you’d release my campaign manager.”
The agent holding me back suddenly pulled on my shoulder to return me up off the black sedan and to my feet. “My apologies,” he mumbled. I shook my head at him and rejoined Joseph. Sharon pulled me along with her and looked at my wrists.
“They didn’t cuff you did they? Or hit you? Call you… the word?” The woman whispered, looking me earnestly in the eyes. “You know, we hear about… hate crimes these days, and The Pastor wanted to make sure that’s part of his platform.”
“None of that, ma’am,” I said, shaking my head. I looked at Joseph, who was already face-to-face with the suited agent, his face quite serious.
“Secret Service, are you? Didn’t realize that your office had a duty to candidates so early in the process. Jude here isn’t fully registered as being in my employment yet, haven’t had a chance to get in the tax forms.” He explained to the attentive agent. “You don’t have contacts with the IRS do you?”
“No, Mr. Cummings.” The agent sighed defeated. He glanced at me as I returned by Joseph’s side. “Once again, we were at fault. But we’ve come for a reason. Allow me to introduce myself… properly- I’m agent Barth with the Secret Service. Mr. Cummings, your campaign for president has gotten a lot of attention recently, and the service has deemed it necessary that you are accompanied.”
Joseph tapped pensively at his cheek. “…And if I decline?”
I jumped and looked at Joseph. “Joseph, let’s take this into-”
“Once again, I kid.” The Pastor laughed. “Perhaps I should have said that ‘the grace of God would protect us.’ No, your jobs are quite important. Honestly, I didn’t know we’d be gaining… what do you call it… an entorage?”
“An entourage,” Jess spoke up.
“Right.” Joseph nodded. “How does this work? We go, and you follow?”
Agent Barth adjusted the ear-piece wire hanging down beside his neck. “You’ll have to let us know where your next stop is, and when. Some of us will head there to stake it out, and the rest will stay back and accompany you.”
Pastor Sim stepped into the fray, swaying his hands back and forth as if trying to amass the whole of us into a single spot. “Well, let’s get out of this parking lot and take our time sorting these things out.”
Joseph snapped his finger and nodded. “You make a good point. Lead on.”
Agent Barth spoke into his headset, and the others about them pushed their fingers to their ears to listen in. The lead agent spoke to Joseph as we went back around into the front of the mega-church. “Our arrival today is actually not simply on your accord, Mr. Cummings.”
“Is that so?” He said, glancing at the suited man. “Is there someone else here of importance?”
“That is so, Mr. Cummings, but he told us to not inform you directly of his arrival, as he wanted to make it… a surprise.”
“Well, then I can only assume that the surprise will be present,” Joseph boasted.
Ahead by the front doors, there was another pair of suited agents. Barth nodded at them as we passed, but I could see Sharon and Jess eying them the same as myself as we passed by and into the double doors. The still mysterious long-haired man, however, had neither been looked at nor questioned by a single person.
There were other agents about the main hall of the church, and all but one of the attendees from that morning was there sitting in the pews. He was dressed in a navy blazer and slacks and perked up as soon as our group entered. I immediately recognized his face, as did the rest of the family.
Joseph and the surprise visitor approached each other. “Mr. Vice President.” The Pastor remarked, hiding the contempt he had spoken of before regarding the man. They shook each other’s hands in vigorous motions.
“Joseph Cummings,” Caine spoke in a delighted tone, “I might be breaking tradition here, but I had to meet my political opponent, especially with all the buzz about him.”
“Well,” Joseph hummed, “I’d say I’ve had to rise above the buzzing and focus on moving forward as usual. But I am certainly surprised to hear that you consider me a proper opponent.”
Caine chuckled. “Well, I would be lying if I said I came out all this way to simply fraternize with the enemy. Your peculiar company has intrigued me.” I saw the VP’s eyes train on the long-haired man. Joseph recognized the gesture immediately and ushered him forward.
“I’m surprised I didn’t spot you in the crowd this morning,” Joseph said, allowing the man and Caine to shake hands.
Cain pointed up to one of the private booths on the second level. “I was actually up that way. Let me tell you… I think I’m beginning to become a true believer. Not just in the Jesus I thought I knew, but as well the one here before us in the flesh.”
Pastor Sim intervened between the two men. “Shall we all go for a walk about the building while we speak? I assume that will suffice for our secret service friends?”