Bronze Refined As Silver

by Mark Eidemiller

Chapter Nineteen

"I'm glad we put the heavy coats on before we got off the plane," commented Dot. "You got the camera ready?"

I took a quick glance at the camcorder, then sighted through it. "I see 'em. They're still looking for us, though." I grinned. "This is gonna be good. I can't wait to catch the looks on their faces when they see you."

And I was thankful that I had the camera running, because their faces went through the full range of emotions: happiness at seeing us, followed by shock at seeing Dot's hair color, then empathy as they saw the bruises and scratches. It was priceless. Once the shock passed, we exchanged hugs and handshakes. Dot surprised them both with affectionate kisses on the cheek, and the way she shrugged off the concern over her wounds.

Considering the time and the length of the flight, we were both hungry and tired. We stopped off at a restaurant for a late supper, then back to Johnny's cottage. The bony archaeologist, seeing Dot's condition and the lateness of hour, insisted on having her sleep on his couch instead of trying to warm up a cold camper. She didn't argue the point.

The next week was an interesting one. Since Gregor Antilles could only copy part of the records each day, it would take a few days to gather it all together. And our search for Long Tom was temporarily suspended for lack of leads.

Much of Dot's time was spent recuperating again from injuries, and working to make reparations for the damage to her opponent. I'd used my influence as a pastor to find out a bit more about the condition of GI Jane, whose real name was Melody Baker. I was shocked to find out that her injuries had been far more severe than suspected, and that we'd almost lost her. However, she appeared to be stable now and would make a full recovery in time. With the help of Douglas Martin, we were able to set up a special account that would pay for her medical bills and any therapy that followed. In time, we hoped that Dot could personally reconcile matters with her. But for now, this was sufficient.

Dot and I once more had time to take walks in the snow, and talk. As I suspected, one of the heavier subjects was marriage. We both wanted to get married, especially now that she was a Christian. But I had to explain that my hesitation was due to waiting on God for His blessing. And I knew that blessing would come in His timing, speaking to me in a way that would be unmistakable, leaving not a shred of doubt. Still young in her faith, she was disappointed, but tried her best to understand.

The videotapes we made in San Francisco were a big hit.

The part at the Wax Museum was the most entertaining, and quite hilarious. Clark was appalled at how he had been portrayed, with the uncharacteristic firearms and as muscle-bound as a body builder. "Why didn't they just put a sword in my hand and a Viking helmet on my head?" he blurted. Johnny suddenly got indignant and rebuked Clark with a comment about Vikings and something called Qui. Clark apologized for the comment, although neither of them explained what it was all about.

Another section of videotape was taken from our rental car as we traveled the route Renny and Durant had traveled that fateful day in 1989. Dot got some wonderful pictures, as we were ironically stuck in traffic at the same time the quake occurred. I had some material I'd downloaded from the Internet, and made it available if anyone wanted some fact sheets. We also showed the area where Durant's motel had been. It had survived the initial shock, but had suffered structural damage that took its toll over the years. Within two years of the quake it had been closed down as being unsafe, and within four had been torn down to make way for the mini-mart that stood there now.

Emotions were high that Sunday when we attended church at Rutland Community Fellowship. Dot took us all by surprise when she approached Kevin and asked to be baptized, and I was staggered when she asked me to do the honors. The baptistry was small and the water wasn't the warmest, but none of that mattered as I held her, ready to immerse her into a public declaration of Jesus Christ. Johnny uncharacteristically joined us at church this Sunday, and -- with Clark and Kevin sitting on either side of him giving him a running commentary on the proceedings -- actually seemed to share in our excitement, although he admitted he was there 'purely out of cultural interest and curiosity.'

My heart was pounding as I looked into her trusting brown eyes and declared for all to hear, "I now baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, for the remission of your sins." Then I lowered her backwards into the water, pausing a moment, then raising her up -- representing the death and burial of the old person, and the resurrection of the new person in Christ -- and could not contain my joy. The tears flowed uncontrollably as we hugged, hip-deep in water.

"Okay, gang, here they are!" I announced, bursting through the door. "Hot of the press!"

Dot and I each carried two stacks of paper. Dot handed one stack to Clark while I gave one to Johnny. Then we got comfortable and started analyzing them.

Johnny expressed a bit of skepticism. "Doc, are you sure he's here? How are we going to find this needle in the haystack, especially if it's not a needle anymore?"

Clark looked up from one the pages and said, "Johnny, how many times have you gone into a dig based solely on a hunch? If he's here, we'll find him."

He had a pained look on his face. "Ouch. Point taken," he conceded.

We all poured over the papers in silence. After about thirty minutes, we heard a surprised exclamation: "I'll be superamalgamated!"

We all looked up. Dot announced, "We have a winner!"

Clark rushed up from his seat. "What did you find?"

Johnny ran a highlighter over the section, then handed it to Clark. "Look!" he said, then started laughing. Clark looked at the highlighted lines and also laughed.

"Well?" I asked excitedly.

"Renny's first name is John. The Russian word for John is Ivan." Clark paused, pointing at the highlighted portion. "An Ivan Renwick became a Romanian citizen in 1992, then later emigrated to the United States with a wife, Amanda. The old boy kept his name."

"That would make sense," I commented, putting my pages aside. "Who'd suspect a John Renwick when the only Renny Renwick died ten years earlier?"

"And the old misogynist got hitched . . . will wonders ever cease," mused Johnny. He looked over at Clark. "So they're here in the United States. All we have to do is find them."

I was already heading for the notebook PC. Within minutes I had searched out 143 Renwicks in the USA, five with the first name John or Ivan, and all scattered around the country. "Okay, so it's more common that we thought. How do we narrow down the search?"

"Immigration records," said Dot.

"Yes," agreed Johnny. "But how can we get to them?"

Clark smiled and looked at me. I smiled back and said, "New York." He nodded, and reached for his cell phone. A few moments later: "Mr. Martin? Silas Poteet here."

"Good afternoon, sir. I apologize for not getting back to you regarding those refuges, but I haven't been able to uncover anything yet."

Clark wat patient. "That's quite all right, Douglas. I have another matter for your 'special talents'." He paused. "Ready?"

The excitement was there. "Yes, sir!"

"I'm looking for the current whereabouts of an Ivan and Amanda Renwick, as close to an exact address as you can give me. They emigrated to the US from Romania in 1997."

There was hesitation on the other end. "Renwick?" he mumbled.

Clark was smiling. "Uh huh."

"Is . . . he . . ."

"Without seeing him in person, I'd say so."

His voice quickened; the game was afoot. "Thirty minutes."

"I knew I could count on you, Douglas."

"Thank you . . . Clark." And he ended the conversation.

"Popcorn, anyone?" asked Johnny, heading for the kitchen. Dot joined him.

As I stood and stretched, excited at the prospect of actually finding Renny, I commented, "You know, this whole thing reminds me of that verse in Ephesians: 'From Him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.' I love seeing this all come together, each of us doing what we do best without stepping on egos."

"Nothing unusual about that, dear boy," commented Johnny from the other room. "My goodness, that's what made us a good team. Even with Monk and Ham's constant bickering." He paused, his eyes wide with amazement. "You know, Doc, this is the best I've felt in years! I feel so. . . so young!"

Clark nodded. "You're not alone, brother. Monk said practically the same thing."

The cell phone in Clark's hand beeped within twenty minutes. I sat at the notebook, ready to assist. "Yes, Douglas. Good. Here, let me pass the phone over to Perry."

I took the cell. "Good afternoon, Mr. Martin. What did you find?" I scribbled some things on a pad of paper, then entered it into the map program on the Internet. Within a few moments I had exact driving instructions to get us from here to the Renwick farm in Oberlin, Kansas. "Excellent, sir. Thank you very much."

As I handed the cell back to Clark, Dot looked over my shoulder. "Dorothy in Kansas? Does that mean I'm gonna have to rename my teddy bear Toto?" she quipped, giving me a peck on the cheek.

"Only if you want to get to get to the Emerald City," I replied dryly.

Once more, we on the road again. Citing his responsibility as an educator, Johnny bade us goodbye, promising we'd keep in touch. After a quick stop in Rutland for a few supplies and to fill up the gas tanks, we hit the Yellow Brick Road to Kansas. Except for the endless parade of Wizard of Oz jokes and quips from Dot, our trip was uneventful. Even her teddy bear got into the act, sitting in a small picnic basket on the dashboard.

Clark kept us amused us by reviewing some of the material we had gotten from the Internet. Amazingly, there were several web sites providing tourist and business information on the small hamlet. They had a population of somewhere around 2,500 people, and most of the work force centered around agriculture. They had three hotels, all recently renovated.

Overall, it looked like a nice place to get away and start a new life in peace and tranquility.

However, as we got closer to the Renwick farm, all was far from peaceful and tranquil. Our first clue came as a plume of black smoke rising from the distant fields.

"We've got trouble," summarized Dot over the intercom.

"Clark?" I started to say, but he already had a pair of powerful binoculars out and was scanning ahead of us.

"Two motorcycles," he reported. "It looks like they're torching the crops! Can you get us in closer?"

"Watch me," I said without hesitation, and swung onto an access road. "Hang on!"

The camper van shook and rattled, and I heard things spilling behind me. I ignored them for the moment and pressed on. Spotting some movement, I directed Clark's attention to the right.

"Horses," he identified. "They've been scattered."

"Dot! Call 911!" I said.

"Just did," she announced. "They're on their way."

"Good," I acknowledged.

Clark narrated some action. "There's someone on horseback trying to intercept them . . . it's probably Renny." His hand reached over and tapped on the dash to get my attention. Then he stabbed his finger towards a brown horse standing at the side of the road a short distance ahead. "The horse. Get me in as close as you can," he instructed. "I'm going to see if I still remember how to ride bareback."

"What're you gonna do when you catch up with them?" I asked.

But Clark was silent, vanishing behind me into the van. I couldn't see what he was doing. "Dot?"

"Yo," she replied in a clipped tone.

"Hang back. I'm gonna drop Clark off. We'll regroup a couple of miles ahead, just beyond that shack -- see it?"

"Roger," she replied.

Clark came back into sight. He had ditched his outer shirt, with only a tee shirt covering his bronze torso. Both of our fire extinguishers were strapped to his back with nylon cord. And a small metal tube I didn't recognize was strapped to his left forearm.

"You are praying, aren't you?" he asked.

I replied incredulously, "You have to ask?"

Trying to keep things steady, I smoothly guided the camper van in, knowing that any sudden movement might spook the horse and shatter the plan. God's hand held the mare still as we got to within a dozen yards and Clark stepped from the running boards.

"Vaya con Dios!" I called after him. But I doubted that he heard me.

Several bounding strides later, Clark smoothly leaped onto the horse's back, and man and beast kicked into high gear. He wouldn't have had a chance on the open road, but the terrain was in Clark's favor. The motorcycles were slowed by their progress through stiff plant growth -- like trying to ride a bicycle underwater -- and had to maintain balance while brandishing their flaming torches. On the other hand, Clark's tall steed cleared the crops with ease, kept balance while at a full gallop, and easily caught up to the terrorists.

Communicating through the intercom, Dot and I urged him on. "How's he gonna stop them?" she asked from her perspective.

"I'm not sure, but it's gonna be soon!" I paused, watching Clark's horse follow a parallel path to the bikers.

Go to Chapter Twenty

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