Friday, May 7, 2021


    Last month, I had the opportunity to participate in a writing contest for Writers 750.  No, I did not win, but, it was fun!  Below is the story I submitted - Gypsy Road To Redemption.  

Gypsy Road to Redemption

     Antoine lay in bed, listening to the drone of his alarm.  Mondays were the hardest days to get out of bed for Antoine Levy, but this Monday, in particular, was more difficult than usual.  A late Sunday afternoon message from someone he believed buried deep in the past ensured this Monday would be filled with more dread than any other Monday.

      In stark contrast, merely two days earlier, Antoine awoke with excited expectation. The little ring box sitting on his dresser that fateful Saturday morning promised to change everything. On Saturday night, he proposed  to Sheila, the love of his life. And, as fate would have it, Antoine was not the only one waiting to spring a surprise.  Sheila also carried exciting news, only Sheila’s surprise was not in a small box in her pocket, Sheila’s surprise grew in her womb.

The message which sent Antoine’s happy life into a tailspin came the previous day, around 4:30 PM.  An email from a relative he had not heard from, nor even thought about, for his entire adult life shook him to his foundation: “Now that you are about to be married and have an heir, it is time you learned the truth about what happened to your parents and time for you to do what they could not, it is imperative you do not fail as they did. Meet me tomorrow at the bus station at 10:00 AM.  Come alone and do not be late. Uncle Val.”  

Uncle Val was actually Valentino Khmeleva.  Antoine had cloudy memories of Uncle Val showing up at various family functions prior to his parent’s death.  Uncle Val carried an ominous air about him and when he showed up for a family gathering, the older men would solemnly disappear into a back room with him for an hour or so.  What was discussed was never disclosed. Antoine remembered something which, at the time, held no significance, but now nearly choked him with foreboding.  The week before 8 year old Antoine’s parents died, under mysterious circumstances, Roman Levy, Antoine’s father, was for the first time, summoned to the meeting of Uncle Val and the family elders.  Young orphaned Antoine was shipped off from his home in New York to Aunt Lyla in New Jersey and had no further contact with any of the family he had known his first 8 years, including mysterious Uncle Val.

Antoine arrived at the Greyhound station five minutes before Uncle Val’s Bus, not really knowing how to respond to a man of whom he had very little recollection. He deduced, if his father’s family had a patriarch, it was Uncle Val. An inexplicable darkness gripped Antoine’s spirit, along with anticipation of secrets revealed, as the unmistakable sound and smell of diesel filled his senses.

Uncle Val was the thirteenth passenger to exit the bus.  Valentino Khmeleva was a man of not quite average height, yet, he cut a formidable image of dignified grace usually reserved for those reared among royalty, dressed in a black suit, complete with a black overcoat draped over his shoulders like a cape, accented by a blood red tie and pocket square.  Though Khmeleva was undoubtedly well into his seventies, his jet black hair, salt and pepper beard and regal bearing gave him the appearance of a much younger man.  The only accoutrement  hinting to his advanced age was a black, highly polished cane with silver wolf head handle, although, upon further inspection, the walking stick seemed more accessory than necessity.  

Somehow, Uncle Val knew exactly whom he had come to see as he walked directly to Antoine without a shred of hesitation.  In a heavy Romanian accent, Khmeleva dispelled any notion this was a warm family reunion,  “Come, quickly, we have much to discuss and you have much to do.”  Antoine, flabbergasted  by his Uncle’s direct approach, blurted out the one question, the only question which mattered, “What’s this all about?”  “Not here” came the terse reply, “you have a car, I presume? Let us go to a place we cannot be disturbed nor overheard.” 

The drive home was much more like a family reunion than the initial meeting as Uncle Val asked what Antoine remembered from his childhood prior to going to live with his mother’s sister, Lyla.  Antoine did remember the family gatherings being festive and he confessed to having a vague memory of the near stranger seated next to him.  During the drive, Uncle Val, jovially, recounted his memories of young Antoine and his parents, although there seemed to be an underlying bitterness when Valentino spoke of the late Mrs. Levy.

Antoine lay in bed pondering the life altering meeting with Uncle Val, a meeting which ended abruptly when a black limousine pulled in front of the house and whisked his uncle away to parts unknown. His uncle’s last words, as he strolled out the door were, “Do not fail as your father failed, I do not have another 20 years left to recruit your son, yes, my boy, you will have a son, I have seen it.”  Antoine Levy discovered his father’s true name was also Khmeleva, but was legally changed to Levy at the behest of Lillian, his mother.  Lillian did not want her husband and son involved in the vile business of the Khmeleva family, even if they were descended from an ancient royal bloodline.  

Antoine’s mission was to claim his rightful place as heir to the throne of a mysterious and ancient order ofGypsies in Romania. Roman Levy, Antoine’s father was recruited for this very task and failed because Lillian Levy insisted on traveling to Romania and provided enough of a distraction to prove fatal to both.  Antoine could not even begin to wrap his mind around the things Uncle Val revealed, it was madness.  His was to travel to the land of his ancestors, challenge the “usurper” as Uncle Val called him, and, if necessary, kill him.  The fact the Usurper was responsible for his parents’ deaths was quite an enticement.

Because Antoine had always been open and honest with Sheila, the next day, he shared everything with her.  As insane as the tale Antoine weaved sounded, Sheila knew this was just the opportunity she had been praying for.  While Antoine was busy learning about his past, Sheila had been busy dealing with hers and made a life changing decision. 

Sheila, days earlier, not really knowing what to do with the life growing inside her, found herself in a crisis pregnancy center, looking for options. This particular pregnancy center was run by folks from a local church and after a couple of hours of counseling and prayer, Sheila was not only committed to keeping the baby but made a commitment to give her life to Jesus Christ. 

After sharing her exciting news with Antoine, Sheila saw the turmoil in her fiance’s eyes. She shared everything the counselor had spoken to her, and, as a result, Antoine was more conflicted than ever.  On one hand, the things Sheila shared sparked a longing in his heart he had never experienced and on the other hand he was seriously considering the mission of vengeance and murder for which Uncle Val had recruited him.  

That night, Antoine’s dreams were fraught with images of death and life.  In his dream, his Uncle Val flew in like a giant bat, enticing him to give in to his anger and bitterness to claim what was rightfully his; while Sheila appeared as an angel calling him to a warm and glowing light promising forgiveness and freedom from the need for vengeance.  He did not realize this was more than a mere decision, this was a spiritual battle for his very soul. 

What Lillian Levy knew and Sheila suspected was Uncle Val was a master of dark arts and Antoine's birthright was to rule over a coven of witches.  Sheila prayed all night as evil fought for the heart of the man she loved. Antoine awoke in a cold sweat, crying out to a God he barely believed in, asking for a sign. Dimly at first, a light entered  his window and grew in intensity, lighting up the cherished photograph of his parents on the wall across from his bed. In the photo, his mother’s visage shone much like Sheila had in his dream. With an inexplicable urgency, Antoine jumped out of bed and for the first time in his life, knelt down and prayed.  As he prayed for forgiveness and committed himself to Jesus, he felt all the heaviness and darkness Uncle Val cast over his soul evaporate.  

A few hundred miles away, Valentino Khmeleva gripped at his evil shriveled heart as the dark spirit which sustained his life fled like a rat leaving a sinking ship. Khmeleva was no longer of any use to his dark master and was tossed aside like a bag of dung. His last thoughts were a powerless curse directed toward his still praying nephew.

If you are interested in learning more about Writers 750

you can check it out

The writing contest is open to everyone and happens every month. Also, if you are interested in becoming a better writer, I encourage you to check your my friend H.M. Shuldt's book.

Whatever you do, do it unto the Lord!

Now, go live as Christ... and give the devil hell!

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