A Second Chance!

Sometimes when someone dies and is given their ‘wings’, there’s a catch. When John Taylor died on May 16, 1967 at the age of 40 at home just before breakfast from a heart attack he was in for another shock. When he had ascended the steps to heaven’s gate, the angel on the other side shook his head no when John asked to be let in. “But I have my angel’s wings. Why won’t you let me enter heaven?” he pleaded.

The angel was compassionate in his answer and told John what he had to do first before he could enter the gates of heaven. “The wings God has given you aren’t the same as mine John and there’s a reason for that. In ‘The book of names’ are the names of those who are allowed to enter heaven, but there also names of men and women who haven’t fully earned their angel’s wings.

What this means is that they must complete one more task on earth to show God they are worthy to enter these gates.” he said. John was desperate and confused and pleaded with the angel to tell him what task he had to complete. “When you return to earth John, you will find yourself near a town in which a woman will desperately need your guidance.

She too in the end will pass away but before that happens; she will fulfill something very important to her and to God. Neither she nor anyone on earth will see your angel’s wings until the time is right. You will be a stranger to her and look just like anyone in her town. A child’s life will rest in her hands and what she does or doesn’t do will depend on whether she will earn her angel’s wings and pass through this gate.

Your task is to guide her John and be a source of comfort and strength to her. However, you cannot tell her what to do or intervene and alter in any way that which is to come to pass. I cannot tell you if the child who desperately needs her help will live or die. I can only tell you that she must follow her heart or mind. By completing this task you will have fully earned your angel’s wings John and they will be as pure and white as mine are. Only then can I open this gate for you.” the angel said.

As John looked at his feet and then back up into the angel’s eyes he asked two important questions. First, he asked how he would find the place on earth where the woman he was. “These stairs will end up near the woman’s town John.” the angel said. Next John asked, “How old is the woman and how will I know she is the one I am to help?” John asked anxiously.

The angel looked through the gate and explained. “Her name is Lisa Montgomery and she lives in a small town called Hoodsport in the state of Washington. You cannot tell her or anyone on earth that you are an angel John nor can you do anything to choose the fate of the child. What you can do is do what you do the best, be her friend. As her friend you can influence her in the choices or decisions she makes.” the angel explained.

Tears were now falling from John’s eyes as he realized that he might not be able to enter the gates of heaven if the woman he had to help made the wrong choice. “You said that a child’s life rests in her hands. I know she must decide to save the child’s life or let the child die. But if the woman chooses wrong and doesn’t earn her angel’s wings will I be allowed to enter these gates?” John asked in a fearful voice.

The angel paused for the longest moment and John saw he was deep in thought. “If the woman makes the right choice, you both will pass through these gates. But if she chooses wrong John, I’m sorry but your wings will be taken back and you cannot enter heaven.” The angel said in a sad voice. With a heavy heart John turned around and began walking down the long stairway back to earth.

The stairway ended inside the ruins of an old stone church in a forest. As quickly as the stairway disappeared behind him so did John’s wings. Beside him appeared a large box. John found clothing, a watch, money, sleeping bag and a canvas bag with a shoulder strap. Inside the bag were a variety of handyman tools. John put the shirt, watch and jacket on before picking up the sleeping bag. Then he slipped the tool bag of over his shoulder.

He made his way down a hiking trail to the town below. The forest had a deep smell of earthiness to it as he heard the sounds of squirrels, frogs and birds. Bright green sword ferns were seen to his left and right as he kept his balance. Soon he could see buildings below and he smelled saltwater in the air. Hoodsport was a small town beside a saltwater canal leading to the ocean. The waterway was called Hood Canal.

When he reached the road, he saw that Highway 101 ran through the town with shops on both sides of the highway. A small school sat on the hillside to his left surrounded by trees. He saw an aquarium, motel, café, gas station and not more than a dozen other businesses. Surely it wouldn’t be hard for him to find the woman whose name was Lisa Montgomery.

As John stared at the cars, trucks and eighteen wheeler trucks passing by him, he regretted not asking the angel at the gate to heaven how old Lisa Montgomery was or what she looked like.
He decided to walk the four block length of the town and acquaint himself with the businesses. But before he had even walked a block, a blue 1967 VW van driven by a woman with long blonde hair stopped ahead of him.

As he reached the passenger door he saw her smiling as she reached over to the window and rolled it down. “If you’re headed up to Lake Cushman, I’m happy to give ya a ride.” she said as she smiled up at John. Just as he was about to say no thanks, she spoke, “My name is Lisa, what’s yours?” As John looked down he saw she had beautiful blue eyes.

“Well Lisa, my name is John Taylor and I just got into town. I don’t have a place to stay yet and was going to get myself a room at that motel over there.” he said in a friendly voice. “You looking for work?” Lisa asked in a friendly voice. John nodded. “What sort of things are ya good at?” Lisa asked as a freight truck noisily passed them. John gave out a laugh as he replied, “Well Lisa, the truth is I’m a ‘jack of all trades’ and a master at none.” as he let out a laugh.

Lisa pulled on the door handle and gave the door a push as she told John, “Well if ya don’t mind working for a woman, I might just be able to put you to work.” Go ahead and slide my van’s door open and you can put your things in there.” she said with a smile. After John got in and sat down in the seat beside her, Lisa looked over her shoulder for traffic and pulled back out onto the road.

“I don’t pick up hikers often. Truth is you’re the first man I have ever picked up. What’s your name?” she asked. John told the woman his name and she told him it was nice to meet him. As she made a left hand turn, he saw the green sign that said, ‘Lake Cushman Resort’ 7 miles ahead. When she saw him eyeing the sign she began to smile as she touched his shoulder to get his attention.

“I saw ya looking at that resort sign. That’s where we’re headed. I own the resort. It’s a beautiful place nestled at the edge of Lake Cushman. I have 10 cabins, a restaurant and a dock with boat rentals. But what I don’t have is a handyman.” Lisa said with a laugh in her voice. I can give ya a cabin to live in and a salary once you look the place over and decide if you could do the things I need done.

Frank was my handyman until about a week ago and he had a drinking problem. A couple bringing in one of my aluminum fishing boats found him floating beside the dock near a whiskey bottle. Since then I’ve had a hard time holding the resort together. George is my cook and he lives at one of my cabins. My waitresses drive up here from Hoodsport and I have a man named Jess who runs the bait shop.

Frank handled the painting, electrical, plumbing problems and kept all the trash cans around the resort dumped. That and keeping the burned out light bulbs replaced are my biggest concerns. I’m afraid of heights.” Lisa said as she let out an embarrassed laugh and looked over at John. “Plus, I don’t have the strongest arms to lift up the trash cans high enough to get then shaken into the large dumpster.

So you see how a handyman would help me keep up my business John. After I show you around the resort, if you’re looking for a steady job, we’ll talk about your wages. If not, I’ll be glad to take you back down the mountain to Hoodsport.” Lisa said. In truth she hoped John would take the job she offered him. She had a good sense of people and she had a nice feeling about him.

Lisa kept shifting gears as her van made its way up the steep winding mountain road. Suddenly Lisa stepped on the clutch and put her van in neutral as she stopped her van. A half a dozen deer were running across the road in front of her. As Lisa’s eyes sparkled, she looked over at John and told him that she loved catching a glimpse of deer on her way up or down the mountain. “I always worry about them deer jumping right out in front of me and making me hit one of them.” Lisa said in a worried voice.

By the time they reached the ‘Lake Cushman Resort’ rustic wood sign, she stopped her van and said, “Darn it!” Standing right next to the resort sign was a large bull elk with a huge rack. Lisa and John stared at the elk that turned his massive head and looked right at her van. They stared at each other for almost five minutes before the elk slowly wandered off into the woods.

When Lisa looked over at John she looked very disappointed. “I should have had my camera John. That picture would have been made into a million dollar postcard. I could have had my resort packed all season.” she said as laughed and shook her head. John liked Lisa and it hurt him to know that was going to die. He just didn’t know when. The angel hadn’t told him when.

Lisa turned left off the asphalt and made her way down hill on a rough dirt road through the woods. Soon the resort and lake were coming into view with scattered cabins here and there. In addition to the 10 cabins that were rentals, five other cabins were in need of repair. Being an alcoholic, Frank hadn’t been the most reliable of handymen but she felt sorry for him.

After she parked, she asked John if he would help her take in all the boxes of groceries she had bought in Shelton into her café. She introduced John to George her cook. He was a full blooded Skokomish Native American.
He chose not to live on the nearby reservation. Sarah and Christine were her waitresses but the café wasn’t open right now. They both worked evenings.

After all the boxes were brought in, Lisa asked John if she could give him a tour of her resort and let him decide whether he wanted the job or a ride back down the mountain. They walked first west along the road following the edge of the lake and then walked north uphill and then east making a loop. John saw the 30 foot long dumpster and understood why it would be hard for Lisa to dump the row of garbage cans beside it piling up.

Then she led the way down to the fishing and boating dock. It was a beautiful lake surrounded by heavily timbered mountains. The water was as smooth as a sheet of glass. Here and John saw trout jumping and making ripples in the water. John saw a dozen 12 foot aluminum boats, some with motors and some with only oars. She pointed out the cook’s cabin on a small hill to her left.

Suddenly a huge spotted owl flew above Lisa and John’s heads carrying a rodent in its claws. “Lisa put her hand over her heart as she looked at the owl flying away from them. It wasn’t more that 18 inches tall when seen sitting on a tree limb but its wing span was nearly four feet wide. As she composed herself and smiled over at John she told him she called the owl ‘Barney’.

Lord knows why I call that owl Barney. The name just sorta jumped out at me.” she said with a laugh. When they were finally standing back by her van, she turned and asked John her all important question. “Well John, I just gave ya the $5 tour. As you can see, it’s a rustic resort. Not much is complicated I think. If ya have a strong back and a little handyman skills, I think that you’d like it here.