“Who has the money?” the Sheriff asked angrily as he jumped aboard the MetroRail, staring down the passengers heading to the Rose Parade.
I had the money. A whole backpack full of Million-Dollar-bill Gospel-tracts money.
The deputy scanned the crowded train looking for suspects. I stayed silent. I had no idea that it would come to this…
The train had stopped. I stuck a fist full of dollars out the door, handing out tracts to the multitude of de-training Tournament of Roses parade-goers. Everyone grabbed a bill joyfully. I handed a stack to a stranger and told him to hand them out to everyone. He nodded, then dropped the whole stack. A whole pile of phony cash fluttered around the floor boards of the MetroRail station. I quickly stooped to pick them up, shoved them into my pack, stepped back onto the train when—WHOOSH! The Philistine was upon me! The Philistine was upon me!
“Who has the money?” the very determined Sheriff repeated. I have the right to remain silent, I have the right to remain silent…
I spoke up. Meekly. “Uh, I do, Sir.”
“Step off the train right now!” he demanded.
Wait, I thought. I’m the leader of this team of thirty one people. And my daughter, my eight-year-old daughter, is still on the…
I was taken off the train. The doors slammed shut. The train took off. The team—and my daughter—gone! I had a new cell phone, but I hadn’t programmed any numbers into it yet. Who could I call? Lucky for me, fellow team member, Ray, jumped off the train when he saw me detained by the Sheriff. It was his Army training—to stick by a brother in distress—that caused him to automatically jump to my side, he told me later. He reminded me that my daughter was safe in the arms of his wife—whom he left to help me.
The Sheriff, a young man, barked: “How much of that money do you have on you?”
“My whole backpack is full,” I replied, unzipping the pack, revealing a huge cache of cash.
“There are tourists from other countries here; they could be fooled with this money!” He grabbed a stack from my hand and waved it in my face. I was the big catch of the day, maybe in his entire short career: The Rose Parade Counterfeiter!
“Uh, Sir,” I respectfully, gently, graciously, replied. “Those are Gospel tracts. I’m a pastor leading a team to the parade.”
The bomb-sniffing dogs and their bulky, burly masters walked briskly by. The Sheriff was unsure of what he should do with the counterfeiting clergy. He called out to his superior across the tracks, “Hey Sarge! What do you think I should do?”
Sarge answered back with a roar of laughter, “Do they take those at Starbucks?” He looked around to see who else was in on the joke. “It’s your call! Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!”
I looked into the rookie’s eyes; he averted his, paused… time stood still. A hollow rushing sound enveloped the station; strange, subtle roars of air and wind and cyclonish motion kept the three of us in a sober stupor.
Mr. Rookie handed back the stack of bills. “You can go.”
There would be no big score for the Sheriff’s Dept. on this day.
Safely back on the next train, Ray and I would be quickly reunited with the team, my daughter, and Ray’s wife. Catastrophe was avoided for one more day.
But disaster was just beginning for Mr. Rookie when he faced his brethren back at the station. “It’s your call! Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!”