Luke was flat-out flying towards the fire! Suddenly out of nowhere, a thought crossed his mind. He dug in his heels and stopped in his tracks. After turning around to face the town, he cupped his hands around his mouth and yelled, “Help! Help!”, as loud as he could. Then Luke took off again at a mad speed, deciding on the way to go to their home first. They were probably all in bed, and may have had no clue as to what was happening. He arrived at their front door within the minute, and reached for the handle. But luckily, it occurred to him before he’d touched it that it might be hot. He also remembered to expect a lot of smoke, and then pounded a closed fist on the door thrice. He reached both hands behind his neck, untied the knot on his bandanna and used that on the handle. In a flash, he opened the door, jumped back and over to the side letting the smoke billow out. After a few seconds, Luke could see in through the doorway pretty well, and he imagined the fire had just gotten started. Before he entered, he stopped and tied the bandanna over his nose and mouth.
Having helped build the place, Luke knew the whereabouts of the two bedrooms. He instantly decided to head towards the larger bedroom first to awaken the pastor and his wife. The flames and smoke were obviously coming from the kitchen area. That he could plainly see, and he might have thought its cause accidental, if not for the fact that the church went up in flames simultaneously. Luke absolutely knew he had no time for how, or who, or why, and continued his march towards the bedroom. The door was open. He entered and looked at the bed, seeing only the wife laying there immobile, flat on her back. Luke was sorely afraid that preacher man was over at the church. “Get up! Get up!” he yelled as he ran to her. He took hold of her shoulders and shook her, “Wake up! Wake up!”, but there was no response forthcoming. “The children, the children,” he thought, and let her be for the time being. As he was leaving the room he noticed the wad of sheets ruffled up at the end of the bed, and saw the blankets and one of the pillows on the floor. The air was becoming more noxious by the minute. As he hurried through the doorway, he remembered hearing these words that once came from the voice of his father, ‘Stay calm. Stay calm.’
As he made his way to the children’s room, he distinctly heard the little girl cry out, “Mommy? Mommy?” He rushed in,”C’mon! Get up! Get up! We gotta get outta here!” The girl was fine, but extremely frightened. She recognized Luke, even though he was wearing the bandanna, and allowed him to wrap her up in the quilt, and pick her up in his arms. He spun around to look in the boy’s direction, and the youngest was already coming towards him, coughing and carrying his blanket. Luke moved the girl to hold her in one arm, grabbed the boy’s hand, and began to walk them out, stooping down a ways into cleaner air as he went. He turned his head back towards the other boy who also lay there still as could be. Luke let out a another quick,”Wake up! Wake up!”, but the boy wasn’t moving, so off he went, pulling the little one behind him. “Thank God, these two are okay, at least!” Luke thought to himself, instead of thanking the Lord directly.
The kitchen was all ablaze by this time. Crackling and loud popping sounds could be heard as the group exited through the front door, and on out into the fresh, chilled air of the night. Luke didn’t see anyone else out there, and began to wonder if he was going to get any help at all from the neighbors in the vicinity. Ten seconds later, they were a safe distance away from the nasty smoke and scorching flames. As he sat the girl on the slightly wet grass, he bade the two sit down. “Stay here! I’ll be right back.” Shooting a glance over at the church, it looked to him like the entire front half of the structure was aflame. “Holy smokes is right!” came to his mind for the very first time in the truest sense.
Smoke was rolling out of the door by now, so he crouched down low to make his way back to the bedroom for the eldest. He didn’t like the looks of it, for the boy hadn’t moved. As he grabbed his thigh and shook him, he noticed that his pillow lay on the floor as well. The boy was unresponsive, just as he expected. “Damn, Lord! He was a good kid!” Luke pulled him off the bed, and slung him over his shoulder, in order to stay low as he trudged his way back out. He’d never carried a dead child before, and it felt horrible, simply horrible! He finally reached the other two and lay the boy beside them. Pleadingly, the girl asks, “Where’s Mommy?” Luke’s heart sunk to his stomach. Their mother had already given up the ghost. He was sure she’d taken her last breath some time ago. “I’m going to get her now, dear. Let your older brother be. He needs rest.” Luke had no qualms about telling this lie.
Catching what breath he could as he headed back in, he found himself angry from the turmoil, but all the while he felt his heart being broken in two. “Here we go again, Lord. Stay with me. What will I tell the children this time out?” But Luke didn’t have time to wait for an answer. He wondered, “Where is everybody? I wish my wife was here.” Again he blasted out to the town, “Help! Help!”