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Supreme Makeover

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The Judge looked up from the bench,
“Will the foreman please stand? Has the jury reached a verdict?”

“Yes your honor,” he said. The judge looked at the verdict then handed it back.

“The jury finds the defendant guilty of aggravated assault in the first degree,” cited the clerk.

Cole Sanger never flinched, his fiery eyes locked on the men and women who were sending him to prison.

Three years later:

Hailey finished wiping the counter and looked up at the clock.
“Only one-thirty,” the waitress sighed. She started another pot of coffee brewing, sat down and continued working out the diners’ schedule for next week.

After a few minutes she looked up at the customers engrossed in conversation and food. She stared at a man sitting with two boys from her high school.

“Why is that guy hanging out with Marshal and Alex? And praying before they eat…” she muttered.

Her hand tightened and the pencil lead snapped. She grabbed her notes and scurried into the kitchen.
Kyle, the weekday chef and her only real friend, looked up from the grill.

“What’s with you? I know, another disgruntled customer. Send him my way, I’ll work it out,” he said smiling and waving a rolling pin in the air.

“It’s nothing. There’s just some guy out there praying and get this, he was with a couple of my classmates. And believe me they’re not exactly church people.”

“Well I’ve heard worse,” he replied. “Why does the ‘god thing’ get to you so much anyway?”

She looked at Kyle and then threw her dirty dish rag into the sink.
“Because that’s me,” she grunted staring at the rag.

“Meaning?”

“Meaning, I feel like that dirty rag. Kyle, you don’t really know me. I’ve messed up my life a lot,” she said touching her stomach, tears welling up in her eyes.

“I’m sorry Hailey. I didn’t know. Listen I don’t really do the ‘god thing’, I just ignore it. Maybe try that.”

“You’re not getting it. I’m empty, scared, lonely, stuck with constant shame and guilt. I’m so sick of trying to hide it. I wish there was a way out. The ‘god thing’ doesn’t work because I don’t know if God even exists. And if He does, well I’m pretty sure He’s written me off.” She turned and pulled out a rack of coffee cups and hauled them out to the front.

Five minutes later, a man entered thru the front door and walked up to the counter.

“Afternoon. What can I get you?” Hailey asked still stacking cups.

“Just coffee please,” he replied.

As Hailey turned to fill a cup, the man slipped a gun out from under his newspaper and fired a shot at a man sitting at a nearby table.

He toppled over screaming as the gunman turned back toward the counter and looked directly at Hailey.

“You’re next lady,” he said with eerie calmness, raising his gun at her.

Cole Sanger waved his hands in a downward motion to Marshal and Alex and whispered,
“Get under the table”.

Cole then snatched a dinner plate and slung it at the gunman. The plate caught him by the left temple and knocked him down against one of the bar stools.

“Get down now!” Cole shouted to Hailey and the other patrons as he lunged at the man who was now on the floor.

The man aimed his gun at Cole and fired off another shot just as Cole drove his fist into the man’s nose; crushing it and knocking him unconscious.

“Call 911, hurry!” Kyle yelled at Hailey as he ran out of the kitchen and kicked the gun away from the assailant.

“And tell them we need an ambulance now,” he added applying a towel to the blood oozing from Cole’s abdomen.

Three days later:

Hailey slipped into a back pew of the church and sighed. The casket was up front, as was Pastor Reilly. She was so thankful Pastor had shared with her what made Cole so special, and the Gospel behind it. She looked down at her hand, calm and steady.

It was gone. The fear that followed her everywhere; churches like this, people, herself, her past, and future; all of it. The peace in her was also new, and mysterious. It was a paradox to feel such inner joy and at the same time be grieving a man who had given his life for her. Such love was foreign to her. All of it was so new. Her heart was now filled with her Savior, Jesus. It was a heart now beating with the truth of forgiveness and love.

She picked up the memorial program and looked at the picture of Cole. Then she read his story again.

‘A man of passion and drive, scarred by tours in Afghanistan, jailed for a reckless lifestyle, and then transformed into a loving servant of Jesus Christ. His new life devoted to helping high school kids find their way. However it ended all too soon when he selflessly laid down his life…for her.’

Tears trickled down her cheek and lip onto the program.
“Thank you Cole and thank you Jesus for taking my shame away,” she softly spoke.

Kyle slipped in the pew next to her, just as Cole Sanger’s funeral was about to begin.
“How are you doing?” he asked leaning over with a hug.

“It’s hard but I’m ok. My heart aches for Cole and yet there’s joy.”

Staring into her eyes, Kyle bit his lip.
“That’s an interesting statement. Can I buy you a coffee later for some clarification?”

“Sure,” she replied wiping her eyes with a Kleenex.

“There’s something different with you Hailey. You’re face and eyes, they’re like almost beaming. It’s like you had an extreme makeover.”

“A supreme makeover,” she said looking back at him.
“I’ll explain later, it’s a ‘God thing’ she added.”

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