Spellbinder - Collin Wilcox - ebook
Opis

The most famous televangelist in America declares "total war" on the sinners of the earth. Austin Holloway came to Los Angeles in the 1930s with nothing but a briefcase, a few hundred dollars, and a letter of introduction to a local radio station. The son of a revival tent preacher, Holloway wanted to bring the good word to the airwaves, first radio, and then television. He had no idea he was starting an empire. Decades later, Holloway is the richest man of God in the country; his sermons broadcast coast to coast every Sunday. But fame and fortune are not enough. He wants to share the love of Christ with those who have never tasted it before - the oppressed people of Communist China. Standing in the way of history's most ambitious mission trip is his failing health, and his family - which includes an alcoholic wife, an out-of-control son, and a daughter with a rebellious streak. The kingdom of heaven is open to Holloway - but getting there will mean a trip through hell.

Ebooka przeczytasz w aplikacjach Legimi na:

Androidzie
iOS
czytnikach certyfikowanych
przez Legimi
Windows
10
Windows
Phone

Liczba stron: 441

Odsłuch ebooka (TTS) dostepny w abonamencie „ebooki+audiobooki bez limitu” w aplikacjach Legimi na:

Androidzie
iOS

Contents

Cover

About the Book

About the Author

Title Page

Copyright Page

Prologue

One

Two

Three

Four

Five

Six

Seven

Eight

Nine

Ten

Eleven

Twelve

Thirteen

Fourteen

Fifteen

Sixteen

Seventeen

Eighteen

Nineteen

Twenty

Twenty-One

Twenty-Two

Twenty-Three

Twenty-Four

Twenty-Five

Twenty-Six

Twenty-Seven

Twenty-Eight

Twenty-Nine

Thirty

Thirty-One

Thirty-Two

Thirty-Three

Looking for more suspense?

Cover

Begin Reading

About the Book

The most famous televangelist in America declares “total war” on the sinners of the earth.

Austin Holloway came to Los Angeles in the 1930s with nothing but a briefcase, a few hundred dollars, and a letter of introduction to a local radio station. The son of a revival tent preacher, Holloway wanted to bring the good word to the airwaves, first radio, and then television. He had no idea he was starting an empire.

Decades later, Holloway is the richest man of God in the country; his sermons broadcast coast to coast every Sunday. But fame and fortune are not enough. He wants to share the love of Christ with those who have never tasted it before - the oppressed people of Communist China. Standing in the way of history’s most ambitious mission trip is his failing health, and his family - which includes an alcoholic wife, an out-of-control son, and a daughter with a rebellious streak. The kingdom of heaven is open to Holloway - but getting there will mean a trip through hell.

About the Author

Collin Wilcox (1924–1996) was an American author of mystery fiction. Born in Detroit, he set most of his work in San Francisco, beginning with 1967’s The Black Door - a noir thriller starring a crime reporter with extrasensory perception. Under the pen name Carter Wick, he published several standalone mysteries including The Faceless Man (1975) and Dark House, Dark Road (1982), but he found his greatest success under his own name, with the celebrated Frank Hastings series.

Spellbinder

A Novel

Collin Wilcox

 

BASTEI ENTERTAINMENT

 

Bastei Entertainment is an imprint of Bastei Lübbe AG

 

Copyright © 2015 by Bastei Lübbe AG, Schanzenstraße 6-20, 51063 Cologne, Germany

 

For the original edition:

Copyright © 2013 by The Mysterious Press, LLC, 58 Warren Street, New York, NY. U.S.A.

 

Copyright © 1981 by Collin Wilcox

 

Project management: Lori Herber

Cover adaptation: Christin Wilhelm, www.grafic4u.de

Cover design by Michel Vrana

 

E-book production: Jouve Germany GmbH & Co. KG

 

ISBN 978-3-95859-575-0

 

www.bastei-entertainment.com

 

All rights reserved, including without limitation the right to reproduce this e-book or any portion thereof in any form or by any means, whether electronic or mechanical, now known or hereinafter invented, without the express written permission of the publisher.

 

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, businesses, companies, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

Prologue

AS HE WATCHES THE four TV monitors, the director’s fingers move delicately from the second camera switch to the fourth, ready to cut from the choir to a heads-and-shoulders, three-quarters shot of a young woman in the audience, lips parted, eyes fervent, chin lifted. Berger, on four, has been doing faces for eight shows. His eye is sharpening.

“Hold it, Berger. You’re coming up.”

In the earphones, Berger’s voice acknowledges: “Coming up. Roger.”

The delicate fingers hover over the fourth switch. These split seconds are the moments that make directors, or break them. Will she hold the pose? The note of the choir swells as the second chorus begins. Timed earlier, each chorus takes seventy seconds. Figure forty seconds for the rapt young woman, figure thirty seconds for the end of the song, on camera two.

The fingers descend, touch the switch. Over the number four monitor, a red light glows. Across America and Canada next Sunday, the anonymous woman’s face from the audience will fill the faithful’s TV screens. Will she blink? Burp? Scratch her nose?

It’s a crap shoot, an all-or-nothing gamble: the reason directors perspire. And change jobs, statistically every twenty-seven months. And pop bennies. And worse.

But there’s always the tape—the editor—the scissors. Of this thirty seconds, only twenty will show next Sunday. Margin for error, thirty percent. It’s a generous figure, a model for the industry. On The Hour, no expense is spared.

“Come in closer, Powell. Back to you in thirty seconds.”

On camera two, Powell is already refocusing. “Thirty seconds. Roger.” Powell is quick, but uninspired. His strength is backgrounds, not people.

“Warnecke, come to the curtain, for Holloway.”

On camera one, Warnecke moves to focus on the floor-to-ceiling draperies, iridescent gold. The drapes have just been installed at a cost of eighty thousand dollars. Did the gates of heaven shimmer so bright?

“Ten seconds, Powell. Mark.”

“Ten seconds. Mark.”

“A little closer. Let’s see their teeth. Center on Rosemary.”

“A little closer. Roger.” On the second monitor, the choir draws a deep breath in unison. Eyes are cast up. Bosoms swell against gauzy bodices, loosely cut, according to orders. The third chorus is beginning.

Eyes moving between the clock and the monitors, the director’s fingers are poised above the camera-two switch. On number four, the young woman looks as if she’s seen a vision. Her job is almost finished. She hasn’t scratched, hasn’t seen the camera focused on her. Twenty-five good seconds—twenty-seven—thirty. Home free.

The fingers touch the camera-two switch. For thirty seconds, it’s Powell’s show. The director turns up the sound, hears the last strains of “Listening to the Lord.” Words and music composed by Holloway’s son. Or so the faithful are told.

On camera one, Warnecke is steady on the curtain. Thirty seconds. Twenty. Ten. The curtain moves. Holloway is in place: Polonius, behind the arras.

One swordthrust, and millions would lose a messiah. The director would lose a job: fifty-five thousand, last year.

“You’ve got it, Powell.”

“Roger.”

Head bowed over his old leather prayer book—a gift from his Daddy—Austin Holloway strides gravely toward center stage. Behind him, monitored by camera three, close circuited, the choir executes their slow shift to stage right. Katherine, the mother messiah, is moving on satin-slippered feet from the wings to stage left. Her attendants, once more, have not failed the faithful. Eighty minutes into the program, and Katherine Holloway is still sober, still functioning. Soon she’ll be taken home to bed and bottle. Remorselessly, artlessly, the closed circuit camera tracks her. On camera three, big brother watches.

On camera one, Holloway is cut off at the waist, just below Daddy’s old leather prayer book. Behind him, tracked by camera three, The Son, Elton, moves to stand beside The Mother. Sixty-five thousand pairs of eyes in the Temple can see them. So they turn to each other, smile with a brief, false brightness and then hold hands.

Mother and son …

Madonna and child …

One of them a drunk, the other a treacherous, bad-tempered liar, on probation for reckless driving. Original charge: felony hit and run. One of his victims will never walk again. The Ferrari was totaled. Twenty-seven thousand dollars, a mass of blood-spattered wreckage.

On camera one, Holloway slowly raises his hand. The “final words” will now begin: words to live through the week by. Sometimes the final words take less than three minutes. Sometimes they take as much as fifteen, and once a full half hour. Anything more than five minutes means monumental cutting and editing problems.

And, today, Holloway has hinted at something special. Translation: something longer, more ponderous. More pompous. During the past week, perhaps, God has called. Person to person.

“Hold it, Warnecke. Don’t come in till I tell you.”

“Roger.”

Jaw set, eyes-of-a-prophet blue and steady, noble forehead freshly powdered, tinted hairpiece firmly set, Holloway lets the measured seconds pass. His timing has never been better. Berger has him from the left, in perfect profile, medium close-up. Powell is on the right, too far away. Still too timid.

The words begin: slow, solemn, expertly paced. The faithful stir in their seats, hopeful of a high. They’re already hooked. With his first few words, Holloway has “gripped their hearts,” a favorite phrase. Today, despite rumors of bad health, Holloway is in top form. Obviously, he’s winding up for a major effort, pacing himself for something special. Minimum, this speech will run five minutes. Maybe more. Among the choir, feet are subtly shifting. They know, too.

“Come in, Powell. Slow.”

“Slow. Roger.”

“Berger, go hunting. We’ve got time.”

“Roger.” Camera four wanders out into the audience. Without being told, Berger is hunting old, wrinkled faces. They pay the bills, the old ones. For them, heaven is a necessity. Heaven and natural-acting laxatives. And Fixodent, too, for dentures.

Ninety seconds into the final words, the director moves both camera one and camera two in close—slowly, smoothly. Reverently, one hopes. To keep the job—the fifty-five thousand, with bonuses this year—the cameras must move as if angels guided them. It was a Holloway axiom—spoken first in white-hot anger, later refined, finally catechized.

But Berger is Jewish: a mustachioed angel with a girlfriend in West Venice. Elton The Son had once objected to the mustache. But not to the girl.

Berger has found an old woman weeping as she watches. Fade to Berger—hold ten seconds, with Holloway’s voice over. Then superimpose Holloway, then come to Holloway alone, face and shoulders. The voice is rising now, coming on strong. Soon he’ll throw the show off balance, sure enough. On camera three, Elton and Katherine exchange a resigned look. They know. The old man has the bit in his teeth. Warnecke, meanwhile, has slipped the cross filters on camera one. On cue, he can make stars out of the spotlights, more perfect than the star of Bethlehem.

But not now. Not until the final moments of the final words, now nowhere in sight. If the camera leaves Holloway for long, displeasure comes quickly at the videotaping immediately to follow. The final words are sacred—and Holloway’s vengeance is swift and sure. Fifty-five thousand, farewell.

Suddenly, unexpectedly, Holloway raises his arms in heavenly supplication—and reveals dark crescents of sweat staining each blue polyester armpit.

But it’s all right.

If Jesus bled on the cross, Holloway can sweat on camera.

The director smiles at his dials.

The manager sits behind a small plate-glass window set high in the Temple’s west wall, facing the stage. Loudspeakers are close beside him, one on either wall of the small viewing booth. A single TV monitor is before him. A spiral-bound notebook lies open on a narrow shelf beneath the window. With the blunt end of a Bic ball-point pen, in time with the choir’s tempo, the manager taps on the shelf. Half the notebook’s page is covered with his small, precise handwriting. Because he can get more on each page, the manager uses a fine-point Bic.

Now he reverses the pen, writes Hips. Tits. on the next empty line. The notation above reads, Flow, Temp. N.G.

It’s Elton’s doing, he knows: the with-it, hard-rock beat of the hymn, the hip-swinging, tit-tempting choir, eight white girls, four black. At age thirty-two, Elton is making his move. Steadily, cleverly, he’s shaping The Hour in his own image. It’s takeover time, and Elton is ready. One more Holloway heart attack, and Elton will inherit. His grandfather died face down in sawdust, surrounded by the faithful, wailing and rending their clothing. His father could die the same way, with his clip microphone crashing into the polished surface of the stage: an earthquake of sound in the Temple’s huge speakers. Instantly Mitchell, the bodyguard, would spring to the stage from his seat in the first row. Mitchell’s four somberly dressed assistants would be close behind him, doing the job they’d been drilled to do. While Holloway’s soul ascended, Mitchell and his men would protect the corpse. Elton, meanwhile, would advance with head bowed, step measured. During his passage from the wings to center stage where his father sprawled, Elton would take on substance, dignity, gravity. The short trip would invest him with everything he needed, everything the faithful required. Picking up Daddy’s prayer book, holding it high, Elton would preach over the corpse. All the rating records would topple, reruns thrown in.

The manager blinks the scene below back into focus. The choir’s last chorus is almost finished. At stage left, Holloway touches the curtain, a cue. He’s ready. Sick or well, he’s ready. The show will go on. Never mind last week’s ominous electrocardiogram. Never mind the twitching left eye, the mouth that sags at the corners and distorts to the left when fatigue confounds him. Never mind the terrible pallor, then the grotesque flush. For those problems, cameras have filters, soft-focus devices. Makeup men have their potions. But whatever afflictions can’t be filtered out or covered up could be a plus. In the service of Christ, a messiah must sometimes seem to suffer. Thus, without his craggy features, Billy Graham might never have made it. So let Holloway sweat. Let him twitch. Let the lines and creases show, and the mouth sag at the corners. Just don’t let him die. Not yet. Not before Elton makes another mistake with another Ferrari.

Did Daddy sweat and twitch and palpitate in the weeks and months before the sawdust chips ground into his face that summer night in Muncie, Indiana?

Eyes piously raised, the chorus hits the last note, holds it, lingers lovingly with it, then lets it slowly die. Their workweek is finished.

The curtain stirs. Holloway’s foot appears, the black shoe brilliantly polished, the ties tassled. A hand follows—an arm—the full figure, clad in blue doubleknit polyester, white shirt gleaming, wide tie too boldly patterned.

If the grandfather wore a flamboyant frock coat and black string tie, the son would wear doubleknit. And the grandson, too, waiting in the wings with his mother, diaphanously clad in pale pink gauze, crisscrossed at the bosom, trailing as she walks—unsteadily.

As the final words begin, the manager’s eyes circle the audience, making a ritual calculation. A slip of paper on the shelf beside the spiral notebook is inscribed with the figure 63,400, the attendance tally. The month is October, the seventeenth day. Most of the faithful have just been paid. October is a promising month, with no vacations to strain family budgets. No taxes due. No Christmas presents, or Easter clothing. In Washington, credit is loosening, inflating the economy in an election year. Therefore, beneath the 63,400, the manager notes $42,000. It’s his estimate of the take. For twenty-two years, each time Holloway has preached, the manager has estimated the take. At first, his estimates were wild, usually too high. Now, he comes closer than a computer.

His eyes wander to the man standing alone in the center of the stage. Almost imperceptibly during the last minute, the houselights have gone dim. Three beams of light hold Holloway in their soft golden glow—all on cue.

The final words are beginning.

When the manager had first brought in a lighting expert, Holloway had objected. The spotlights and the footlights bothered him. He wanted to see his audience—to communicate with them, he said. Wanted to feel them. Touch them. But the TV crews needed lights. And, slowly, the manager had introduced the special effects, the dramatic highlights. As Holloway lost touch with the faithful, he became rich and famous: the first successful TV evangelist.

In spite of himself.

In spite of his canvas-and-sawdust background, his down-home delivery, his simplistic, jingoistic appeals. In spite of an alcoholic wife, a ruthless son, a disaffected daughter—and, somewhere, an illegitimate child.

With his family life a disaster, Holloway still manages to appear the devoted husband and father. For an evangelist, it is essential. On stage, evangelism is a family matter. Unlike politicians, there are no divorced evangelists.

From the loudspeakers, the final words are continuing, running too long. Although their sense is lost among the manager’s thoughts, their import is clear: Holloway is building up to something big. Some surprise for all of them, he’d promised, the audience and staff alike. When the introduction is finished and the meat begins, the manager’s attention will focus on the words, not the rhythm of their mesmerizing cadence. Holloway is in fine form—in perfect control, as usual. Sixty-three thousand souls believe him. Sixty-three thousand, plus one. Because Holloway, himself, still believes. At age sixty-three, he’s been preaching for more than fifty years. He’s cheated and swindled and raved at his enemies and fornicated with the faithful. But his vision of God remains clear and concise: and old man with a flowing white beard, eyes that never blink and a stomach that never sags. Holloway’s evocation of God is as natural and spontaneous and often as truculent as a small boy’s my-father-can-lick-your-father boast. They are a team, Holloway and God. A successful team, capitalized in the millions.

Thanks mostly to the manager.

Now he finally tunes his attention to the words coming over the loudspeakers. The meat, he knows, is coming up:

“Every one of you in this great Temple,” Holloway is intoning, “and everyone at home, watching this service on their television sets, surrounded by their family, they all know how I came to the service of God. They all know how God first called to my Daddy, and told him to go out among the people and bring God’s word to everyone who wanted to listen. They all know how my daddy started preaching the gospel in a vacant lot. Yes, friends—a vacant lot, in Peoria, Illinois. Finally, after years of serving the Lord, and raising a family, and saving every cent he could from the collections on Sunday, my Daddy scraped together enough money to buy a tent. It wasn’t a big tent, friends. But it was a holy tent. It was a consecrated place. It wasn’t consecrated by any bishop, or any Pope, or anyone else who wore fancy robes, and preached from a fancy pulpit. No—” Holloway’s voice begins to tremble. As he lifts his eyes toward heaven, he blinks against tears. The manager glances quickly at the monitor. Yes, the cameraman caught the tears.

“No,” Holloway is saying huskily, “that tent wasn’t consecrated by any of the princes of the church. They didn’t know it existed. And they didn’t care, either. But it was consecrated by the people. It was consecrated by the people who came here every Sunday, and knelt down in the sawdust and prayed with my Daddy for their eternal salvation, and life everlasting. It was consecrated by the little people—the ordinary people. They never earned much money, these people. And they never wore fancy clothes, either. Why, I can remember, as a boy, seeing them come in overalls, walking all the way into town from their farms, miles away. And I can remember something else, too. I can remember that, when I was eight years old, I began passing the collection plate. And I remember seeing those people—those simple, wonderful people—digging down in their worn pockets and dropping whatever they could into the collection plate, to help my Daddy do God’s work.”

Eyes still raised, Holloway pauses, as if to control himself. He drops his eyes to the prayer book he holds in both hands before him. Then, in a low, solemn voice:

“My Daddy died when I was only nineteen years old. He died under the canvas top the people had bought for him. He was preaching God’s word when he died. He was doing God’s work, just like he’d always done. Healthy or sick, rich or poor, hungry or not, my Daddy was doing what he’d always done. He was praying for sinners, trying to light their way to glory.

“By that time, I’d already been preaching for eight years, friends. Yes—” Holloway nods out toward his audience, invisible to him as he stands in the glare of the three golden shafts of light. “Yes, friends, I began preaching when I was eleven years old. But it wasn’t until I was nineteen years old that I began my ministry. It wasn’t until my Daddy laid down God’s burden. Because when he laid down his burden and ascended to heaven, I knew that my time had come. The burden was mine. And I accepted it—accepted the challenge to do God’s work, even though I wasn’t truly a man yet.

“So I started preaching in that old, patched canvas tent of my Daddy’s. But then, just a few years later, the Lord showed me a better way to preach. I was still very young, still very inexperienced. I had a lot to learn, friends. I had a whole lot to learn. But I could feel the Lord’s hand on my shoulder, offering guidance. I could hear His voice in my ear. He was telling me that He wanted me to reach thousands of people with my ministry, not just hundreds. And He showed me how to do it. Yes, the Lord showed me the way. He opened my eyes, friends, to the miracle of radio. He made me understand how the very essence of His work is trying to reach more people—more souls, aching to be made whole, and be led out of the darkness and into the light of Christ’s own salvation. He made me understand that the words of Jesus Christ are like a pebble thrown into a pool—a pool of life everlasting. Rings of ripples spread out from the spot where that pebble hit the water, and those ripples never stop. They didn’t stop with the Apostles, even though they only spoke to a handful of people at a time. They didn’t stop with my Daddy, who could only speak to a few hundred people, under that canvas tent. And, friends, those ripples didn’t stop with me, either.

“And so, in 1936, I preached my first sermon on radio. And, praise God, more and more people listened, and believed, and prayed with us. They knelt down beside their radios, and we prayed together. The ripples of Christ’s own teaching were spreading wider.

“And then, of course, there came God’s own ultimate miracle—television. And it was then that God touched my shoulder again. He told me to take my wonderful wife Katherine and my young son Elton, and He told us to come here to Los Angeles, the home of television. He made me understand that if radio could work one miracle in His service, then television could work a thousand miracles. That was twenty-eight years ago, friends—in 1950. And I don’t mind telling you—I don’t mind admitting to you—that I was shaking in my soul the first time I preached a sermon in front of a TV camera. Because I was awed by it. I’m still awed by it.” As he speaks, Holloway turns to face the camera, eye to eye. Confessing: “Because I knew—I was convinced—that the camera’s eye is all-seeing. It never blinks—and it never lies, either. I knew that the TV, God’s own miracle, would test me sorely. And I prayed to God Almighty that I could pass that test, and that people would believe me. I prayed that the Lord would allow me to bring His words to millions throughout the world, face to face, as Christ first brought the words from heaven down to earth.”

Now Holloway pauses. His eyes fall to the prayer book. Beyond the footlights, the audience is still. When Holloway raises his eyes again to the camera, he speaks softly, humbly:

“Yes,” he says, “I prayed for help, and for guidance. And God answered my prayers. Because within five years—five short years—we were able to build this Temple. We built this magnificent Temple the way my Daddy erected his poor, patched old canvas tent. We built it with your help, friends. With your help, and your dollars, And with God’s own guidance.

“But the erection of the Temple wasn’t the end of our struggle. It wasn’t the end of our mission. It wasn’t the end of God’s plan for us. No, friends, that was only the beginning—only the first circle in that ring of ripples everlasting on the great pool of life. This Temple is only made of wood and glass and concrete and steel. It’s a temporal thing—a thing of the world, and not of the spirit. And God knows that, friends. Because His wishes are clear. I can still feel His hand on my shoulder. I can still hear His voice. I can still hear His command. It’s just as clear as it was many years ago, when I was nineteen years old, and taking up my Daddy’s work. That command is just as clear and as strong as the TV picture that comes from this Temple to your home, God’s own miracle.

“And that command was—” A long, solemn pause. Holloway stares straight into the camera. Then: “That command was, ‘Reach out to others. Widen the ripples of Christ’s teachings. Use God’s electronic miracle to help bring the message of eternal salvation to every person in every home in every village on earth.’ And if those homes don’t have TV sets, if they don’t have radio sets—and many of them didn’t, and still don’t, friends—then our command was equally clear. We were to supply those radio sets, and those TV sets.

“And so, with God’s guidance, we made our plans. We planned our campaign as carefully as any general ever planned for any battle, or any war. We drew up our battle plans, and then we carried them out. We would start humbly, we decided, just as Christ started. We would go into a remote village, and we would find the largest public building, and we would supply it with radios, and TV sets. We would start humbly, but we would finish triumphantly, God willing. Using the miracle of electronics—God’s own ultimate miracle—we would take Christ’s message to all the world.

“And that, friends, is just what we did. We did it with your help, just as we built this Temple with your help. We went first to Chile, in 1961. We took radios and television sets into the towns and the hamlets of that poor, primitive country, and we gave them to the people. Some of those trips were made on horseback, friends, with radios strapped to the backs of burros. Some of our people rode through dangerous jungles, risking life and limb for God. But they achieved their goals. They accomplished their missions. They delivered their holy cargo.

“And then, after we’d done that, we went to Santiago, and we rented their soccer stadium there. We brought the choir, and we brought Pastor Bob and Sister Teresa, and all the other people you’ve come to know and love and depend on for your own weekly walks with God. And we brought our TV cameras, and our transmitters, and our technicians, too. And then, friends, we had ourselves a good, old-fashioned prayer meeting. It was the same kind of a meeting we’d have if we went to Joliet, Illinois, or Little Rock, Arkansas, or St. Petersburg, down in Florida. And I remember, friends—” The voice trembles. In the monitor, looking again straight into the camera, Holloway’s eyes are misted with memory.

“I remember that when I asked who it was that would come down the aisle to repent his sins and take the Lord Jesus Christ for his savior, why, the first person to come down the aisle of that mammoth soccer stadium was his honor the mayor of Santiago. And he was crying, friends. He was crying like a child, unashamed. And his hands were stretched up to heaven, reaching out. And he was only the first of hundreds, friends. Only the first of three hundred and eighteen souls, to be exact, who declared for Christ that day.”

A long, heavy pause. Then:

“And the most miraculous thing-about it was, friends—” Holloway shakes his head, overwhelmed. “The most miraculous thing of all, was that God’s work was done that day with an interpreter. Except for the first sentence, I didn’t speak a word of Spanish. And the audience, they didn’t speak English, of course. But that didn’t matter. It didn’t matter one single bit. Because God spoke through me directly to the hearts of those poor, simple people. He spoke, and they understood. And they believed. And they made their decisions for Christ. All three hundred and eighteen of them, following their mayor down the aisle of that soccer stadium.

“That was in 1961, like I said. Then, in 1965, we took our ministry out to the Philippines, and we reached out to touch the natives there. Next came Africa, in 1972. When we told you that we wanted to buy a river steamer, and outfit it, and sail it down the Nile under God’s banner, to work for Christ among the natives of Africa, you heeded our call. We told you we needed a half million dollars. Yes—” A slow, grave nod. The beautifully barbered head remains momentarily bowed. Intently, the manager looks at the line where Holloway’s hairpiece meets his natural hair. The joining is almost imperceptible.

“Yes, the mission to Africa was our most ambitious crusade for Christ. We wanted to go directly into the heart of that dark, savage land. And we needed your help. We needed money. Lots of money—a half million dollars, just to start. Just to get the boat, and to get it into the water.

“So we asked you for the money we needed. Just like, so many years ago, my Daddy asked those poor, humble folk in Peoria for help to buy his tent. And you responded, friends. In only six months, you sent us more than a half million dollars. We bought our steamer, and we named it the Sister Katherine, after my helpmate and partner in the service of God for so many years. We sailed the Sister Katherine down the Nile, and we talked to the natives. And they listened, and they understood. And they believed.

“That was in 1972. And the Sister Katherine is still at work, plying those dangerous waters in the service of the Lord.

“But that was six years ago. This is 1978. Our missions in South America, and in the Philippines, and in the heart of Africa are still steadily winning victories for the Lord—still expanding those circles that the Apostles started, so long ago, when Jesus first cast that holy pebble of His gospel into the great pool of life.

“But what victories, you may ask, are we planning for the future? You may ask whether we’ve decided that we’ve done enough—that we’ve decided to let others fight God’s battles, bringing His word to the world’s unbelievers.”

Another ponderous pause, as Holloway looks out beyond the footlights. Then: “If some of you have asked yourselves that question, then I’m ready today with your answer. Yes, my friends, today I’m ready.” The voice is ennobled by a deep, fervent tremolo. “Today—now—I’m ready to reveal to you that, during these last six years, we’ve been planning our greatest victory for Christ. Because I’m ready to reveal to you, here and now, before this audience and in front of these all-seeing TV cameras, that our battle plans have been drawn. And, with God’s hand still on my shoulder, I am determined to take our crusade for Christ to the most populous nation on earth.”

In the silence, a murmur runs through the audience like a hum of high voltage electricity.

“Yes, my friends—” He looks hard into the camera—the commander now, taking his place at the head of his legions. Almost unnoticed, the strains of “Onward, Christian Soldiers” have begun, played on the organ. “Yes, my friends. With your blessings—with your help—I will take Christ’s holy word into the People’s Republic of China—the most populous country on earth, where nine hundred million human souls live and work and raise their children without knowledge of the one true God, or the teachings of Jesus Christ, His Son.”

The manager blinks, shakes his head admiringly. Writes neatly on the pad:

TOTAL WAR.

One

EYES CLOSED, AUSTIN HOLLOWAY slumped against the marble shower stall, letting the coarse spray beat hard on his chest. Outside the stall, his blue suit had been taken away. Bath slippers, shorts, casual slacks and a terrycloth robe had been laid out on a bench, together with the leather-bound prayer book and his alligator wallet. In the hallway outside, discreetly on guard, Mitchell waited for him to finish showering. Down the hallway, in the conference room that adjoined the Temple’s public rooms, the Council waited for the video taping session to begin.

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!