Minnesota Undercover – Part Four
Tim D. McConnaughy Jr.
Although Jacob didn’t verbally object to what I had just told them, I could see he was shaking his head. I was glad Russell had his eyes still plastered to the road during my mini sermon. We had been riding together on the same road for what seemed like more than only a few minutes and it had. Our car was one in a long line of cars on the Minnesota interstate, but at least we were creeping along albeit slowly and steadily.
As we continued driving in the direction of the Ritz hotel I was given the opportunity to mention how we can access God’s forgiveness. I told them how we must repent of our sin by turning away from it and by asking God’s forgiveness for breaking His commands. “We must make God’s sacrifice for our sin our own by putting complete trust in Jesus Christ alone.” I said.
I added by quoting a scripture from Romans 10:9. “If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”
Jacob responded with an air of doubt in his voice. “Well since you brought it up, how do you know Jesus was actually God and not just another good prophet?” He asked. “Because He claims to be.” I said with assurance in my voice.
“Jesus makes clear statements about who He is which we can read about in John 8 and in other passages. When we look at the reaction of the Pharisees and others in authority before Jesus’ crucifixion, there was a unified desire to have Him killed not only for his teachings, but particularly for blasphemy. Those in authority knew perfectly well who Jesus was claiming to be. So either He was lying about who He was, was just plain crazy or is actually who He claimed to be. If He was crazy or lying, than no one should trust him as a good teacher, let alone trust him as a worthy prophet. But if He really is God, then everything He says is not only true, but really does matter.”
We must have been drawing closer to our hotel now because Russell began to merge the cab into the right lane. He squeezed the taxi between a green Cadillac and a van with a New York license plate. We moved toward an exit onto an interstate off-ramp. Once on the off-ramp it was if our car was part of a freight train consist heading down a steep grade. In the darkness ahead I could see a large intersection with signal lights crossing at least five roads. We slowed to a stop just behind a dark blue van without rear windows. It appeared to be the same van we had followed off the interstate. The signal light overhead changed to green and Russell waited for the van to move forward. The van made a right turn. As it did I noticed that not only did the van lack rear windows it also did not have side windows. When it was our turn to enter the intersection we also turned right as if to follow the van on purpose. We traveled for a mile or so then my eyes became fixed upon a large upscale building off to the right side. My eyes scanned the area and I noticed a fairly large paved parking area which appeared to wrap around the building. It was a multiple level building that towered at least seven stories above the ground. Toward the top I noticed a large red sign with the words, “The Ritz” in red brightly lit neon letters. The building reminded me of a casino in Las Vegas with its white and blue spot lights facing the front of the building. The lights each cast beams directly toward the front of the building giving it an all but eerie haunted look. Russell pulled the cab into the parking lot and I noticed it was packed with cars of various types. The cars were a mix of taxi cabs and the hotel guests’ vehicles parked end to end like a can of sardines tucked in and ready for bed. The entrance of the hotel had an impressive overhead structure protruding out from the middle of the building. The trim was decked out with strings of smaller white lights that wrapped the entire overhang. Even though it was still November the entrance area with it’s string of white lights gave me the illusion it was Christmastime already.
Russell brought the cab behind a line of cars as we neared the entrance of the luxury hotel. Some of the cars that were parked looked to be state troopers and other law enforcement. The mass of cars in the parking lot made me a little uneasy. This ought to be interesting, I thought. There’s bound to be lots of people and the three of us in the car had yet to reserve a room! People were certainly going to be displaced now that the airport was being evacuated and probably shut down. I looked back toward the street leading toward the hotel and noticed a line of coach style buses parked along the curb. The luxury buses where mostly white but they featured dark tinted windows across the side. I could see at least three of the buses stopped in the middle of the road that ran directly in front of the hotel. Then all of a sudden the doors opened on the bus in front and a horde of people began to unload. It was now well after ten o’clock and with so many people and cars here, I could only imagine what was going on inside the Ritz hotel. When we reached the entrance of the hotel, there was only a sliver of space on either side of the cab to open the doors. Cars were parked on both sides of us as Russell expertly pulled the cab between a red Camry and dark blue van. Was this the same dark blue van we had been behind when we exited the interstate? I guessed it may have been since this van had no rear and side windows. I glanced at the license plate and noticed it was a New York plate. I slowly opened my side door as Jacob opened his. I had no bags to carry except for the small travel bag I had slung around my neck. I asked the girl who had been seated next to me if she had any luggage in the car she needed help with.
Russell must have heard me because he spoke up before she could speak. “Uh, no she didn’t, she wasn’t able to grab anything either.”
When I got out I noticed helicopters apparently circling all around the hotel. Seeing so many of them with their spot-lights bouncing around the sky, gave me a slight adrenaline rush as they reminded me of the seriousness of events that were unfolding in real-time.
Russell opened the back door and helped the girl out. She still wasn’t speaking much but I hoped that might change once we got inside. Russell told us he would ordinarily simply drop us off except tonight would be different. He said that with cell phone service apparently out and the attacks, he wanted to get a better idea about was happening in the area. We all four walked together toward the hotel entrance as if we were an important security detail guarding a VIP.
Once inside the lobby of the Ritz, it was apparent that none of us would probably get a room tonight. The mood inside the hotel was fast approaching chaotic-like but without any fire. A mob of people were swarming around the hotel front desk. Some people were crying while others were looking down at their cell phones. Still others we’re attempting to find out from hotel associates what was exactly going on. Many of the people were trying to remain as calm as possible in such an uncertain time. I felt empathy for them because I figured we all had similar basic questions that still needed answered. One question in particular popped into my mind. How would we get to where we were going?
My thoughts carried me into what God must be thinking. I believed God was in control of everything that was going on even as chaotic as it was. He still had a plan in place for how it would work out. I knew some of the outcome may not be how we as human beings would like it to be but nevertheless it was comforting to know that God was still over the events and working them out for His glory. My thoughts we’re suddenly interrupted.
“I saw you there.” I heard a female voice say.
I turned to see who was speaking. It was the girl from the cab. She had her head turned slightly but now she was standing directly in front of me. The logo on her T-shirt caught my attention in the bright lights of the lobby. It quickly became clear I had not seen pizza slices or the word “Pizza!” on the front of her shirt. It was the word peace with an exclamation point under a “peace” sign. For some reason, the “peace” sign had reminded me of a broken upside down cross.
“I saw you there,” she said interrupting my thoughts.
“Pardon?” I replied quickly.
The girl raised her head slightly.
“I saw you at that conference.” she said shyly.
“Oh! You mean The Renewing the Mind conference in Bloomington!?” I answered.
She nodded and smiled.
“Fantastic!” I said enthusiastically as I could despite what was happening around us. Unrest in the hotel lobby seemed to be growing along with the noise level inside the building. I hoped we might be able to chat more later and where it wasn’t as noisy, so I suggested it.
“Perhaps we can talk more, where’s it’s quieter.” I said not knowing when that would be. She nodded in agreement.
“By the way, I’m David but I didn’t catch your name.” I said raising my voice slightly.
“Natalie.” she said.
“Pleased to meet you Natalie.” I responded.
It felt like we needed to yell just to counter the noise level of the crowded lobby. Yet despite the noisy room, it was good to finally know here name.
I was considering whether or not to wait to ask Natalie where she was heading when suddenly it felt like I was falling.
Bam! I found myself on the floor of the hotel lobby and lying flat on my back. A man was on top of me and I heard people yelling and hollering.
“He went that way!” I heard someone yell amid the noise.
As he slowly got up, I was able to collect myself and catch a glimpse of the man’s face. The had dark skin and bushy black eyebrows with bronze colored hair. He appeared to be of middle-eastern decent but I wasn’t sure. As he got up he apologized for landing on top of me and then began scanning the area around us…for someone—or something. I wondered what he might have been searching for, then he reached down beside me and grabbed a hat that had apparently come off his head during the fall. It was a little brown fedora hat with a pink feather. Seriously? I thought. Was this the same man with the fedora hat from my dream at the airport? I tried to shrug the thought off, after all that was only a dream.
To Be Continued…..Find out what happens next in Minnesota Undercover – Part Five
Missed Part One of the story? Start at the beginning.
Minnesota Undercover is a work of fiction. With the exception of well-known historical figures and events, all names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents contained in this story are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.