Welcome Reader Friends! Thank you for joining us at Telbat’s Tablet. David Telbat has a another short adventure story for you called, “Christ through Chaos.” Be sure to check out our Novel News Page for news on current and upcoming D.I. Telbat novels! Enjoy this story–
Christ through Chaos
By D.I. Telbat
“The baby is breech! You must drive faster!” the doctor urged anxiously.
Jason set a hand on Doctor Selvan’s shoulder as the Indian physician rocked on his knees to the motion of the jalopy bus.
“We’ll get there, Doctor,” Jason assured, then whispered a prayer. He turned to his brother-in-law, Ben, who drove the burdened bus down India’s Golden Quadrilateral superhighway. “How’re we looking?”
“Maybe thirty miles to Ahmadabad, or however you say it.” Ben swerved to avoid a sacred Hindu cow crossing the pavement, causing the twenty passengers, including Jason’s Christian music band, to grip their handholds. “If I go any faster, I’m afraid the engine will blow!”
Though they were speeding at only forty miles per hour, Jason acknowledged the roar of the engine, which sounded like a jet. More modernized vehicles zipped past the bus as they headed toward Mumbai.
The music group’s four-concert tour around India had turned into a race for life.
“There is a dhaba ahead,” Rakesh Kumar said. He was sweating more than his wife was during her contractions. “We could stop and…”
“Stopping at a truck stop won’t help,” Doctor Selvan stated over the cries of Menaka. “We require a medical team!”
“I’ve called ahead.” Jason held up his cell phone. At least parts of rural India were modernized. “Pray, Rakesh, and hold onto your wife’s hand.”
Standing in the aisle between the seats, Jason browsed the other passengers, most of them just poor Christians who had insisted on attending their next worship concert with them. By the looks on their concerned faces, they felt just as helpless as he did.
The rest of Jason’s band sat among the Indian passengers—Ron and Allen, with their guitars, and Will with a rambunctious two-year-old who had taken to the bassist. Jason hovered over the doctor, holding up a curtain of tunics to give the woman a little privacy. Lance, with a map in his hands, knelt next to Ben and cautioned him to drive faster or slower, depending on the flow of trucks, cars, and animals on the highway.
“Watch out!” Lance cried. The band’s drummer slapped Ben’s knee and Ben responded by slamming on the brakes.
Jason clung to a seat as the bus jerked to a stop. In front of them, a truck was skidding sideways, and then dumped its load of candle wax and fabric dyes. A motor rickshaw, half-crushed, screeched across the lanes. The rickshaw driver was thrown into traffic.
“This is bad.” Lance pointed to the left. “Drive around. We’ve got to get this lady to the hospital, now.”
But other cars stopped as well, quickly filling in the space around the bus, blocking them from moving. The driver of the wax truck stumbled out of the cab and collapsed on the pavement.
Drivers and passengers from other vehicles gathered around the truck, cursing and kicking at its wheels for causing the accident. The rickshaw driver was checked, then declared dead, the gesture clear from where Jason and the others watched.
“That rickshaw driver was at fault,” Ben said. “Why are they mad at the truck?”
“It does not matter.” Rakesh shook his head. “They will beat the truck driver and destroy his truck. It is their justice.”
But the driver of the truck was not attacked. Jason watched with disbelief as the trucker stood shakily and joined the gathering mob to scream insults at his own truck and its vacant cab.
“We’ve got to move that truck.” Jason drummed his fingers on the dashboard. “If the truck is moved, we can drive on.”
“Look at those people!” Ben flinched as the mob threw rocks at the truck, breaking glass. “Whoever tries to move that truck now will be mistaken for the driver and the cause of the accident!”
“He’s right,” Lance said. “He’ll get torn apart.”
Jason looked back at the woman in labor. He had two daughters of his own. This was Rakesh and Menaka’s first child. The mother and baby were in jeopardy.
“I can do it.” Jason moved to the door. “Open it, Ben.”
“No. Are you crazy? You’ll be killed out there!” Ben held the door closed. “There must be a hundred people out there now!”
“All these songs we sing about Christ’s love and grace…” Jason felt a peace flow over him. “This is my gift. Open the door. As soon as I move the truck, drive through and don’t stop. Lance, keep him going.”
“Jason!” Ben rose from his seat and gripped his brother-in-law’s arm. “What am I supposed to tell my sister? Let me move the truck.”
“I’m not doing anything Alice wouldn’t want me to do. Look at that woman. We’re out of time.”
“Do something!” shouted Doctor Selvan.
One last time, Jason surveyed the bus passengers. A few of them had heard what he was about to do. The rest watched the increasing ruckus through the windows. But it didn’t matter who knew what he had so hastily decided. A child’s life was in his hands.
“Kiss my girls for me,” Jason said to Ben, then opened the door himself.
Jason pushed through the crowd toward the truck that blocked the highway. Near the front of the mob, he passed the real truck driver, who screamed the loudest for blood.
At the front of the truck, there was open space, into which Jason quickly stepped lest he hesitate and never make the leap. After yanking the door open on rusty hinges, he climbed into the driver’s seat.
The engine rumbled to life. He glanced left to see Ben through the bus windshield, but his face was quickly replaced by a mustachioed old man who reached for Jason’s throat. Others, including the original driver, tried to drag him by his legs out of the truck.
Rather than kick their hands off his ankles, Jason focused on shifting the truck into gear. It lurched forward and bounced into the grassy median.
The truck was still rolling when he lost his hold on the wheel. The last thing Jason glimpsed over the crowd was their bus moving down the highway.
Ben’s face looked worrisome through the glass, but Jason smiled back. He knew he shouldn’t be smiling in the furious fray around him, but he couldn’t help it.
It was easy to sing songs on stage about Christ’s love, but life was lived here, in the midst of humanity, where the passion of those songs came to life, when life was saved or lost for others.
This was living for Christ, and he would do it again if he needed to, as would his Christian brothers on the bus with him. After all, it was Christ’s band.
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