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"Tell the mayor that I'm sorry, but I can't accept this kind gesture," replied Adam, more firmly than ever.

Mike walked the councilman to the door. As he returned to the counter, Mike observed his uncle looking at the burn scars on his hands.

"Dan Stafford didn't understand, but I hope you do," said Adam. "I did everything I could that night, but God didn't permit me to save the other girl. It was God's will, and I accept it. Do you understand?"

"But, what's so terrible about a medal?" asked Mike.

Adam dropped the subject. His nephew didn't understand. Mike didn't realize that every time his uncle glimpsed his burn scars or remembered the tragic night, that his faith was being tested. In Adam's dreams, he could still see the young woman's face as her eyes locked upon his through the flames of the burning car. It took faith to take those terrible memories and say, "Thy will be done." He found that it took more courage to live with the memory of that night than in the actual rescue, itself.

The fact that Mike didn't comprehend what his uncle was going through, somehow distanced the two. Immediately after the car wreck, Adam seemed to be totally at peace with that night's events, but lately, Mike sometimes sensed a change. And yet, the nephew had only brief glimpses of disquietness, so he half thought he was imagining something that wasn't there.

"Did you hear the joke about the plumber and the doctor?" asked Adam, hoping to lighten the atmosphere before they parted for the weekend.

"No," grinned Mike, happy that his uncle was acting more like himself again.

"A sink backed up in a doctor's house, so he called a plumber," related Adam. "The plumber came and fixed the problem. When the plumber was done, he handed the doctor a large bill. The doctor exclaimed, 'This is incredible! Even I don't make that much as a doctor!' The plumber replied sympathetically, 'Neither did I when I was a doctor!'"

"I'll have to remember that one when a customer remarks about the size of the bill!" laughed Mike.

"Be honest in your work, otherwise, that joke won't be funny," replied Adam. Even in laughter, Adam was always careful not to laugh at sin, for only "fools make a mock at sin." He strove to please God in all things; this he took into consideration before all else.

"Yesterday, Sandra's Dad asked me how much money I make," informed Mike.

"What did you tell him?"

"I told Mr. Weston I'm an apprentice and make an apprentice's wage."

"Are you seeing Sandra tonight?" inquired Adam.

"Yup," replied Mike, locking the door and tossing the keys to his uncle.

"Have you told your mother about her, yet?"

"Not yet," replied Mike.

"In this town, gossip spreads like wildfire," warned Adam.

"It's no big deal," shrugged Mike, "I just haven't gotten around to it."

"You want your mother to hear the truth from you first, before the neighbors give her their version of your love life, don't you?" asked Adam.

"Mom knows not to believe gossip about me," refuted Mike.

"When the neighbors know something that the parent does not, it looks like you're hiding something," said Adam.

"You've warned me before," replied Mike. "I promise, I'll be careful!"

"It's your life," conceded Adam, throwing up his hands to show he was letting go. "I just don't want to see you get hurt."

Mike smiled, warmly. It was a demonstration of the near father-son relationship they shared.

"Constance and I are dining out tonight, so when you see your mother, tell her not to make me another tuna casserole," said Adam, walking to the old white van.

"Just be grateful you missed out on Mom's broccoli surprise!" laughed Mike.

"See you in church!" And with that, they parted ways.
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