Matthew 8:25 – The disciples woke Jesus up and said, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” (NIV Bible)
Connor and Daisy strolled into the pizza place.
“Man, I’m so hungry I could eat a cow,” Connor mumbled close to Daisy’s ear.
“Where can we sit?” Daisy raised her voice over all the noise. “The place is packed!”
The whole cross country team was there. The teens moved back and forth between the booths and tables, laughing and joking with each other. There was an old-fashioned juke box in the corner that was blaring popular music. Several teens had positioned themselves around it, playfully arguing about what songs to pick next.
Willie gave a short shrilling whistle at Connor and Daisy when they entered. He waved them over to sit with him, but his table was so overflowing with energetic teens they didn’t want to try to sit with him. Mark’s table was not so congested. They began moving through the crowd to sit with Mark, Susan, Jason and Jeremiah. Before they made it across the packed room, Jeremiah suddenly stood up in his booth. He was holding a pitcher of iced tea high in the air.
“I bet ten bucks that I can drink this whole pitcher of tea faster than anyone else in this place!” he hollered out at the top of his lungs.
Jason stood up in the booth right next to Jeremiah with his ten bucks. “I bet I can beat Jeremiah!” Jason hollered.
Another boy at a different table stood up in his booth. He held out his ten bucks and pitcher of tea. “I bet I’m the fastest!” he yelled out.
Then still another boy at another table did the same!
All the teen’s started chanting the name of whoever they wanted to win.
Willie stood up with his watch in his hand hollering, “On your mark, get set, GO!”
The four pitcher drinkers began chugging down iced tea as fast as they could.
Daisy stood all bright eyed under Connor’s arm in the middle of the crowd watching the iced tea challenge. Connor was rooting for Jeremiah energetically along with several others. Jeremiah and Jason appeared to have tied. They both held up their pitchers at the same moment, but when Willie crossed the room to investigate he declared, “Jason’s the winner!” Willie held up Jason’s arm.
Everyone laughed and cheered. Jeremiah complained.
“Look at the pitchers man!” Willie responded to his complaint.
All four boys held out their pitchers. Willie pointed dramatically at them. Jason and Jeremiah had both emptied the pitchers of tea that was for sure, but Jason had also swallowed all the ice.
“No ice man! That makes him the winner!” Willie hollered.
Jason grinned triumphantly and stuck his hand out. “Pay up man.”
Jeremiah and the other two boys passed over their money.
“Pleasure doing business with you guys. Are there any more competition suggestions?” Jason laughed out his question, hopeful.
“There’s the hot pepper challenge,” Connor suggested as he finally made it through the crowd to Mark’s table.
Jason got excited. “That’s right! We could do the hot pepper challenge!” Jason jumped back up on top of his booth. “Who’ll do the hot pepper challenge!” he yelled out to the bunch.
Of course Jeremiah stood up quickly. “I’ll go ask the kitchen for some hot peppers!” He climbed out of the booth, and Jason followed him along with several other guys who wanted to participate.
Connor then turned to Daisy and held his hand out politely for her to scoot into the booth. She did so and he followed.
Susan watched the way Connor treated Daisy. “What could a guy like Connor possibly see in a tiny tenth grader like her,” Susan secretly wondered in her heart.
“Hey man, glad you could make it.” Mark held out his knuckles to Connor.
“Yea, us too. I can’t wait to see those guys choke down 100 hot peppers, man.” Connor chuckled.
“Really? I thought you were just trying to get rid of them so you could have a place to sit.” Mark pointed to the now empty booth.
“Naw, man, I really want to see it,” Connor defended himself. He looked down at Daisy. She was studying the menu. He put his arm around her cozily.
“So what are we getting babe?”
“Let’s get this one, a pan pizza with mushrooms, pepperoni, onion, and corn.” Connor held up his hand hoping that the waiter could see him in the crowd.
“Corn? Who in the world eats corn on a pizza?” Susan asked.
Connor eyed her briefly wondering how to take her comment. “Daisy and I do. It’s our pizza. We can put whatever we want on it.”
Daisy didn’t look up from the menu, she kept studying it. She then tapped Connor’s leg. “And can I have a salad too?”
The waiter forced himself through the crowd and finally made it to Connor’s table. Connor placed his order.
Susan pulled out a cigarette, and Mark took it. “Not now Susan, there’s no smoking in this restaurant,” he chastised her quietly.
“Look at this packed restaurant Mark. Do you really think those poor, overworked waiters have time to come out here and make me put my cigarette out? I don’t think so,” she said sarcastically. Then she reached into her bag to pull another one out.
“They don’t have time for you, Susan, but I do. Now you promised me you were going to quit, and I promised you I would help.” He took her second cigarette from her hand. “Now, there’s no smoking in this restaurant,” he repeated softly.
She rolled her eyes, and he chuckled undisturbed by her frustration. He knew she was having a hard time, and he was well able to handle her little attitude problem.
Daisy and Connor’s food arrived and they dug in.
“Would you like to try a piece?” Daisy offered Susan and Mark.
“I don’t like corn. Besides Mark and I still have a lot left of our pizza.” She waved her hand over the half eaten pizza that Mark had bought for her. Connor glanced at Mark with a grin.
Mark just shrugged. “She doesn’t like what I ordered either, man. She’s on a diet tonight, I guess.”
“I’m not on a diet Mark, I want a cigarette,” Susan fumed quietly.
Mark looked over at her smiling. “Well, you’re not getting one. You can fuss and fume all night long about it if you like, but you are still not getting one.” Susan gave Mark a nasty look and he laughed.
Connor’s eyebrows went up as he watched the odd pair. He made eye contact with Mark.
Mark just shook his head, mouthing the words, “Don’t start it, man.”
Connor put his hands up in the air innocently and mouthed back, “I didn’t say a thing.”
Mark and Connor both chuckled like some secret had passed between them.
Daisy patted Connor’s leg suddenly. “Look, they found hot peppers.” She pointed at Jeremiah, excited to watch the challenge.
Jeremiah, Jason and four other guys finally reappeared from the kitchen each holding a large bottle of hot peppers. Willie stood up in a chair and held his hands up in the air.
“Okay everyone! Listen up! We finally talked the owners of this restaurant into letting us have a hot pepper challenge! It wasn’t easy! They have graciously sold us several bottles of hot peppers for this next competition. Their only condition was that there could be absolutely no vomiting whatsoever, anywhere. Therefore, we need a few of you to be bucket holders! If anybody looks like puking you have to get to them real quick! Raise your hand if you’ll be a bucket holder.” Willie looked around. Of course no one wanted that job. “Come on you guys we can’t do the competition if we don’t have bucket holders, man!”
All the teens started pushing each other around volunteering each other until they did come up with five unlucky souls for the job.
“On your mark, get set! GO!” Willie hollered.
All the teens cheered energetically. One guy did start puking pretty quick, and a bucket holder rushed to his aid. The others held on for dear life and kept on choking down hot peppers. Connor, Daisy, Mark and Susan laughed hilariously as they watched the sickening affair. Another guy started barfing and the bucket people rushed to his side in the nick of time. This left Jeremiah, Jason and two other guys still left in the race. Two more guys got sick and ran outside and barfed their brains out. This left just Jason and Jeremiah in the competition. Of course, they both ate all the hot peppers but to insure his win, Jeremiah also drank all the juice.
Willie held Jeremiah’s hand up high in the air like he’d won a boxing match and walked him slowly around through the screaming teens. Everyone slapped their money in his hand but he was feeling too green to say thank you. Once he’d collected his money, he and Jason both made their way to the parking lot for some fresh air. They laid down in their cars attempting to recuperate without having to puke.
Back at Mark’s table, Susan was arguing again about wanting to get a beer.
“I look 21, I’ve never once been carded.”
“So what? Just because you know how to get around the rules doesn’t make it the right thing to do Susan. You promised me you were going to quit. You don’t need that stuff. You’ll live longer and run faster without it.” Mark argued lightly in an amused tone.
“You’re impossible. Why are you doing this to me?” Susan let out a frustrated moan.
“You’re a very important person. The world needs you running at your best.” He gave her a sincere look.
“Nobody needs me for anything.” She folder her arms across her chest irritated.
“Lots of people need you Susan. I need you so let’s go take a walk on the beach. We’ve been here long enough.” Mark stood up and he pulled his reluctant partner from her spot with a slight smile at her rough treatment of him.
“I can do it myself. Let go of me.” Susan yanked her arm away from his assistance.
“Just trying to be helpful.” He turned and stuck his knuckles out to Connor. “Catch you later man.”
“Good luck.” Connor tapped Mark’s knuckles with a grin.
Connor and Daisy resumed eating quietly together.
Mark and Susan walked out to the parking lot. When they were about half way across the center of the lot Gary and Glenn pulled into a parking spot near Mark’s parent’s car. Glenn and Gary got out of their car glaring at Mark.
“It’s one of Speedy’s sidekicks, Gary. Let’s have a little fun with him.”
“This guy doesn’t run the 10 mile man. He’s a waste of time. Let’s just get the pizza we ordered a get out of here,” Gary answered back.
Glenn then whistled a short girly whistle. “My, my, and look at the little lady at his side. Man, I’m really starting to like these Maxwell girls more and more all the time.” Glenn winked at Susan.
Susan rolled her eyes back at him. That really ticked off Glenn. He preferred girls to be scared of him.
“Did you see that Gary! That B*#*# rolled her eyes at me!” Glenn charged forward.
Gary grabbed his arm. “So what, let’s get our pizza and go man. I’m hungry,” Gary said sluggishly. They’d been drinking, and he was not in the mood for a fight.
Mark leaned back and whispered into Susan’s ear. “Go back inside and get Connor.” Susan backed up slowly to return to the restaurant.
Glenn yanked his arm away from Gary. “Where are you go ‘in? I’m not finished with you yet! Get back here!” He started to chase her.
Jason and Jeremiah both hopped out of their cars as Mark moved to block Glenn from chasing Susan. Glenn then backed up again when he saw the other two at Mark’s side. Susan ran inside and found Connor.
“That girl of yours was making faces at me. I ought to beat all your butts for her ugly old face,” Glenn hollered.
Mark laughed lightly to himself. Susan had been making ugly faces at him all night, and it didn’t bother him a bit.
“Would you shut up Glenn, you’re such an idiot. It’s embarrassing man.” Gary grabbed his brother’s shirt and attempted to pull him backwards into the car.
Connor and Daisy then arrived with Susan at their side.
“Let go of me,” Glenn growled. “I’m gonna kick their butts.”
Gary shook his head frustrated. “There’s four of ’em Glenn, you want to kick their butts because some girl rolled her eyes at you? That’s real smart Glenn, real smart. Go ahead kick their butts. I’ll sit right here and watch.” He let go of Glenn.
Glenn straightened up and glared at the four Maxwell students. He then reconsidered his desire to fight at that particular moment. “Well, I guess I’m sort of hungry too, let’s just get our pizza and go” Glenn looked back at Gary. Gary was leaning against the car hood with his arms crossed ready to watch his brother get his own butt kicked.
“Great,” Gary mumbled. Then he looked across at the Maxwell students.
“I ordered a pizza. I just came up here to pick it up. I’ll just go inside and get it while you watch my time bomb brother out here.” Gary made a quick nod at Mark and Mark returned his nod. Gary slowly proceeded through the bunch of unhappy Maxwell students to get his pizza.
The rest of the Maxwell guys crossed their arms and watched as Glenn got back into the car. Alison was in the back seat. She started talking to Glenn when he got in the car. He began laughing hilariously at something she said. Then she leaned out the window smiling and waving at everybody around her car in a drunken fashion.
“Hey, ya’ll are look ’in awful tense, want ta party?” she hollered out the window. Glenn continued laughing hilariously at her from inside the car.
“Man, she’s high as a kite,” Jason said to the bunch.
“She has the bluest eyes I’ve ever seen, man. You can see ’em from way over here.” Jeremiah observed with a grin. Everybody gave Jeremiah a shocked look.
“What!? She does man. Just look at her,” Jeremiah defended his observation.
“That is one… extremely messed up girl, Jeremiah, no matter how blue her eyes are man.” Connor pointed at Alison and then slapped his dateless buddy on the back.
After a while Gary returned with the pizza. Alison was trying to get out of the back of the car. But her legs were not cooperating. Gary laughed at his high girlfriend, then pushed her slightly.
“No Ali, get back in. We’re leave ’in.” Gary tried to put the pizza and Alison both in the back seat. She mumbled incoherently and laughed as Gary handled her.
“Hey, ya’ll,” Alison hollered and waved at everybody again.
Gary pushed her back into the car, a little harder this time. “Shut up Ali,” he murmured. Once he got Alison back in the car Gary drove off with Alison waving out the back window.
Mark turned around looking for Susan. “Susan,” Mark held his hand out to her but she didn’t take it, “Did you see Alison?”
“Yea… she looked smashed.” Susan laughed a little.
“Do you want to look like that?” Mark met her eyes trying to make his point.
“No, I don’t,” she admitted.
“I don’t want you to be like that either. Now are you ready to take a walk on the beach with me and skip the beer drinking?” He eyed her seriously.
“Yea, I’m ready.”
Mark knocked knuckles with Jeremiah and Jason. “Thanks for getting out here so quick man. I didn’t even know you two were still here. Where were you guys hiding man?”
“We were laying down in our cars trying not to throw up.” Jeremiah chuckled.
“Yea, if we’d ended up fighting with Glenn we probably would’ve puked all over him.” Jason rubbed his stomach and made a nauseous looking face.
Mark started laughing at his sick buddies. “That would have been fine with me. I’m just glad you were here.” Mark slapped Jeremiah and Jason on the back and they wandered off back to their cars to rest their stomachs a little longer.
Mark turned to Connor. “Hey man, if you’re finished eating why don’t you and Daisy meet us at the beach and hang out a while?”
Connor looked down at Daisy. “Want to babe?”
“Yea, I bet the beach is pretty this time of night.”
“Okay, then see you in five.” Connor led Daisy off to his car and headed for the beach.
“She’s so perfect,” Susan mumbled sadly.
“What?” Mark asked not understanding Susan’s meaning.
“She’s wearing such a cute dress. To her, this is probably some big date night. She has probably never dated anyone else but him. Never done anything wrong in her whole life. She’s so perfect. It isn’t fair,” Susan mumbled out her complaint.
Mark looked at Susan with compassion in his eyes. “Everybody has done things wrong. We all need forgiveness for something and that includes Daisy Ray. We’ll get through this, you’ll feel better soon,” he encouraged.
She looked up at him. “We’ll get through this?” she repeated his words, emphasizing the plural in them
“Yea. We. You said I could help you right?”
Susan looked a little embarrassed. “Yea, I guess I did.”
Mark opened his Dad’s car door and helped her in. He noticed that this time she didn’t fuss about his helping her. They left for the beach.
Mark and Susan rolled to a stop in the boardwalk parking lot. They could see Connor sitting at a picnic table with Daisy all snuggled up next to him. She was wearing his blue jean jacket because of the breeze. He had his arms around her whispering something in her ear and she smiled shyly at his whispers.
“They look so sweet together,” Susan mumbled as Mark helped her out of the car.
Mark reached in the back seat and grabbed his guitar then turned around to face her. “Susan, listen to me for a second.”
She gave him a forlorn look. Mark continued his thought, “If something good came your way, wouldn’t you want people be happy for you?”
Susan looked into Mark’s eyes trying to figure out his meaning. “Yea, I guess so”
“Okay then. Connor has figured out that he loves Daisy so let’s be happy for him, okay?”
“That’s real great he cares for her, but what about me? Nobody cares about me,” Susan mumbled in the direction of the boardwalk pavement.
“God cares about you, Susan. He cares if you’re struggling. He cares if you feel like living or dying, and so do I.”
Susan shrugged her shoulders a bit. “Okay. I’ll try… to look happy for the ‘brush off master’ and his cry baby girlfriend.”
Susan managed to crack a sliver of a smile in return.
“Now, this is what we’re gonna do. You pick a song off my I-Pod.” He handed his I-Pod over to her and she stuck one of the ear buds in her ear. “When you decide which song you like then I will play it on my guitar. We’ll sing and watch the ocean. Don’t worry about Connor and Daisy. Just let them have their time together and we’ll have ours, okay?” Mark smiled his winning smile.
“Okay.” Susan adjusted the volume and began listening to the I-Pod as they strolled over to the table that Connor and Daisy were chatting at.
Connor knocked Mark’s knuckles as he walked around the table to sit on the other side. Mark positioned himself on top of the table, and Susan found her spot next to him.
“I like this one,” Susan suddenly said.
Mark stuck the extra dangling ear bud in his ear to hear which song she had picked. He looked down at his strings and began strumming out the song. Once he found the right key they added in the words.
Turning towards the ocean, Susan forgot about all the things she wanted in life that she felt others were getting instead of her. Her eyes roamed the rumbling ocean scene as she sang. Mark focused on his guitar and harmonized along with her. Susan had a beautiful voice that Mark’s musical ear appreciated very much.
On the bench behind them sat Daisy cuddled in Connor’s arms. They listened to their friends sing and admired the ocean and stars together. The ocean did its background rumbling to Susan and Mark’s song. Connor even sang a few of the words in Daisy’s ear just for fun. She leaned her head against him, so happy that he attempted to sing for her. He laughed quietly at the dreamy look on her face.
“I’m not that good. Am I messing up the song?”
Daisy looked up into his eyes. “No Connor, you’re making it perfect,” she whispered back.
He leaned down and kissed her softly. “Can I see you tomorrow?”
While soaking up ocean’s tranquility,
Susan lets go of her trouble, slowly.
The worry of, why others have more than me,
Is really a waste of energy.
“Zapper of joy and prosperity
Be gone from me,” she tells herself decidedly.
“I’ll move from this place of calamity
and find out what God has in store for me.”
“Let’s fight together and no longer grieve,
Let’s choose to take life more graciously.”
“I see your point and do agree,
I need to look for what God is offering me,
No longer comparing myself to others, pointlessly.”
“Come, watch the evening tide with me.
Let’s come up with a new plan B.”
Then the ocean rumbled peacefully,
Mark and Susan talked long into the night quietly,
Well after Connor drove Daisy home lovingly.
Susan examined her choices and found a new plan B,
Despite the odds, she’s gonna serve God Happily.