I'm sort of in the process of just working on what is speaking to me at a particular moment. That's very common for me right now. --Bruce Springsteen, January 9th, 2014

Friday, October 9, 2015

"There's No Place Like Home"

Blogging Friends.... This fictional story is loosely based on a "book" that I wrote when I was, like, fifteen years old. {Holy smokes.... That was--quite literally--half my Life ago!! From about fifteen to thirty-one....} But several changes were made, as usual!! I have no idea what mood I was in emotionally and mentally when I wrote this version many months ago.... Or what feelings I sorted through with its message. Ah, such is the Life of an artist!! Love you later.

Note. In this fictional story, Hollywood actor Tom Hanks ingests some unhealthy food. Yes, I do know he has diabetes. But when I wrote that part in, like, 1999, he had not yet been diagnosed!! It's simply a fictional story....

Is there anybody alive out there?! --Bruce Springsteen

Dear Blogging Friends, Readers and Followers.... As much as I create these monthly fictional stories to feed my love of writing, I live for your comments!! So please.... Read this story, enjoy it and leave some positive comments!! I would appreciate them!!

"There's No Place Like Home"

Life. Occasionally, it can present you with once-in-a-blue-moon opportunities. Which are definitely milestone memory-creating, journal entry, photography-worthy chances!! Like watching your very favorite baseball team compete against their longtime rivals in seats so close to the field that you're located right above a dugout, for example. Life. Occasionally, it can even present you with once-in-a-blue-moon celebrity encounters. Which are definitely unexpected milestone memory-creating, autograph-seeking, journal entry-worthy, selfie-snapping, conversation-starting chances!! But what would make it even more incredible? When that specific celebrity is one of your very favorite Hollywood actors, heroes and "old guy" crushes!! This happened to Evangeline, a sixteen-year old aspiring missionary.

One Summer--for an incredible first huge adventure after earning her driver's license--she drove over 2,000 miles away from home {Clear across America} in her old 1970's baby blue-painted Ford pickup truck. She was all alone. From New Jersey to California, Evangeline even visited and toured several different states during this huge adventure!! Because it was also a cross-country road trip, of course!! She even shared her Christian faith with fellow tourists along the way!! Some even accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior!! Others--however--turned away the offer with bitter, cold hearts.

Evangeline's ultimate destination? Hollywood, California!! However. As a young, rebellious, headstrong teenager? Evangeline is running, running, running fast. Away from Life. As she has longed so badly to prove herself and live independently on her own? Evangeline is running, running, running fast. Away from home. As she wants more than anything to be a missionary? Evangeline is running, running, running fast. Toward God's calling. And, as she secretly packed thousands of hard-earned dollars in cash for certain living expenses such as food, clothing, hotel stays and gasoline? Evangeline does not have any plans to ever return home.

In Hollywood, you can witness several celebrity sightings. Evangeline had not even been there for one week when she saw Harrison Ford!! He was holding hands with his wife, Calista Flockhart.

Harrison Ford?! thought Evangeline, Oh my gosh!! That.... That.... That.... That is Harrison Ford!! Aw, what a cute couple he and Calista Flockhart are!! As marriages in Hollywood seldom ever last, I hope their love for each other always stays strong!! You know.... Until death do them apart? I loved Harry in all four of the Indiana Jones films!! Especially.... Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull!! Because 'old guys' rule!! Oh yeah. And how can I forget such an incredibly lovable 'scoundrel' like Han Solo from the Star Wars films?! Swoon!!

Evangeline had not even been in Hollywood for one week when she observed Robert Downey Jr.!! He was pushing his nearly one-year old daughter, Avri, in her stroller {Side-by-side with Susan Downey, of course!!} who held their three-year old son, Exton's, hand.

Robert Downey Jr.?! thought Evangeline, Oh my gosh!! It.... It.... It.... It is Robert Downey Jr.!! I loved him in Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows!! I mean, how can you not resist seeing Rob dressed up in drag?! And I just love him as Tony Stark/Iron Man!! Boy, do I like 'schmucks in transition'!! Han Solo.... Tony Stark.... Huh. What a sweet little family Rob and Susan have created together!! Awww!! Exton and Avri are so freakin' adorable!! I just want to cuddle them!! No.... I will hold myself back. I'll feel like a creepy stalker if I walk up to the Downeys and interact with their children!!

Evangeline had not even been in Hollywood for one week when she spied Dick Van Dyke!! Carrying large-sized bags and packages, he was partaking in some shopping.

Dick Van Dyke?! thought Evangeline, Oh my gosh!! That.... That.... That.... That is Dick Van Dyke!! I loved him as Bert in Mary Poppins!! But I remember crushing on Dick Van Dyke when I watched him play Dr. Mark Sloan in Diagnosis Murder!! Gee.... I was just a kid when we started watching Diagnosis Murder!! I wonder what Dick Van Dyke bought?

Suddenly, Evangeline felt her stomach growl. So she drove toward a nearby McDonald's for some quick lunch. And Evangeline had not even been in Hollywood for one week before actually meeting Tom Hanks face-to-face!! He was sitting inside that very McDonald's restaurant {All by himself} sipping on a large Coca-Cola and awaiting for his food to arrive. Evangeline immediately felt starstruck.

Tom Hanks?! thought Evangeline before even ordering her lunch, Oh. My. Gosh!! Is that.... That.... That... Is that Tom Hanks?! I loved him as Woody in Toy Story, Toy Story 2 and Toy Story 3!! I actually grew up with the first film!! Chuck Noland in Cast Away.... Ah, we are such Kindred Spirits!! Sam Baldwin in Sleepless In Seattle.... Break. My. Heart!! Walt Disney in Saving Mr. Banks.... One word. 'Wow'!! Joe Fox in You've Got Mail.... That is yet another 'schmuck'-like character who I love!! Huh....

But naturally, Evangeline did not believe her eyes.

Oh, no, no, no, she thought, That is not Tom Hanks!! Sitting inside a McDonald's restaurant of all places?! Oh, no, no, no. It cannot be Tom Hanks!!

Evangeline shook her head.

Yet, as she felt an incredible mixture of curiosity and heart-pounding nervousness, Evangeline stepped a little closer.

Brunette/silver hair.... Evangeline thought, Blue/grey-colored eyes.... Oh my gosh, oh my gosh, oh my gosh!! It.... It.... It.... It is Tom Hanks!!

"Go and talk to him," Evangeline felt God whisper.

No way!! she mentally argued, That is Tom Hanks, for Heaven's sake!! He's a huge, rich, famous movie star!! I am not going to talk to him!!
  
But God was insistent.

"Go on, child," He encouraged Evangeline, "Talk to him. Do not be shy."

Oh, alright.... Evangeline timidly thought, I will talk to Tom Hanks....
  
She could almost feel God smile at her in approval.

So.... Still feeling starstruck, Evangeline gathered her courage--and boldness--to approach Tom Hanks.

God.... she thought, You're expecting me to share my faith with Tom Hanks, aren't You?

But Evangeline did not feel God's answer back.

Still experiencing hunger pangs while they shot through her stomach, she used that excuse as an ingenuous way to procrastinate. Evangeline ordered some breaded, crispy chicken strips, creamy ranch dressing, greasy, salty French fries, and a medium Sprite.

Then {While half reluctantly and half obediently} Evangeline walked up to Tom Hanks.

"Uh.... Hi.... Um...." was all she could barely whisper, "Tom Hanks?"

He looked up at Evangeline and smiled warmly.

"Hi there," said Tom Hanks, "Yes. I am Tom Hanks!! Well, last time I checked, anyway!! But you never know with all of the different characters that I play as an actor!!"

"I.... Uh...." said Evangeline, "I am such a huge fanatic of your acting!! I loved you as Chuck Noland in Cast Away!! I watched it about two years ago!! Somebody who I knew thought that Cast Away was the most boring film she had ever seen. Oh, but I respectfully disagree!! It must have been very challenging to play the only character on that deserted island!! Well, aside from good 'ol Wilson, of course!! Chuck Noland's story about being a time-obsessed workaholic also spoke to my heart and soul on an incredibly profound Life changing level, because.... Well.... That was me...."

Oh my gosh, thought Evangeline, I am babbling on and on and on!! I do that when I'm extremely nervous!! My heart is pounding. I have shaky hands. That is a sure indicator that I am very, very, very nervous!! I bet poor Tom Hanks is feeling really bored with me right now!!

But he just smiled at Evangeline.

"I am glad that you could learn a Life lesson after seeing Cast Away!!" said Tom Hanks, "Wow.... My film career is actually touching Lives?! That makes me feel so warm inside!!"

Tom Hanks is not bored with me because I am babbling on and on and on?! thought Evangeline, Wow.... Everybody else would be bored out of their minds real quick....

"What is your name, sweetheart?" asked Tom Hanks.

"Evangeline," she answered.

"Ah, that is a beautiful name!!" said Tom Hanks, "Evangeline. Can I call you Evie for short?"

"Sure!!" said Evangeline.

Tom Hanks can call me whatever he wants!! thought Evangeline, I will not mind!!

"You can sit down with me...." he offered.

Wait. What?! thought Evangeline, I must be dreaming!! Tom Hanks just told me to sit down with him!! Tom Hanks!! Somebody pinch me!! Please!!

"....If you want to," he finished.

So sit down--across the table from Tom Hanks--Evangeline did!!

"I also love you in the Toy Story films!!" she continued, "Ah, Woody!! You just have to love him!! Because underneath his soft, plush body and cotton fluff, he has a huge heart!!"

"I could not have phrased that better, Evie!!" said Tom Hanks, "And I'm the guy who plays Woody!!"

Hey, my heart is no longer pounding!! thought Evangeline, I am not babbling on and on and on anymore!! My hands are no longer shaking!! I must not be so nervous anymore!! Now would be a good time to share my faith with Tom Hanks!! Right?!

But Evangeline kept talking about Tom Hanks' films.

"I recently saw Saving Mr. Banks in the movie theaters," she continued, "Now, that is such a good film!! You were so convincing while playing Walt Disney!! Honestly? I think that the Academy should have given you multiple Oscar awards for that role alone!! I mean it!! What is wrong with the Academy?! I mean, come on!! And the story in Saving Mr. Banks was so compelling, too!! Sad. Heartbreaking. But so compelling!! You know what? I had to urinate the very second Saving Mr. Banks started, but I could not leave!! Because I was afraid I'd miss something important!! I was that engrossed in it!!"

Really, Evangeline?! she thought, as her heart pounded hard, Did you seriously just tell Tom Hanks--of all people--that story?! Really?! Oh, I am so embarrassed!!

But Tom Hanks simply laughed!!

"Oh!!" he exclaimed "Evie, you held it throughout the entire film?! Wow!! You must be quite the camel!!"

Evangeline laughed.

"Yes, that is what everybody tells me!!" she said, "I am a camel!!"

And Tom Hanks laughed some more.

Evangeline smiled.

I love Tom Hanks' laugh!! she thought, Mmmm.... It sounds nothing like his laugh when he is acting!!

Suddenly Tom Hanks' number was called. For his Big Mac and greasy French fries were ready!! Shortly thereafter, Evangeline's number was called as well!!
  
"Oh good, our food is here!!" exclaimed Tom Hanks, "I am hungry, Evie!!"

"Funny, I never thought of you--a Hollywood actor--as someone who eats Big Macs and French fries at McDonald's!!" said Evangeline, "Huh. Aren't you on a gluten-free/vegetarian diet or something?"

I hope that did not come across as sounding judgmental!! thought Evangeline, Oh my gosh.... It did sound judgmental!!

But Tom Hanks just smiled!!

"Oh, Evie, I can be such a foodie!!" said Tom Hanks, "Just like everybody else!! I love food!! Sure, I try to eat healthy. I mean, I'm fifty-nine years old!! But sometimes, all I want is food that's loaded with cholesterol and saturated fat!!"

Tom Hanks laughed.

"And sometimes Evie, I am gaining several extra pounds for a specific film role!!" Tom Hanks continued.

He laughed. Which made Evangeline smile.

Tom Hanks bit into his Big Mac.

"Go on, child," Evangeline felt God whisper, "Now is the chance!! Share your faith with him!!"

Evangeline could once again feel her heart pound hard. Thump, thump, thump, thump, thump, thump, thump, thump. Then it skipped a few beats. But not because Evangeline was feeling starstruck. No, the reason why she felt her heart pounding hard this time around? Fear of failure.

But what if Tom Hanks becomes angry at me for sharing my faith with him? worried Evangeline, Or worse. What if Tom Hanks rejects God and does not accept Him as his Savior?

"Go on, child," Evangeline felt God whisper, "You can do it!!"

Give me the words, strength, boldness, grace, wisdom, compassion and Biblical insight God, Evangeline silently prayed, I humbly accept that I cannot do this without You....

As Tom Hanks took a sip of his Coca-Cola, Evangeline reached into her tie dyed-print backpack. She pulled out an ebony-covered Bible. Tom Hanks looked up from his French fries.

"Uh...." began Evangeline, "Tom Hanks? I am.... A missionary...."

"Evie," he said, "Please call me 'Tom'!! It is much more casual that way!! But don't you dare call me 'Thomas', or I will think that I'm in huge trouble or something!!"

Evangeline laughed.

"Alright," she said, "Tom. I like that!! It makes you feel more like a friend or relative than an actor, celebrity and complete stranger!!"

"Exactly!!" said Tom Hanks.

Evangeline smiled.

God is using Tom Hanks'.... Uh.... I mean Tom's.... Witty personality to ease my nervousness and fears!! she thought, Cool!!

"Like I mentioned several seconds ago, I'm a missionary!!" repeated Evangeline.

This time, she said it with far more confidence in her voice.

"A missionary?" said Tom Hanks, "I have heard about them. But, Evie, shouldn't you be in a foreign country somewhere with several other like-minded missionaries? You're all alone!!"

"Yes," said Evangeline, "And no. My church's youth group back home is currently serving on a mission trip all the way in Russia."

Evangeline paused.

"But I firmly believe that America needs missionaries just as much--or maybe even more--as any foreign country does!! So here I am--in Hollywood, California--still thousands of miles away from home!! And I ain't never going back, Tom!! But I am not all alone. I have God on my side!! And He is guiding me every step of the way!!"

"Why aren't you ever going back home, Evie?" asked Tom Hanks, "I am just curious. Wouldn't your parents--and friends--miss you terribly? I have an adult daughter. Her name is Elizabeth. And if she traveled thousands of miles away from home at your young age without any plans to ever return? I would be heartbroken!!"

Tom Hanks paused for a moment.

"You know what Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz said, right?" he continued, "'There's no place like home'."

"Oh, I do not have any friends," Evangeline sadly said, "Because nobody understands or gets me. I am different. I'm an oddball, misfit, isolated loner. And I have somehow always been that way!! Now, as for my parents? Yes, they do, in fact, miss me. Mom has already called my cell phone--repeatedly--begging that I come home. But I ain't never going back!!"

"Stop stalling, child," Evangeline felt God whisper.

"But enough about me!!" said Evangeline, "Now, I do not know whether or not you believe in God. I haven't a clue if you're religious, spiritual, or even possess some sort of faith. Because I do not really know you personally!! Me? I am a Christian!! And, yes, I do believe in God!!"

Tom Hanks did not say one single word. He just listened to Evangeline.

Tom seems interested!! thought Evangeline.

She opened her Bible to John 3:16 and read the passage aloud.

For God so loved the world, that he gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

"Tom, I wholeheartedly believe this as truth!!" said Evangeline, "God sent His Son to die. Jesus' hands and feet were nailed against a cross. But then He arose from the dead and is saving us from all our sins!! Do you believe this as truth?"

Evangeline casually touched one of her greasy, salty French fries. They were stone-cold!! She casually touched her breaded, crispy chicken. It was stone-cold, as well!! For Evangeline had been so preoccupied with witnessing to Tom Hanks that she'd forgotten all about her food!!

"Let me get this straight, Evie...." he began, "God sent His only Son to die, rise again from the dead and save us from all our sins.... So that if we believe in Him, we'll have.... Everlasting life?"

"That's right!!" she said.

"And where will we spend this everlasting life?" asked Tom Hanks.

"In Heaven!!" answered Evangeline.

"But how can this even be possible?" asked Tom Hanks, "Why would any so-called 'loving' Father send His Son to be nailed against a cross for the sins of everyone else? Who even does that?! I have three adult sons. Their names are Colin, Chet and Truman. As a Dad, I would do anything in my power to spare them {And Elizabeth} from suffering, pain or affliction!! Anything. Yet God deliberately sent His Son to die? Why?! It just does not make any sense!!"

Oh dear, thought Evangeline, Tom's questions have stumped me!! How on Earth do I answer them?!

"Those are all very good questions...." began Evangeline, "Very good questions.... Uh...."

Help me out here, God!! prayed Evangeline, I cannot do this without you!!

Tom Hanks smirked.

"Evie, you do not have any answers to my questions, huh?" he said.

She reluctantly shook her head "no".

"Your questions were definitely profound and well thought out!!" Evangeline said, "But I cannot lie. I don't have any answers to your questions. However, this I know for certain. It was preordained from the beginning of time {You know.... It was Jesus' destiny!!} that God would send His Son to die for everybody's sins!! Because.... It was all a grand part of God's plans!! For you. And me. For all of His children!! So that we will have everlasting life!! I wholeheartedly believe all of this--and then some--as being true!! Do you, Tom?"

Evangeline waited patiently for furthermore questions. There were none.

"God sent His only son to die, rise again from the dead and save us from all our sins.... So that if we believe in Him, we'll have everlasting life," repeated Tom Hanks with conviction in his heart, "Because it was all a grand part of God's plans!! Yes, Evie.... I do believe all of this as being true!!"

"Good!!" exclaimed Evangeline, "Then will you accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior?"

"Yes!!" said Tom Hanks, "I will, Evie!! And I'll do even more than that!! Alright? I will go home and share everything that you have told me with my wife, Rita!!"

"Oh I am so happy for you!!" exclaimed Evangeline, with excitement in her voice, "And Rita, as well!! God will change your Lives!! Many people everywhere seemingly declare this. But only God will truly change your Lives!!"

Evangeline could feel her heart flutter like the wings of a beautiful butterfly!!

Oh. My. Gosh, thought Evangeline, I just shared my faith with Tom Hanks!! Uh, I mean.... Tom!! And he accepted Jesus into his heart, too!! Oh. My. Gosh!!

"Well, Evie, I must go," said Tom Hanks, "It was so nice to meet you!! Now, remember what Dorothy said in The Wizard of Oz. 'There's no place like home'. Something to think about."

Tom Hanks then stood up, shook Evangeline's hand and walked away.

There's no place like home. There's no place like home. There's no place like home. There's no place like home. There's no place like home.

That line from The Wizard of Oz repeated itself within Evangeline's mind over and over and over.

Tom is right, she thought, Dorothy did make a valid point. There's no place like home!!

Evangeline then sat at her laptop and wrote an e-mail to her Mom.

You will never--ever--in your wildest dreams be able to guess who I shared my faith with today!! Tom Hanks!! Well, actually.... It is just 'Tom'. That's what he said I could call him!! Tom was eating a Big Mac and French fries at McDonald's!! That's right. McDonald's!! Tom is so nice, witty and real!! Well, guess what?! Tom accepted Jesus as his Lord and Savior!! Thanks be to God!! ;-D

Oh yeah.... To quote Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz. 'There's no place like home'. Yes, Mom, you guessed it.... I am coming home!! ;-)