My first incident of total humiliation happened when I was age eight. My older brother hadn’t descended into the pit of adolescence yet, so we were friends. He not only acknowledged me as his sister, but he looked out for me. The window of our camaraderie occurred in the two-year time frame of the early fifties when our family lived in Japan.
After an afternoon of playing there, my brother and I headed home for dinner. I trudged behind him through the woods, leaving him to guide our footsteps while I let my mind wander. We had explored the woods many times and discovered several small huts inhabited by Japanese families. I wondered if their children spied on our house like we did on theirs.
As we got closer to home, we heard our mother call us. My brother took off at a run, and I picked up my pace to keep up with him. Without so much as a hey-watch-out-Sis, he swerved suddenly to the left. Did I say he looked out for me? Not this time.
There was a reason for his zigzag, and I didn’t zig in time. I plunged straight into a four-foot-deep honey-bucket well. A tidal wave of fermented urine and feces splashed high over my head and plopped (notice I didn’t say rained) straight down on top of me.
The shock of my fall ratcheted up as the stench engulfed me. Weeks—months—years of fomenting organisms had churned the waste products of our Japanese neighbors into a powerful, homegrown fertilizer for their gardens, and I was standing up to my armpits in it.
Adding insult to injury was my brother, bent double with laughter at the sight of his poor, little sister drenched in you-know-what. My scream out-powered his mirth, and he hastened to pull me out and lead me—at a safe distance—home. “Whew, you stink!” he said over and over. As I entered our neighborhood, men, women and children backed away, hands over their mouths and noses. Like Pepe Le Pu, a distinct aura trailed me down the street.
At home, the humiliation continued. No sympathetic hug from my mother, no. Instead she made me strip naked outside at the back of our house and hosed—yes, hosed!—me off. I was sure all the little Japanese neighbor boys were hiding at the edge of the woods, watching and giggling. Finally I was whisked into the house and submerged in soap and shampoo in a long, hot shower. I didn’t stop crying until I fell exhausted into bed.
As Christians, we carry an aroma too. 2 Corinthians 2:15-16 says, “For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. To the one we are the aroma of death leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to life.”
When the world rejects you for being a Christian, it’s not because you are Pepe Le Pu. It’s because they smell their own death. They smell the “fragrance of Christ”—His amazing humiliation in becoming human and dying for our sins that we might have “life leading to life.” That’s my prayer for my loved ones—life—because it’s no stinking good any other way.
All Marine Corps reservist Jake Chalmers wants is to give his dying wife a last, romantic cruise to the Philippines. Unable to save her in a mass murder aboard ship, he washes ashore a jungle island, where he discovers three other survivors. Heartbroken that he failed to save his wife, he is determined not to fail these helpless castaways.
Federal prosecutor Eve Eriksson rescues a young girl and her elderly great-aunt from the same ship. They badly need Jake's survival skills, but why is he so maddeningly careful? She needs to hurry home to nail a significant career trial. And, please, before Jake learns her secret that she's responsible for his wife's death.
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Don Prichard is a Viet Nam veteran who served in the Marine Corps Reserves for thirty-two years before retiring as a colonel. He is also a career architect, whose specialty in government work includes the design of prisons, courthouses, and military facilities.
Stephanie is an army brat who lived in many countries around the world and loved it. She met her husband at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, where she majored in English/Literature. She and Don have lived in Indianapolis, IN, for forty years, and in retirement have turned to co-authoring novels now that their three children are busy raising a beautiful crop of grandchildren for them.
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