Frank Sinatra Lonergan, Lucky Lotto Winner Number 1 (a serial story) – Part 6

To read the entire series , click here.

Matt Brock takes another crack at it with Part 6. Enjoy.

Families think their ways are best. They love to protect their own, but they can also alienate. I didn’t really have a choice, I had to leave. And while I was gon

Power Off.

Frank wanted to scream. Without any juice left for the laptop, his mind fired back to Thornton’s words about him chasing the wind. Frank couldn’t believe it. He gathered his belongings and hurried off toward Pretzel Palace, the last shop before the entrance to the mall security office. As Frank passed clothing shops, he smelled the high priced perfumes and colognes exploring the hallways and remembered how little he had growing up. He also remembered how bad he was with saving money. Frank was a duck in a sea of soggy bread crumbs and he licked his lips at the striped button-ups and boot-cut khakis. This money thing will surely be a curse, he thought.

At the door Frank gave a mini morse-code rap on the frame, not the door itself, this was one of Thornton’s rules. There was shuffling about inside and a chair screeched as it was slid along the floor.

“Can I help you?”

“It’s Frank, I need you to show me that tape.”

Thornton considered. He wished he hadn’t spoken at all. He unlatched the door in at least 3 separate places. “Get in here already.” Thornton searched back with his slow rewind button and Frank stood looking over his shoulder. Thornton turned over a metal trash can and patted on it. Frank took his seat. “Ok, here it is, but it’s ‘gainst regulations so don’t you dare go chirppin’ to nobody. This is a one time deal. You’ll have to leave right after because i’m as behind as a horse’s tail today.” Thornton raised his bushy eyebrows. “Deal.”

Frank leaned forward for the show.

Things played out as Thornton described. Random shoppers passing from both sides of the booth. The end of the line to the Japanese fast-food place extending into the top left of the frame. Frank burst out of the booth like he was escaping a burning building and then the most peculiar thing, Frank stood staring. Whatever he looked at was outside of the camera’s view, but it held his attention for almost 10 seconds, as seen by the real-time clock at the bottom of the screen. Suddenly, and at the most awkard time, Frank hurried out of shot and even bumped the shoulder of a young man walking by. He was gone. There was no woman, no red-headed child.

“See.” Thornton swivelled around and leaned back. “Now get yourself home, I got real work to do.” Frank wanted to argue, wanted to debate, but he had no case. He shut the door behind him and walked slowly back through the maze of shoe departments and stands with board games and calenders of young pop singers and small clothed puppies. The last thing he heard before awaking from his stupor at the front door of his apartment building was two men in the food court having a discussion about urban sprawl and they were laughing. The fatter man was laughing more.

Frank was at the same apartment door that he used to walk into with Janell. The same creak of 100 year old hard-wood flooring. The same. Frank dropped his keys while fumbling with them and his landlord’s wife opened up from two doors down and stepped out into the hall. Tina might have been beautiful at one time, before the meth and cigarettes.

“Frank, rent’s due.”

“Yes, i’ll have it by tomorrow.”

A small blonde child peeked her head around her mother’s skinny legs. Tina looked down. “Sissy, go get momma her cigees, ok?” The girl smiled as she trotted back and returned a moment later with a pack of Marlborough Lights. “Well, bye then.” Tina shut the door.

Frank opened his door and thought before walking in. Some people deserve money, and others shouldn’t get a dime.

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Reflections on a Coming Season

We take a brief break from the serial story. Don’t worry, there’s more coming.



We move toward a season of slow meditation upon the Stations of the Cross, the consummation of mission through the pangs of suffering. Lent is coming.

Here, we encounter the broken Jesus, the reed bruised by the weight of our chastisement. We see the wick smoldering under the weight of an oxygen depleted midnight and we pause, breath held, as if afraid to suck away the hope of reignited life. We know how the story ends, but before we hear the sounds of the shredding veil, hope seems tenuous at best.

Lent is bathed in the holy water of tension: sovereignty pulling against the free will of man; Christ’s humility pulling against human ego; life pulling against death. To call the passion story simple is to remove nuance and richness. It is terribly complicated, eternally complex. It is not as simple as saying, “he could have called 10,000 angels.” Could he have? Really?

Join me this year in exploring the richness of Lent. Join me in the pause from doing. Break from asking “what is my mission,” so that we may contemplate the perfection of his, the suffering and hope in it. And as we find ourselves confounded by the complex beauty of life, death, and resurrection, may we be suspended in the question:

“Jesus, will you rise in me again this year?”
Lent comes March 9th. Will you prepare your heart with me?

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We gather, hundreds of us, moved by what has been appropriately described as an “orphan crisis.”  Conferences like this bring out the saints and the saints come bearing perceived answers.  Saints are, after all, only human.

Tribe leaders, facilitators, wild-haired anti-trafficking experts from Connecticut (I’ll storm the beaches with you, brother), show us the many facets of child-exploitation.  They undo our answers, guiding us through the mounting complexities–resource shortages, blind-eyed and corrupt governments, supply and demand curves that are fed by lustful depravity, the sheer statistical impossibility that adoption is the answer.

There is a mounting cognitive dissonance.  Issues of fatherlessness are complex and so it follows that the answer cannot be simple.

The Conference guide takes the stage, asks us to stand, requests a pause, a Selah of sorts.  In that moment I believe that many of us heard God’s voice,

“Slow down; pause; pray; contemplate.  Let go of your ego and your answers.  Let me start a new work in you.  One with some deliberation.”


Are you at the Idea Camp/Orphan Care conference?  Did God speak in your Selah moment? If you aren’t attending, watch the live stream today, starting at 9:00, central.

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Ephesians 1:3-14

One week ago, I asked whether a group might be willing to participate in a collective reading of Ephesians 1. Many of you agreed, and we were able to compile this video.


The power of spoken scripture, especially when read by a broader community, impacted me more than I anticipated. Thank you, readers.

We’d like to keep building this project. If you would be willing to submit a short clip, please let me know in the comments. I’d love to round out a collective reading of Ephesians.

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Frank Sinatra Lonergan, Lucky Lotto Winner Number 1 (a serial story) – Part 5

Frank sat, and as he was beginning to close the curtain a hand perched atop the bar, stopping the metal sliders.  Thornton’s head poked in the booth.

“You were walking awfully fast, Frank.  Granted, it wasn’t a run, but if I’da been on the floor, I might’a written you a citation.  I was watching from the security room, monitoring this goth dude wearing thick eye shadow. He was deciding which studded shades to lift from the Sunglass Hut when I saw you on the move.  Looked like you were chasing someone, Frank.”

Frank looked up, head swimming, cheeks flushed.  “There was this woman.  Tall, black, full lips, fuller…” his voice trailed off as if in day dream.  “Anyway, she had a little red-headed kid, freckled faced.  I didn’t recognize the woman at first, not until she spoke to me.  She had a voice just like Janell.  And I could have swore on a stack of Pentecostal hymn books that the kid was Mary.”

There was a palpably awkward pause.

“Frank,” Thornton said, “They’re gone.  Both of them.  Sit’n in a photo booth longing for resurrection won’t do you no good.  And chasing down apparitions, nearly knocking over Ms. Tin Le at the Bonsai Pagoda?  That won’t do you no good either.  Let it go.  Cash in your ticket. Move to the Caribbean.”

“Thornton,” Frank started but was interrupted by his authoritative friend.

“I was watching the closed circuits, Frank.  Wasn’t nobody fitting your description.  It looked like you were chasing the wind, friend.”

“Would you mind checking the tapes, Thornton?  Real quick.  For me?”

Thornton offered only a slight pause before sliding the curtain closed.  Frank could hear the black security-issue sneakers squeaking away on the freshly waxed mall tiles.  He shot a cap full of Bloody Mary, trying to clear his head and connected the power cord to the Computer before opening it.


After early Mass, I took to telling Momma that I had to work the short shift at the mill.  But my old Chevy—the one that Elder Johnson called the “Four Horsemen” on account of it’s stunning lack of horsepower—always seemed to find its way to the full Gospel congregation on the west side of town.  Janell was in the choir, and if I timed it right I’d get the chance to hear her sing the spiritual before the sermon.  After the good Elder’s preaching, Janell closed the service with a few verses of “Just as I am.” I swear, I got saved every Sunday, though I don’t think I ever got the Holy Ghost.

Sometimes, when the service ended, we’d take a bit of the potluck and sneak down to the river. Once I carried a jug of wine that my uncle had bootlegged from Missouri.  On that Lord’s day, I found that Janell’s love was as good as her alto.  If the Elder had known about that afternoon, I’m pretty sure he’d say that Janell didn’t have the Holy Ghost either. But he and his congregation were good to me.  They didn’t treat me like I was snow-white, a leper.  The old men shook my hand; the old ladies pulled me into their perfumed bosoms, close enough for my cheeks to be tickled by their feathered hats.  They were a good family of folks.

But there are things you learn in life.  Families compete.  Families are fond of ultimatums.

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