A one ton dually Ford pickup drove up the long drive to the enormous home. The diesel motor powered the pickup slowly along with a smooth purring sound. The pickup came to a stop at the entrance to the mansion. The butler, a black man by the name of Mr. Lewis, strode evenly down the steps to the pickup greeting the man driving. He was very surprised to see the driver was a black man.
The butler led the man back up the steps and into the home. The driver was Paul “Diesel” Wilson. Paul was dressed in a sturdy Car Hart Jacket with a matching pair of Car Hart overalls underneath. He appeared and acted as if he were out of place in this grand home. He smiled nervously and rotated his head side to side taking in the immaculate surroundings as he followed the butler.
To Paul, it seemed as though they walked for a mile down corridors before they arrived at the library that was their destination. He spent the time calculating how many of his home could fit into this mansion.
In the library sat Howard Klensington Sinkley III. He was dressed in a navy blue suit and tie of custom tailoring which meant an exquisite fit. Mr. Sinkley rose from the chair to greet Paul with his hand extended.
“Ahh, Mr. Wilson, we meet at last. I am Howard Sinkley. Do sit down. Can Mr. Lewis bring you some refreshment…coffee, soft drink, or, perhaps, a drink of your choice?”
“No sir, I’ll be fine.”
“I would like to express my most sincere appreciation to you for chasing down that pickpocket and retrieving my wallet. That was a most daring act of courage on your part.”
“Thank you, sir, but I think anyone would have done the same if he were in my shoes.” Paul replied with a very sincere humility.
“Tosh, tosh, my boy. There were many others there, and none lifted as much as a finger to help you. There was great danger to you. As you may be aware, the police found a gun on the man.”
“The Lord is my strength and my shield.”
“Psalm 18:2, I believe, If my memory serves me correctly.”
Paul’s eyes lit up at that statement. “That’s correct, sir. Mr Sinkley, are you a Christian?”
Mr. Sinkley’s eyes lowered to his folded hands in his lap. “Oh, as a child, my mother made sure I received a sound Christian training. After my father divorced her, when I was twelve, that influence faded away. I lived with my father. He allowed me very little time with my mother and her infernal religion, as he would say.”
“I’m very sorry to hear that Mr. Sinkley. Your mother sounds like a very good person. You must have really missed her.”
“That is neither here nor there. Let us get back to you Mr. Wilson. I would like to offer you this check in appreciation for your act of gallantry.” Mr. Sinkley handed Paul a check for one thousand dollars.
Paul’s eyes opened wide as he took the check. With no hesitation, he handed it back to Mr. Sinkley, saying, “I cannot take this, sir. I did not do that to get money out of you. My father would roll over in his grave if I took money.”
Mr. Sinkley took the check with his eyes sternly planted on Paul’s eyes. “Then why did you accept my invitation to come here today?”
Paul’s eyes were not cowered by Mr. Sinkley’s stare. “Uh, to be honest, I came here to meet you. My father told me people that live in these big houses are prisoners of there worldly goods and social standing, and are very lonely…no friends, you know. I know this is crazy, but I thought I might offer you my friendship.”
Mr. Sinkley’s, so to speak, jaw dropped. He could see this man before him was being very sincere. “Mr. Wilson…”
Paul interrupted, “Paul – call me Paul or Diesel, if you like, that’s my nick name. I’m a diesel mechanic.”
“Ok, Paul…though flattered by the offer of friendship, you do realize I am a very wealthy man, and we live in two very different worlds? For some strange reason, I feel you are sincere in what you are saying, but we have nothing in common. And…you are a black man. Why would you want to be my friend, short of money, that is?”
“Howard, if you don’t mind me calling you that, yes, I am a black man. At least, the last time I looked in the mirror. By the way, I noticed you are a white man.” Paul said this with a big smile on his face. “Money, Howard, money can’t buy real love or friends. Do you remember in your Bible studies, If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.”
A fond smile came over Mr. Sinkley’s face at the challenge. “Yes, I do indeed, 1 Corinthians 13.” He slapped his knee in joy.
“You hit the nail on the head, Howard. You are really good. Do you ever go to church?”
“No, I have not attended since my mother left. I really did enjoy going. I won several biblical contests. My mother was so proud of me. Wish she were alive and here with us to witness me remembering these things. She would have been so very proud. He sat in silence for a moment then, looking at Paul, said, you know…I had real friends in those days.”
“She still is proud, Howard. Your mother must have been a wonderful person. She is here with us at this very moment in spirit. I see your face change every time you talk about her and your time in the church. Your mother wasn’t no fool, sir. I have a feeling She gave you the corner stone that is going to become the capstone of your life in the near future. With that, a person can’t go wrong. By the way, I want to be your real friend.”
At this moment, the butler entered carrying a silver tray filled with two cups of coffee, condiments, and pastries. “Pardon the interruption, sir, but I thought you gentlemen could use some refreshment with your conversation. I noticed the coffee mug in Mr. Wilson’s pickup and thought he might enjoy a cup of coffee…as you do, sir.”
“Thank you, Mr. Lewis. Would you call PG and tell him I will be late for the board meeting?”
“I anticipated that, sir. His reply was to carry on. He will handle matters in your absence.” Mr. Lewis turned to leave the room, but hesitated a second to give Paul a wink.
“Thank you, Mr. Lewis.” Howard stirred his coffee with a pensive look on his face.
Paul, looking at a model steam locomotive sitting among many other collectibles on the mammoth book shelves that lined the library, said, “Howard that’s a first class model engine over there. My son would love to see that. His grandfather, my dad, was a diesel mechanic for the railroad for 46 years. He used to take Jacob for rides in the engines and explain to him how everything worked…just like he did me.”
“That was a gift when I served on the board of directors of a railroad. It actually works. I’ve never fired it up. I have little working knowledge of such things. I admire people, like yourself, that can take all that apart and put it back together in running shape.”
“Oh, man! A diesel engine is a work of art. Can I explain some of the basics to you? It’s fairly simple. You see…”
The two men talked for almost two hours after that. Their coffee was refilled several times. Until, that is, Paul informed Howard he had to be home for dinner or he would be in a world of hurt with his wife. He told Howard that his wife, Sarah, was one great cook, and invited him to dinner.
“Paul, I appreciate the invitation, but I am a very busy man. Perhaps, I can take a rain check.”
“Howard, you are welcome any time in my home. Here is my business card. Call this cell number when you want to get together again or need a great home cooked meal or just to talk. You know, I do consider you a friend. I don’t judge you or any other man for his wealth or anything else. Judgment is the Lord’s.” Escorted by the butler, Paul turned to leave saying his goodbyes.
Howard remained seated for a minute. “He doesn’t judge me! I’m the rich white guy. I should be the one to judge him. Who is this man?” He chuckled about all this as he stood and walked down the corridor shaking his head.
The following day, Paul was at his diesel repair business going about his daily duties. A limousine pulled up and parked in front of one of the bays. A man, the chauffeur, emerged with a large wrapped box in his hands. He strode up to one of the mechanics and asked for Mr. Wilson. The mechanic yelled out, “Diesel, man here to see you. He’s sportin’ a nice set of wheels, too.”
Paul slid out from underneath the large truck he was working on. “How can I help you, sir?”
“Mr. Sinkley asked me to deliver this box to you with this envelope. The envelope contains instructions about the box and other matters. I’ll be on my way, sir, provided there are no questions.”
“I guess not. Thanks.”
Without another word, the chauffeur turned and walked to the limousine, and, promptly, drove away. Paul walked into his office with the box and opened the envelope.
In the envelope was a letter that read:
I sincerely enjoyed our visit yesterday. I am sorry that I cannot undo in one day
what I have become in 56 years upon this earth. If it would not be an imposition
upon your dear family, I would like to meet them at the entrance to the church
you divulged is on Monarch St at 9 am Sunday morning for services. I suppose,
I’m a little rusty, but I believe the Lord will wipe away that rust in a very efficient
manner. Also, if it would not be a further imposition, I would enjoy being a guest at
Mrs. Wilson’s Sunday dinner.
The box is for your son to be enjoyed together with his father.
Your Friend, Howard Sinkley
Paul, sporting an ear to ear smile, sat down heavily in his chair. He phoned his wife to tell her they were having company for dinner Sunday.
Yes, Paul and Howard became friends. Howard remained a very wealthy man in his enormous home. However, Howard was changing…rapidly changing.
I suppose you want to know what was in the box for Jacob. It was the train engine. Now, it has become a well used and loved train engine…not a dusty relic on a shelf. So too was the dusty faith of Howard taken off the shelf to become well used and loved.
As an after note, money was never a subject between Paul and Howard in what became a life-long friendship, but, not long after this, Paul’s…and Howard’s church received an anonymous gift of an enormous trust fund account for its operations and missions. This gift had a strange stipulation, to most, that a children’s scripture contest be held for all the area churches annually. My, my, my, how the Lord works in mysterious ways.