The fumes made Warren squeamish, so he was glad to be finishing up. These nine hour work days were tough. Though he did plenty of jobs for Mr. Pike he never got used to the smell of paint. He prayed his employer would at least pay him all his money this time. Everybody called Warren crazy, but he knew the work he did was worth more than Mr. Pike was paying him.
Warren took a few steps back and studied the walls. He put the dry wall up yesterday, and laid the tile in the basement and the two bathrooms Tuesday. He admired his work with that contorted smirk.He couldn’t get hired for anything else.Maybe it was his eyes that scared people away. They practically leaped out at you like he was about to scream in terror. And that uncontrollable tight grin showed his bad overbites. Few knew his heart was warm and humane.
Critiquing the wall he was proud of his results. Whatever Warren put his hands to he did it with all his might. He was twenty-two, strong and muscular. He had confidence in his abilities despite knowing he would never fit in with others. Ever since that bag of marijuana six years ago, Warren’s mind hadn’t been the same.
“I hope you are finished while you standing there looking crazy. I don’t pay you to stare at walls, I pay you to paint them.”
Mr. Pike was on his cell phone. He looked at Warren and then at the walls again.
“Yes sir Mr. Pike. I’m all done,” Warren said with dignity. “Anything else you need me to do before you pay me Mr. Pike?”
“Don’t you see me on the phone boy? Let me take a look around first. OK?”
“OK,” Warren said. He stepped aside as Mr. Pike started walking through the house. He didn’t have to be so sharp all the time Warren thought to himself, but he was grateful to Mr. Pike for giving him a chance to work and earn some money. He decided to go outside and get some air and leave Mr. Pike to the miasma fest.
His short legs took him strolling elastically out the door. He saw an older man
struggling with some bags across the street.
“Need some help sir? Let me help you with that.”
Before Pastor Jimmy Carter could say a word Warren hoisted the two bags of
garbage over his shoulders and headed towards the big dumpster in front of the property.
Pastor Carter started back to the house to grab some more bags.
“Now you let me get that now. You look like you need a rest Mister. You just let
Warren get that for you.”
Assuming the young man was trying to work for a few dollars Pastor Carter took
a seat on the porch rail. He watched the dark sturdy fellow go into the house and just
as quickly come out with two more bags saddled on his back. He did that four more times
without breaking stride as Pastor Carter looked on in relief.
"There you go Mister. All done. You doing some work to this here house? Gonna
be nice when you get all done. Don’t need too much work. Just a little fixin up that’s all,”
“Yep. Not too much work. Still need to put new tile down, put up some dry wall,
and paint and that’s about it. Hey listen. My name is Jimmy. You want a cold pop or
bottle of water? I have some in the house,” Pastor Carter said, unable to break free from
Warren’s bewildered gaze.
“Yes, if you don’t mind”
“No I don’t mind. What’s your name young man?”
Pastor Carter turned to go into the house. “I’ll be right back Warren.”
Warren sat down on the porch stairs with a smile. He was hot and thirsty enough
to out guzzle two camels at an oasis. He looked across the street expecting Mr. Pike to
come outside any minute.
“Here you go Warren, nice and cold. I brought water and pop. Take your pick.”
“Thanks Mr. Jimmy. Thanks for being so nice. God bless you ok.”
“God bless you too Warren. I’m sure glad you came along. The fellow I had
clearing all this garbage out didn’t make here today. God knows I needed some help.”
Warren stared at the tall lean preacher. “You believe in God Mr. Jimmy?”
“Oh yes, with all my heart. I love Him and live to serve Him.”
Warren took deep gulps of water. “My momma tells me about God and Jesus all
the time. She say God loves me strong and gonna help me stop smoking, and drinking,
and be saved one day. I used to go to church with my momma on Sundays, but she got
sick now and has to stay in bed a lot. I like church. Do you go to church Mr. Jimmy?”
“Sure do. I go as much as I can. Your mamma is right. God loves you and all of
us very much. He can saved you and break any bad habits you might have if you
trust Him. Do you believe He can do it Warren?”
“Yeh, I guess so. If mamma says He can then I know He can.”
“I know He can too Warren. Not only is He able, He’s willing. If I told you I
could pick you up for church on Sundays, would you want to go?”
“Oh yeh Mr. Jimmy. I like church. I wanna go if you can take me. I can be ready and on time too!” Warren embraced Pastor Carter’s hand with both of his. “Thanks so much Mr. Jimmy. God bless you ok.”
Pastor Carter looked into Warren’s candid eyes. However contorted his face may have been, this was a young man with passion.
They talked a long time after Mr. Pike paid Warren $450.00 for five days of work.
The sun was setting in Chicago when Pastor Carter told Warren, “Why don’t you come back here tomorrow. I could use some help painting and laying tile.”