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TITLE: Simon to the Rescue 2/4/14
By Richard McCaw

Target audience: Children 10 to 12 years old.
Simon to the Rescue

Simon sauntered home from school around three thirty that Friday afternoon. But on his way, he had to pass old Mr. Binns’ fruit shop. Mr. Binns was a grumpy old timer, who did not seem to like the looks of any creature that passed for a boy. If he were a girl, Simon would be sure to get a polite nod and a sheepish little smile, and “How are you today, little miss?” But Simon was more than glad that he was what some folks call a real boy. Of course, his parents were Christians and he knew that they never agreed to that description. They said that a real boy was just a younger version of a real man and that Jesus was God’s model of what a real man should be like.

He noticed today that Mr. Binns looked at him deliberately and growled at him, and watched him all the way as he disappeared down the road to his home around the corner. Why was he staring after him like that today with such a terrible scowl on his face? Simon scratched his head. Then, he opened the gate, hurriedly dropped his school bag on the living room couch, and ran into the kitchen where his mother was busily cooking dinner. In a flash, he planted a kiss on her cheek, and disappeared again, before she could ask any questions or give him chores to detain him.

Out through the gate, he was thinking to himself: “I’ll have to investigate this! There must be something up the old man’s sleeve!” when he bumped into Margy, almost knocking her off her feet. Margy was the saucy ten year old who lived two houses down the road and who sat in front of Simon in Sunday School class.

“Oh, you clumsy boy!” she spluttered against the fence. “Can’t you look where you’re going?” She steadied her plump little self, then smiled, with a sly glint in her eye. “Have you seen the lovely fruits Mr. Binns has in his fruitshop today, Simon?”

“No!” replied Simon.

“He’s got large juicy melons, tropical mangoes and big juicy red apples!”

“I just don't understand what he has against me, today!” exclaimed Simon hardly hearing Margy’s detailed description of various scrumptious fruits that would normally leave Simon smacking his lips or sighing. “He usually ignores me, but today he growled at me as if I’d done him something specially horrible. I’d like to know what.”

“He hates all boys and thinks every little boy is the devil himself.” Margy laughed, and her plump cheeks fell back around her pretty white teeth, while she clasped her hands in glee.

Simon chuckled: “Well, I was a little devil, I suppose, before I became a Christian. But
with Jesus I’ve changed and you know that, Marge, don’t you ? I don’t do the things that used to get me in trouble with big folks any more, at least most of them.”

“Ha!” scoffed Margy. “A little fun now and then won’t hurt your testimony much though, Simon!” Then, she turned and went her way with a grin on her lips. “You’d better not go passed his fruit shop this evening!”

An hour later, Simon stood looking over the fence. Now, he could understand it. Anybody could see it. There was Mr. Binns with his back to the wide open street. He was standing on a chair with a paint brush in his hand. A can of black paint hung from a tree limb nearby and he could see another can of red paint on the ground nearby. He was muttering to himself, his moustache almost getting in the way. “Confounded little rascals! There now! there now!”

Simon could read the letters...big, bold and red: D..O..N..T....T..O..U..C...! ! ! and the old man was just drawing the brush over the last letter ‘H’. When he had finished, he smiled with himself, guffawed, hands akimbo, then began to climb down from the chair, lifted up his right foot and placed it on the ground. Then, lifting up the left foot, he forgot that the other can of paint was on the ground to his left and placed his foot fully into it. Ugggh!

Simon could not help giggling, covered his mouth, and hid behind the wall to see what the old man would do now. He was kicking wildly, which did not help, for the paint was now not only on his foot but on the upper part of his trousers. He was beating both hands against the can of paint and trying to pull his foot out of it at the same time, so that both hands and sleeves were now red with paint. Just then, Simon heard footsteps behind him and saw Margy stealthily creeping up behind him.

At the sight of old Mr. Binns, Margy could not contain herself and had to turn away her face, which was splitting all over in grins with sheer amusement.

Poor Mr. Binns stood with his feet in the paint can, and tears began streaming down his face. Of course, his face did not bear any longer the look of an ordinary human face, but had turned purple by then. Simon felt a bit sorry for him and said: “Why don’t we try to help him, Margy?”

“Oh, yes! Like how he doesn’t like little boys like you...you think he’d like you running into his backyard trying to help him get that silly paint can off his foot?” she breathed in unbelief. “I can just see him growling at me as well!”

“C’mon!” he insisted as he pulled her by the hand. “Since he likes little girls like you!” He pushed her ahead of him, and shrunk back, hiding behind her as he went.

“Hey! Are you crazy!” she shrieked.

“You’re going to be nice to him,” began Simon, “while I pull that can off his foot, then

“Perhaps, he’ll let you have one of his lovely mangoes, eh?” she frowned. “He’s a mean little ol’ man!” Then, after a moment she added “But if you say so, perhaps, he’ll be nice to you if I’m around.”

She patted the back of her hair, smiled at her plump little self and tried to climb over the low-lying fence with a little help from Simon.

“Ugh!” grunted the old man on seeing Margy.

“Whatever happened to you, Mr. Binns,” sighed Margy.

Mr. Binns managed a slight smile, then groaned: “Terrible, my little miss! Terrible!”

“Perhaps, I can help get that can off your foot, Mr. Binns, sir,” she said beckoning to Simon. As Mr. Binns bent down one more time to tug at the paint can, Simon slipped quietly over the fence, making sure Mr. Binns did not see him.

“How are you going to do that, my little lady?” he asked.

“One of my big brothers will....” She remembered her Sunday school teacher saying that all believers in Jesus are brothers and sisters.

The old man frowned.

“He’s nice! He’s different from all the little boys around these parts,” she assured him. I’m sure you'll like him!”

“You think so, little miss?” He seemed to have some hope in his eyes now. “I’d love to get this silly can off my foot, somehow!” He bent down again and tugged at it himself. “You think your big brother can help get it off.”

“He’s not very big and he’s very shy!” she said, grinning to herself. “But strong enough and with a little help from me, perhaps we can. So, stand with your back to me and I’ll get him to come and we’ll try our best, eh, Mr. Binns.”

“Oh, alright!” he agreed, somewhat unwillingly.

Then, Simon came up and stood behind Margy.

“This is one of my bigger broth...” she began.

He shrieked. “You mean that...that ...tha..!” His hands went up in the air, and he began waving them about. “No! No! No!”

“C’mon, Simon, now, while he’s shutting his eyes,” and Simon grabbed hold of the can with both hands and began yanking it. It was stiff and it would not budge.

“You hold this side of the can!” shouted Simon.

“Help! Murder! Thief!” screamed the old man. “Somebody! Help, I say!”

“Hold on to my waist,” Simon yelled, “and pull with all your might!”

Flupp! The can flew off the foot into the air, and landed in the middle of the mango tree. Old Mr. Binns fell back one way with a bump, while Simon fell back the other way. Margy rushed over to help pick up the old man. “Are you hurt?” she asked.

“Uggh!” he spluttered, trying to help himself up. Simon still lay sprawled on the ground somewhat dazed after the impact.

She rushed over to Simon. “Are you alright?”

Simon suddenly came to, shook his head, looked around and muttered, “Is he alright?”

Then the old man staggered over to where Simon still lay on the ground. He stood looking down at him and his eyes watered just a little

Simon got to his feet. He did not know what to say at first.

“I’m really a mean ol’ man, I know it. I’ve been hating and hating every little boy I see around.” He drew a handkerchief from his back pocket. “Ever since that little rascal nephew of mine started showing me how much he hated me. He threw a rotten egg at the back of my ol’ grey head one day, then ran for his life, ‘cause he knew if I ever caught him, it would’ve been the end of him. And when I told my brother, he wouldn’t believe the little devil would’ve done such a thing. Did I hate that little brat! Then, I started hating every little boy after that.” He began to sob.

“Never mind, Mr. Binns!” said Simon, as he cautiously drew nearer.

“How can I hate you?” he looked up into Simon’s face. “You helped me get the paint can off my feet!” He held his head in his hands.

“Jesus loves you!” Simon said.

“You think He does, son?”

Simon gently placed his hand on his shoulder. “I know He does!” he said confidently.

“We were God’s enemies," Margy interjected.

“But God loved us so much,” Simon tried to explain, "that He sent Christ to be punished for us. That’s why Christ died on the cross!”

“I wanna be different. I wanna change in my heart!” exclaimed the old man. “I wanna stop hating!”

“All He asks is that you tell Him! ” Simon explained. “Tell Him you’ve lost your way. Ask Him to forgive you. He will.”

“Have mercy, Lawd! Take me, Lawd! Ah, haf to change! Thank you, Jesus! Thank you!” His face almost looked angelic to Simon and Margy as sunlight came streaming through the trees upon it. Then afterwards he hung his head quietly for a few moments. Suddenly, clasping his hands, he opened his eyes and looked up into the sky far away and said “You’re right, my son!”

Simon and Margy stood quietly raising their hands and giving praise.

Suddenly, the old man got to his feet slowly without even saying anything and went into the fruitshop. Simon and Margy turned toward the gate.

Then, that old voice began shouting at them. “Hey! Hey! Lookie here!” He held two ripe, juicy mangoes, one in each hand and a big, broad smile spread across his face.

“Come ‘ere, little brother! Little miss, this is for you!”

Simon and Margy turned and ran grinning toward the old man. Oh, happy day! They smiled warmly at the old man as he gave them the fruits and winked at them.
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