Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Lifeguard (11/09/06)
TITLE: The Raging Sea
By DeWayne Bricker
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The wave was my company closing down. I had a great job. I was an important part of a computer software company. People respected me and looked up to me. I was a good boss too. Then, like a tsunami without warning it was all over. I found myself unable to find work because I was barely over forty. No one wanted to pay the salary I deserved. They could get the young ones straight out of college and pay them pennies to do the same job. Oh, yea, they were smarter too and more energetic and pretty.
So, what; I had more experience and knowledge and expertise. All that didn’t matter though. There I was slowly bleeding to death from the shark bite of poverty. And like sharks in a blind frenzy gathering to the smell of blood so did my creditors. Before I knew it I was on the street sleeping in cardboard boxes and under noisy bridges. I am so thankful I didn’t have a wife and kids. I could not have made it through that type of drowning.
Once a man of means use to good eating and living; I was now eating out of garbage cans, sleeping in alleys, drinking whenever I could get it and stealing to survive. At first all I felt was shame and the bitter cold waters of loneliness. After a few months I got used to it and did whatever I could not to drown or be eaten alive in this sea of sadness.
After a while of living on the street you slowly forget who you were and where you came from. I guess it’s a protective mechanism built into our make up by God to help us cope with the constant battering of waves.
Then, when I thought things couldn’t get any worse, it did. While trying to break into a liquor store I was shot by the police. After an operation and a week in the hospital I went to jail minus one leg. They let me out because of the injury. I guess they thought a one legged man couldn’t do too much harm. Ha, he certainly couldn’t run away, could he?
I got into drugs; it didn’t matter what kind; anything would do. I just couldn’t take the pain anymore so I tried to drown myself with crack and alcohol. A blurred two years passed by. Heck, I can’t even remember them. It all seems like a distant nightmare.
Anyway, one night; Christmas Eve I believe; I was laying in an alley with the cold flooding in all around me. The waves of regret battered me without compassion. I could feel nothing; neither physically nor emotionally. A faint Christmas hymn nibbled at my ear. For a fleeting moment I felt warm and secure; then, just as I put the gun to my head a small child appeared in front of me. He was dressed in ragged clothes and skinner than me. He just stood there staring at me. I asked him what he was doing and he just raised his hand to me. I don’t know why I did it, but I felt the need to go with him. We didn’t speak. I on my crutches hobbled along beside him as we moved through the night a long the empty streets.
The song I thought I heard before was now getting louder and clearer. It sounded like angels singing. We rounded a corner and standing there with packages in her arms was my sister Alene. She froze as if staring at a ghost. I couldn’t believe it was her. She spoke my name in disbelief. I spoke hers in anticipation. She dropped her packages and yelled my name. I yelled hers and we rushed each other. We embraced each other for what seemed like years. Tears flooded our eyes and our souls. It was like a life preserver had been cast from a passing ship and I had caught it. I looked around for the child but my lifeguard was no where to be found.
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