It was two in the morning, and I promised myself that I’d stop at the next motel, or whatever looked like a place to rest.
I passed an illuminated cross that shone brightly, and below it were the words “Jesu Sa es.” A short distance later, I saw a sign that read “Mo el,” and below that “ acancy.” This town must have a shortage of light bulbs, I concluded.
I pulled up to the main building, got out of my car, and stretched. Out of nowhere, a dog appeared at my feet and began sniffing at my legs. It was a beautiful chocolate Labrador. I petted it for a while, then walked to a door marked “Office.” I knocked three times, loudly enough to be heard, but there was no sound coming from inside. I waited a few minutes, then knocked again. Still no sound. The dog paced away slowly. I sat down on the porch, and leaned back against the wall.
It must have been five minutes later when I heard footsteps in the office, then the sound of a key turning. The door opened, and an elderly man looked out. “Somebody there?”
I stood up and faced the door. “Yes, sorry to wake you. I wondered if you had a room available?”
“Sure do,” he answered. “For how many people?”
I looked around and couldn’t help smiling. “Just for me.” I noticed that the chocolate lab was in the office now.
“Come on in.” He walked to his desk. “How many nights you staying?”
“Only tonight,” I answered as I walked in. “What time is check out?”
“Whenever you wake up,” he said. “Not like people are knocking down my door to rent the place. Except for you, of course.”
“Sorry again if I woke you…”
“Oh, you didn’t wake me. Daisy here just about licked my nose off. Couldn’t help but get up to see what the fuss was about.”
“She’s a beautiful dog. Quite friendly.”
“Yeah, she is that. Just appeared out of nowhere one day, soon after my wife passed on. Been here ever since. Can I see your driver’s license?”
“Funny thing about her,” he continued, “every morning at about seven she disappears, then comes back home about nine. Neighbors say they’ve seen her lounging by the chapel up the street. My wife used to go to mass every morning, and she used to bring daisies with her from our garden. That’s why I named her Daisy.”
I shook my head in disbelief.
“Here you are, Mr. Alcott. Room three. You can park your car in front of the door.”
“Thank you. I appreciate it, sir.”
“No sir required. Name’s Tommy Vickers.”
“Thank you, Mr. Vickers.” I turned to leave, but something possessed me to ask one more question. “Just out of curiosity, what was your wife’s first name?”
“Samantha,” he said. “Why?”
“Oh, nothing, really…”
“The sign at the chapel? No one can figure out why, but no matter what we fix or how many new light bulbs we put in there, the ‘s’ and the ‘v’ just don’t light up anymore. Not since Sam’s funeral. Just like the ‘t’ and the ‘v’ on my sign out front.” He nodded. “Her initials there, mine here.”
I nodded as well. “Good night.” I noticed that Daisy wasn’t in the office any longer. I drove the short distance to my room, and in the headlights I could see Daisy sitting right by my door. I walked to the porch and patted her head. “If I didn’t know any better, I’d say you act more like a human than a dog.”
Daisy licked my hand for a while, then walked away slowly. I stepped into my room, turned on the light, and noticed the bible on the nightstand. Beside it was a bookmark with a cross drawn on it, and the words “Jesus Saves.” But the ‘e’ in Jesus and the ‘a’ in Saves were worn out.
I laughed to myself. My initials were E.A. It had to be just a coincidence! Or was it?
I retrieved a pen and traced the worn out letters. And that’s when it struck me. No matter how tired I was of my life, no matter how far away I tried to get from all my troubles, Jesus always found a way to draw my attention to him. It simply didn’t matter how burnt out the light bulbs in my own life might be.
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