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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: In-Law(s) (05/08/08)

TITLE: John the Moved in-Law
By Tim Pickl
05/13/08


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It seemed like a good, Christian idea at the time.

My brother-in-law John’s job moved across country to our town and he decided to build a new house about a block away from our home.

Unfortunately, he needed a place to live while he oversaw the home construction.

John was a know-it-all go getter, a super Type A personality. He always talked fast, like he had too much coffee.

“We’re going to build our new house right down the street from you guys. I bought the big lot on the corner. Isn’t that cool?”

“That is cool.” I reacted, thoughtfully.

“We’ll be neighbors—and I’ve got everything worked out now, except one small thing.”

“What’s that?”

“I’m going to need a place to stay while my wife stays here with the kids in school and finishes her job at the hospital.”

Without thinking, I blurted, “You can live with us—we have plenty of room!”

“I was hopin’ you’d say that. I’ll be flyin’ out next weekend.

“Well—I—I…”

“See you then!”

The situation took my breath away. John always swept through like a cyclone, but this time he took me by surprise. When I sheepishly told Lisa what I promised her brother, all she said was “Well, he better not stay long. I’ll get the basement bedroom ready.”

+++

I picked up John at the airport, and he talked non-stop from the time he got in my SUV until we arrived home. One thing I learned several years ago was to not ask any questions while John ‘had the floor’ because each answer usually would take about an hour.

+++

Days went by, then weeks, then months, but John’s new house was only about half-finished.

During that time, John effectively took over our basement. He had his own high-speed internet line brought in, and he was a slob. Dirty dishes and soiled clothes were piled everywhere—and Lisa’s patience wore thin.

“John, can you start cleanin’ up this place a little? You’re such a—“

John constantly talked on his cell phone’s Bluetooth. “Did you say somethin’, Sis?”

“Oh, never mind!”

It was such a relief during those hours when he had to leave the house to check the progress of his new house.

“Why’s it takin’ so long, John?” I finally asked him one night.

“It’s my fault. I’m never satisfied. I keep changin’ the design.”

+++

Finally, one day after school, Lisa pulled up in our driveway with the kids in the minivan. John was standing on our front lawn, talking animatedly to his Bluetooth, waving his hands with a cigarette flapping.

He looked like a cartoon character.

“I’m tellin’ you man, that is the wrong tile for that bathroom…”

Lisa tried to get his attention. “Excuse me, John.”

“It needs to be the next size smaller….THAT SIZE IS WAY TOO BIG!” He shouted.

Lisa tapped his arm, “John?”

“Well then, NOT MY PROBLEM. Rip it out and start over—“

“John.”

“WHAT!?” He turned. “Wha—Oh it’s you.”

At that moment, John clutched his left arm with his hand, then grabbed his chest and collapsed.

“JOHN!” Lisa dialed 9-1-1.

+++

I stayed all night at the hospital, and after awhile I was allowed in John’s room. He was asleep. The heart monitor beeped incessantly, and I realized every breath he took was a gift from God. I gently grabbed his hand, and felt his pulse.

With tears, I bowed my head, and prayed. “Father, thank You for my brother-in-law, John. Please heal him, Lord, and more importantly, save him.”

After Lisa dropped the kids off at school, she stopped by the hospital. When John heard her voice, he opened his eyes, turned his head and looked at her.

“John! You’re awake. You’re okay—“

“I…love you, Sis.” He muttered, and fell back to sleep.

Later that day, after I left to pick up the kids from school, John woke up again.

“Hey, Sis…”

“Hey John.”

“I need to talk to you…”

“What’s up?”

“Remember how you always told me to slow down…and start goin’ to church?”

“Yes…” Lisa answered with hope, while tears flowed down her cheeks.

“Well, startin’ as soon as I break outta here—please take me to church.”

“Thank you Jesus.” Lisa whispered. Then she said, “By all means, John. Not a problem.”

“Please forgive me.”

“Ohhh, you mean the house? You can stay—for now.” They laughed together.

It was a good, Christian idea.


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This article has been read 881 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Debbie Wistrom05/15/08
Everthing about this flows so smoothly. You hit type A on the head with your descriptions.

Your title makes us wonder and is so perfect.

Like the repetition at the end of the first sentnece.
LauraLee Shaw05/15/08
This is really wonderful. The transitions flow smoothly, and the story is extremely engaging. Love the creative title. Too funny. Great idea to make a clear point/message with your first and last sentence bringing the story to full circle. Oh, and I laughed out loud when you said John "looked like a cartoon character." What a picture! WEll done!
Patty Wysong05/19/08
People like this give me the jitters. You did great using dialog and I loved the images you painted. Very well done!
Lyn Churchyard05/20/08
I was exhausted just reading about John. I enjoyed the voice and the descriptions in this smooth flowing entry.
Very clever title too; well done TP :)
Betty Castleberry05/20/08
I know people like John. They wear me out. You nailed Type A personalities.
I like the way you repeated your first line and used it as your last line, too. It made everything fit together nicely. This was a good read.
James Dixon05/21/08
This is a fantastic story. I loved the contrast in the characters- extrovert/ introvert and the way the conflicts were illustrated. I hope this does well.
Verna Cole Mitchell 05/21/08
I enjoyed your story of a Type A personality and a man with a Christian spirit.
Mariane Holbrook05/21/08
I LOVED the title! And I know someone exactly like John! You've got this one nailed, no kidding. A terrific read!
Jan Ackerson 05/21/08
Good job--both of your characters were very real, and had distinct personalities. Great characterization.
Sara Harricharan 05/21/08
Oh great job here! I got dizzy just trying to follow John around and keep up with this fast-paced story! You nailed the type A personality-the ending slowed down to a nice, lovely finish. Great job! ^_^
Joshua Janoski05/21/08
I like how you tied the beginning and the end of this story together.

John remidned me of a friend of mine's roommmate. Unfortunately, he hasn't chose to become a Christian yet, but hopefully he does, just like John did in this story.

I enjoyed this, Tim. Thank you for sharing,
Joanne Sher 05/23/08
Congratulations, Tim, on placing thirteenth in your level with this piece. Great job!
Betsy Markman05/24/08
Wow...I hope for John's heart's sake he can learn to tone down that Type-A stuff! Well written and believable.
Helen Dowd 05/28/08
Good title. Glad John came to acknowledge his need for the Lord in the end. The story was good, but lacked a bit of excitement. But great try. God bless you.