The old car stopped at a lonely motel off a lonely highway, outside a lonely town. It wasn’t the kind of place where men brought their clandestine lovers, or where working girls plied their trade. It didn’t have laconic gumshoes “staking out the joint”, or furtive footsteps on its gravel walks.
It was, in a word, boring; with dull, brown brick and tin, a couple of scraggly bushes planted under the windows, cracked concrete driveways and anonymous doors.
But anonymous was good. Anonymous was what he needed right now. Somewhere where scorn and shame couldn’t follow him, nor could kindness, concern and sympathy oppress him.
Travis took a room and let himself in. Bed, chairs, sink, bathroom; all the comforts of home. Sheets were provided, but he was too sick at heart to make up the bed; he just lay on the coverlet and pulled up the extra blanket. He would kill for a beer right now, but he hadn’t brought any with him and it seemed pointless to go out for one.
Lying down didn’t make it any better. It wasn’t going to go away. After an hour of studying the damp patches on the ceiling he got up and went to the kitchen drawer. Ah, thought so. He took a steak knife out of the drawer, looked at it and went and lay down again.
Why was he here? Running away didn’t solve anything. Eventually he would have to go back, nothing would be any different. His mind turned again to the knife on the bench. Just then, he thought he heard a breezy voice. Where did it come from?
“Hi, name’s Gideon, can I help you?”
“Look, no offence, but I’d rather be alone”
“You look like you could use someone to talk to.”
“Mate, what part of ‘get lost’ don’t you understand!”
“Problems at home?”
“What’s it to you.”
“Ah mate, I understand. If it’s not the wife, it’s the kids, or the dog. You want to make everything right, but sometimes life just batters you down.”
“You’re not kidding.”
“And problems at work, I’ll bet! Boss giving you a hard time?”
“He’s not so bad, but they want to run this new program, and I’ve been out of school a long time, you know!”
“And just life in general…”
“Yeh. Always bills. Orthodontist, mortgage, car repairs… it never ends. We need a holiday. The missus deserves one, but I just can’t find a way.”
“You know what you need mate?”
“What? … well, what?”
“You need hope!”
“Oh really? You think? I can’t believe I’m even listening to you!”
“No, seriously. I know what you need. You are like the proverbial camel at the moment, burdened down. One thing, yeh, you can cope. Even two. But it mounts up and then something happens. One last, small thing. The straw that breaks the camels back. And that what happened, right?”
“Yeh, we had a fight… me and the wife. I didn’t mean the things I said. And then she said…”
“Hey, it’s ok. Here, it’s alright…, it's OK”
“I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. But it’s just all too much…”
“Would it be easier if there was someone to help. Someone to carry those burdens for you?”
“Well, yeh, but…”
“No but’s. Look it says here… Cast all your burdens on Him, for He cares for you.”
“You're kidding... Really!”
“Absolutely… and that’s just the beginning”
It was a long night, but in the pink of dawn Travis slipped the steak knife back into the kitchen drawer and put the Gideon’s Bible back in the bedside table. He went outside. The air was fresh and the scraggly bushes glistened with the dew. The drops of oil on the cracked concrete drive reflected little rainbows of light. The earth was made new again and so was Travis.
He was humming as he got into his car and drove home.
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