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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Dead End (02/06/14)

TITLE: The Road to Self Destruction
By Jim Newton


Mr. Birchall sat in his recliner reading the morning newspaper. Davey, the 8 yr old boy from next door, stood facing the small table next to his chair. He was looking at the picture of Mr. Birchall’s baby son, who had died just five weeks after his birth.

“Mr. B,” as Davey called him, “your son sure was a pretty baby. Don’t you think?”

“I most certainly do.” He looked over the paper at the picture with soft eyes and a gentle smile.

That was not the picture the neighbors had of Mr. Birchall. He normally had a scowl on his face as he mowed the lawn or went about his outside activities. He and the neighbors never spoke.

Davey Pearson was a ball of fire, constantly on the move. His parents, Glen and Jeannie Pearson, constantly rebuked Davey for talking with and entering Mr. Birchall’s home. Those admonitions went in one ear and out the other.

“Mr. B, do you think your wife might come back someday?”

“No, Davey. She is long gone. She couldn’t live with a man traveling down a dead end road.”

“Mr. B, what’s a dead end road?”

“It’s a road to nowhere… to self destruction.”

“Oh…guess you get sad when you think about Baby Randy and your wife.”

Davey’s mom began calling for him outside. “Davey where are you? We’re going to the library.” It was summer and that meant the summer reading program.

Jeannie and Davey turned onto their street, on their way home, to see a commotion of people and an ambulance. As they drew near, they could see the ambulance was parked in front of Mr. Birchall’s home.

As they pulled into their driveway, Burt, a neighbor and policeman, walked over and said, “Old man Birchall had a heart attack. Heard it on the radio”

At that, Davey flew out of the car, running toward the ambulance, but it was too late. The doors to the ambulance were closed and it sped away lights and siren clearing the path. “Mr. B! Mr. B! Are you gonna die, Mr. B?” His Mom grabbed him, but he broke away toward Mr. B’s front door, flying through a door left unlocked by the paramedics. In a flash, he plunged back out the door with Baby Randy’s picture. “Mom – Mr. B has got to have Baby Randy with him, or he will die!”

“David Pearson, you put that back in that house right this minute!”

As Mr. Pearson drove up, he witnessed his son’s actions. Between his Dad, his Mom, and Officer Burt, they decided to run the picture to the hospital. His Dad sensed something in his son’s persistence. Davey grasped the picture tightly as they drove.

The four of them walked up to the ICU nurse’s desk asking if it were possible to see Mr. Birchall. After consulting with his doctor, they learned only one adult would be admitted. Mr. Pearson insisted he be the one to see Mr. Birchall. He walked through the shiny double doors into a somber atmosphere of blinking, beeping machines and wires.

Mr Pearson came to a stop beside Mr. B’s bed. He was looking at someone he did not know…but his son did. Mr. Birchall’s eyes and head turned weakly to face him.

Ever so quietly, “Mr. Birchall, I’m Davey’s Dad, Glen Pearson. Davey seems to think…ah… you…ah…might want this…ah…picture with you.”

A total change came over Mr. Birchall’s face. A soft and loving expression took over. It was an unforeseen expression. He nodded affirmatively. Tears began to stream from his eyes toward the pillow. Now, Mr. Pearson’s eyes joined in with the tears.

“You take care of Davey and Mrs. Pearson, Glen. They are your true treasure in life. Without them, you’ll be headed down a dead end road, like me.”

“Mr. B…could I pray with you?”

Mr. Pearson burst through the ICU doors, saying, “Jeannie, we’ve got a lot of work and praying to do. We’ve got to move. Davey, I am so proud of you. Son, you have been the only real Christian among us. Let’s go! I’ll explain everything on the way home. That Mr. B is one fine man.”

Mrs. Pearson was at a loss for words at the change in her husband. Davey… he wasn’t surprised at all.

“Dad, is Mr. B gonna die?”

“He’s in the Lord’s hands, son, but we’re gonna make sure God knows we are in Mr. B’s corner…and get him off that dead end road.”


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This article has been read 169 times
Member Comments
Member Date
C D Swanson 02/14/14
Good story with a good message...thank you.

God bless~
Terry R A Eissfeldt 02/18/14
A wonderful heartfelt story. Thanks
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 02/19/14
This is a powerful story. I liked seeing the gruff character from the eyes of the little boy. It reminded me that things aren't always what we think.

I really liked your dialog. You might have used it even more to show the reader the back story. For example: "Why don't the neighbors talk to you?"

Dialog us not easy to master, but you do a fine job of making it feel natural. You nailed the topic and wrote a story that really connected with me. I also like your message. I look forward to reading more of your work.