Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Hospitality (02/07/05)
TITLE: Life on the Rail and the Yellow Sleeping Bag!
By Pam Kumpe
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The crooked man slouched and a roar coming from the road nearby caught his attention. He watched as the car approached, it slowed, and the driver, a woman glanced, giving a long hard look his way.
He stared back with a curious eye as the car disappeared and was drawn to his immediate need, a rumbling stomach.
He pulled a brown, crumpled sack from his back pocket, and reached for the last piece of bread, and also found a blackened banana.
His feet were burning, the callouses many, but still the soft bedding brought comfort to a weary man.
The yellow sleeping bag was his latest and greatest find, a bed by night, a seat by day, and a warm wrap in cold weather and to think he had found it in a trash bin.
Suddenly, the roar returned as another vehicle advanced, and this time the driver made eye contact with him and he almost smiled back at this lady, but decided against it, afraid of rejection.
The shiny car followed the asphalt pavement, leaving the drifter alone with his thoughts.
Warmed by the memory of his childhood, those days prior to his parent's death; the man curled up into a ball, and closed his eyes, drifting in and out of sleep until mid afternoon.
Startled, he heard a car door slam, a presence was near. He tried to focus on the figure and realized it was the first woman driver from that morning.
She moved closer carrying a McDonald’s bag in her hand. Stopping, she spoke, “Hi, I wanted you to have some lunch and I hope you like cheeseburgers. I brought you a Coke, too.”
He lunged toward the sack, maybe too fast, because the woman rushed back to her car without another word.
Absorbed by the smell he quickly stuffed the burgers into his mouth. The syrupy coke was cold and tasty, he gulped it in one big swallow.
As he enjoyed the feast, a tear fell down his cheek, the man thankful for the gift from his anonymous friend.
Just then, another car parked on the shoulder across the road. He noticed it was the woman from the shiny car, driver number two.
The woman opened her car door and grabbed several sacks from the back seat. Her eyes examined his face and she spoke, her voice cracking.” I was going home after church, and I thought you might be hungry." She paused. "Hmm, I see, someone else had the same idea.”
She placed the two grocery bags filled with fried chicken, fruit bars, and golden delicious apples at his feet, and as she turned to leave the man responded, uttering these words, “God bless you.”
She looked back and saw his tears, the expression on his face raw, his eyes soft, he longed for more.
A drifter, with two meals from two women, on a two lane highway, between two towns; received double - delivery from spontaneous acts, and good found its way into his life.
In Matthew 25:40 (NIV) it says, "I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me."
On the railroad of life, drifters come and drifters go, they slip by, traveling from town to town in search of acceptance and love. For the man on the rail, life is hard, and contact with others rare, but for this one homeless man he believes his yellow sleeping bag brought him just enough light for the day.
It was indeed the best find of the year, well, besides having two wonderful meals all in one afternoon.
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