Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Write in the MYSTERY genre (04/05/07)
TITLE: To Charlie, With Love
By rick czechowicz
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Charlie Becker pushed aside a fresh stack of unpaid bills, then silently pondered his future. Inside of six months, he had lost his wife, his job, his self-respect, and very nearly his faith. He tried hard to remember the way it was. The way he was. How the old Charlie would remind Ginny and Katie about the virtues of trusting God when times were hard. But the old Charlie died in much the same way as Ginny did nearly six months earlier to the day. No cure was found for his wife’s cancer, and none for the fractured soul of her grieving husband.
Nevertheless, Charlie knew that grieving didn’t pay the bills, and the thought of losing his house
made him physically ill. Selling off his treasured tool collection would give him a little breathing
room . After that, with no job, his options narrowed considerably.
The next morning, Charlie rose early and stationed himself inside the tool shed. His first customer appeared in the form of a wheezing, dilapidated gray pickup truck. Emerging from the vehicle was a small, silver-haired man who moved with unexpected grace and ease. Polite introductions followed, as ‘Hank’ and Charlie casually entered the shed.
“Looking for anything special.?
Hank smiled softly, his warm, blue eyes flashing. In a voice soft as velvet, he replied, “Oh yes, Charlie. I’m always looking for something special. “ For over an hour, the two men chatted and strolled through the musty, tool-filled shed discussing everything and nothing at all. As Hank prepared to leave, he noticed a small broken down table near the service door. Upon closer inspection, he stood erect and made his offer.
“Take ten dollars for that little table, Charlie”
“You mean Katie’s busted up old night stand? Aw, Hank.., it’s a piece of junk. It’s not
worth ten bucks..”
The old man smiled once again, then whispered, “It is to me”.
Transaction completed, Hank gently placed the broken pieces of his newfound treasure in the bed of his old truck, then left as quietly as he arrived.
Later that night, Charlie noticed a small white envelope taped to his front door. Inside was a one page hand-written note:
Rt. 7 - Box 18 Fancher Rd., Dover Township.
Ask for Jonathan Cagle.
Charlie decided to honor Hank’s curious invitation on the following morning. He arrived at the address mid-morning, and rang the door bell to the large farmhouse. Immediately, a tall, slender
“May I help you?”
“I’m Charlie Becker. I’m looking for Jonathan Cagle?”
“That would be me. Nice to meet you, Mr. Becker. We were expecting you. Would you follow me, please.?”
The two men walked briskly to an old storage shed where Jonathan Cagle quickly produced a small piece of beautiful oak furniture.
“Several months ago, Mr. Jeffries informed me you might be interested in this piece as a replacement for your daughter’s broken night stand, so he had me save it for you. He restored this piece himself.
Beautiful isn’t it?”
As Charlie looked closer, he felt a cold shiver run over the back of his neck. He recognized the small jewelry drawer in the upper left corner. It was Katie’s old nightstand. How was this possible?
“Mr. Cagle, you mentioned a Mr. Jeffries…”
“Yes. Henry Jeffries. This was his estate.”
“Was his estate? Do you mean.. Hank?”
“Yes, I suppose he preferred Hank over Henry. Did you know him well?”
“Actually, I just met him yesterday. He came to my tool sale and bought this….”
“Mr. Becker, I think you may be confused. Hank Jeffries died of heart failure three weeks ago. I assumed you received the note prior to his death; he often gave restored pieces of furniture as gifts to friends to be picked up here by invitation."
“Then who was the person at my shed yesterday who bought my daughter’s broken nightstand
and turned it into that?”
“I’m sorry, Mr. Becker. I can’t answer that. Will you be taking the nightstand with you today?”
Charlie said a polite goodbye then returned to his car, nightstand in tow. While laying it down in the back seat, a small white envelope fell out of the jewelry drawer and onto the floor. Inside was a hand-
written note and a cashiers check for $2,000.
“And my God will meet all your needs according
to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.”
Phil 4:19 NIV
o Charlie with Love
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