Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Angry (08/02/07)
TITLE: Paying the Piper
By Marilee Alvey
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“Angie! What a surprise!”
“You need to come home right away.”
“You’re joking. I’m in Italy. You’re going to have to handle it yourself.”
“What is it?”
Steve sat down on the hotel bed, awkwardly wanting to hear, yet wishing he’d never hear.
<I>Matt’s okay. His recent moodiness is just teen angst.</I>
“Matt told me a half hour ago that your Uncle Tim sexually molested him when he was little.”
His spirit walked into nothingness, and began freefalling.
“What did he do?” Steve seethingly spat out the words.
“I don’t know yet. Matt’s getting checked into the hospital.”
“Hospital?” His heart was racing like a wild stallion with no fences.
“He’s so agitated…... Steve, I’m afraid. Please come home quickly….”
“Tell Matt I love him and that I’m coming home on the first flight tomorrow.”
Anger churned in his soul like marbles in a blender.
<I>Tim? The best man in my wedding? How could he? When I get home tomorrow I’m going to kill him. I’ll blow the vermin away and do the world a favor.</I>
Steve called his boss.
“I’m flying home tomorrow morning.” He hung up before his boss could object.
<I>I can’t afford emotions now.</I>
Sin had stolen into bed with Steve’s family, crawling under the covers like a venomous snake, biting his youngest son and leaving him with a lifetime curse. Life would never again be easy for Matt.
<I>It’s my job to protect my family. I failed once, but I won’t fail twice.</I>
Steve slammed his hotel door closed with such force that the framed emergency instructions fell to the floor.
<I>He’s nothing but a rabid dog. He didn’t consider our lives. Why should I consider his?</I>
Revenge felt strangely calming to Steve. There would be a reckoning.
Steve hadn’t drunk alcohol for years, but tonight he ordered a scotch on the rocks. As he drank, he reflected on his three children. It seemed to Steve as if he and Angie had made three big pots of soup. They’d carefully placed the ingredients in each pot to assure the outcome: perfect soup. Yet, now it seemed as if someone had put a spider in one when his back was turned. He would never again be able to vouch for its ingredients…or be sure of its outcome. For the rest of Matt’s life, that spider could turn up, a leg here, a leg there, leaving the soup foul. Steve continued his reflection at the restaurant table, from time to time wiping his watering eyes with his linen napkin.
“What’s wrong, friend?” An Italian man knelt down beside Steve’s table, placing his hand on his shoulder.
“I found out tonight that my uncle sexually assaulted my son when he was little. I’m going to kill him as soon as I get back to America.”
“Will that change anything?”
“I’ll feel better….and the world will, too.”
The compassion in the man’s dark brown eyes was not condemning, yet Steve felt it pierce his armor.
“May I tell you a story, sir?”
“Twelve years ago, an American family came to visit Italy. They were driving on the Autobahn and some very angry young men, looking for excitement, fired a gun out their window at them. Unfortunately, their ten year old son was hit in the head.”
“Did he die?”
“And the murderer?”
“They never found him.”
“He got away with it?”
“No, he was found.”
<I>Am I drunk or is it the language barrier?</I>
“But that’s not all. They put their young son on life support, then gave his organs to people who needed them…..IN ITALY!”
“They brought much good out of evil.”
“I won’t…. I can’t forgive.”
“On which side will you stand?”
Steve cried, burying his face in his hands.
<I>I can’t give up my anger. It’s what’s holding me together.</I>
“Your bill has been paid, sir,” the maitre ‘d answered, handing him an envelope. Steve opened it. The total was tallied, but crossed out. Big letters said, “Paid in Full.” He searched the restaurant, but the man was gone.
Returning to his room, Steve placed the bill on the dresser with some change. It was then that he noticed writing on the other side.
“I pay your bill, as Christ paid mine. Anger frees your uncle but puts you in his place. I was the young man with the gun.”
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