Morning sun lengthened its rays across the dewy lawn, showcasing my recent architectural wonder. Perfectly manicured shrubbery surrounded the creation, its green foliage framing the studied plantings of colorful petunias, pansies and tall, fragrant rose bushes.
In the distance, I could see prospective customers flitting in and out of the gardens, sampling the array of delectable treats on display, a planned entrée to whet their appreciation for what was to come.
Soon they would be ready to enter and admire the intricate beauty of my latest fashioning, but now I must survey each cubicle one last time before welcoming my public inside. Their buzzing conversations even now were growing louder, hastening my inventory.
This mansion of my dreams boasted scores of rooms, it’s walls intricately built from the strongest materials available and adorned simply but splendidly with the finest latticework I had heretofore crafted. The modern kitchen, surrounded by an elaborate labyrinth of sculptured artistic forms, had surpassed even my exacting expectations. Deceptively fragile in appearance, translucent silken room dividers between the remaining thirty rooms infused nature’s colors emitting from open windows. Gossamer threads of spun glass chandeliers graced the ceilings throughout, each one pristine and custom-made for each chamber’s individualistic aura. Curved filigree spindles trimmed each doorway, carrying their theme repeatedly around each of the palace’s numerous archways. The entire dwelling was modeled in pristine opalescent shades, inside and out, to give the occupants an atmosphere of purity and counterfeit tranquility.
Yes, this was his greatest work yet.
“It would even beguile Satan,” he marveled, as he took his place at the very center of the massive Great Room, awaiting his audience’s approach.
“Isn’t it breathtaking!” exclaimed one, obviously entranced by the massive colonnades leading from the walkway to the vestibule.
“Definitely upscale,” pronounced a fellow groupie. “He’s certainly outdone himself this time!”
“Amazing! Like a fantasy wonderland!” applauded the most jaded connoisseur in the company. Pushing his way to the forefront, he peered into the expanse beyond, where he could just barely make out the enthroned builder in his lair.
“Come in! Come into my parlor,” the silky, hypnotic voice whispered. “Congratulations! You are the lucky winner and this domain is yours for the taking! Come! Enjoy! Live in splendor all the days of your life.”
Flattered beyond words, the admirer stepped over the gossamer threshold—only to find himself stuck fast to the silky threads of the edifice, while the spun walls quickly closed in on him. The fly fruitlessly tried to free himself while the complacent spider reeled him in.
I awoke, drenched in sweat, trying in vain to erase the image of the open-mouthed spider about to eat me alive. I found myself on the floor, hopelessly tangled in the blanket I had snuggled in the night before, passing out on the couch from my latest drinking binge. The empty wine bottle was tipped on its side, while what little of its sticky contents that had remained had apparently spilled onto my hands.
My head pounding, bleary-eyed, I shrugged my way clear of my trappings and reached for the unopened bottle on the coffee table. I futilely waited for the familiar sweet tantalizing moment that always preceded the cork-popping ritual. In its place, I instead saw the fine Champaign as a crystal ball, flashing scenes of my wasted life one after the other, accompanied by a bewitching voice, chanting over and over in tune with the pounding in my head:
My hands shaking, I walked to the kitchen and threw the offensive bottle into the sink where it shattered, the contents draining away. I ran my fingers through my disheveled hair and rubbed my soaked sleeve across my rough face stubble, trying to figure out why I consistently succumbed to dependence on alcohol for my existence.
Falling to my knees, I pleaded for God’s intervention, repentant tears raining down. That’s when I remembered the business card from a long-ago associate who had attended a church de-tox program and beat his addiction. I don’t know why I kept it all these years. Perhaps I thought to save it for just such a moment as this, when my very sanity was in question.
“Stan, is that you? This is Ben Majors. Are you busy tonight? I really need help . . .”
As I waited for his arrival, my shackled heart melting, I repeated aloud a refrain from a previous time to the beat of each pound of my heart:
“A-maz-in-ing-grace-how-sweet-the-sound-That-saved-a-a-wretch-like-me . . .”
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