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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Retreat (as in quiet time away) (08/01/05)

TITLE: The Interview
By Brad Paulson


The smoke from his hand rolled cigarette climbed the stagnate air like two serpents intertwining in a hypnotic mating ritual. Sweat trickled down the back of my neck as I made an attempt to look cool and collected. Conversations in broken English and Spanish penetrated the walls of the interview room.

“Your pasa port sir,” he said with a look of indifference.

It was difficult to detect what he might be thinking. This environment was far from what I was used to and I was beginning to wonder if perhaps I had pushed my limits too far this time. As I handed him my passport the temptation was to avoid eye contact, but I resisted and looked straight at him. I wondered if he would realize that the face on the passport was someone different than me, someone who had been dead for six years. The smell of his cigarette clung to the humidity and was beginning to make me feel light headed, creating a surreal atmosphere, like I was playing a part in a movie. He examined my travel documents with little or no expression. I sensed that he had done this thousands of times, I hoped that his boredom would expedite the interview and that I would be released soon.

“You look much younger in the photograph senior,” he said with a cocky smile.

“That picture is six years old. I suppose some of us age more gracefully than others,” I replied trying to mask my nervousness.

“How long do you plan to stay in Honduras?”

“At least six months, maybe longer,” the sweat was beginning to collect on my brow line, I hoped he wouldn’t notice.

“That is a long time my friend, not many Americans come for that long,” There was a bit of suspicion in his broken English.

I jumped as a door burst open behind me. Another customs official had entered the room. A brief exchange in Spanish ensued that was spoken so quickly I could scarcely translate a single word. The door slammed as abruptly as it had opened.

“Please excuse the interruption my friend, now, where were we?”

“I’m hoping we are about finished, I have a ride waiting for me,” I regretted those words as soon as they left my mouth.

“If you plan to stay in Honduras for any length of time, you need to learn to slow down and not be in such a hurry,” he took a long drag from his cigarette, then exhaled slowly as if to show me that my schedule meant nothing to him. “What exactly is your business here? Six months is a little long for a vacation.”

“There is an orphanage in Trujillo that was damaged during the hurricane. I am here to help rebuild it.”

“Why is someone who lives so far away interested in an orphanage in an obscure place in the jungle?”

“There is a woman who attends the same church I go to. She came down here a number of years ago on a mission trip and visited the orphanage. She heard about the damage from the hurricane, raised some money and, since I have a background in building and was between projects, I seemed like the logical choice to come down and supervise and organize the work.”

“So you are a man of God? The tattoos on your arms do not look like something I would see on a man of God, more like something I would see on a drug dealer.” He leaned back in his chair.

“I haven’t always known God. These marks may show where I’ve been, but they have no bearing on where I am going.”.

“How long have you known the Lord, my friend?” He asked as he tossed my passport to me.

“Six years,” I responded as I looked at my passport photo, “but it seems like a lifetime ago.”

“I understand my friend.” For the first time since our conversation had begun, I could I sense a bit of compassion in his voice. “I know this orphanage you speak of. It is not far from my church. If you can buy material, I can get men from my church to help you.”

“You would do that for me?” I asked, somewhat stunned.

“Of course my friend, I know the same God you know.”

Therefore, if any one is in Christ, he is a new creation: the old has gone, the new has come!
2 Corinthians 5:17

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This article has been read 1085 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Brad Paulson08/08/05
Sorry guys, this was supposed to be last weeks entry, I'm not sure how I managed to send the wrong one, but I hope you enjoy it anyway. I think my brain was on a retreat.
Sally Hanan08/08/05
Good writing all the same! It seemed to not really end, will this be a series?
Beth Muehlhausen08/09/05
You really drew me into the scene! Well done, and what an unexpected twist at the end....!
Marjorie Arrowood08/09/05
Brad, it never occurred to me until I read your comment that this was off topic! I just really enjoyed the read.
Debra Brand08/10/05
Awesome story. Expand it. Thanks.
Lauren Bombardier08/10/05
Very well written.
dub W08/12/05
Thanks - enjoyed reading it anyway.
Maxx .08/13/05
This would have been a strong contender last week. It might even do well THIS week! Very good writing. Nice line: "“I haven’t always known God. These marks may show where I’ve been, but they have no bearing on where I am going.”."

Very very good.
Shari Armstrong 08/14/05
A very good story -but it's a week late ;) Maybe a FW computer glitch??? I really liked the ending!