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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: The Pen is Mightier than the Sword (04/08/10)

TITLE: Fourth Call
By larry troxell


Joe left the doctor’s office intending to eat his shotgun after phoning three people.

Doc Evans had predicted the cancer would consume his life within two months. Joe had always controlled his own destiny and he wasn’t about to allow any cancer dictate his life timetable.

As he headed home, Joe’s cell phone binged indicating a text. It was from Rosie, the only bright spot in his miserable 62-year-old life.

“Grandpa, I love you and I’m driving down from Ohio this weekend to see you. Have you read John 3:16 yet?”

Of all times for Rosie to be preachy. Joe tolerated her occasional references to God because he dearly loved her. However, he had done alright without church and all that God stuff. If he died before sunset, he still would have outlasted any of his family.

Joe first called his attorney.

“Mark, make sure my will is in order. Everything is to be sold with all the proceeds going to Rosie. And quickly. You drag this out to pad your bill and I will haunt you from the grave, filling your life with nightmares.”

The call was interrupted by another message from Rosie.

“Grandpa, if you haven’t read John 3:16, here it is. ‘For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.’ Grandpa, can you imagine such love?”

You’re so young Rosie, Joe thought. Sadly, this Godspeak is only for children and women.

Slowly, but confidently, Joe placed his second call. It was his ex-wife’s machine rather than Rose that answered. Maybe that was best.

“Rose, we haven’t talked in years. I’m asking your forgiveness. We waged war for nearly 30 years before you kicked me out. In hindsight, I was wrong. I abused you in so many ways though I never laid a hand on you. I’m sorry. Yeah, it’s really Joe. You keep an eye on Rosie, okay?”

“Grandpa, you must be in a meeting since you haven’t answered my texts. Isn’t God’s promise in John 3:16 so cool? Love you.”

I should answer Rosie’s text but I need to call Ron, Joe thought. As he turned into the driveway, Joe dialed his son.

Ron answered on the third ring.

“Son, it’s your ornery dad. Please, don’t hang up. We haven’t talked in years and we don’t have to talk now; just listen to me for a moment. I was always hard on you, and yes, I beat you half to death several times but I was trying to knock some sense into your head. Didn’t want you to become an alcoholic like me. Thanks for bringing Rosie into the world. Without a doubt, you’ve been a great father to her. Son …”

The phone clicked.

Joe became angry with himself feeling a tear escaping down his cheek. He walked over to his workshop and picked his favorite shotgun from the rack. He inserted a single shell as he climbed the wooded path behind his log cabin.

Struggling for breath, Joe took a seat at the trunk of the huge oak tree that marked his property corner at the top of the hill. He thought of his worthless life, all the failures, his constant battle with family, friends, business associates … well, with everybody. Except with Rosie.

As he clutched the shotgun closer to his chest, Joe heard another texting ring.

“Grandpa, I pray you’re not mad at me. I know you’re uncomfortable with me when I talk about all that God stuff. But today, Grandpa, I have such a burden to remind you of God’s love, and my love for the greatest grandfather in the world!”

Joe eased his finger off the trigger and dialed an unintended fourth number.

“Rosie, if you want to, tell me about your friend Jesus.”

Author’s note: Scriptural reference is from English Standard Version.

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This article has been read 717 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 04/16/10
I love Rosie's persistence. This was very well done. Even a text message can be a mighty pen.
stanley Bednarz04/16/10
The MC was believable. Put your finger on a real epidemic, with older men who have these real thoughts, yes, even christian men do. All of his striving, failures, pattern of behavior with family and a associates, it all had a real tone to it.
Jackie Wilson04/17/10
Wonderful job pulling us into Joe's troubled world, and giving him hope at the end. Good story!
Karen Pourbabaee 04/18/10
Loved this story of the power of God's love through a young grandaughter for her beloved grandpa. Well written.
Bryan Rudolph04/22/10
Oh, the pressure of it all. I was Joe, then . . . no, I was Rosie trying to reach Joe. Ok, back to Joe. I love it. Larry, you made me absorb each pop-up character, in turn, all the while never leaving Joe’s organized path of despair. Satisfying tie-down, at the end. Thank goodness, for Joe, courtesy of his loving family, fourth call, and, of course, John 3:16.

Congratulations on your 1st Place Win, Larry.

harvestgal Ndaguba04/22/10
Wow, now this was definitely worthy of a first place win. I enjoyed it so much. Excellent story.
Karen Pourbabaee 04/22/10
Congratulations on your 1st place win and EC placing! A moving and worthy story!
Jackie Wilson04/22/10
Congratulations on your EC placing!
Joan Campbell04/22/10
I loved this! Your main character is very well-developed and the way love and truth eventually reach him is so powerfully written. Congrats on your EC.
Beth LaBuff 04/22/10
Larry, this story stirred deep emotions, your ending gave me chills. I'm so happy to see this on the Editor's Choice list. Your title is perfect. Super congrats!
Carol Slider 04/22/10
Such a vivid depiction of a troubled man's life! The device of the four phone calls worked very well indeed, and the ending was very moving. Well done--congratulations!
Rachel Phelps04/22/10
I love the title and the message it conveys. Well done and congratulations on your EC!
Rikki Akeo04/22/10
I was caught up in your entry the entire time.
-love when that happens.
Ruth Stromquist04/22/10
Loved the way you handled this so realistically, with his son hanging up on him, and getting an answering machine, when on the edge of suicide already. Really well done, and great message! Congrats!
Carole Robishaw 04/23/10
Wow, did this hit home. When you get those urgings to share God's love, don't resist!
Donna Wolther04/23/10
Such a believable and heart warming story.
Brenda Shipman 04/23/10
Larry, congratulations on your first place in advanced, as well as your Editor's Choice. Well-deserved! This story warmed my heart. Very believable, realistic and left a door open for hope. Tremendous!
Noel Mitaxa 04/24/10
Congratulations on your brilliant portrayal of how sudden emotions and cold calculations constantly ebb and flow through a mind in crisis.
You've thoroughly deserved your win.
Cindy Barclay06/01/10
Gripping and believeable. It shows how God can take anything, even a text message, and use it for His purposes.