Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Bon Voyage (09/05/05)
TITLE: A Modern Day Whale of a Story
By J. C. Lamont
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“You have good journey, yes?” the man asked him.
Jonas stifled a chortle. <i>Did I have a good journey? Well, let’s see…</i>
He had awoken that morning in an excellent frame of mind. As an art collector, he had waited months for his city’s hosting of the annual art exhibit. Though due to prior engagements, he hadn’t been able to attend until today, its final day.
Ignoring the letter lying on the end table, Jonas went into the kitchen to make some coffee. The letter was from a Chinese pastor, whom he had met a few weeks ago when he had stopped to help him with a flat tire. The pastor had been overly appreciative and now wanted him to stop by the little church in Chinatown for a thank you gift. Today of all days.
Jonas discounted the nagging at his heart as he hit the switch on the coffeemaker. <i>I did the Good Samaritan thing, Lord, now I’m going to the exhibit.</i>
Having shaved and dressed, Jonas returned to the kitchen only to find that the coffee had overflowed all over the counter. <i>Just a coincidence.</i>
He left his apartment and climbed into his car, but it wouldn’t start. He turned the key again. Nothing. He shook his head. <i>Naturally.</i>
He glanced at his watch. He had time to make it to the subway station.
Jonas strode through the smoggy city streets, missing the luxury of his air-conditioned car, as he tried to breathe the thick, humid air. Ahead of him, he saw a street vendor selling bottled water. He pulled a dollar from his wallet and waved to the man.
“Sorry bro, that was my last one,” the vendor said. “But my man’s got some, down a few blocks, headin’ t’wards Chinatown.”
Jonas snorted. <i>Of course he does.</i>
As Jonas waited for the crosswalk light to change, an SUV barreled through the intersection, spraying him with a thin coat of muddy water.
Fighting the urge to swear, Jonas glanced up at the sky. <i>I’m still going!</i>
He arrived at the Subway station, determined the correct schedule, and boarded the crowded train. But he had traveled only a mere block when the train stopped abruptly.
“What seems to be the problem?” Jonas asked an attendant through gritted teeth.
“Engine as usual,” the attendant shrugged. “It’ll take about 15–30 minutes.”
Jonas stole another glance at his watch. He still had time. He noticed a coffee shop right across the platform and smiled to himself. <i>Ha! Finally, something’s going my way. </i>
He was about to place his order when the sound of an engine’s roar caused him to spin around, only to see his subway train disappearing down the tunnel.
Jonas took a deep breath. Deciding coffee was an evil omen, he glanced at the schedule again. 20 minutes until the next train’s arrival. Still enough time. He hunted down the nearest restroom to freshen his mud-splattered suit but discovered it was out of paper towels. He forced a laugh. <i>Unbelievable! </i>
Glancing around the grimy room, he noticed the maintenance room’s door ajar. Surely, there must be paper towels in there. He walked in, bumping the door as he did, and it slammed shut behind him.
Jonas tried the doorknob. Locked. He pounded on the door. After what seemed like an eternity, he heard a security officer shout’s from the other side.
“The door won’t open, sir,” the officer said. “It’s broke. Been broke. That’s why it’s left opened. Want me to call a locksmith?”
<i>Of course I want you to call a locksmith! </i> Jonas raged inwardly. “Yes, thank you,” he said. “I would appreciate that.”
He slumped to the floor of the damp, dark closet, ignoring the sound of scurrying mice. <i>And why, may I ask, do You delight in torturing me? </i>
Three hours later, Jonas emerged from the closet, squinting into the light. Without even bothering to glance at his watch, he left the station and trudged through the city streets to Chinatown.
He knocked on the door of the little Christian church and was led into the lobby. Within moments, the Chinese Pastor bounded towards him.
“You have good journey, yes?” he asked.
Before Jonas could answer, the Pastor handed him a beautiful canvas painting depicting the prophet Jonah praying within the stomach of the whale.
Jonas stared at the picture and smiled. “Yes,” he said. “I had a good journey.”
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