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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Handout (04/14/11)

By Michael Throne


It wasnít always this way.

I drive beneath the stars, less than a quarter tank left, and I still donít know where Iím going. Iíd pray for a gas station, but itís moot; I donít have any money either.

There are those who werenít paying attention, who bought everything and worried about paying sometime down the road. I wasnít one of them.

I drive another mile, then pull into a truck stop, just to get some rest. Iíve been three weeks on the road, searching for work, but finding only rejection time and time again.

I washed a truck for cash yesterday. I sent a twenty to my wife, but even when I did, I knew it was foolish. That was seed money, gas money, money to get me started somewhere, and now Iím busted.

Iím an idiot.

But not really. More than anything, I guess it was hope I was sending them. Right now, hopeís all we have.

I park behind a late model Lexus.

My friends back home, theyíre waiting it out. They drink beer and rant about
the government; unemploymentís run dry for most of us. I almost ended up waiting too long, myself. Everyone was so sure the factory would reopen. Itís easy to fall for another manís certainties.

I push the seat back and try to sleep but canít. I get out and sit on the curb next to my car.

The Lexus is white; itís a nice one. But who buys a Lexus in times like these? I wonder if he worked hard for it or had it given to him. I wonder if he stole it, conning people like my friends into buying things they couldnít afford, making promises for them that he knew they could keep.

I hate him. I do.

I throw pebbles on the ground and force my bitterness back down. I know better.

There was a time, not so long ago, when we were all working fifty hour weeks; we were all making money. Despite the good times, most of us went deeper and deeper into debt. It was just never enough, this greed.

But not me. I knew that times were good. Something about life just shouted it out, or maybe the Lord whispered it in my prayers.

I bow my head. Perhaps the Lord will whisper something now, as well.

I praise Him; I thank Him; I ask for His blessing. I ask for something, anything to get through. I ask Him to make me a better person. I ask Him for hope.

I say amen, and open my eyes, and before me is the white Lexus, confronting me. I hesitate, but I know what I must do. Bowing my head once again, I ask for His blessing on the owner. I ask it, not because he needs it, but because I do, because of my anger and pride.

I open my eyes and stare up at the stars, waiting for the inevitable. Godís teaching, my learning, and the sustenance He provides.

A man walks toward the Lexus. Heís dressed in khakis and a casual shirt; he could be me on a Sunday morning. Iím unshaven and unkempt.

Never in my life have I begged. Never.

We stare at each other as he approaches.

I canít believe what I have to do.

ďBrotherÖ,Ē I say.

He stops in front of his car, ten feet from me. He opens his door.

ďI hate to ask youÖbut could you spare some money? Maybe a five? I need gas to find a job.Ē

He looks me over.

This recession has been going on too long. Everyoneís heard the stories from the con artists, the bums.

I try to hold his gaze, but I canít. My eyes drop in shame. I look away, allowing him to get in his car and drive off.

But he doesnít.

He steps forward. ďHere.Ē Itís a twenty.

I try to thank him, but my voice doesnít work. I nod to him.

He waves as he drives away.

I gaze at the twenty in my hands, amazed. I want to frame it, this paper hope, like stores do their first dollar. Itís a gift, a gift from God, at just the right moment.

I sit back in my car and stare up through the windshield at the stars.

I thank the Lord and ask for a blessing upon my family.

Then I remember; theyíre about to receive one.

Blissfully, thankfully, I drift asleep.

Praise the Lord.

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This article has been read 669 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Mona Purvis04/21/11
Ooh, I like this so much. Your writing skill put me right into the mind of the character.
You portray the situation with real empathy.
On a personal note, it's been a bit like that for us this year, lost retirement when company faltered, lost equity in house when mortgage company failed. And yet, God has been so faithful.
Your story of hope is special.

Connie Dixon04/22/11
Love the story and the way that I (the reader) senses hope from reading it. It is very clear here where that hope comes from. Very encouraging.
Catrina Bradley 04/24/11
Everyone will be able to relate to this story. Those of us who are blessed to still have jobs see people like your MC every day. Thank you for this eloquently written look at what it's like on the other side of that hand sticking out. Bless you!
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 04/28/11
This is a wonderful story with several good messages. Congratulations on your EC!
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 04/28/11
This is a wonderful story with several good messages. Congratulations on your EC!
Leola Ogle 04/28/11
I always enjoy your writing! Very pertinent story for today's economy. Your MC could be any of us. Congrats on your placement and God bless!
Verna Cole Mitchell 04/29/11
Your timely story is so well written, directly revealing the man's soul through his thoughts and action. Congratulations on EC placement.