Stefano Epistrepho knew the speed limit but he chose to ignore it. Anger was the driving force that sent him careening down the highly traveled Desmeuo road in his sleek, red, mega-horse-powered roadster.
Blinding rage took no notice of the rain-slick pavement nor the ease with which a land vehicle could become airborne. His passenger, Ari Palal, a consumer of copious amounts of alcohol, slept through the whole thing. The next step into an even deeper unconsciousness was nearly effortless.
“No! Dear God…No!”
Screams of denial and terror echoed across the valley. Cruel and unexpected reality stabbed Epi in his ignorant heart. The car bounced off of rocks like a toy missile. It finally rested against an immovable Oak tree. Glass and pieces of his slithery-named pride and joy scattered in every direction.
After the horrific intrusion into the quiet of the night, birds and small animals scurried for safety. They heard an eerie moaning; more of a mantra than a prayer. “Oh, sweet Jesus, help me.”
Epi felt something warm and sticky oozing down the side of his face. His attempts to wipe it away were futile. Both arms seemed to be broken. Ari looked like he was dead.
“HELP!” He added a lame, whimpered, "Anybody?”
The badly injured young man had just been handed a serious reason to adjust his attitude. Soft rain was still falling, making steam rise from what was left of the motor. An owl hooted his useless opinion into the night but the boy had fainted and did not catch it.
He awake to a clean, wet cloth on his face. It felt good to get some relief from the glue-like, smelly substance obscuring his view. The Good Samaritan attending to the boy’s wounds was very gentle but some of Epi’s teeth were conspicuous by their absence. He tasted blood as he sputtered, “Who are you?”
The self-assured and competent man continued to minister to the helpless boy whose very soul was filled with fear and unanswered questions.
Sam’s piercing eyes burned with truth and strength. “I know more than your name, son.”
Epi did not hear him.
"Have you called for help, Sam? Is the Medical Center helicopter on the way? Do you have a cell phone?”
The frightened, misinformed youth was getting louder.
“Hey, what about Ari? Where is he?”
Sam had a comforting tenor to his voice. “Someone else is seeing to your friend. You are my assignment.”
The gentle rain had graduated to the hard stuff and was pelting the torn metal. Cleansing, accommodating water followed a clear path right through to the top of Epi’s dirty, mud-plastered head and ran down into his eyes and mouth. He was powerless to move.
One second Sam was there and the next he was gone. Panic seized Epi’s deceived mind. He began to cry. This was bad. He had really messed up this time, just like his Grandma said he would if he didn’t change his ways. That’s all she talked about anymore.
This very morning he had told her how sick he was of hearing her preaching. In the last hour she had pleaded with him to at least consider the outcome of his sinful behavior. That nonsensical talk had incurred his wrath and pushed him to escape to an important appointment. He did not want to be late. Ari went along for the ride.
As quickly as Sam had vanished - he was back. Now a strong tree branch stood in for the missing part of the roof.
Epi was mesmerized by his rescuer’s change in appearance. Sam held the boy’s face between two gentle hands and forced him to concentrate. For once the rebellious youth had no verbal darts to throw. Slowly, it dawned on the stubborn, stiff-necked fellow exactly who and what this was.
His grandmother always called him Stefano. “You have a good, strong biblical name,” she reminded him. He was surprised how much he longed to hear her pray.
Sam commanded Stefano Epistrepho to see; to be accountable.
“Epistrepho is a Greek word which means a complete turnaround from the worst possible conditions.”
Epi stared into space.
“Desmeuo is the road on which you were traveling. It is a sad commentary: You were created to be FREE but chose to be bound – DO YOU UNDERSTAND, BOY?”
There was no response. The protective tree limb had shifted and a flooding rain poured through the breach.
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