Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Question (05/24/12)
TITLE: The Question
By Joe Moreland
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"Yes Casey, what can I do for you today?"
Pastor Greg was a tall, thin, severe looking man with salt and pepper hair and a stern expression that looked like it had been fixed to his face by the cartoonist who drew the grouchy guy from "Dennis the Menace". It took more than a little courage for young Casey to ask his question.
"Pastor Greg...ummm...I was wondering...ummm - if Jesus is the answer, the way you always say, then I was wondering...."
Pastor Greg looked at his watch. "Yes, yes - what's your question, Casey? Hurry up now!"
"Well...I was just wondering - then what's the question?"
"I beg your pardon?"
"If Jesus is the answer, then what's the question?"
"The question?" Casey nodded. "That Jesus is the answer to?" Again, Casey nodded.
Pastor Greg laughed, which was not the answer Casey was expecting.
"Casey, Jesus is the answer to everything!" And, just like that, Pastor Greg walked away chuckling to himself. "What's the question! Wait ‘till the board hears this one!"
Throughout his formative years, Casey got various answers to the question that all sounded similar, but the most common responses were either "everything" or:
"Well, that's part of your walk with Jesus - you'll know when the time is right."
As he got older, Casey asked the question more rarely, and almost never as seriously as that first time. By the time he was in his third year of college, he had been lured into a lifestyle of drugs and alcohol, and the question fell from his lips disdainfully. He had decided by that point that there was no question that Jesus was the answer to, unless it was: "How can I have less fun and lead a completely boring life?"
After college, Casey cleaned up for a time. He married a beautiful girl he met in school, got a job as a fireman, bought a house and had two little boys. He even forgot about the question almost entirely.
One night, a fireman's worst nightmare was visited on Casey's happy little world. The fire call he answered was to his own house. A gas leak had filled the house and when his wife had arrived home, she smelled it too late and their oldest son had already switched on the lights. The explosion had rocked the entire block and, just like that, Casey's entire family was gone.
At first alcohol was the only thing that could help him forget. When that didn't work anymore, though, he turned to cocaine. As his money ran out he moved down to cheaper and rougher drugs - crystal meth and crack became his breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Now, many years later, no one even remembered the Casey that had once been. Long gone with his family were his job, his savings, his home, his car – his whole life. Living in an old Ford Pinto that didn't run and wearing whatever mismatched rags he could pull from the trash, Casey walked the streets in Orange County sniffing glue from some cotton balls he kept tightly shut in a balled up hand. It was the only high he could afford anymore.
The night he found out he was banned from every glue-selling store within walking distance was the final humiliation. For years he had just wanted it all to end, and now he knew he couldn't face the next day without something that set his brain on fire and burned away all the bad inside.
As he leapt from the bridge into the icy cold water, Casey yelled out again, "What's the question?"
He woke flat on his back in the bottom of a small fishing boat, coughing up saltwater. Realizing he was still alive, Casey laid back on the deck, groaning.
"Ya' know," the fisherman said lightly, "as you fell into the water, you yelled out the wrong thing. What you should have yelled was, 'Help! Somebody save me!'" The old man chuckled to himself, just as Pastor Greg had done all those years ago.
What could possibly save me? Casey groaned to himself.
Suddenly his eyes flew open wide in astonishment and he sat bolt upright.
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