Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: CALL (01/14/16)
TITLE: Doing what matters
By Ken Grant
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"I'm good. Don't want to be a pig."
Troy smiled as he remembered Jim two years ago. That man would never have passed up another slice of pizza. That man took whatever he could get and didn't look back. That man was barely human.
"I know, but there are so many more of us these days."
There always seemed to be more. Troy had started bringing two large pizzas which had quickly ramped up to four and then six, but today he had brought twenty and he was sure that would not be nearly enough. He never wanted to make the guys feel bad about taking what he brought, but he really appreciated Jim not eating any more than he had. His limited supply was making Troy feel particularly frustrated this day.
"Why do you keep coming back, Troy?"
A shot rang out sending both men diving for cover under the ancient metal picnic table. Troy's heart beat wildly inside his chest. Fear like this was debilitating. He couldn't speak. He could hardly think. Each second seemed to drag on endlessly.
"Is it safe, Jim?"
"It's never safe."
The silence was worse than the original shot. Fear feeds on the unknown. Troy fought hard to keep from losing it completely, but he knew it was a losing battle.
"Come out from under there."
The harsh voice pierced Troy's soul. He knew he was about to die.
"I'm coming out."
Troy couldn't speak as he watched Jim confidently step out from under the table. Troy wanted to stop him but his nerves were fully and completely shot. His uselessness only made him sink deeper into despair.
"Come out now."
Troy could not move. He wanted to move, but he could not move. He was frozen by fear like nothing he had ever experienced.
"Come on out, Troy."
Jim's voice lifted the overwhelming fear. Troy slowly came out from under the table. He looked first at Jim who smiled back. He then turned his head to look at the man with the gun but suddenly became aware that he was a police officer. He sighed deeply at his foolish fear.
"You okay there?"
"There was some trouble but we took care of it. This is not a place you want to be at this time of night. I suggest you move along."
The officer moved on, but Troy still found himself too overwhelmed to act. Courage was easy to talk about until you really felt your life on the line.
"You should probably do what the man said, Troy."
"What are you going to do, Jim?"
"What can I do? This is my home."
Troy looked around with new eyes as his heart slowly found its regular rhythm. He began to breathe normally again. He started to leave but stopped, turned, and looked at Jim for some time before he finally spoke.
"Jim, you asked me why I keep coming here."
"I keep coming because you are here."
Jim turned away. The park felt unusually still. Troy longed to know what was going through his mind. Finally Jim turned back and stared at Troy. The deep set eyes seemed to go right through Troy.
"I'm not going anywhere."
Troy walked slowly back to his vehicle. He wasn't looking forward to telling his wife what had happened, but he would do it. Just like he would keep bringing pizza to people without options. It was important. It mattered. It didn't get any better than that.
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