Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: EMBARRASS(ED) (11/03/16)
TITLE: Out of the Dust
By Raymond Bouchoc
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Bad Bart’s anger boiled within him, and he growled like a dog as he loped on his horse up to the saloon. Out of the corner of his eye, he spotted movement at the sheriff’s office. He dismounted as people in the streets stopped walking and held their breaths.
Bart itched for a fight, as he reached for the gun holstered at his side. Without looking around, he walked straight to the swinging doors like a bullet heading for its mark. He pushed them aside and entered the saloon. Silence descended like death. Bart’s boots thudded on the wooden floor, and their spurs jangled as he strode inside.
Bart walked to the bar, ordered a shot, and downed it. Then he turned to the right, and made eye contact with one of the ladies nearby. She blushed red like her dress and looked down.
He was Bad Bart, and he was really bad. A little while later, back at the bar, he took another drink, and remembered no more.
A few hours passed, and Bart woke in a jail cell. He tried to sit up, but a shot of pain jolted through his head. He pressed his hand to his head and squeezed his eyes tight, gingerly lowering himself again.
Feet shuffled nearby, and Bart cracked opened one eye. “B-A-D Bart,” said the sheriff with a drawl. “Looks like your pillaging days are over.”
Bart growled and tried to get up again, but another jolt of pain kept him down.
Two days passed, when the sheriff came in and said, “Bart, you got yourself a visitor.” Turning to the man he said, “Now, Preacher. You sure you wanna go in there with him.”
“Ok, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.”
The sheriff unlocked the door of the cell. The preacher lifted his chin, raised his Bible half way up to his chest, and strode into the cell.
Bad Bart stood up. He towered over the reverend by a good foot. “You gotta lot o’ gumption comin’ in here!”
The preacher swallowed hard, while standing taller. He said, “God’s gotta message for you, and I’m here to let you have it.”
“An’ he did. He let me hav’it.” Bart’s head looked down at the podium he stood behind. He hadn’t raised it once the whole time he spoke. He shuffled his feet uneasily.
Those who knew Bad Bart barely recognized him. His hair was slicked back from its washing. His face and clothes were clean.
From somewhere over to the right, a boy yelled out, “You’re the boss, Bad Bart!”
Bart McNeal’s cheeks colored red. Those who noticed snickered at the big man’s unease. His cheeks looked like two little cherries.
“No, sir.” Bart shook his head vigorously from side to side. His hat, which he held with both hands, he twisted tight like a rope. “No, sir, young man. No, sir. Now lissun here. I’m down-right ashamed. You hear?” Bart turned to the preacher. He silently pleaded to be able to come down.
The preacher urged him on.
“I ain’t proud of what I dun’. The only reason I’m tellin’ you is ’cause the Preacher make me do it. He wants me to share how Jesus changed my life.” Bart lifted his head for the first time and pointed at the crowd. “Jesus changed my life.”
A man yelled out, “Preach it, Bad Bart.”
Bart again colored. “People called me ‘Bad Bart.’ But they called me that for the wrong reasons. Jesus knew I was bad, ‘cause my sins piled high like the mountains. If Jesus could save a wretch like me, He can save you to. Thank you.”
Bart turned right to go down, and saw he couldn’t go that way. The crowd snickered. Bart turned the other way and walked off the platform. The people stood and cheered at Bart’s testimony and the transformation that God had wrought in his life.
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