Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: BUSY (02/02/17)
- TITLE: A Taste of Death
By Phillip Cimei
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Nighttime now made this stop-gap a venue for the imagination, spirits unleashed, whispers of the dead. They replaced the earlier wailing of teary-eyed mourners, the callus snickers of anxious inheritance seekers, and the morbid giggles of curiosity seekers satisfying their death fetish. Those sharing this space were Missy Oliver, a Fievel voiced librarian that only a child could sit and listen to for an hour–died choking on a pistachio nut; and Chancy, the town drunk– fell asleep on the tracks. They still haven’t found all of his parts. Closed casket service for Chancy.
The silence was broken with the creaking of the front door and mumblings of Bob and Preacher Baker.
“I was sure I locked this door when I left,” Bob said. “Oh well, we better get started on the service planning for Missy and Chancy.”
They noticed the light on in room three. The one Jim occupied.
“That is strange…,” Bob didn’t get the rest of the sentence out because just as he and Preacher Baker turned into the room the casket lid flew open and Jim popped up quicker than a Jack-in-a-box.
“Aaaaeeeeehh,” all three screamed simultaneously.
” What in the name of…why are you in–” Bob attempted to ask being interrupted by Jim.
“Man, you guys scared me. I thought Chancy was wandering around looking for body parts. Oh, why am I here? Well, I was upset and came here to think and pray,” Jim said.
“Think and pray! Think and pray!” Bob yelled out. “You think on your front porch, or the park bench or…or the… the– “
“What is going on, Jim?” Preacher Baker cut in.
Tears started welling, “Remember when I got a job at the school seven years ago, doing custodial work?”
“Yes,” both immediately answered.
“Jill and I just had our fourth child. Minimum wage was just not cutting it.”
“You and your wife did a great job managing your money, Jim,” Bob said.
“I worked hard and spent a lot of time with the family and kids: ball games, board games, camping, fishing, school events, and lots and lots of church activities.”
“Everyone always commented on how involved and active you were. Not only that, Jim, you weren’t too busy to share the pulpit with me. You had a full rich life,” Preacher Baker said.
“What happened, Jim?” Bob asked.
“My main responsibility at the school was maintaining the gym: polish the floors, keep the bleachers clean, and make sure that during basketball games everything was clean. During the game with Rattan, the superintendent came up to me and said someone had an accident in the girl’s bathroom.” Jim’s face tightened as he spoke. “Fine, I cleaned it up. After the game, while cleaning up the bleachers, three cups of spit spilled on me. Yeah, you know the slimy, brown tobacco slobber. “
Preacher Baker, with a smirk, pushed down the package of Red Man in his back pocket.
“Right then and there I said, ‘I had it.’ I went to night school, built a successful construction company, tore down my old shed, and built a large building to house all of my equipment.”
“Everyone comments on how hard you have worked to build this business,” Bob said. “But why are you blaming Preacher Baker?”
Jim tearfully looked at Preacher Baker and said, “last Sunday you preached on the rich man that tore down his old barn, built a bigger one, and forecasted a leisurely future. You pointed out how Jesus said that the rich man would die that day and who then would enjoy all those accumulated riches he spent all of his time amassing. I was that fool.”
“But why come here?” Bob asked.
“I wanted to get a taste of death; I needed to see if all that activity of laying up treasures for myself outweighed being rich toward God. ‘Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men,’ (Colossians 3:23 ESV) was revealed to me.”
Bob left the room and immediately returned with a bottle of wax.
“You better start polishing. You’ll be in it tomorrow after you get home tonight and attempt to make your wife believe your story.”
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