Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Missionary (10/19/06)
TITLE: Gone with the... beans
By Helen Paynter
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Michael flicked a speck off his knee. His knife-crease trousers had been expensive, but what an investment! He settled back in the train seat, and tried to ignore the whining of the grubby three year-old in the seat opposite. Not for much longer. Soon he’d be travelling first class only.
‘Congratulations, Mr Teller.’ The CEO had shaken his hand with a firm grip. ‘We’re delighted to have you on the team. We think you’ll be a great asset to The Queen’s Beans.’
His eyes drifted to his overnight bag. He’d go home to Wilton, terminate the lease on his flat, and pack up a few essentials. A removal company could finish the rest when he’d found a place in London. One thing was sure, when he left that squalid little suburb, he was never going back. He’d had enough of small town values and small minded people. The world was waiting and he was ready.
The Queen’s Beans… Michael closed his eyes and smiled. The local company with international aspirations. The food was rubbish, of course. He’d never fill his stomach with that junk. But what an opportunity for him. Head of the European Marketing department. A new city every month. He chuckled at the thought of all those unsuspecting housewives, their cupboards as yet innocent of Cheesy Bean Feast and Hit-the-Spot Hot Pot. Had he got news for them!
Michael pushed the call girl off his knee. ‘Actually, I’m not in the mood tonight, darling. How much do I owe you?’
Alone, he kicked the hotel door shut and dug in the mini-bar for something potent. The growing disquiet of the last few months was pointing like an abscess. He doubted the efficacy of any of those little bottles to anaesthetise the pain.
He looked at his sales case, pregnant with samples. Eleven years. Eleven years of travelling, plugging, wheedling and smiling. Not that he hadn’t enjoyed it. There was a certain satisfaction in persuading someone they needed a product they’d never heard of. But recently, it had started to feel – empty. What was it all about? So what if Italian dinner tables now boasted Spaghetti Bean-onnaise? He wasn’t saving anyone’s life, was he? He wasn’t, if he were honest, even improving anyone’s quality of life. All he was doing was earning a salary. Lining the pockets of the share-holders. What was the point?
He flung himself on the bed and reached across to the phone. What number was room service? Impatient fingers scrabbled in the bedside drawer. Surprised by the cool binding of a book, he drew it out. The front was marked with gold letters, ‘Donated by the Gideons.’
Michael lifted the well-worn Bible off his knees and knelt on the floor. The words he’d read had sealed the stirring in his heart. ‘Whom shall we send? And who will go for us?’
‘Lord, here I am. Send me! I will go wherever you send me. Fill my mouth and I will declare your glory. Entrust me with your message and I will take it to the ends of the earth.’ His whole body was shaking with the intensity of the moment. Prostrate, he waited in holy silence.
And in the watches of the night, there came an answer.
‘My dear child, I will send you out with my message. I have a place dear to my heart, where no light shines. Take the good news of my kingdom there. Shine for me in that darkness. It will not be easy: there will be opposition and hardship. But always I will be with you. Michael, I am sending you home. You will be a missionary for me in Wilton.’
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