Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Extra (08/29/13)
TITLE: Mister Stingy's New House
By Nancy Bucca
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Remarkable. My favorite colors. How did he know?
The master muralist dabs fresh highlights onto the flawless masterpiece, his flaming eyes ablaze with sheer delight.
"How do you like it?"
My heart skips a beat and all I can say is "Wow." The design is incredible. He painted this sunrise in the blink of an eye. The work he's done to this place is stunning. Simply stunning.
What a far cry from my old haunt, the one-room slum that now stands condemned. How well I recall the asbestos-flecked cobwebs that decked the ceiling; the disturbingly eclectic photographs that hugged the flaking walls; the banged up pots, the rusty tin cans, and the ragged T-shirts that cluttered the floor. I loved my unique hobo stove, even though it didn't work. And of course I'll never forget my collection of stained beer bottles, bubonic leftovers from Dad's sizzling temper. Such discards once swam in sentimental value, much like the dinosaur-era grandfather clock foisted on me by a man who claimed he'd had his fill of "frivolous gadgets."
Back then I served as a "surplus antique magnet" for other people's scraps, until that fateful night when a strange crackling sound woke me from a deep sleep. At first I thought it was a rat gnawing on a mat the pack rat dragged in. Then I smelled the smoke, complements of a congested ashtray I accidentally left smoldering by the front door, near a stack of ancient newspapers - papers in which I'd stashed my entire life savings. Thousands of dollars burned to a crisp while I coughed and screamed and coughed for help, cursing the licking flames that barred my only escape route, and ruing my shabby shack's total lack of windows. Overcome by dizziness, I passed out. The next thing I knew, I was lying in a hospital bed, covered in bandages, riddled with tubes, and staring into the eyes of this amazing artist.
He pulled me from the fire with his bare hands, I later learned, rode with me in the ambulance, took care of all the check-in arrangements, and paid for my entire stay with his own health insurance. Every day he visited me, holding my impassive hands, telling stories to cheer me up, speaking life to my numb brain, and patiently coaxing me out of my self-induced coma - self-induced because the fire was my fault.
But he rescued me. And now he's built me this brand new house.
Can you believe it?
The bedroom's amazing, the bath has water jets that soothe from head to toe, and the living room's vibrating couches give you a total body massage. Then there's the kitchen, stocked with enough food to feed an army.
It's so much more than I could ever ask for, I who slammed the door in his face the first time he came knocking. He wished to share a meal with me, but my miser instincts kicked in, fueled by an overflow of nasty rumors. "The man's a phony." "A cheat." "A scam artist." "Impossible to please." "I wouldn't trust his hand-me-downs."
Scorning my past stinginess, I follow Mr. Generosity into the dining room. To my surprise he just expanded it to include a long banquet table with fifty-plus chairs.
I shake my head. "Why so much, Lord? You saved me from the fire, and now you've given me all this stuff. It's way more than I need. What am I going to do with it?"
He draws the shade, and a stream of brilliant light cascades into the room. Upon the plush, green lawn stands a crowd of needy children whose wide eyes and bloated bellies beg for bread.
Finally I get it. He always gives extra - not for me to keep but for me to give. For everything I wasted, He freely forgave. Not only did he save my soul, but he's preparing a mansion for me in heaven. And the best part is, I get to share it.
If that doesn't beat living alone in a one-room slum, I don't know what does.
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