Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Lock and Key (08/21/14)
- TITLE: Heavenly Insight
By Virgil Youngblood
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See that dude sitting on the park bench in the shade; the middle-age man in the long sleeve blue denim shirt? Looks ordinary, doesn’t he? When he finishes nibbling that spam sandwich he will read a book, or write notes in a small binder until the sun chases him to that table under the pine tree. Often as not he’s talking to his self. After the five o’clock whistle blows he’ll fiddle around a while, pick up his briefcase and mosey off. He’s been doing that the last three days. I think he’s a terrorist.
You noticed, didn’t you? That briefcase appears chained to a handcuff with a wire. I missed it the first time I saw him. Yesterday, when he leaned over to pick up a sandwich baggie, I saw a key dangling on a neck chain. Mama always said, “Pay attention.” And “two plus two equals …” Okay, you’re getting ahead of me.
Here’s how I see it. This guy isn’t your ordinary weirdo surreptitiously eyeballing Sam’s Ammo and Firearms across the street. I’ll bet five to one that key fits the handcuff and the briefcase. One key, two locks. The proof is in the pudding. Are we on the same page here? The contents of that briefcase will set the matter straight.
I’m a big guy, some say big, ugly and intimidating. They got the ugly part wrong according to Mama. If she said it once she said it a hundred times, probably more; “Jesus loves you. He didn’t make no trash.” I’d stomp that guy flat as a road killed toad if he refused to pop that case open, but I can’t. I’m in the Golconda county jail on the second floor looking out through the bars. I love the USA. I ain’t dumb. That dude is up to something. Help me here. What are we goanna do?
Don’t dodge off now. I deserve to be here. Nobody twisted my arm to make me write those checks when I didn’t have money in the bank. I was slow to learn what Mama preached: choices have consequences. She said, “God allows you to make mistakes. Just take your spanking and get back on track.” Mama’s ideas mostly came from the Bible. She read it every day. But Mama, what about that dude down there?
I’d stepped down from the window for a minute. When I returned, the park bench was empty. The man was gone. Disappeared. It was ten-‘til-four.
“Hey, Buster,” the guard hollered over the intercom. “A church man is making the rounds. Do you want a visitor?”
“Send him on. This rat hole is as bad as solitary.” A few moments later, I heard the tumblers trip and door hinges squeak. Footsteps echoed down the corridor.
Well, knock me down and call me Shorty. It was the terrorist decorated with twinkling blue eyes and a warm smile.
“Hello,” the man said, “I’m Pastor Bill. I would like to pray with you and ask about this new city I’ve moved to.”
“New preacher in town, huh? Where’s that briefcase you been chained to? What’cha got in it?”
The pastor looked puzzled for a minute, his brow wrinkled in thought as he glanced at the window high above the bed. “I’ve been preparing next Sunday’s sermon and dictating a few thoughts to a tape recorder. I’m thinking about writing a book.”
“Let me see that key around your neck.”
The pastor tugged the gold chain from beneath his shirt. He held a cross made with two rusty, stained nails in the palm of his hand. “You’re right. This is a key. The cross unlocks the door to heaven. God sent his only Son to save us. He left the choice to receive or reject His gift to us. Have you …”
Buster wiped a tear from his eye. “I made that decision a long time ago. I’m working on the part that says, ‘Work out your salvation with fear and trembling.’” He sighed. “Mama says, ‘Hang in’. When I get released next month you will never see me in here again.”
Pastor Bill reached through the bars and placed a hand on Buster’s shoulder. “Let’s pray, brother, thanking God for lessons learned.”
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