Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: SWEET HOUR OF PRAYER (don’t write about the song) (04/30/15)
TITLE: Harold, The Auctioneer
By Leola Ogle
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Though the day was warm, he shuddered. Harold viewed the sign he had pounded into ground announcing an estate auction sale in a week. He was an auctioneer from a long line of auctioneers. Maybe if he was young, handsome, and charismatic he could get a job as an auctioneer on those reality television shows where they auctioned off celebrity and movie memorabilia. Instead he did smaller estate auctions when souls departed like Annabelle.
Harold jumped when someone said, “So Mrs. Annabelle’s gone.” The voice belonged to a professionally dressed man, almost regal in appearance. He stuck out his hand. “I’m Derek Walker.”
“Harold Calson. Are you a friend of Annabelle?”
“She saved my life.”
Harold’s curiosity was piqued but Derek walked away without an explanation.
On the day of the sale, Harold arrived early. Estate sales were an enigma to him, especially when a person’s life was reduced to possessions that family had no interest in keeping. He’d seen family photo albums, war medals, career awards, and other precious memorabilia hauled off by strangers willing to cast the highest bid.
At least Annabelle’s son, Gerard, wanted photo albums. His wife, Elizabeth, sniffed with disdain at Annabelle’s belongings. “Junk,” she mumbled. “I don’t want any of this clutter in my lovely home, Gerard.”
It wasn’t junk. The tidy house was filled with quality vintage collectibles, oil paintings, sterling flatwear and tea sets, and more. Harold expected a good turnout for the sale. He was right. People swarmed over the house viewing the items for sale. What Elizabeth called junk soon turned into dollars signs in her eyes and put a satisfied smile on her face.
Everything was sold and they came to the last room. That’s when Harold saw Derek Walker. He wondered if he had been there the whole time. “Mr. Calson, I am interested in this room.”
Harold was puzzled. He did consider this room junk. It contained an old sofa, scarred desk, books, and small table next to an old rocking chair. On the table sat a worn Bible. One wall had a corkboard covered with bits of paper.
“You can have everything in the room if you haul it away,” Elizabeth told Derek.
Derek gazed at her with sorrowful, compassionate eyes. He opened a wallet and handed several bills to Harold. “This should be enough. Thank you, ma’am,” he said to Elizabeth.
After everything was paid for and carried away by buyers, curiosity drove Harold to the room where Derek was boxing things. “Excuse me, Mr. Walker. I must know the importance of this room to you. There isn’t anything of value here.”
Derek wiped his dusty hands. “Mrs. Annabelle and this room saved my life.”
“I was a troubled teenager who stole to support my drug habit. I was in desperate need of a fix the night I came to rob Mrs. Annabelle. I didn’t know who lived here and didn’t care. I had a gun. Mrs. Annabelle confronted me and tried to reason with me. She had the kindest eyes and gentlest voice.”
Derek picked up the Bible. “I told her to shut up, that I’d kill her. She didn’t beg and that made me angrier. I shoved her when she said she wasn’t afraid of me. ‘If you’re going to kill me, can I go to my prayer room and die there?’”
Derek paused. “I followed her into this room, and she sat in that chair. There wasn’t any fear in her eyes. She said the sweetest time of her day was the hour she spent every morning and every evening praying in this room. She said she wasn’t afraid to die because she was going to heaven.”
As someone who feared death, the story intrigued Harold. “What happened?”
“She started praying. I felt power and God’s presence in her prayer. I cried like a baby. She was the bravest, kindest woman. She helped change my life. I visited her often. That corkboard is filled with prayers.”
Tears sprang to Harold’s eyes. “Death terrifies me. Can you tell me what Annabelle had that caused her to not fear death?”
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