Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: STIR (11/12/15)
TITLE: The Day Michael Came
By Dave Walker
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Then he came.
I'd walked past those like him many times, without a second glance. Homeless people embarrass me. I avoid their eye in case they want something. Often they avoid mine, too. Ashamed of their circumstances, I suppose.
That day, though, I noticed him.
He wore a tatty old coat two sizes too big. His hair was matted. His moustache and beard straggled across his lower face like an untidy Jesus. He should have looked pathetic -- I'd always regarded the homeless as wretched -- but he stood erect with an air of quiet assurance.
I looked him in the eye -- and was transfixed. His clear, acorn-brown eyes drew me into a world of hope and beauty. Something stirred, as though a rainbow settled in the reservoir of my soul. I saw the bland emptiness of my existence, the pointlessness of accumulating status symbols. His eyes revealed something beyond my grasp, something lovelier, like the music of the stars.
I stood, mesmerised.
He smiled, showing a line of unkempt teeth. "Hello. Thanks for stopping. It's tough when most folk just walk past. If you want to help, I'd be so happy. You see, I badly need a bath. That's the worst of being on the street. You usually get some food but there are few places we can wash. Offering me their bathroom is rather threatening to most."
I agreed. I wondered what Jane would say about letting him into our pristine bathroom. Yet ... I couldn't leave him. Not after the stirring in my heart.
He extended a hand half enclosed in a frayed finger mitten. "I'm Mike." I grasped it, wondering what the passers-by were thinking.
"I'm Bill. Come. Have a hot bath and a meal."
The brown eyes shone with pleasure, but I somehow felt he was pleased for me, not himself.
Jane's jaw dropped when I opened the door and ushered Mike into our living room. She shook the tips of two of his fingers gingerly as I introduced him. The boys were fascinated. Jonah stumbled across in his spastic gait, and with a crooked smile, tried to speak. "Huy-y-yo! Moy nay-y-m-s Jo...Jo..Jonnnah!"
Pete explained. "That's my brother. He nearly died when he was born and now he's got cerebral palsy."
Jane retreated to the kitchen and called the boys. I left Mike running the bath and joined them. Jane looked at me with puzzlement and fear. "What are you thinking, Bill? These men can be dangerous."
"I can't explain. Something stirred when I saw him. There's more to life than what we've got, Jay. We must get involved. His eyes.... they touched my soul with music." Her quizzical look and shrug spoke volumes.
The meal was memorable. Mike, clean shaven and dressed in my shirt and trousers had certainly been around. He said he'd shared meals with Hurricane Katrina's victims and rescued people from the Oklahoma bombing; he'd sat in murky hell-holes with those living dead caught in the merciless grip of King Heroin. Jane looked sceptical. I wasn't sure, but the boys were fascinated.
After the meal, he thanked us profusely. "What you did tonight was life-changing. Now I must go."
I asked him to excuse us and took Jane to the kitchen. "We can't just leave him back on the street, Jay" I whispered urgently, "What are we to do?"
"He's a hobo, Bill. All those stories. We don't know they're true. He could rob us tonight."
"But his eyes. Did you notice his eyes?"
As Jane hesitated, hysterical shouting burst from the living room. We rushed through expecting trouble. Mike was gone. Pete was jumping up and down. "Look at Jonah. Look at Jonah."
Jonah walked slowly towards us testing legs that walked perfectly straight. He smiled broadly, a straight, perfect smile. Then he spoke. "Mommy, Daddy, I can walk and I can talk. Mike did it."
"Where is he, boys?"
"He's just left. Said he heard you in the kitchen. Didn't want to cause trouble between you two."
I ran to the door and peered out. The place was deserted.
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Jane and I love our church. We serve in a soup kitchen and realise God's given us our worldly goods to share.
Now I know what Mike (Michael?) meant when he said what we did was life-changing. He was talking about our lives.
The music and the rainbow have never left my soul.
(Inspired by Heb 13:2)
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