Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: FRESH START (01/05/17)
- TITLE: More Than He Came For
By Donna Powers
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A young man rushed into my store ten minutes before closing. He swept the cold wind in with him. He looked furtively around the store; his eyes unfocused and full of panic.
I was gripped by a bad feeling as soon as he came in. By the time he reached the register, he didn't have to pull out his gun for me to know what he wanted.
“Give me all the money, Mister,” he grumbled. “Hurry up”
He seemed like just a scared kid, but that gun was real. I sent up a quick prayer and opened my cash drawer.
He tried hard to hide it, but he was trembling like the proverbial leaf. Despite his tough words, I suddenly realized: his gun might be real, but his resolve was as shaky as his denim-clad knees.
I began to stack the bills on the counter. His desperation was palpable as he looked at the money. I asked if he had a bag. He looked as though he didn't understand the question.
“To carry the money, son,” I explained. “You aren't gonna stuff these into your jeans, are you?”
There was momentary confusion, but it gave way to resignation. He hadn't brought a bag. The trembling resumed, and his gun faltered.
“You didn't think this thing out, did you?” I asked him.
His resolve seemed to crumble. He looked down at his feet and sighed. His gun was lowered, as if it were hiding.
I kept on praying, and put the cash back in the register. Acting on faith, I faced him. I spoke as gently as I could manage. “Look, son - I can see you're not exactly Jesse James."
“Never mind. I just don't think you really want to commit a crime. Why don't you tell me why you tried to rob me?”
He was silent for a few moments, but finally answered. “Look, I know this sounds like a sob story, but my wife is sick. I lost my job and the unemployment checks don't start until next week. We've got two kids and I can't feed them. I'm sorry, Mister. Look, just let me go. Please don't call the cops. I don't know what I'm going to do, but I obviously can't go through with this.”
The brashness and veneer of toughness was gone. My heart said he was telling the truth.
“I'm Bob Olsen.” I faced him and held out my hand.
“I'm Lyle Morrison,” he answered, and shook my hand. I told him I wouldn't call the police, and the burden of fear left his clenched shoulders. My mental prayers continued. We talked a while longer, and I made a decision.
“Lyle, let’s pack a few bags full of food - enough for a few days. Let me give you a ride home. After that, I'll give you a job here and you can take your time paying me back. You also won't have to worry about how to feed your family.”
He looked stunned. “Why would you do that for me? I just tried to rob you. I mean...why would you do anything for me?”
I put my hand on his shoulder. “Let's just say I know what it’s like to be in a difficult place. Someone once forgave me and gave me a new start in my life– and I'd like to pass it on. I'll tell you more about Him someday.”
He shook his head. "I still can't believe this. But... thank. I'll work hard. You won't be sorry."
"I'll look forward to that." I held out three large bags and gestured for him to fill them.
He moved hesitantly at first, but then with purpose. I watched as he worked, closed out the register and waited with my keys at the door. I helped him carry one of his bags as we walked toward my car. Silently, I pulled a New Testament from my pocket and slid it into the bag.
My gut told me he might be hungry for more than just groceries.
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