Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: YOUTH (04/04/19)
- TITLE: The Lesson
By Yvonne Blake
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As we approached the next intersection, I saw a man fall as he crossed the street. He tried to stand up, but his legs gave out. Clearly, he was in trouble. I turned off the car and rushed to his aid, with Stevie right behind me. In those few seconds, thoughts bombarded me. Is he having a stroke … a heart attack? I’m not a doctor or a nurse. I don’t even know where the closest phone might be. I only know this man needs help.
As I reached to put my hand beneath his elbow, a strong stench hit me. I turned my head away and willed my stomach to stay put. Stevie wasn’t as polite. “Ugh! What is that awful smell?” He stood there, holding his nose.
The old man looked at me with his red, watery eyes and belched. He gave me a half smile. “Shcuse me, woung wady.” He tried to take a step but slumped back down to the ground. I couldn’t just leave him there. I looked around. There was a police station on the next block.
“Stevie, help me. Let’s see if we can get him that far.”
Stevie took a step backwards, still pinching his nose. “He stinks.”
“I know, but he needs our help. He’s somebody’s father or grandfather. He needs love, just like anyone else.” I motioned Stevie over. “Hold your breath, if you need to. I can’t lift him by myself.”
Stevie and I dragged him to the other curb and laid him in the grass. The man dropped a bag from the drug store. I peeked inside – a cough syrup bottle. It confirmed the obvious. He was so desperate for liquor, he was buying anything that would satisfy his cravings. I felt sorry for him. I felt sorry for his family, whoever they were. Again I looked around. I couldn’t leave him lying in the ditch.
“Stevie, now that he’s off the street, let’s go find a policeman to help him.”
The old man stirred and tried to get up. “Noooo . . . no powish. I don’ want da powish.” He tried to stand up and stumbled back into the street. Both Stevie and I rushed to keep him from falling again.
It was then I noticed a noise above the sounds of the local factory. It was a throbbing syncopated beat, coming from a portable stereo – what youngsters call a boom box. A trio of teens swaggered up the sidewalk. They sported purple Mohawk hair, leather jackets, and more piercings than I could count.
Stevie said, “Hey, Mom! They can help us.” He ran off toward them.
A surge of motherly instincts rose up within me to protect my baby from that dangerous gang. But I didn’t. I watched my child approach these strangers and explain our situation. They looked at me and the old man. To them, I was probably old, too. They hurried over, turning off their music on the way.
“Hi, Ma’am. We can do this.” Two of them slipped their bare, tattooed arms beneath the old man’s arms. “Where is he going?”
“Uh . . . uh . . . I don’t know, but I was taking him to the police station.” Hearing that, the third fellow sprinted down the street to the station.
The old man resisted again but with no success against the bulging muscles of his escorts. Within seconds, a sheriff joined us. “Come on, Bill, let’s get you where you can sleep this off safely.”
The sheriff faced us. “Thanks for your help. Bill is one of our regular customers. He’s harmless, but he’s had a hard life and is now all alone. We’ll take good care of him.”
Back in our car, Stevie and I continued on our way home. As we passed the three teens – still bopping to their beat, they waved at us . . . and I waved back. It was the first day of summer vacation. I hope Stevie learned a lesson from our character-building experience. I did.
(I Samuel 16:7b) “ . . .for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”
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