better story close to home

The day hadn’t really gotten going yet, being a Sunday and all. The sun was out, streets quiet, not any movement. He drove his old copper-colored Ford pickup very slowly down the street. It must have been new to him because it still had the paper license tag in the back window. The bed of the truck was strewn with junk, two basketballs, a red gas can and some black plastic trash bags. The man turned his head and looked through the passenger side window as he stopped the truck, looking at a pile of garbage and junk set out on the sidewalk for pick up.  In the heap were mattresses, an ironing board with a pink floral cover , small pieces of furniture made out of cheap wood, bed frames, a white plastic trash can with the handle of a mop sticking out and a child’s plastic basketball hoop. He drove around the block twice, then finally parked the truck.

“Good morning, lady,”  he said to the woman standing on her front porch. “I’m gonna get some of the metal there, I’m going to load it in my truck and wondered if you could move your car so I don’t hit it when I’m backing up.” The woman obliged and a conversation ensued.

He used to live around the block years ago. “I got in lots of trouble. Meth, prison, all kinds of bad stuff and then my Mama sent me to Mississippi to live with my grandmother,” he said. The man looked right into her eyes as he spoke. He was wearing old black pants and a purple shirt with an unknown logo on the left chest pocket. A faded red baseball cap covered his head and a gold tooth peeked out between his lips when he spoke. “But now, now I’m going to be a drug counselor,” pride bursting through with every word. He told the woman how he had gotten to be so tired, how he dropped to his knees and prayed to God to please help him. “I got down on my knees and praise the Lord, he helped me.”  He’d been off drugs for seven years, off alcohol for four and spoke of the Men’s AA meeting he attended.

Now it was the woman’s turn. She spoke with pain in her voice about her daughter. The girl who was so very talented, the one who got herself into the drug world. A slight smile came to her face when she told him her little girl was doing better now. “Well praise the Lord, I’m so happy for you,” he told the woman. They talked for a little while about family, broken dreams, fear and death. He spoke of his Mother who had grown more and more angry and frustrated with him as he continued his downward spiral. He told the woman that now his Mother said it was a miracle from God that turned him around.

“I’m so glad you told me your daughter’s story. I hope I see you around,” he said as he got in his truck and drove off.

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