It’s high time I start drinking.
While the statement had played on a continuous loop all day long in his brain, Seth was still surprised to find himself holding a brown paper bag containing a bottle of whiskey. Bone weary, he unlocked the front door of his home, threw his keys on the counter, and resolutely set the bottle on the table. He’d heard about it from the guys at work, how they so often drowned their sorrows after a long day. For Seth, it had been a long two months. In that amount of time, he had lost his mother, seen his young son move with his ex-wife to another state, and found out his hours at work would soon be reduced to an amount where he would be lucky to keep his home. He had been pummeled of late, and quite frankly, he was sick of it. Sliding into one of the kitchen chairs, he put his head down for a moment in an attempt to stave off the headache that was forming in his right temple.
Seth wasn’t aware of how long he had rested, but when he lifted his head, a visitor clothed in a dazzling white shirt and a black vest was standing across from him.
“Who the heck are you?” Seth narrowed his eyes at the stranger.
The visitor smiled, but Seth was too tired to notice the derision that tinged the edges. “I’m just a friend. Come to help in your time of need.” He twirled magnificently around the table, the ultimate showman, and Seth couldn’t help but watch, mesmerized.
“Now I see you have some drink there. May I have the honor of pouring your first glass?” The stranger danced deftly across the kitchen, plucked a glass from the counter, and deposited it with a flourish in front of Seth.
“This stuff killed my dad, you know.” Seth stared somberly at the glass as the stranger poured the amber liquid.
“Oh, some people just can’t handle it.” The stranger displayed a scornful look. “But you’re different. And look at all you’ve been through. You’ve lost important people and things are unfair at work. ” The stranger’s eyes brightened. “But here, here in this glass is your salvation, your escape.”
Seth focused his gaze on the glass. He grabbed it, hesitated for only a moment to steady his hand, and took a long swallow. The whiskey was a firebrand sliding down his throat; he waited, anticipating the calm that would soon overtake him. The wait, however, was in vain. For at that moment, his gaze was drawn to his mother’s faded Bible lying on the countertop. His visitor saw the guilt settle on Seth like a mantle, and though he slithered quickly across the room to try to block the view, he was too late.
Seth, dropping his head in his hands, cried out, “Lord, help me.”
His gallant visitor’s face contorted; his eyes grew savage. “You fool! I would have given you your heart’s desire. Fed your bitterness, fanned your hatred.”
“I never wanted those things!” Seth tried to see through his tears.
“You wanted them! You bought the bottle, and we were so close!” In the blink of an eye, the stranger was gone.
The ding-dong of the doorbell, followed by a quiet knock, only caused Seth’s heart to beat faster. When he opened the door and noticed the warm light surrounding this new guest, Seth knew him immediately.
“Jesus! You’re here.”
“Of course I am, beloved. You called.”
“But you rang my door bell and knocked. That other guy just barged in here. I don’t even know how he got in!” The words were a waterfall as Seth led Jesus to the table.
Jesus’ smile was sympathetic. “Satan’s my opposite in every way. He doesn’t wait for an invitation. Remember my word, ‘Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.’ I think, Seth, we’ll just get rid of this.” Jesus poured the bottle of whiskey down the drain. “How about if we have a nice tall glass of water instead, and a little chat?”
That’s where Seth woke the next morning, draped over the kitchen table, a tall glass of water directly in front of him. He was never sure whether to call his experience a dream or a vision when he shared it with others, but he never heard the ding-dong of a doorbell again without smiling.
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