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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Volunteer (11/23/06)

TITLE: Entertaining An Angel
By Marty Wellington


John McAllistair’s sun bleached hair gently moved with the hot western wind. A few days’ stubble sprouted across his angular face much like the sturdy stalks of red winter wheat which once marched across his field. His sullen gray eyes, sharp and determined, gazed out across the golden field of crooked wheat. A relentless tornado had ripped a jagged, muddy path through the acreage, spreading it’s destruction to the horizon.

“C’mon John, let’s go. There’s not much we can do here right now. You need your rest.” John’s wife, Sarah, slipped her porcelain-like arm around his waist and gave him a gentle squeeze.

Three days post-tornado, John had yet to sleep. An obsession to restore all that had been lost gripped him. He spent the last three days rounding up the remains of his cow-calf herd, surveying the damage, and attempting a clean up of his home and outbuildings. Most of his efforts had been futile, given the gaping holes in roofs and the debris that littered his fields.

Surveying the desperate scene before him, John felt helpless. He and Sarah were in their sixties and alone. Their children had long abandoned the uncertainty of farm life for the lure of materialism in the cities. The surrounding neighbors, in similar circumstances, could lend little assistance.

Reluctantly, he gave into Sarah’s gentle urgings and moved along with her to the barn, where they had set up temporary lodging until their home could be repaired.

John spent a restless night, only to capture a few hours deep sleep in the early morning. He awoke to the sounds of crunching gravel outside.

“Anyone home?” A man’s voice called across the farm yard.

A tall elderly man came into view and made his way to the barn. “Are you the McAllistair’s?”

“Yes, I’m John and this is my wife Sarah.”

“Glad to meet ya. I’m Anthony. Heard ‘bout your trouble in town and thought I could help.”

John took a side-long glance at the scruffy man and his beat-up green pick-up truck. He looked feeble and spent. How could he possibly help? He looks older than me.

“Well, there’s lots of folks strugglin’ right now after that monster tornado ripped through our valley a few nights ago,” said Sarah, giving her husband a nudge.

Anthony grinned, a gaping toothless cavern of a smile that was open and friendly. “All I wanna do is help folks. There’s a lot I can do. I got carpenter skills. I ain’t afraid of work. No, Sir. I’m a hard worker. Just let me stay a day and show ya.”

John’s sullen expression softened at the older man’s eagerness. “Maybe it wouldn’t hurt for you to stay a couple of days. I could sure use the help. Everyone in the valley is short-handed right now and we’re all gettin’ worn out.”

Anthony ended up staying six weeks with the McAllistairs. Despite his age, he worked like a teenager. He walked the vast fields, picking up debris. He repaired fences and helped John put a new roof on the house. His energy never abated. His enthusiasm brought a new spirit to the McAllistair’s. Neither John nor Sarah quite knew how to repay Anthony for the wonderful ways he served them. His generosity overwhelmed them.

One morning, John was rousted out of bed by the sputtering of Anthony’s old truck struggling to wake up in the frigid dawn. Without a care for the cold hardwood floors, John jumped out of bed and ran barefoot downstairs to greet his friend.

By the time he reached the front porch, the green pick-up was bouncing down the gravel driveway and Anthony’s arm waved goodbye out the window.

“We didn’t even get to tell ‘im ‘thank you.’” Sarah’s robed figure joined him on the porch.

“Sarah, did you ever notice that his truck had no license plates?” John’s words were barely audible. “We never knew where he was from. Why did he choose us to help when so many others in the valley needed help too?”

“You know, John, I don’t think we’ll ever know why. We shouldn’t question the Lord’s divine plan. He blessed us. Let’s be thankful.” Her eyes twinkled and that all-knowing smile played upon her upturned lips. Even after 40+ years of marriage, it was enough to cause John’s heart to race.

He reached down, drawing his Sarah nearer. Looking into her eyes, his grey eyes were at peace. “I think we’ve been entertaining an angel.”

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Member Comments
Member Date
julie wood11/30/06
I loved the descriptions of the characters and the land in this story! I could see them and felt as though I were there. I could also hear them speak and enjoyed their country dialect. They were really brought to life. Great job!
Betty Castleberry12/01/06
As the wife of a farmer who's pushing sixty and living in tornado alley, this realy hit home with me. It was a very enjoyable read, and your characters were believable. Thanks for sharing it.
Sara Harricharan 12/01/06
heehee! I loved the end, especially when John was hurrying out to say 'goodbye'. Very well written, good job!
Joanne Sher 12/04/06
Love your detailed description - very vivid and real. Such a heartwarmer.
Donna Powers 12/04/06
Very nice! This could have been an episode on "Highway to Heaven". Extremely well done. Thanks for sharing it.
Jen Davis12/05/06
A very sweet story loaded with detail. I could picture this story as it unfolded. I liked the little detail of the sound of gravel as the man approached and his beat up green truck with no license plates and more. Good job!