Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: The Reader (04/15/10)
TITLE: Snatched From The Clutches
By Sandra Eastridge
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Teddy was led from the courtroom, his mother’s sobs falling on deaf ears. Back in his cell he went over that night. He had planned so carefully but he had not reckoned to run into the night guard. How could he? He had not even considered there would be a guard! He was not worried, though. This was his first offence and he knew his sentence would be light. Next time there would be no witnesses to identify him; he would make sure of that.
Dad’s face flashed across Teddy’s vision. Fleeting though it was Teddy still saw the reproach in his eyes. “Sorry, Dad,” he whispered. Then he rolled on his side and fell asleep.
Within the week Teddy was back in court. The judge read the sentence. He ordered Teddy to read the entire Bible to a sick, old man. Teddy was stunned. He was a poor reader at best and old people gave him the heebie jeebies. He glared at the judge in defiance. The judge glared back. Teddy was first to break eye contact. For a split second he saw himself through the judge’s eyes and he did not like what he saw.
Teddy rang the doorbell and hoped no one would answer. If the judge thought reading the Bible was going to make a difference he could think again. Teddy had no use for God. His dad had loved God and served Him tirelessly but when He got sick God was no where to be found. At least that was the way Teddy saw it.
The door opened. “You must be Teddy. I’m Mr. Warren’s housekeeper. You can call me Red.”
Teddy tried not to laugh at her absurdly bright red head. He was pretty sure all that red hair came straight from a bottle. “I’m supposed to read to a Mr. Warren,” he said.
“Come in. He’s waiting for you. I’ll show you the way. From now on just open the door and go on back.”
Teddy was led to a dimly lit bedroom. The housekeeper flipped a light switch. Teddy inhaled sharply at the sight of the elderly man lying in the bed. With all the bandages and bruising the poor man looked like he had been hit by a freight train.
“He can’t talk,” said the housekeeper. “His jaw was broken. His arm and several ribs are broken too.”
“What happened?” Teddy asked.
“He was beat up by a robber and left for dead.”
Teddy swallowed hard. Instinctively he knew this was the night guard that had come upon him that night. Not once had Teddy considered the repercussions of what he had done. Instantly, he was ashamed.
The housekeeper pulled a chair up to the bed and motioned for him to sit down. Teddy sat and opened the Bible. He did not look at the old man. He hoped against hope Mr. Warren did not know who he was. Since the judge did not see fit to tell him who he would be reading to maybe the judge had not told the old man either.
Everyday Teddy read the Bible to Mr. Warren. Slowly, Mr. Warren began to heal. Without realizing it Teddy was also healing. Watching Mr. Warren suffer through the worse part of his injuries unlocked a door somewhere deep in Teddy’s heart.
Then came the day Teddy dreaded. The day Mr. Warren could speak for the first time. Reluctantly Teddy entered the bedroom and sat in his usual place. He opened the Bible but before he could begin to read he felt a gentle hand on his arm. Teddy looked up. Tears streamed down Mr. Warren’s face. “I forgive you,” he whispered.
Teddy could take no more. He knelt at Mr. Warren’s bedside. Mr. Warren laid his frail hand on Teddy’s head and prayed to the great God of love and forgiveness, interceding for a spiritually lost young man.
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