Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Like Living in a Goldfish Bowl (11/07/13)
TITLE: The Man Nobody Knew
By Dave Walker
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"He was always quiet. Kept himself to himself." Stale smoke soured the air as his mother rooted through papers in the trailer's living area. A dirty ashtray clattered to the floor and she cursed. Finding what she wanted, she pushed it, with a chubby hand, under the reporter's nose. "That's him and his step-dad. His father drank himself to death. Made Pete even quieter. His step-dad treated him good -- till he left. Took off one night and we never saw him since. After, Pete spent most of his time in his room. 'Course there's not much between the walls and I heard him hammering and filing. I didn't interfere. He would'na told me anything anyway. Real private, he was."
The reporter glanced at the dirty plates in the sink, empty beer cans on the floor. "The neighbours can't tell me anything."
"Shows how quiet he was. It's not many can keep anything hidden in this place. Like living in a b****y goldfish bowl! Everyone knows all your business. But not Pete's. No-one suspected anything. Not even me."
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Paul visited Pete on Death Row. Pete said nothing, so he did all the talking. "Pete, we know what you did was wrong; and not just in our eyes. Fact is, it's wrong in God's eyes. But that doesn't mean He's abandoned you. I know you hated living in the trailer park, with everyone knowing everyone else's business and the gossip everywhere. You can bet there's slander about you right now that your mom has to bear."
Pete scowled, but said nothing.
"Pete, it's true they use all they see and hear to pull you down, but there's someone who sees even more than they do. He doesn't use what He knows to destroy you. He actually likes you -- takes pleasure in you. He loves you"
Pete said nothing; showed no emotion.
Each week Paul's footsteps echoed down the prison corridors, the cell door clanged behind him and he sat beside Pete, telling the same story. "God knows all your thoughts, Pete -- good and bad -- and yet He loves you, takes pleasure in you."
As the date of Pete's execution neared, Paul cried out to God. "Break down those walls, Lord. Unlock the love that's waiting to be awakened by Your Spirit."
Finally the day arrived and Paul hurried along the freeway. Suddenly the car in front swerved and slowed, avoiding a stray dog. He braked hard, then was jolted forward as the car behind smacked into him.
Hours later, perspiring and dishevelled Paul arrived at the prison. "Am I too late to see Pete? Please tell me there's been a delay!"
The officer looked sympathetic. "Pete died two hours ago.
Crestfallen, Paul asked, "Did he mention the Lord?"
"You know Pete. Never said anything."
Paul turned to go.
"Oh, by the way, another prisoner asked to see you. Name's Jimmy."
Paul walked slowly to the cells, his mind on Pete.
Jimmy shook his hand. "Pastor, you know this place. We know 'n hear everythin' goin' on. We heared you talkin' to Pete each week --what you said 'bout Jesus and how He love us even when we mess up -- what He done on the Cross for us 'cos He love us so much. There's a bunch of us here, given our lives to Jesus 'cos of what you said. We'z wonderin' if you'd come teach us. We wanna walk the walk 'fore we walk the green mile."
Paul's heart leaped. Lord, my time wasn't wasted. You used it to rescue souls. "Of course. I'd love to. I'll start next week."
"Great. Y'know, Pete spent quite a time readin' the Good Book. He said to give it back t'you."
Paul took it with a heavy heart. Once home he dejectedly opened it. On the flyleaf Scriptures had been copied and underlined:
1 Sam 16:7 "Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.,"
Heb 4:13 "Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight."
I Cor 13:12 "... then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known."
Zeph 3:17 "He will take great delight in you....... he will rejoice over you with singing."
A note dropped from the Bible, addressed to him. He read:
Pastor. I checked out everything you said. You're right about God. I did it. I'm coming home.
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