General Fiction posted October 13, 2011

This work has reached the exceptional level
Tragedy caused a man to lose his faith

When God Intervenes

by Tpa

One summer day, I came home from work to another lonely and dull evening.

After showering, I dressed into black Bermuda shorts, and a white tee shirt that I wore day after day. I saw little need to impress anyone with my looks or attire.

I walked into the kitchen. On the counter, I took a glass and went over to the kitchen table. I reached for my bottle of Jim Beam and poured the burning fluid to the rim of an eight ounce glass. It was the way of taking the edge from the loneliness and pain of losing my wife, Emily. The drinking began on the day of her funeral and never stopped. Mr. Beam became my sole companion. I only wanted to converse with a glass of alcohol and nobody else.

I stepped into the den. I held the glass in one hand and the folded daily newspaper in the other. Sinking into my recliner, I anticipated another quiet Saturday. After a long swallow of alcohol, the pain of my broken heart began numbing. I unfolded the newspaper when the doorbell chimed.

The sound was unexpected. I stared at the door, refusing to answer it. The bell chimed a few more times. Swallowing a bitter taste in my mouth of self-loathing, I rose from my chair. Rapid knocking caused me to hasten to the door.

I slowly turned the brass doorknob , and the door creaked opened.

I forced a smile upon my two uninvited visitors, pretending I was glad to see them. "Frank, Rick, it's been awhile." These were my friends since high school, and ignored since the funeral.

"Like two years," Frank quipped.

"Is your phone out of order?" Ricky said. "I called you more than my mom, but at least she answers." There was a trite tone of sarcasm in his voice.

"I've been working various shifts since the bus company laid off several drivers. Besides, I'm always tired when I get home." I hoped my message professed my desire of isolation from everyone.

Since the car accident, Emily's absence took away my blue sky and left me in bellowing gray clouds. We were married five years before the angels took her away. My world, suddenly, became dark with a mixture of anger and sorrow. I despised going to our favorite restaurant. Our entrees of prime rib and glasses of cherry relinquished an unpleasant relish, now, that her gleaming smile no longer exist from across the table. My happiness quickly withered away, leaving nothing, but a shell of a man.

Ricky and Frank always heeded to the reason of my seclusion, except for today.

"I got tickets to the Boney James concert," Ricky said, waving three tickets in front of me.

In light of my broken heart, it was a preposterous suggestion. "No thanks," I snapped.

"Front row seats," Frank cried out jubilantly.

"I don't care if they were on stage, I'm not going." My frosty tone destroyed their glittering smiles. "I know you mean well, but I just can't." I swallowed the lump in my throat.

"We knew you like Boney James," Ricky remarked, so enthusiastic upon wanting me to go.

"I do." I admitted. Many wishes craved my mind, but since her death a fog of loneliness over shadowed me and careened me into a life like a lopsided top. I began this erratic and emotional journey hoping one day I could adjust to a life without her.

My blood started sizzling like meat on a grill as my friends insisted I attend the concert. My continuous replies of negativity went unheeded, yielding me to resolve the matter by returning to my den where a glass of my favorite painkiller sat waiting.

Moments later, I heard footsteps crossing the hardwood floor. I looked up from my newspaper. Still disgruntled, I wished them to go away. Instead, their pensive expressions mellowed my riled judgment. Momentarily, the chirping of birds could only be heard outside the window before I finally expressed my apology for my impetuous departure. I, however, declared my attending the concert be closed, which they fondly agreed.

Our conversations shifted to lighter elements. I felt relaxed and became exhilarated to their arrival-that is until Frank dispelled a topic that caused me more pain than a fractured leg.

"Father Diaz has been asking about you."

I said nothing. I liked Father Diaz. He was the Pastor of the church where Emily and I attended, but her death caused me to loose faith when my prayers went unanswered. "Tell him not to care, his boss didn't," I lowered my eyes toward the ground, hoping my friends overlooked the swelling of my tears.

"God does care. Psalm 34 tells us the Lord hears the good man when he calls for help," Ricky said.

His remark caused displeasure, which I retaliated bitterly, "I knocked on His door during Emily's illness. He never answered, probably went fishing with Saint Peter." My faith was destroyed the evening of Emily's passing. A night, I will always remember.

I walked into the hospital chapel, and I took advantage of some personal solitude time with God. I lit a candle. Tears rolled down my cheeks as I fell to my knees before a bronze crucifix. I prayed for Emily's life, for our future, hoping to raise a family, and growing old together. I would to anything for Him to keep Emily alive.

Returning to her room, I looked at her closed eyes. Her once rosy cheeks were now shallow and pale. No movement came from her long slender bones, not even a whimper fell from her dried lips. My prayers had gone unanswered, and skepticism of His existence prodded through my mind, as I screamed of agony, watching the elevation of her chest for the last time.

My reflection was interrupted when Frank incurred the crispness of my tone and immediately changed the topic.

"You still got that picture of us at Beacon's Tap." He pointed to the photograph on the top shelf of the bookcase.

That night, we won a billiard game. Our arms were folded around each other's necks. Now, I fail recalling if our pose was for jubilation, or holding each other up from the amount of beer we drank during that game.

Ricky sauntered to the photo, and pulled it from the shelf. "We played every Thursday night at Beacon's Tavern. We had some good times." He laughed.

Those nights, I left Emily cuddled under a woolen blanket on the sofa with her eyes glued to pages of a James Patterson's mystery. Those moments were trinkets of life's treasures, which hardly seemed valuable then, but suddenly became golden.

Frank relived our Sunday afternoons during the fall. He discussed going downstairs to my basement and shooting a game of billiards, as we watched football on television. Emily spoiled us by making beef sandwiches with melted mozzarella cheese and hot peppers. I agreed with him. They were the best of times.

His reflection upon that period gave Frank an idea.

"Let's play a game," he said.

I opposed his suggestion initially, but then I made a proposal. "If one of you wins, I'll go to the concert, but if I win, I'll stay home." Being rusty, I still had some confidence. It was all I had to endeavor for them to leave me alone. They raised their fists triumphantly, as we walked downstairs, assured they were taking me to the concert. Of course, I had other plans.

My basement was remodeled with knotty pine paneling. The floor covering had white tiles containing specks of gold. On holidays, Emily and I entertained our family and friends. Remembering those moments, a pang of pain grabbed at my heart. I tried to ignore it, as I took a few beers from the refrigerator behind the bar.

In middle of the basement, Ricky retrieved the balls from the side pockets of the billiard table and tossed them to Frank who racked them up.

I seldom came down here, except for laundry, or rummaging through the tool room. I'm reminded of too many memories. Especially the times I sat on the couch as Emily wrapped herself around me. Her voice and laughter would be in my mind's ear. It felt strange remembering those great moments, and also feeling their sadness.

We began our game. Our frivolous conversations enlightened the afternoon. The chatter intensified a gratifying experience, which I denied myself for a very long time. However, the time arrived when the decision of the evening laid in my hands.

Chalking up my stick, I examined my number ten- ball aiming towards the left corner pocket. From the position of the white cue ball, I had to bank the red-stripe ten ball, a situation, I had captured flawlessly in the past. My friends declined me any confidence of rendering the shot. In fact, I could hear a few snickers as I positioned my stick behind the white cue ball. I knew, however, in a few minutes that I'd be resting in my recliner along with my friend, Jim Beam.

"Well, boys, I hope you enjoy the concert." I darted the stick forward, hitting the white ball. It rolled across the table, hitting the edge of the pocket, and grazing the ten- ball into the corner pocket. The cue ball, however, continued an unforeseen journey. It hammered against the rim of the table and jetted across the green slate finally descending into the corner pocket. I'd scratched and could feel my pride shrink to the size of a Munchkin.

I ignored the smirks from my colleagues, as Ricky retrieved both balls and placed them back on the table.

"I guessed all of us will be enjoying the concert," Ricky mused, placing an emphasis on all.

Ricky began his turn and continued until he claimed victory.

I played the good sport and dressed into a pair of blue jeans and a red polo shirt, but my attending the concert was as enthusiastic as a visit to a proctologist.

We drove to the concert in Frank's black SUV. Our conversation was lighthearted, stemming broadly from sports to politics with occasional gossip about our mutual friends and promising never to tell anyone.

Frank turned into the asphalt parking lot of the arena. A short pudgy guy dressed in an orange and green striped jacket waved us into a parking space that seemed like a mile from the white stone circular venue.

We merged into the crowds of people like herds of cattle running to the slaughterhouse. Ricky gave our tickets to the usher, and we walked through the turnstile.

People were smiling and laughing. Couples were holding hands. Happiness pervaded throughout the arena. I felt awkward, like the Pope reining over a bar mitzvah.

"Let's find our seats." Frank said.

At that moment, I just wanted to disappear..

The show started with Betty Vaughan, a local singer. She sang "Mack the Knife. Her soothing voice continued winning the audience with swinging versions of Cole Porter's tunes. Her superb performance made everyone ecstatic, including myself. Even the beers, Ricky purchased enhanced the frolic.

"I'll pay the next round." I started reaching into my pocket for my wallet.

"Your money is worthless tonight." Frank laughed, as he went to buy more beers. When he returned, Frank gave me a sixteen-ounce paper cup of beer. He then presented me with Boney James' latest cd. " Ricky and I missed a couple of your birthdays."

"Thanks." I shook their hands. " Sorry, my doorbell was out-of-order the past two years."

"I'm glad you fixed it." Ricky winked.

I smiled. "So am I."

Our cups clinked together as the arena went dark. Circles of white light rolled across the stage. Neon lights flashed above the bandstand while drums exploded into a thunder.

Beyond the closed blue curtains, I heard the soft rhythmic sounds of a sax. Slowly, the curtains opened, as the circles of light weaved into one, beaming on Boney James.

I wiped away a few happy tears, thinking about my friends reaching out to me. Of course my treasure moments with Emily will remain forever. Her passing will always pierce my heart. But tonight, a new venture began for me. Perhaps, God does cares, revealing His love when it is least expected.


2054 words. My thanks to VMarguarite for the gift of her talent.
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Artwork by VMarguarite at

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