As I walked back toward the neighbor's house, I thought about the old man's story. It must have happened about the time I was born, because I was born in 1945, right after the war was over. Had my Da been in the army? Or not? I was going to have to ask my Ma... if he wasn't, why wasn't he? What caused his drinking? Why was he so angry when he got drunk? Questions that I realized I might never have answers to, flooded my mind.
I realized I was hungry, so I headed for a place to eat. I remembered a place where my friends had talked about eating at, back when I was in school there. It was called "Krystal's" and they sold little square hamburgers on little square buns. You could get a whole bunch of them for a dollar, so I headed for it.
Reaching the little burger joint within about ten minutes, I entered the small building, and plopped down on one of the stools at the counter.
"What'll it be, buddy?" The kid at the counter slowly wiped the counter with a damp cloth that looked like it had seen better days. He had on one of those little paper hats that looked like a soldier's folding hat. It had the word Krystal printed on it, and it was set at a jaunty angle on his head.
"Hmmm, I'll have a dozen of the Krystal burgers, with a coke, thanks."
The aroma in the little place was almost overwhelmingly that of grilled onions, mixed with grilling meat odors. It was wonderful and makes my mouth water, even today when I recall it to my memory.
I had them in less than five minutes, steaming hot and each wrapped individually in waxed paper with a pickle slice on the top of the bun.
As I munched away on them, I did some more reflecting on the story he had told me. What made a man who stepped in to protect another man, wind up beating a poor defenseless woman, his wife, no less, when he should have been treating her like a queen, protecting her? I just didn't get it... who knows, maybe I never would, since he was no longer around to answer my questions.
I realized then, that sometimes we never get answers to some things on this side of our lives. Perhaps one day, God would give me the answers I was seeking... or perhaps then, it would no longer matter.
After I finished my lunch, I headed back to the house where I once lived. I wanted to speak to the broken man who lived there and give him the Bible I had purchased. I also wanted to tell him and his wife about the church I had visited the day before. Perhaps I could invite them to go with me the next day. Maybe even Glenny would go with me.
Arriving back at the picket fence surrounding the house, I saw the wife coming out of the front door, with a suitcase in one hand, and the little boy holding the other hand. Uh-oh! That didn't look good. I hurried quickly up the walk.
"I'm leaving him until he can get a grasp on reality! Don't try to change my mind!"
"Okay, but please, will you promise to bring your little boy to the church over across the way, tomorrow morning? Where are you going? Do you have a place to stay? Do you have a phone number where you can be reached?"
"Why do you care, anyway? We don't really know you. I will tell you, I'll be at my mother's. He knows the number. Now, move out of my way. I've got to go."
The little boy looked up at me, and said, "Thanks, mister! Thank you for saving me." Then he ran over and hugged my legs. I bent down and wrapped my arms around him, hugging him tightly.
"You're welcome, Allen. I'm glad God placed me there."
I stood up, tipped my hat, and said, "Ma'am" and watched them walk away.
(To be continued)