To Believe or Not to Believe

Written in response to: Write about two people striking up an unlikely friendship.... view prompt

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Inspirational

That was fast! Darin dashed for the door when he heard the gate's dead-waking hinges. The remodel guy was here. Soon this eyesore of a house would get whipped into something livable and his visions would become reality. New paint to replace the ugly, weathered white. Stainless steel sinks. Fresh, velvety carpet. And the list went on.

"You must be Mr. Barry Brewer!"

"Howdy! And you're...is it Darin?"

"Darin Doubtfield," Darin accepted the clean-cut man's vigorous handshake.

"Pleasure to meet you sir. This is my daughter, Naomi. I'm trying to get her to take an interest in remodeling herself, but it doesn't seem to be working," Barry laughed and glanced at the inline skates she'd brought with her.

Darin grinned. "Well, give her a few years and I'm sure that'll change."

"So, without further ado," Barry clapped his hands together, "let's start by you giving me a little tour of this castle. I guess this would be the kitchen?"

A sigh and headshake was Darin's answer as he panned around the impoverished premises. The dripping faucet acted as a clock, plinking at precise one-second intervals, making the dim, echoing room look and sound like a cave. The forest-green floor tiles may as well have been matte black. Mismatched furnishings added to the kitchen's overall unnerving look. Last but certainly not least was that darn, vault-like door.

"Yeah, if you could call it that," Darin grumbled. "As you can already see, this whole place needs a serious overhaul; I mean...come on! Who ever heard of the front door being in the kitchen? What were they thinking when they designed this pneumonia hole?"

Barry kept the frozen smile he'd entered the house with and his glowing, cue-ball eyes matched. "Oh, most likely it wasn't originally. See these pencil marks?" He zoomed in on the door frame with his phone. "Whoever lived here last probably did some remodeling of their own and never bothered erasing the measurements."

"Daddy, I'm bored," Naomi formed a sour face.

"I know you are, Munchkin, but we'll make up for it with some Braum's ice cream. I promise," He leaned and jiggled her brown pig tails. "You know," Barry stepped a bit closer to Darin, "as they say: 'Cleanliness is next to godliness'. Sure won't be any pencil marks when I get done here, I can promise you that!" He raised an eyebrow at the frown. "Where do you go to church, if you don't mind my asking? Don't believe I've seen you at mine; I'm pastor at the big one downtown by the springs."

God, here we go. Darin tried to keep his seethe discreet, realizing the grievous error he'd made by calling this man. He braced himself while racing for a diplomatic answer in hopes of changing the subject back to the matter at hand.

"I don't go to church. Um...now as far as the living room, I'd like to have carpet instead of bare concrete for starters."

Barry stood zombified for a moment, then turned his attention to Naomi, who was spinning skate wheels with her finger. "Princess, why don't you go give them a try on the sidewalk, if it's ok with Mr. Doubtfield."

"Sure. Go right ahead," Darin replied, his throat too dry to gulp.

As Naomi took off like lightning with the skates, Barry crossed him arms and stiffened his posture. "Why?" he asked Darin, drilling through his periwinkle eyes with a temperate stare.

Knowing the diversion attempt would be futile, Darin inhaled the musty air and tried anyway. "Because I'm sick and tired of looking at bare concrete," his facial color went red.

Barry rolled his eyes as if about to start "speaking in tongues". "No! Why don't you go to church is what I meant!"

Darin's heart was pounding. "Not that it's any of your business, sir, but I happen to be an atheist!"

The house fell quiet as Jesus' post-resurrection tomb for twenty seconds, spare the dripping. Then Barry clicked his polished teeth and sighed, throwing a firm hand on Darin's shoulder.

"Well then, I pity your poor soul, sir. Do you realize what's going to happen to you if you don't get saved?"

Darin's pilsner glass shattered against the far wall and landed in dozens of pieces. "And do you realize what'll happen to you if you don't get the hell off my property?"

They heard Naomi crying outside. Barry rushed to see what was the matter, and Darin trailed behind him.

"Oh you scraped your knee! Bless your heart," Barry squatted down beside his daughter. "Nothing a couple delicious scoops of pistachio with caramel can't fix!" He looked at Darin and sighed. "Let's go, Angel. We don't seem to be wanted here anyway."

Darin lifted his lowered head as the two paced toward the mini van, and soaked in the surreal, piney view from the vantage point of his front yard in Eureka Springs. As car doors opened, he smiled and trotted after them.

"Wait a minute! Naomi, put your skates back on and let's try 'er again!"

"I can't," she weeped.

Darin copied her father's teeth-clicking. "Hey, one of my old school teachers once taught me: 'Can't never could do anything.' You gotta believe in yourself, Naomi! Now do it to it!"

"It's ok, I'll follow to catch you if you fall," Barry's look of reassurance contradicted the head tilt and crossed eyes he'd just flashed at Darin.

She teetered all over the place, fighting to keep one leg in front of the other, and Barry snagged her by the arm pits as she started to tumble.

He held her up and carried her forward with the wheels touching concrete. "Look, princess! You're doing it!"

"No I'm not! That's cheating!" She cried again.

Eureka! Darin thought about the scenic Arkansas berg's name and remembered the meaning of the word. I have found it! He gazed down the sidewalk until it disappeared in a grove of magnolias backed by misty, gentle-rolling Ozarks.

"Naomi? You believe in Jesus, don't you?"

"Uh huh."

"So according to the Bible, the man can walk on water, right? Any dude who can do that won't have any problem giving you a little push on those skates. But you gotta meet him halfway you know; now have some faith and take that first step!"

Naomi trembled as her father let go, his mouth wide open in disbelief over what he'd heard. 

"It's all about momentum," Darin coached. "The only way you're gonna keep your balance is really throw your body, mind, and soul into it. This time, take off for them hills like you mean it and let Jesus do the rest!"

Barry and Darin were speechless as a gust of wind sent little Naomi rolling ahead. She giggled and soon shrank to a green and blue dot in the distance. The two power-walked to catch up, and along the way, Barry motioned a "time-out" with his fingers.

"I thought you didn't believe in Jesus," he panted.

"I don't," Barry smirked. "But she does. Tell you what I do believe, though: That we should all believe in something. For you and her, it's Jesus; for me, it's Nature. Does it really matter?"

Barry nodded, smiled, and offered his second handshake of the day. "Now about that carpet you're wanting in the living room..."

June 13, 2023 21:12

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