A Prisoner's Secret

Written in response to: Start your story with a vehicle pulling over for a hitchhiker.... view prompt

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American Christian Crime

A Prisoner’s Secret—George Davis

  My profession takes me all over the country. I am an evangelist supported by love offerings. This story begins one dark, stormy night, sound familiar? I was coming home from Waldoboro, Maine where I held a series of meetings in the Open Door Church on Route 1. As I drove down that famous route, I saw, in the distance, a human figure, a shape I could not determine. As I drew nearer I could see it was a tall man, thumb up, clothes dripping wet. I guess I felt sorry for him. 

  “Get in,” I said. 

  “Thanks, mister,” the saturated stranger said. Over the years, I have trained myself to look into people’s eyes. It is said, they are the mirror to one’s soul. And this man’s dark brown, almost black eyes pierced through to my very being. They were mesmerizing. “What’s your name?” I asked him.  

  “Brady Keaton. Yours?” 

  “Damien Barlow. Where’re headed?” 

  “Buxton.” 

  “I’m going as far as Portland. I live in Bickford, Maine. However, I often stay in Portland when I’m on the road.” 

  “That’s fine,” he said. The stranger wasn’t much of a talker. If he said ten words from Waldoboro to Portland, I’d eat my hat. All conversation was first offered by me. “What do you do for work, Mr. Keaton?” I asked. 

  “I’m in between jobs right now.” 

  “When you do work, what do you do?” 

  “I am a carpenter.” I nodded. Not one more word was spoken until we got to Portland. I dropped him off at the corner of Congress and High. “Thanks for the lift,” he said, walking down High toward Park Avenue. I watched as he faded into the dark night. 

  It was three years later while I was ministering at the State Prison I ran into that man again. I didn’t recognize him. After my message, he came up to me. “Hello,” he said. “Do you remember me?” 

  “I’m sorry. I can’t say as I do.” 

  “Three years ago, you picked me up in Waldoboro and drove me to Portland.” I barely remembered. What is your name? I’m sorry. I am not good with names.” 

  “Brady Keaton.” Like a bell went off in my brain. Suddenly, I recalled that night. It was raining, and he was thumbing, drenched to the skin. I picked him up just outside the town limit of Waldoboro

  “I didn’t know you were a minister,” he said. I remembered now. He was not a great conversationist. He said more tonight than all he had spoken that dark, rainy night three years ago. 

  “Yes, I am an evangelist, Brady.”

  “I shoulda known. I remember you had a Bible on your front seat.”

  “Yes, it is a dead give-a-way. How’ve you been? I guess that’s a silly question, Brady. Prison life can’t be that much fun.”

  “It ain’t, reverend.”

  “It’s Damien. The word Reverend refers to God. And I certainly am not in the same class as our Maker, Brady.”

  “It’s good to see a familiar face. It gets mighty lonely in this place.”

  “Well, I’m glad I saw you too. Would you like to know Jesus as your Lord and Savior, Brady?”

  “Er—not now, Damien. I need to think about it for a while. You see I committed a sin that even God cannot forgive me for.”

  “God can forgive you for any sin you have committed, Brady. It doesn’t matter how bad or ugly the sin. He will forgive you.”

  “I don’t think so. You see, the night you picked me up.” He bowed his head, tears in his eyes, he continued. “You see, that night I had sworn to kill whoever picked me up. I was desperate. I had no money, and I wasn’t afraid of what might happen to me. The one thing that saved you from my heinous crime was the Bible on your front seat.” Head still bowed he said, “When you let me out in Portland, I hitched a ride to Buxton. When he stopped to let me out. I shot him. He died instantly. I took his wallet. He had just two one dollar bills. I killed a man for two dollars. Before I got out of Buxton, I was arrested when the police found the dead man’s wallet on me. I had no remorse. I found out later, he was married and had four children. The thought of taking another’s life had no effect on me. I was heartless. My only want, no need, was money. I couldn’t find work, and I had no trade skills. When I was in my early twenties, I stole two candy bars from the local market. That lead me to believe I had found my niche, stealing. Later, in my late twenties, I tried robbing the First National grocery store in Portland. I was nabbed before I got out the door. The manager of the store took me by the nape of my neck and marched me up to his office. There he lectured me before he called the cops. It was my first offense, and the manager didn’t press charges. The judge let me go. 

  “Brady, God forgave a killer worse than you. He put his soldier in the front lines so he would be killed, and then he took his wife. Do you know who that man was?”

  “No, where’d you read that?”

  “It’s in the Bible, Brady. His name was King David. When he confessed his evil deed, God forgave him. God even said David was a man after his own heart.” 

  That night, Brady Keaton found the one who forgave not only David’s sins, but his as well. Damien baptized Brady Keaton the next night.

  That lowly, evil rain-soaked man whom Damien offered a ride became tonight, a new creation. The old man is now dead, and Brady is now a citizen of Heaven.

  “People to whom sin is just a matter of words, to them salvation is just words too.” 

― William Faulkner, As I Lay Dying. Thank God, Brady meant business when he turned his life over to the Lord.

September 09, 2021 14:41

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