Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Friend (11/02/17)
- TITLE: For such a time as this
By Francie Snell
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“He lives here?” I asked incredulously as we drove into an industrial yard surrounded by a 12- foot high chain link fence.
“Yep,” my niece Sandy, answered.
The door of the small warehouse, covered with an American flag, flew open as we pulled to a stop. Out stepped a big burly man with a sneer on his face, like an angry animal emerging from a cave to stave off unwelcomed intruders. He wore a blue bandana around his forehead, grubby white t-shirt with the sleeves torn off, tattoos, dirty jeans and well-worn army boots.
“That’s Bear. You better stay here while I go talk to him,” Sandy said with a quiver in her voice.
“Are you sure we should be here? He doesn’t look too happy to see us,” I said, planning our escape.
She stepped out of the car and strode to meet him. How well his name suited him. He scowled as they spoke. Their conversation was brief. She then walked back to the van as he lumbered back into his den.
Sandy sat staring at the door that had just closed. She sighed. “Bear doesn’t want any visitors. He said you’ll have to meet him some other time.”
A week later they arrived on my doorstep.
Victory shown on Sandy’s face as she stood, a full 5 foot even, next to Bear’s towering build. He wore a humble smile and the same clothes from the week before. He held out his hand. “Francie, it’s a pleasure to meet you.”
As we sat sipping coffee, Bear articulately shared about his extraordinary background being raised in a family of intellectually high achievers. His father had been a neurosurgeon and his mother, an administrative surgical nurse. He had two older sisters: one was an attorney and the other a doctor.
Bear, an intellectual in his own right, felt a much different calling. He was aspiring to be a Hell’s Angel, part of a motorcycle band of road warriors with a nasty reputation. He met most of the visual criteria, but there was one, not so minor detail missing in the equation: he didn’t own a motorcycle.
Sometime later I learned from another source that Bear was a man of renown at the local bar. A real rebel rouser, he was liked by some but had few friends. However, he did hold a certain level of respect, partially due to his size, tenacity and, I imagined, his gift for verbal debate.
The Bear at the bar and the one I was getting to know was not the same. He may have vented his anger and hostility with alcohol at the local drink and stink place in town, but shared his insightful logic and reasoning skills with Sandy, me, and black coffee.
In the meantime, my 12- year marriage was quickly coming to an end after years of counseling, and before long I was in the throws of a stormy divorce.
My ex became a looming predator showing up at my apartment at any moment. And when he wasn’t gracing me with his presence, he was leaving cryptic messages on my answering machine with a few death threats thrown into the mix making for an interesting variety.
Bear made regular visits to see how I was getting along. He became my part-time body guard and a voice of reason. In his visits, he always placed what I had to say first on his agenda.
“Well France, how are things going with you; what’s the latest?”
He’d then sit, sipping coffee, intently listening to my latest episode in the on-going saga of Revenge of the Ex.
Nothing seemed to surprise him. He’d nod his head affirmatively as he listened, sometimes chuckling like a wise old man who had heard it all before. Then, with a jovial attitude, he’d give his perspective showing me it wasn’t the end of life as I knew it. He brought clarity to the confusion making my circumstances appear a much lighter shade of grey. He was an assurance that there was a light somewhere in the distance, down the road, but also that I could manage in the present.
Bear’s visits were less frequent as time passed, our lives took us in different directions.
I’ve always been grateful that God provided me such a dear friend in my life for such a time as this.
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