A Drifter from North Dakota

It was an easy task on the way back home. Early in the morning. Jack was passing through the closest small town to eye up the crowd at the corner cafe and drop off a book and a few DVD’s at the town library. There was a car parked near the library entrance. It looked a bit ‘rough. Paint faded almost to a gray primer color. Drivers door slightly ajar. The signs of travel on the budget plan. Living in the car type of thing. A jumble of belongings and a few empty white Styrofoam civilian ‘mre’s’ on the seat.

Gator knows the signs. He lived in a pickup truck out in the bay area about 40 years ago. He had built a wooden camper in the bed and it even had Plexiglas skylights, french doors on the back and a few shelves with ‘fiddles’ to keep things on them. Pretty exotic for a street person. There was a small propane one burner ‘stove’ to heat up Jack’s favorite meal. Dinty Moore beef stew. He liked it. The family grimaces at the image. It was cheap too. Playing on the street with his Martin Guitar for spare change. There was enough change for the can of stew and gasoline to get across the bay bridge and park overlooking the ocean. Open up the doors, cook up the stew and enjoy the view and the breeze. There were no bridge tolls at that time, just on the Golden Gate. It was a life of sorts. Homeless.

So, inside the library vestibule is the drop-off chutes for books and dvd’s. There is also a bench with free magazines opposite. This time, sitting on the bench was a man that appeared to be a perfect match with the gray car parked outside. Thin, needed a shave and very friendly. Jack asked if he was from the Dakota’s. Somewhat taken aback the man answered in the affirmative. “cold up there too” Jack replied. It was around ten outside just then. A polite conversation ensued and the drifter mentioned that the town had a lot of traffic in the bars quite close by. “After all, it is Wisconsin” replied Jack.

Book and dvd’s deposited, Jack walked across the street to his newer auto with good paint and tires. The doors and heater worked and Jack buckled in. Suddenly, that still, small voice told Jack to part with one of his Andrew Jackson bills (Jack had two of them). Not too hesitantly, Jack unbuckled and tucked the twenty in his right hand and walked back to the library.

As mentioned, Jack knew the signs. He knew the score. The man had most likely spent the night in the somewhat warm vestibule as a refuge from the rough looking car. Jack walked back in and held out the twenty and told the man: “It appears that you are up against it. Go get yourself some breakfast.” Surprised at the gesture, Jack was thanked and Jack left across the street to his warm car.

Twenty bucks that was well spent. Maybe on refreshment at the bar next door, maybe down the street at the cafe filled with men in hunting orange. It didn’t matter to Jack. There was no evidence of sleeping off an overdose of aliphatic ketones from the two dispensaries nearby.

A mystery and a gesture from a stranger that has Kingdom consequence. Someone noticed. The perfect someone that had an emphatic reaction to circumstance. Perfect timing.

Obedience to that still, small voice that Jack hears now and then. Almost always inconvenient and costly. After all, Jack’s family had a prayer room right next door for years and the ‘odor’ of hearts praising the Lord prevails on that street. It felt good to Jack. Useful. It’s pretty good. Jack Gator

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