Friday, February 3, 2012

Fractured Friday: Ten Thousand Hands Project

It was Saturday and James had been working in the chapel for several hours, since the early morning. He was nearly finished with the elevated flooring, and about to pound another nail, when a strong hand came down on his shoulder. Dropping the hammer to the floor with a clatter, James jerked around to see the face attached to the hand. 

A large man in his late forties, with an unkempt head of wiry gray hair and beard, peered down at him with sparkling blue eyes. His checkered, button down shirt, with a torn pocket, was covered with dirt. His crumpled khakis bore stains of food from several meals, spotting them from waist to cuff. He wore his brown loafers with srtark white socks.
“Freddy. My name is Freddy.” The man said with a broad smile that revealed missing front teeth – top and bottom.

James rose to his feet wiping his hands on his faded blue jeans. “Nice to meet you, Freddy,” he said reaching for Freddy’s hand.

Freddy emanated a light air about him with a true joyousness in his spirit. “Can I help you with that?  I don’t know a lot about carpentry, but I know the son of a carpenter. Used to hang out with him a lot back in the day. We helped his dad build boats, boxes, and buildings when he needed the extra hands.”

James smiled at Freddy and handed him the hammer from the floor. “Sure, I need all the help I can get. If you have questions just ask.”

James and Freddy laughed and joked through the rest of the morning stopping only to have lunch in the dining room with the rest of the homeless population. They sat at the table and as they ate Freddy began to speak.

“You know, I heard once that ‘where God builds a church, the devil builds a chapel next door’, what do you think about that?”

“I’m not sure what you mean by that Freddy, but I don’t think that is so much true, in that it’s not the devil, himself, but people influenced by evil ways.”

“Well, I think it is true. I think that the devil is working his way through this place, and he’s not gonna stop until he has every last one of us on a chain.”

The conversation was getting a little weird and deep for James after expending all of his energy in the morning, nailing boards together and measuring for the carpet that would need to be laid overtop.  He was tired and his mind was not anywhere near the realm of philosophical or theological topics, but he asked anyway, “What do you mean by that, Freddy? What place? The shelter?”

“If only it was just the shelter. No, James, I mean this whole city. Nobody seems to care about anything, or anyone anymore.  It’s so devoid of all hope. Even the rich bastards that go to your church are feeling it. You’re feeling it too. You can’t deny it.”

What Freddy had said was very true. James was definitely feeling it, and was aware of the complete lack of care and concern in the community.  He felt it everyday with an increasing sense of despair in his own heart.  He prayed hard every day and night for understanding, strength of faith, and courage of spirit, but it never seemed to come.  He was slowly being worn down to a shell of the man he was in Los Angeles.  Los Angeles, the City of Angels.  How he missed her.

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Today's Fractured Friday is an excerpt from 'The Ten Thousand Hands Project', a work in progress.