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