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  • Writer's pictureKatie

One of "Those": Part Two

Here is the conclusion to One of "Those". Thanks for reading!

The alleyway was empty when Jimmy returned. He tiptoed for no apparent reason onto the grimy cobblestones that paved the ground, trying not to breathe through his nose. Even as he slowly made his way farther into the alleyway, Jimmy had second thoughts. Should he be there? This was someone else’s home even if it didn’t have a roof or a proper bed. He glanced around, noting a decaying heap built from things he couldn’t recognize. Nor did he want to. At his feet, the cobblestones tilted downward to make a shallow v-shape in the center of the alley. He could see further on that it collected moisture and refuse, causing the repulsive odor that permeated the alley’s air. How could a person live in this place? Unsure of where to go, he turned and began to head for the mouth of the alleyway. But the decaying heap, or rather what lay beside the heap caught his eye.

A small wooden placard stood out from the contents of the pile. For a moment, he wondered why it caught his eye. It looked handmade, but it was clean as if it was valued. Then he realized suddenly that nothing in the pile was clean except this piece of wood. He stared at the words burned into its rough grain.

Home is not a building. It's where your treasures are.

Treasures? He wondered. There were no treasures in that alley. Then he paused. There was a treasure in that alley. His treasure. He reached into his pocket and pulled out the fruit cake Reverend Mark had given him.

“Now, this is important,” the Reverend’s words echoed through his mind. “You must choose what to do with it.”

It seemed so strange at the time. What choice did he have but to eat it? Now, however, the choice wasn’t so simple. He could put a little treasure into this home even if it only had two walls and no roof. He bent down to replace the placard.

“Hey! What’re you doin’?” asked an accusing voice at the mouth of the alley.

Jimmy whirled, clutching his fruit cake to his chest. “Nothing.” He said defensively then he kicked himself. That was a lie. Even if he hadn’t meant to do anything wrong, he was an uninvited intruder. His invitation had only been good for the day before yesterday.

“First,” the old hunch-backed woman said, hobbling closer. “You’s lied to me. Now, you’s a tryin’ to rob me! Jus’ let the rev’rend of you’s church see ya now!”

Jimmy backed up a little as she got closer.

“I know,” he said quickly. “I’m sorry I didn’t come. I should have done what I said.”

“Mebbe you shouldna’ come at all, now that I’s seen what you’s about!” She seemed infuriated.

Once again, Jimmy watched, uncertain, as she approached him.

“Ain’t you’s know nothin’ of privacy?” She poked him vigorously. “Ain’t you’s know nothin’ of decency?” She poked him again in the hand that held his fruit cake.

He grunted, more out of surprise than pain. She had poked his hand in just the right place that his fingers jerked involuntarily, and he dropped the cake.

“What’s this?” asked the old woman, snatching the cake before he could bend down and pick it up. “You’s are a thief!”

“No,” protested Jimmy. “It was a…”

What was it really? What had he meant to do with it? It was a gift from Reverend Mark, but the Reverend had meant it as something more. He looked at the cake in the old woman's hands.

“It was a gift, a treasure for your home,” he finally said.

At this the woman paused. “For me?”

Jimmy nodded vigorously. She looked up into his face, eyes glistening. Jimmy stood awkwardly before her, frozen while he waited for her to respond fully.

“My boy,” she finally said, reaching up to his face but not touching him. “I could not ask for more.” Her voice was strangely smooth, and her words unaccented.

Again, an awkward silence ensued. The old woman stared at the cake for a while longer.

Jimmy cleared his throat. “Um, I should probably go home now,” he said respectfully. “Do you want me to come back?”

The one moment of tenderness he’d seen had intrigued him. She didn’t seem as frightening as she once had.

“Want? Yes, yes. You’s come back and visit me tomorra’.”

“Tomorrow?” Jimmy asked to clarify.

“Yes,” she nodded determinedly.

The next day, at about the same time, Jimmy made his way to the alley. His step was cheerful, and his hands were full, carrying a basket.

“I’m here!” he called as he reached the alley.

“Ah, good,” answered the old woman. “I’ve got somethin’ for you’s to sit on right here. Nice and comfy.”

He heard her patting something cushiony, but the sun’s angle was such that he couldn’t see into the alleyway. Then, he heard someone chuckle.

That was strange.

He entered the alleyway, and the sandwiching buildings shaded his eyes from the sun. To his surprise, there on some padded stools sat the Reverend and a beautiful woman he’d seen at church on several occasions.

“Where’s the elderly lady?” he asked.

“She’s right here!” answered the woman in a lovely, smooth voice. Then, she changed it. “Come, I’s got a seat right here for you’s.”

Jimmy stared at her. “You’re the elderly lady?”

She grinned, enjoying his surprise. “In the flesh.”

“Then, why…”

“It was a test.” The Reverend cut Jimmy off.

Jimmy turned his head to face the Reverend.

“A test?” He rubbed his forehead in confusion.

“I do it for all the boys at church when they get old enough.”

“It’s more of a lesson than a test really,” the lady added.

“To teach me not to lie?” Jimmy slowly relaxed and moved to sit on one of the stools.

“Well, it teaches many things,” said the Reverend. “Some boys are too afraid to even talk to her, and they have to overcome their fears. You lied the first time and didn’t come back, taking my explanation as an excuse to be slack on your promise.”

Jimmy lowered his head. “I know.”

“But,” continued the Reverend. “You used your cake properly when you gave it away, showing that you have a tender heart even with your faults. Not too many boys even keep their cake when they go back to the alley. They usually eat it before they get there.”

“So, did I pass?” asked Jimmy.

“Well, that’s not really up to us,” answered the lady.

“It’s between you and God what you do now. Either you’ll remember it all your life or you’ll ignore it. But it’s your choice, and your responsibility whether or not you use what you learned.” The Reverend rested a hand on Jimmy’s shoulder.

Jimmy grinned. “Well, I’ll try to remember it always. It won’t be too hard to remember the smell of this place.” He looked around. “Hey, where did the pile go?”

“I didn’t like how it smelled either,” said the lady. “Why would I leave it there?”

James 2:15-17(KJV) If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.

Colossians 3:9(KJV)

Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds;

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