Faith & Inspiration
By Charles Towne
The owner of the little convenience store knew the boy was shoplifting but he didn’t say anything. He just watched and waited as knew that another opportunity would present itself. It always did.
Two days later the kid was back, prowling the aisles.
The store owner watched the boy from the register, seeing him clearly in the large security mirror that hung at the rear of the store.
The boy’s ragged, threadbare jacket had large over-sized pockets, just right for concealing the pilfered Twinkie and Ding Dong they soon held.
As he moved toward the door to make his escape he found his way blocked by the owner.
He attempted to dodge around the man, but a large hand reached out and grabbed him by the arm. He attempted to shake off the hand, to no avail. He was caught!
He looked up expecting a scowling face to be looking down on him. A scowling face and an angry voice, cursing and scolding him; but instead the expression that greeted him didn’t display anger or portend punishment, sadness perhaps, but not anger.
He was led to the register. The hand on his arm was firm, but the thing that held him were those eyes, they never left his face.
The boy knew he was in trouble, big trouble, and there was no denying it because the evidence was burning a hole in his pocket. What was he to do?
The last time he had been caught shoplifting he was forced to stand before the judge, and that old man had told him in no uncertain terms that if he ever saw him again he would spend time in jail.
He could see the judge sitting up there with an angry scowl, and he could hear the judge’s voice growling at him, condemning him, “Jail time!”
The store keeper still held his arm. The man’s grip was firm. There was no escape.
His accuser looked down at him, and with the index finger of his big free hand he tapped the counter and then dropped his eyes knowingly to the pocket that held the incriminating evidence.
“Oh God,” he offered up. “If you help me out of this thing, I ain’t never going to steal ever again.” And with that thought he dug into his pocket and pulled out the Twinkie in it’s familiar red, yellow and white wrapper. He quickly dropped the Twinkie on the counter, never realizing just how hot a Twinkie was until at that moment. He plunged his hand into his pocket again and pulled out the Ding Dong. Good name, Ding Dong. He was the ding dong. He could hear a mean, whiny voice laughing at him, Ding Dong, Ding Dong, Ding Dong! over and over again.
He laid the darned Ding Dong next to the Twinkie.
It was a good thing the man still retained his grip on his arm because the boy was sure that without it, he would have fallen down.
The store keeper was speaking. “Son, I want you to do something for me, something very important.” The boy looked up into the man’s face with a question in his eyes.
The store keeper continued.
“I want you to pay for the Twinkie and the Ding Dong.”
There were tears in the boys eyes as he whispered, “But mister,” he choked on his words, “I don’t… have any money.”
“Well now, that does pose a problem, doesn’t it? But it is a problem that I think can be solved.”
“How mister?” As he asked this question the boy knuckled tears from his eyes.
“Well now, you look to me to be a right clever young man, yes you do. There is a broom over there behind the counter. And this floor looks to me like it needs a good sweeping. What do you think?”
“Yes sir, I can do that!” This was said with a little more enthusiasm than he intended.
And the boy was right, he could “do that!”
The boy grew into a man, and due to the store keeper’s kindness, love, and generosity he went to school, and then on to university to study law. He graduated with honors, went on to pass the state bar exam, and became an attorney. And wouldn’t you know, his office ended up right next door to the neighborhood convenience store, with the same old man tending the shop.
The old man was much loved by everyone that knew him, as he was always searching for a ‘cause’, as he liked to call them. The attorney next door, and many others, were examples of his causes.
It’s amazing what love can do.
Charles Towne is first and foremost a Christian. An octogenarian, author, journalist, wildlife photographer, naturalist, caregiver, and survivor, his life has been and continues to be, a never-ending adventure filled with possibilities never imagined. He has adopted the philosophy that to Live fully, laugh uproariously, love passionately, and learn like there is no tomorrow, is a formula for a long and joy-filled life.