I am presently participating in a writing class offered through the Literary Kitchen and one of my writing mentors, Ariel Gore. Among our assignments each week is a ‘Quick Write’ exercise, which is to be completed in eight minutes or less, in response to a prompt. For this week’s QW, the prompt was ‘Somebody is knocking on your motel room door in the middle of the night.’ Here’s my QW#4 entry:
I don’t have to make this one up—it’s happened to me.
Middle of the night, I tell you. It was the darkest night of my life. I was scared. When you’re jarred awake and you’re in an unfamiliar place, and the things that you normally count on as ‘sure’ aren’t there—what’s for real?
Four weeks earlier—to the day—my brother Dave had taken me on that fateful fishing trip. Middle of Lake Jessop in Sanford, Florida; the most alligator populated body of water in North America. Gators were everywhere I looked—eyes, noses and backs sticking out of the water surrounding our little boat. Dave pulled a bible out of his tackle box and said, “Sit down and listen to me for a minute. I want to talk to you about Jesus. If you don’t want to listen, you can swim for shore.”
For four weeks I’d been thinking about what Dave said, considering giving this Jesus a chance to prove himself real to me. Now this?
Darkest night of my life started as the darkest day—at 11 that morning I learned that my father died. He went to work like every other day, but this time a disgruntled employee and a case of what they call workplace violence changed everything. Sixteen. My dad’s not coming home. He’s never coming home. Most days he’d pull in the driveway and pick up a mitt, we’d throw a ball for a half-hour before supper, talk about the day. Never again. I lay in my bed crying. Life never hurt so bad.
‘So Jesus, what the heck? I’m giving you a shot to see if you’re real and this is what you’ve got to offer?’
I picked up the bible my brother gave me and found my way to a list of verses he’d penciled in the back. I looked one up.
“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him, and eat with him, and he with me.”
“Hey Jesus, you’re welcome to come in, but I need to warn you, I’m not really a religious guy.”
“That’s good,” he said. “I don’t hang out with religious people. My friends are drunkards, gamblers and whores, the broken, weak and weary. Haven’t you heard?”