Having purchased the new phone along with the “needed” upgrade the representative had talked him into he began to leave. Approaching the door Billy Benson walked in.
“Parson, oh, my goodness. I haven't seen you for a while.”
“Gracious, Billy,” the parson replied, “what are you doing here.”
“Well, I came in to get an Otterbox for my phone.”
“And I just got an Otterbox myself,” said the parson, “to put my new phone in.”
Billy Benson had been a seminary student from another denomination and from the neighborhood where one of the parson's former churches was located. He was one of those young adults who, seemingly, had it all, good lucks, athletic ability, intellect, great personality. The parson knew of several young ladies in the parish who had a eye out for Billy. But Billy was always preoccupied with his studies.
“What are you doing these days?” the parson asked.
“Well, I received a calling about six months ago to serve a church here. I'm really enjoying it.”
“Great, Billy,” the parson replied, “that's great. Are you still single, married, got children?”
“None of the above,” said Billy. “Funny you should mention that, Parson. Do you remember Elizabeth Hollingsworth?”
“I do,” the parson replied. He remembered how Elizabeth had confided in him how much she admired Billy and wished he'd ask her out. “Last I heard she was getting her doctorate in psychology.”
“She did. And we've had a few dates over the last couple of years.”
“That's wonderful,” the parson said. “Any plans for the future?”
“I don't know,” said Billy. “I mean, I really like her, but somehow I can't seem to get around to telling her how much I do.”
The parson smiled. He motioned Billy to sit on a bench outside the AT&T store.
“Let me tell you a true story, Billy,” the parson said. “Back when I was in the sixth or seventh grade, I think it was the sixth, but I can't be sure, there was this girl in my class named Katie Gudger. Now Katie was drop dead gorgeous. Katie was full of personality. Katie had blonde hair and blue eyes; her eyes were cobalt blue and it seemed you could fall into them and be lost forever. For two or three years I watched Katie from across the room. One day I even ran into a pine tree because I was watching Katie on the playground and not where I was going. Katie was a goddess in the making. Katie made my heart go giddy-up.
“So, summer came. I missed Katie badly. Finally, I couldn't stand it. One day I decided I'd waited long enough to tell Katie how I felt. I got on my bike and I rode over to Katie's house. It was a long ride, Billy, and it was uphill all the way. I remember when I got a couple of blocks from her house and was pedaling up the incline I fought hard to keep going. I couldn't get off my bike and push it lest Katie see me and think I was not strong enough to make the hill.
“Finally, I got to her drive, pulled in, dropped the kickstand on the bike, took a deep breath, walked up to the door, knocked, and waited an eternity.”
“Can I help you?” asked the man who opened the door.
“Yes, sir,” I said, “I'm here to talk to Katie.”
“Katie?” he asked.
“Yes, sir, Katie.”
The man looked puzzled. He stared for a moment. Then realization came upon his face. “Oh, Katie. You mean the Gudger's girl. I bought the house from them. They moved to Oklahoma.”
The parson looked directly at Billy. “It was uphill all the way home, Billy. I felt desolate. I waited too long. And even though we were only in the sixth grade, Katie never knew I loved her.”
The parson pointed to the phone in Billy's hand. “You got Elizabeth's number in that phone, Billy?”
“Yes, sir. I do.”
“Call her,” said the parson. “Call her and tell her before you lose her.”