The promise of fall was in the air. Down the driveway the parson bounded. There was really no reason to do so. But, the promise of spring was in the air. The sermon's completion could wait until tomorrow. The wild cat who inhabits the woods next to the house bounded across the yard, pausing on his path to stop directly in front of the parson with hunched-up back, tail pointed skyward. He jumped up and down twice. The parson stooped, holding out his wiggling fingers in the vain hope she'd allow him to pet her. She didn't. She jumped straight up once again and then bounded into the woods. She's stay there, he knew, until he called her as he placed the food in her plate in the evening. Then she'd come, but only as far as the bottom step until the parson disappeared into the house.
Another ten yards brought him to the mailbox. Inside there was an envelope. Miracle of miracles, inside there was one envelope, no advertisements, no announcements that now that he was mature enough to know better he could get a new credit card with a credit limit that would allow him to purchase a starter size house. It was just one plain envelope, with a handwritten address and return address, all by itself, lonely in the cold box on this chilly day.
He studied the return address. It was printed in block letters as was his name and address. He didn't recognize the sender's name. Puzzled, he opened the envelope and retrieved the contents. A piece of paper from inside the folded letter fluttered to the ground. He bent over and picked it up. It was a check. Now he was really puzzled.
The parson turned his attention to the letter. With the first line he remembered him: “You took the time to ask about me when we were stuck at the Flying J Truck Stop.
It was a month before. The parson's uncle uncle and he were leaving Denny's after lunch. As they walked to the car he noticed the man pacing back and forth. He moved to the trunk to place his uncle's walker in it. The man was still pacing back and forth. He walked around to the driver's door. The man was still pacing back and forth. On an impulse the parson walked over to him.
“Are you okay?” he asked.
“Not really,” he said. “I'm kinda in a predicament.”
“What's the problem?”
He told the parson he'd driven down from Tennessee He was on his way to Emory University Hospital where his wife was scheduled for surgery the next day. Somehow he'd taken a wrong turn near Chattanooga. He'd headed toward Birmingham instead of Atlanta. Now he didn't have enough gas to get to Atlanta. And he'd apparently left his wallet at home.
The parson has been a preacher for over forty-five years. He's been had by the best of them. You'd think he would have learned his lesson. The parson directed him to pull his car over to the gas pump. He topped his gas off on his credit card and handed him two twenties. The man, at first, refused the money. The parson insisted he needed it because of his wife needing his support. And then he drew him a map showing the way to the hospital, the hospital parking lot and how to get to the admission's office.
The parson never told the man his name. But the envelope was addressed to him. The check was for more than two twenties and was payable to him. The man had gone to some trouble to repay the debt.
They're back home now. His wife is fine. He's relieved. The parson headed back up the drive; life seemed good, very good, for the both of them.