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ANOTHER DARN MIRACLE



The temperature was unreal and the humidity was a killer this year. I was about to walk out the door of the office when the telephone rang. I laid my umbrella down on the small table, near the entrance, and walked over to my desk to answer the call.

“I hate to bother you but do you sell cheap fans?” asked a young woman.

“Ma’am, we have fans ranging in price from twenty-nine dollars all the way up to several hundred dollars,” I told her.

“I just need something real cheap. Just anything that will cool me and my kids off. It’s really hot this year.”

“How much money do you have?”

“Well, would you consider a fan in trade for some grocery items?”

Just about that time my wife walked in the door and I motioned her over to my desk. As the girl was talking I explained the situation. I stood up, handed her the phone and asked her to handle the problem as best she could.

After going to the bank and making a few business stops I returned to the office. Sitting at my desk was a young woman with two small children who were sitting on the floor beside her. I looked at my wife, with raised eyebrows, and motioned my hands to the side as if to ask “What is going on?”

“This is the girl who called about the fan. Can I talk to you for a minute in the back room?” She asked.

After walking into the stock room my wife shut the door and said “What about those two old industrial fans in the corner?”

“What about them?”

“Do you think she can have them, for free?”

“She can have them. They are ugly as hell but they work well. In fact they move more air than some of the more expensive models we have.”

“What’s this about trading the food thing?” I asked my wife.

“She’s a single mother on Welfare and she has a food stamp card. I guess they give them cards now instead of stamps.”

“That’s illegal for her sell or trade her food stamps for money or property.”

“Well, in this heat she is probably worried about her kids’ health. I mean this is dangerous. Three elderly people died yesterday from heat stroke.”

“OK, give her the fans. I don’t care.”

“One other problem; Can we install them for her this evening on our way home?” She asked, with a helpless puppy look on her face.

“I guess,” I replied.

She walked back in the office and told the girl that we would be at her home after 6:00 p.m. After taking her address I sat down at my desk and watched the young girl and her two children walk down the street.

“I don’t think she even has a car,” I told my wife.

“Sure wish there was something better we could do for those two kids. Those fans look like crap,” she replied.

“Well, there’s nothing more we can do. These are Steve’s fans, not ours.”

“Come on. Don’t you have a heart?” she said, in a small child’s voice.

“NO, I DON’T,” I said, smiling, as I pushed her away from my shoulder.

“Just one little, bitty pretty fan, PLEASE,” she kept on.

“Where’s your purse?” I asked.

She walked behind the counter and picked up her purse.

“Now open that purse and pull out all the unpaid bills. While you are in there pull me out a miracle and we’ll do a little something more.”

With a look of frustration, and not saying a word, she walked to her desk and sat down.

I got up to use the bathroom when the telephone rang. My wife picked up the receiver, did not answer, and held the phone toward me. I took the phone from her hand noticing that she giving me one of her ‘dirty dog’ looks.

“Hello, I answered.”

“H&H here, is the Roger?”

“Yes it is.”

“Need your help. Got a wood stove installation on Blythe Island and the two fellows we sent out have a major problem. Can you take the installation? We sure would appreciate it. You can have the entire setup fee. Just come by the store after you’re done and I’ll have a check made out for you,” said the owner.

H&H Appliance and I were competitors in the wood stove and ceiling fan business.

After hanging up the telephone I stuck my tongue out at my wife and walked out the door. I drove to the address that I had been given. When I arrived the two installers were sitting on the back of their truck drinking cokes. After introducing myself they took me inside. The biggest part of the job was complete. The top and side flanges were already attached, caulked and painted. All that needed to be done was to slide the stove-insert into the fireplace. However, there was a small piece of fancy rock, protruding from the top of the fireplace that was obstructing the insertion of the unit.

“I will take it from here, guys,” I told them.

I walked out to my truck grabbed my tool box and waved as the two men drove off. I walked back inside, took out my hammer, and gently tapped the rock. The small piece fell to the mantel. I pushed the insert into place, stuffed insulation into several cracks, and walked out the door. I was there less than ten minutes.

I wasted a few minutes by stopping for a burger and then drove over to H&H to pick up my check. The woman at the desk said she knew about the installation but knew nothing about a check. I gave her one of those looks that my wife gave me at the office. She walked into the back office and brought back one of the managers. I told him I was supposed to pick up a check for the stove install. He advised me that the owner had to drive to Savannah and would not be back for several days. I then gave him one of those ‘you’re a dirty dog’ looks.

“I know the installation was two-hundred and fifty dollars. If you want to buy something I’ll put in on a charge-out page. You can pick up the check later in the week and we’ll cash it here,” the manager told me.

I asked him if I could use their telephone to call my wife. When she answered I explained what had happened.

“THAT’S THE MIRACLE,” she screamed into the telephone.

“What the hell are you talking about?”

“Don’t you see? You got the money for nothing. Now we can buy that girl and her kids an air conditioner.”

“That isn’t a miracle. I had to install the damn stove myself,” I told her.

The telephone fell silent.

“Well, I think it is a miracle,” she said softly.

“Bye,” I told her.

I hung up the telephone and walked back to the counter.

“Did you decide what you want to do?" asked the woman.

I stood there for several seconds thinking about the miracle thing.

“What you got in a window air conditioner?” I asked her.

Several minutes later I had purchased an 8,000 btu unit and was loading it on my truck when the owner of H&H came driving up. He rolled down his window and motioned for me to come over to his vehicle.

“Sorry about that,” he said, holding out an envelope.

I opened the envelope and pulled out a check made out to me, for two-hundred and fifty dollars.

“I already bought an air conditioner as payment on a charge-out,” I advised him.

“Stick the check in your pocket and don’t worry about the air conditioner. Consider it as payment for some of the customers we stole from you,” he said, jokingly.

“Yea, that’s a miracle in itself,” I told him.

Later that evening we installed the free air conditioner in the home of the young woman. When the installation was complete and the unit was turned on, the young mother, feeling the cool air on her face, kept saying over and over,” It’s a miracle. It’s a miracle.”

As we sat down with her and her two children, for a meal of rice-a-roni, cornbread and iced-tea, I just looked at my teary-eyed wife and shook my head at what a very strange miracle day it had been.



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