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Stone Echoes (standard:drama, 3739 words)
Author: BENTLINKAdded: Aug 29 2008Views/Reads: 2290/1344Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
You can’t escape the sins of your past even in a grave yard.


On the surface, it seemed to be a simple trading of time for meals and
housing.  Roy allowed himself to be transported to some sites around 
town where work needed to be done and in exchange, he got a flop and 
two hots plus sometimes a tip that gave him walking around money.  It 
was not a bad deal for a guy that would otherwise be homeless and 

The work was not that bad; picking up trash in parking lot or play
ground, cutting weeds from around one of the local churches. 

The food; well he'd had better and been thankful for a lot worse.  The
shelters menu contained loads of starch and beans, some damn good 
biscuits with gravy and from time to time a little mystery meat found 
its way onto his plate. 

The large serving of hot food in the evening was always preceded by a
drawn out “God bless this table and the men who eat from it” blessing 
but Roy didn't care because while the latest guest preacher droned on  
Roy went to the tiny remaining calm sane place in his mind and got 
himself ready to eat.  The nights were the worst part of the whole 
deal, always too hot or cold and almost every night somebody would have 
a yell out loud nightmare about biting snakes, men with knives or other 
things that would've been dismissed as nonsense if seen in the cold 
light of day.  The night yelling was bad because Roy found going back 
to sleep on the shelter's hard fold up army cots next to impossible.  
Still Roy stayed on because the shelter filled his most basic needs, he 
was never alone, and yet no one knew anything about him. 

By keeping each day that passed almost identical to the last Roy was
able to avoid thinking about his past and how much of his life he was 
trading away for this anonymous existence and meager handout of food 
and shelter.  With only a few exceptions, each day just sort of ran 
together with the one before and the one before that.  One day might 
separate itself from all the others because it was very cold, heavy 
jacket and gloves cold while another got recalled by being stripped 
bare to the waist hot.  Bitter cold, need ice water hot or I can hardly 
catch my breath humid were the last things reaching Roy on his 
emotionally numb starch and hard cot island. 

He was approaching a year as a regular at the homeless shelter, when a
call came asking about a crew to help in resetting dozens of grave 
stones some vandals had knocked over in a church cemetery.  This type 
of odd job had not come up before and all the people on the work crew 
were excited about getting to do something totally different and 
meaningful for a change. 

When the church's elders had reported the damage to the police and ask
the city fathers for assistants in making repairs at the historic old 
cemetery they got a long rambling written reply.  The letter inferred 
that the old churches parishioners were somehow at fault for failing to 
have proper security over their grounds so getting the stones tipped 
was not a problem of the city's making.  The letter went on to say the 
city budget was totally out of control largely because of the tax 
exempt status churches and others like the shelter had enjoyed. 

Page two of the city's letter went on to explain, using city workers to
right the knocked down grave stone would be a mixing of church and 
government business.  The letter failed to mention the fear every 
politician harbors of being caught using precious city resources to 
help a church.  Any elected official worth bribing knew helping any 
religious group could attract swarms of state and federal lawyers.  
Being caught hip deep in hostile lawyers was not a good thing for even 
well liked politicians in an election year. 

After receiving the city's final word on the matter, the church elders
sought estimates from a few local companies, and then the pastor placed 
a call for help to the homeless shelter.  It was agreed that if the 
shelter's workmen could help the shelter treasury would get half the 
amount most local contractors wanted to do the job.  The shelter 
director was pleased to have a chance to improve the shelters finances 
and at the same time repay, the kindness the little church's 
parishioners had shown the needy over the years. 

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