It was a classified ad in one of those nickel newspapers. It read:
“Gray Ford. Half-ton. Stick-shift. Some rust. Needs TLC. Sneads, Florida. $800.”
My pal called about it. He needed a truck in a bad way. His old one had gone to be with Jesus, his wife was pregnant, and he’d just lost his job.
And in the days before texting, the only way to do business was to use the interstate.
Before we left, he went to the bank. He liquidated his account into a wallet-full of eight hundred dollars.
I gave him a ride. We stopped at a gas station outside Cottondale. He filled my tank, then paid inside. He bought two sticks of beef jerky, two scratch-off lottos.
After a two-hour ride we hit a dirt road leading to a farmhouse that sat on several acres of green. Out front: an old man, smoking. He was bony, friendly-faced, tall.
The truck was ugly, painted gray to hide rust. The bumpers were missing, the interior smelled like oyster stew.
“Runs good,” the man said.
“I’ll take it,” my buddy answered.
He reached for his wallet. And that’s when it happened.
His pocket was empty.
My friend went nuts. He retraced his steps. We tore apart my truck, dug through seats, and cussed. When he finally gave up, he sat cross-legged on the ground. He cried until his face looked raw.
The elderly man sat beside him. He wrapped his arms around him. It had been a long time since a man had done that sort of thing to my pal. He was a fatherless orphan, like me.
When things calmed down, the man’s eyes were red and puffy. He wiped his face and said, “C’mon, son, nothin’s THAT bad.”
My pal didn’t answer.
The elderly man removed keys from his pocket and placed them in my friend’s hand.
He said, “Listen, that thing’s gonna need an oil change when you get home.”
And then he hugged him hard enough to break him.
Anyway, that was a long time ago. I haven’t seen my buddy in a hundred years—I’ll bet his baby is already drawing Social Security by now.
Still, I’ve replayed his story in my mind until I’ve worn out the record. Because the truth is, the world isn’t all flowers and rainbows. It’s angry, mean-spirited, selfish. Another day; another good man dies. I’m no fool. I watch the news.
I know people have quit hoping. I know it’s fashionable to believe this place has already landed in the outhouse. I know a lot of folks think love is an elaborate myth that comes straight from a Sunday-school lesson.
They’re dead wrong.
And I’ll bet eight hundred bucks on it.
Kimberly Perkins - January 18, 2017 1:15 pm
Love it!!! Still good people in this world! ❤
Carol DeLater - January 18, 2017 2:28 pm
These are the stories that should be on the front page of the newspaper. If you are diligent and have replaced all the political crap pages in your FB newsfeed with feel good reading you are training your brain to think positive. Hope and Faith prevails. Keep writing, buddy. You promote the best in each one of us.
Sandra Hamm - February 22, 2017 3:54 pm
Nancy Hood - March 19, 2017 8:13 pm
I’m your newest reader. And you’re another blessing from a great Father that’s using you to reach hearts. Souls. God bless you with many more thoughts, stories and questions. I love not only the way you prick my heart but the pictures you paint upon my soul.
Lilli Ann Snow - April 4, 2017 6:34 pm
Spending the day with your stories has done more good for my heart than I can express.
Just know: you truly matter.
Thank You, God…..✨✨?✨✨
Janet - January 20, 2018 8:59 am
Sneads. My families home time, with lots of memories. Thank you!!!
Annette H. Bailey - January 20, 2018 11:51 am
Yep…they’re dead wrong. Love is with me, around me, and beside me. I call him my husband.
Debra - January 20, 2018 3:06 pm
Love seems to flow from your pen. Thanks for sharing!
Charaleen Wright - March 22, 2019 4:38 am