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by Jim Newton
3/07/2014 / Short Stories
Eddie McPherson, I sit here in the wee hours of the morning trying to decide if you got the short end of the stick, as some have commented over the years.
Eddie, you and I have been friends since grade school. We both lived in the same neighborhood just a block from one another. We have grown old together, my friend.
Clothes are a constant challenge for you. You're tall and gangly. Shirts and pants are always too short. People are always making rude comments about your apparel. When these darts are thrown, my friend, your stock reply, with that classic wide eyed smile, is, "The clothes are perfect. It's the man that don't fit."
Oh, yes your famous sayings that seem so nonsensical when one does not truly know you. "Two brown birds don't make a green one. Gimme a mile of rope, and I'll make 'er last two miles. Just because it has two legs and two arms don't mean it's a person. Clothes don't make the man, God does."
Marriage is not in your stars, my friend. When it comes to women, you are bashful to the point of disability. Please, don't take me wrong, Eddie. You always come to the aid of women as a servant. How many single mothers owe you money?
Eddie, you are a mechanical engineer without the diploma. Constantly, you create machines to ride or to perform some laborious task.
How my children and grandchildren love it when you come riding up in one of your mystery vehicles. The police never consider giving you citations. They are as fascinated as the children.
Remember the engineer telling you," If you ever quit building these amusement machines and get serious, you have the intelligence to build a vehicle capable of taking mankind to the stars."
You know your singing voice is nowhere near melodious. Yetin church, you make yourself heard above all others. How you sing with all the spirit God deposited inside you, and that is an astounding quantity. It would be difficult to find another man or woman who exhibits more love of and servitude for our Lord Jesus.
I was a passenger in your pickup while on our way to lunch one afternoon a few months back. Without warning, you threw the truck into a "Dukes of Hazard" U turn in the heavy downtown traffic. That violent meeting with the curb tested my chest and pelvis strength against the seat belt. You locked the brakes. Out the door you flew after you had Houdini'ed the seat belt. I'm in a daze and you're already out of the truck running down the sidewalk grabbing papers.
In spite of the strong winds that day, you returned all the three-piece-suit lawyer's papers ejected from his briefcase when he had fallen. The lawyer offered his business card saying, "If there is ever anything you needanything, do not hesitate to call. It'll be on me."
In your typical Eddie fashion, "Well, thentake one of my cards in case you need somethin', feller." The business card read: Eddie McPherson, Christian, and your phone number.
Surely, we'll never forget the recent fishing trip? Early that Sunday morning, I woke up to the sound of you answering your cell phone saying, "I'll saddle up and be right there."
That is the phrase you always use when someone calls for help. One of the associate pastors from church called to tell you an usher was sick. They needed a fill-in. What did I say? "Eddie, that's over a fifty mile drive!"
"Hoss, when the Lord calls, I saddle up." There was no talking you out of it.
Every coin you find, combined with your pocket change every day, ends up in gallon jars. At Christmas time, you take it to the bank and trade it in for dollar bills. You put them in every Salvation Army pot in town.
You are working in spirit with our Lord, now. The attendance at your funeral was the largest I have ever seen. A great mass of humanity overflowed into the parking lot and across the street no dry eyes were to be found. Hurriedly, an audio system was set up for those outside.
What a fitting memorial sermon our Pastor gave you. "As our most beloved Eddie McPherson struggled finding clothes large enough, so I struggled finding words large enough for this great servant of our Lord."
No, my friend, you didn't get the short end of the stick.
Though a lifelong writer, I wanted a vast assortment of life experiences on different levels before I put myself out there as a serious contender. The reason for this was I promised my pen to God.
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