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Call From the Deep
by Allen Scovil
7/17/2008 / Short Stories
Tom huffed and bit on his pipe; it had gone out.
Ruth put her magazine down. "Retirement getting to you again?"
He glanced over at her; she had 'I told you so' written all over her, and knowing she was right only made his frustration worse. He had been the senior accountant in a big firm in the city, then moved out into a nearby village where they could care for a nice little property in their golden years. That was when he discovered that he had neither skill nor interest in gardening.
Setting the pipe aside, he said, "What am I supposed to do? All the other men I know are doing those useless crafts, shuffleboard, bridge, or all manner of mindless variations on exercises."
"You used to golf a lot with the other partners in the firm."
He waggled his left elbow. "If only my shoulder would let me--the hazards of age, I suppose."
She rolled her eyes, then crossed her arms. "Well, if you think I'm going to put up with your whining ..."
He stood up and grabbed his jacket. "Now would be a good time for me to go for a walk, wouldn't it?"
Out in the cool, spring air, he felt a little better. As he headed toward the centre of the village, he ran into Fred walking his dog.
After the usual pleasantries, Dan asked, "What have you been up to?"
"I've gotten into woodcarving lately, ever since I took that class down at the seniors' centre in the city."
Dan was impressed; here was someone with a purpose. "What else do they offer there?" he asked.
Fred looked at him sympathetically. "Finding life a little slow lately?"
He grimaced. "Somewhat."
They stopped while the dog did its business, and Fred said, "What I did back before I retired was make a list of all the things I'd ever wanted to do. As soon as I saw the announcement for that class, I knew I had found my calling."
"I'll try your idea." Shaking his head, he said, "I never thought it would be this hard."
Fred started to head back the way they had come. "I've got to get Teddy here back home. Let me know how you make out."
The word 'calling' stuck in Dan's mind, which meant just one thing to him, and soon he found the only church in the village that wasn't locked. The place wasn't his style, but it would serve the purpose.
He knelt and prayed a 'Help me, Lord,' prayer, then sat down to wait for inspiration. After a couple of minutes, he got the urge to smoke. Knowing he shouldn't, he hunted up a Bible instead and opened it near the middle.
"My soul is downcast within me ..." caught his eye. That's me all over, he thought with a sigh, then read on: "... Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me." (Ps. 42: 6, 7; NIV)
His mind filled with events of his life over the years, the good things and the hard things. It's all washed over me, he thought. And here I am.
After a while, he stood up, returned the book to its place, and walked home, still uncertain.
As Ruth served the oatmeal the next morning, she said, "Jen's dropping Timmy off for the afternoon so she can clean the apartment. I was hoping you'd be able to keep him busy, at least for a while."
Dan knew what that meant. "I'll take him down to the playground in the park." He held up his spoon. "And he can do all the running around."
Later, as Dan and Timmy walked back from the park, Dan asked, "What do you want to be when you grow up?"
The shallow mind of a five-year-old, Dan thought. Then the scripture verse came back to him: "Deep calls to deep." That's it! I see it now!
He struggled to pay attention to what Timmy was saying during the rest of the walk as he worked out what he wanted to do.
By the time they arrived at the front porch, he was ready.
"Hey, Timmy," he said as he sat on the front step. "Can I tell you a story?"
"A story? Sure." Timmy sat beside him. "What's it about?"
Dan filled his pipe with tobacco, lit it, and looked at his grandson. "I remember when I was about your age ..."
He decided that he'd type it up on his computer later if it sounded good.
Allen Scovil has been writing as a hobby since 2003, struggling to learn to tell the story that God has put on his heart.
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