“Hey, man. Ain’t seen you around much lately.”

“Been stayin’ down at the Mission.”

“Shit, maaaan, you be COLD, you stay there long.”

“Yeah, but it’s not that bad. Hot food, warm bed. Better than out here.”

“But they hardasses. All that Jesus shit? No, sir. I stay cold, thank you very much. I thinkin’ ‘bout goin’ South ‘f I can get up enough cash for the bus. My boy, he in Jacksonville.”

“Ahhh, my kids’re still here, but they’re not interested in a dirty old drunk like me.”

Gabe listened to the two men behind him and shook his head. He wasn’t getting through to them — to any of them. They just didn’t get it.

Gabe had stayed at the Mission for a while, too, but he wasn’t welcome anymore. Most men got thrown out of there for fighting or drinking or using. Most of them had a hard time with the religious rules — go to chapel every day, go to Bible study. But Gabe was fine with that part. He studied his Bible every moment he had. And some moments he didn’t have.

At first, he just skipped chores to study. But when he started preaching about the End, the other men men shied away. The Director finally stepped in when Gabe was serving in the cafeteria; with each scoop of mashed potatoes, he whispered “REPENT!”

Too crazy for the Mission, not crazy enough for the psych ward, Gabe packed up and hit the streets.

As he listened to the men chatter on, Gabe closed his Bible and fished two tracts out of his pack.

“The End is coming.” Gabe handed each of them a pamphlet.

“Shit, man. You got to me las’ week. You think I be readin’ that shit?”

“You must be ready. You will burn.”

“This crazy, man.”

“You have sinned against your Maker. Repent of your sins, or writhe in the eternal lake of fire!”

“Man, the lake sound pretty fine, right now. Warmer’n here. They pretty ladies there, too?”

Gabe’s voice began to rise. “Those who do not follow the path of Righteousness will burn with Satan. Be cleansed with the blood of Jesus!”

“Look, we don’t want no trouble here, man. We take your papers. Yeah, yeah. Sure. We repent. I got Jesus. I did the chapel at the Mission. Jesus in my heart. Jesus gettin’ me a job. We cool?”

“The mission is filled with SINNERS! Repentance must be true from the heart! Follow the TRUE path and be cleansed!”

The librarian stopped a few feet from the men and took a quick breath from the side. “You have to keep your voices down.  Is this man bothering you two?”

“No, ma’am, he cool. He just leavin’” The first bum glared at Gabe as he made the demand.

Gabe hiked his pack up on a shoulder and shuffled on…I must get their attention. They must see the Truth.

Photo credit: Feans via cc.

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