Terrell was weak. Not from the loss of blood dripping from his stool that flushed out of sight, although it did give cause for concern, but from his inability to find a true friend. Months after the lay-off his friends dissipated one after another along with his health.
His swelled belly was wrought with starches from food pantries. Not a single handout was healthy. Most were discarded foods that some man bought for his wife by mistake. She’d generously drop off the bag to a food pantry on her way to pick up the right items.
Still, there were days when Terrell was fortunate to receive a few dollars to spend on a greasy fast food burger in order to increase his caloric intake. He didn’t mind the extra fats, as it would seep through his pores and slow the chaffing on his face caused by the inability to groom properly.
Finding a place to lay his head at night was never a problem, but one with a shower and body wash was better. He was fortunate to find two such locations each month, so he positioned his interviews for the morning after those stays. The locations also provided a filling breakfast that gave him the fuel needed for the interview process.
The interviews were seldom productive. Most of the companies ran background checks and learned that he had lost his house a year after the lay-off. His age was also a deterrent, as they were looking for a thirty-something, not someone who had crossed into his fifties. Besides, the hiring manager was usually intimidated by his vast knowledge of the industry and figured there had to have been more to his lay-off than meets the eye.
Terrell did try to dumb down his resume. But the interviewer always made him comfortable, causing him to answer every question truthfully, which revealed his great knowledge and life long wisdom. This response made it obvious that he was far overqualified for the position. Few hiring managers would hire someone that, once back on his feet, would probably find a higher level position within the year and leave. The remaining managers were afraid he’d eventually come gunning for his or her job.
All of these frustrations bothered Terrell, but far less than not having a true friend with whom he could speak openly. The few fringe friends always wanted him to quickly fix his problem, rather than allow him to talk through his issues. Then there were those “friends” who positioned themselves for the day that Terrell would land back on his feet, hoping they would be found in his good graces, especially since there was word on the street that he was being quietly groomed and reviewed for a high position once he met certain criteria.
The unspoken criterion was a frustration that stood all on its own. Terrell wished he had a friend to talk through what the possible criteria might be and what side of the tracks generated the conditions. Were they people who wanted to use his gifting and ability to communicate or a camp of people desiring his demise, who seemed to have the upper hand based on his circumstances?
Terrell had a passion that if funded would change the way society viewed life. It was an incredible power that seemed squandered in a man that was rich in ability, but trapped on skid row. His enemies would be devastated if he ever found his way out. But for now, they were thankful that his allies were keeping him in humble circumstances that was taking a toll on his health, which might soon give permanent strength to Terrell’s enemies.
Tears welled in his eyes as Terrell dropped his shoulders to relax. The shelter he arrived at for the night was one of his favorites and had a woman gifted in affirmation to sooth his soul. Her kind words caused him to reflect on remarrying some day, but he knew his experiences would keep him from such a gentle woman.
But it didn’t matter, as few women would attempt a relationship with an unemployed man. While it’s hard to fall in love with someone who is living out his worst scenario in life, it’s even harder to fall in love with such a man that will radically change once he is resuscitated back to normal society. Trapped men always snap back to life with far more power than anyone expects, making sure no one ever has the ability to put him down in the future.
Terrell was never a man who desired control or an abundance of power. In fact, it scared him because his morals were stretched every time he was forced to live a life contrary to who he was made to be. His only solace in those times would be a close friend that he could trust, which no longer existed.
There were plenty of people who were friendly to him, but no one would dare cross one of Terrell’s enemies. Nor would they interfere with his silent supporters that put him in his uncomfortable predicament in order to test his resolve and learn if he was driven by pride or humility. The risk was too high and the manipulation seemed to be for his good, so most just avoided any close contact.
However, there were a few false friends that would step in and out of his life long enough to report back on the condition of his heart. The reports were somewhat confusing, as Terrell always had a great outlook on life. His judges couldn’t tell if he was being arrogant about his future, or humbly making powerful faith filled statements. So, they purposely increased his suffering to learn the truth.
The testing continued for years and Terrell was unable to guess how he needed to act in order to stop the turmoil. Clearly those sent to check on him weren’t able to tell where he was coming from and his calculated behaviors that he assumed would stop the testing never did. His suffering continued to his detriment.
The night finally came when Terrell’s bleeding was so significant that he lay in bed crying. He only had $11.23 in his jeans, very short of his health insurance co-pay. Every hour he’d walk into the bathroom and sit on the throne, praying that he wouldn’t loose too much blood as it dripped into the bowl.
He finally had weakened to the point of no return and laid in his bed with tears dripping down his face. He didn’t fear dying and even wondered if anyone would ever miss him. But he was thankful someone would at least find him in the morning. He had wished it would be a friend who might care for him if he survived the night, but he knew that friendship was no longer possible in his worthless state.
With a deep breath and lonely resolve, Terrell realized that most people around him had friendships of convenience, rather than friendships of love. And he knew that his life was not convenient for anyone to participate or care about. So he closed his eyes and whispered his goodbye to the world.
The next morning a volunteer nudged Terrell’s body. Her warm touch caressed his face as she told him it was time to get up. His eyes popped open with a look of surprise followed by a warm smile. He was alive and could tell that his bleeding had stopped.
Confidence rose in his heart and he knew that he had been gifted with another day of life. He immediately got cleaned up and started to strategize on how to start a new future that included true friends and a good job. He was ready to go for it, regardless of his enemies and those who were trying to manipulate his future. After all, it was a new day and he had enough strength to live it.