Stranger than fiction – true stories

Stranger than Fiction
with 3 comments

(These are all true neighborhood scenes I or a friend has experienced over the years. I don’t know the back stories.)
Small town USA, this week – A young woman is pushing a baby stroller up the street. It is filled with all her earthly belongings. Atop the stroller is a cage in which rides a big white goose, loudly honking. A few feet behind her, a 4-year-old boy with dark curly hair shoved under a baseball cap follows, crying.
• * * * Another small town scene: I go to visit a friend who’s dad does the occasional circus gig, playing a clown, riding a unicycle. Today, he’s in the backyard, wearing just his underwear, juggling fire.

In an American city in the 1970s, when I was 18-22 years old, trying to ‘serve the Lord’ in an inner city ministry:
• * * * *
I enter the apartment and suddenly I know what my mom meant when she used the term “flop house”. There are mattresses flopped all over the floors, with alcoholics lying on them, snoring, belching, farting. I’ve come to pick up Betty for a church meeting. Her husband Bill says he can’t go, he fell on the ice and broke his ankle. Betty says, “Bill got fallin’down drunk and is goin’ to hell.” But Betty should have moved out of reach before she said that – Bill whacks her with his crutch.
• * * * *
I am in the bad part of the city, handing out free loaves of bread to the poor. I enter one house. The only furniture is a urine-stained mattress on the floor, and an extra large rubber trash can, right in the center of the living room. I offer them bread – they ask for money instead.

• * * * *
I am new to the city, new to City Hospital. I ask for directions to the emergency room. I am told, “Just follow that trail of blood drops.”

• * * * *
I go to visit an elderly lady. She shows me her bird. There are cockroaches crawling in the liner papers. Mabel doesn’t seem to notice, or maybe with her cataracts, she can’t see the bugs. “Pretty bird, pretty bird,” she coos.
• * * * *
• I am in a church meeting. It is hot summer. One of the guests can’t take the heat any longer. She peels off her girdle, puts it in a paper bag, and passes it down the aisle for me to hold until the service is over.
One night at the church service, Betty passes me a scribbled note – it says, when Bill & I are having oral sex, he wants me to swallow. I don’t like it. What would God have me do?


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