“Good evening, Alex and Carmen, you look as lovely as ever,” Steve, the charming host of Claudio’s Steak House in Rhode Island, greeted the power couple with his usual pomp and flair.
“If I may say, Steve, you look as distinguished as ever,” Carmen returns the gesture.
“This December seems unusually colder than most. One could freeze out there,” Alex surmises as he checks their coats in.
“It’ll be only a few moments before your table is ready. May I invite you to relax and enjoy the wait in our warm and cozy fireside lounge?” Steve diplomatically embraces the company policy of cocktails before dinner.
“Oh, good! Charles is bartending tonight. Honey, do you mind if we sit at the bar?”
“Sure, Charles is always fun to kibitz with,” Alex states.
“Well, well, If it isn’t my favorite couple!” Charles shouts as he cheerfully greets Alex and Carmen. “What is your pleasure tonight?”
“I’ll have a scotch on the rocks and my wife, a gin and tonic.”
As Alex returns with their drinks, he inquires, “So, how’s life treating both of you?”
“Peachy keen! Shouts Carmen. “We just bought our eighth business, and hopefully, our combined companies should net us ten million a year,” Carmen softly smiles as she articulates the numbers.
“How are you and Alice doing, Charles?” Alex politely returns the question.
“We’ve been blessed by the Lord, no question about that, but Alice and I are having a rough time keeping our heads above water. As you may remember, she waits on tables here. But the bills keep piling even with all the tips we earn. We need zero house repairs for the next three months to catch up,” Charles politely shares.
Carmen’s rebuttal opens a can of worms. “How can you say you’ve been blessed by the Lord when you and Alice struggle financially?”
I’ve been serving both of you drinks for over three years, and you still don’t get it,” exclaims Charles. “Jesus Christ is the answer to all of our problems. His blessings are miraculous. For example, our moms volunteered to take turns watching the kids while we worked. So, no babysitting fees, which saves us a ton. Plus, our son and daughter get to know their grandmothers better. So, that’s a blessing in itself,” Charles rattles off the first blessing.
“Yeah, okay, but that’s not really too exciting to say you’ve been blessed by the Lord,” Carmen reacts.
“Well, how about this for a miraculous blessing? Every three years, Alice’s sister and her husband give us their three-year-old car to use for three years. Then they trade it in when they lease a new vehicle, and we receive their next three-year-old car. Now, that is a blessing beyond measure,” Charles rattles off blessing number two.
Alex jumps into the fray, “As I’ve offered you before, Charles, if you come to work for me as a shipping manager, you’ll receive a new car every year, and your income will increase by at least 50%. Are you ready to make that move?” What do you say?
“It certainly is tempting. It’s been tempting for the last three years since you first offered me the job with your company. But let me discuss this with my wife and family. We’ll also need to pray, seeking God’s perfect will.”
“Alex, Carmen, your table is ready,” Steve announces as he walks into the lounge.
“Charles, do yourself a favor, seriously consider my offer, and pray if you must. Maybe this will help a tad.” Alex states as he gives Charles a hundred-dollar tip.
“I will, and thank you!”
As the threesome walks to the dining room, Alex asks Steve, “Can you sit us in Alice’s station?”
“Sure, no problem.”
“Well, good evening, Alex and Carmen. It’s so nice to see you again.” Alice sweetly greets them. “Charles told me briefly that you offered him the job… again.”
“Listen, Alice. Carmen and I don’t do that religious stuff you guys do, but I respect your values. I’m sure that having Charles on my team would enhance morale and productivity.”
“Would Charles be able to work the second shift so we can maintain our regular lifestyle schedule?” Alice implores.
“I’m certain we can work something out. But, for now, let’s order. I’m getting hungry.”
Carmen orders first, “I’ll have the Australian lobster tail.”
“Good choice. I’m sure you’ll love it,” Alice shares.
“And I’ll have the Texas rib eye steak, medium rare. Also, a bottle of the Reserve Napa Valley wine.”
“Alex, we don’t have prices listed on our wine menu, so as a favor, I must inform you that the bottle is one hundred and fifty dollars,” Alice states.
“Sure, that’s okay. Go ahead and order it,” Alex confirms.
As Alice walks to the bar to place the order, she mutters, “heck, Charles and I are lucky if we can afford a five-dollar bottle of wine occasionally.”
After enjoying their superb dinner, Alex signs the tab with a two-hundred-dollar tip for Alice. “Maybe this will help in their decision,” he shares with his wife.
“You’re determined to get him on board, aren’t you?’ Carmen proclaims.
“Yes, I am, dear. I believe Charles has management talent, and I can hire him at the trainee level, forty percent less than someone with experience. We’ll save a hundred thousand over three years on his salary alone.”
“Brilliant thought, Alex. Enough to pay for our three-week Caribbean vacation next winter,” Carmen glees.
As they leave the restaurant and rapidly walk through the howling cold wind over to their car, they see the haughty figure of a homeless man bundled up next to the dumpster shivering crazily.
“I wish our woke administration would do something about these deplorables. They are disgusting,” Carmen declares with a whiff of snobbery.
“At least we don’t live in San Francisco where homelessness and filth abound,” declares Alex.
“Rhode Island and our quaint mansion are perfectly fine with me. I would never leave my heart in San Francisco,” Carmen shares with Alex.
As Charles and Alice leave the restaurant at 11 P.M. finishing their shift, they see the homeless man sitting beside the dumpster, looking frozen to death.
“Hey! Buddy! You still alive?” Shouts Charles.
Barely able to speak, the man answers, “Yes.”
“My name is Charles, and my wife, Alice, we’d like to provide you with shelter, food, shower, and clean clothes and assist you in finding a permanent location.”
“Thank you, God bless you,” whispers the man.
Arriving home, Charles asks his six-year-old daughter to sleep with mom for one evening allowing their guest to sleep on the sofa while Charles sleeps in his daughter’s room, close by.
As Christians, Charles and Alice always have an extra supply of clothes bought from Goodwill to take home any homeless person they encounter. Working for the Lord, they have the right connections and always find a solid-temporary location for their overnight guest.
At 6 A.M., Charles wakes up his guest. “Good morning, sir. After you shower and shave, here’s a fresh batch of clothes for you to wear and keep. Breakfast will be ready in thirty minutes. By the way, what’s your name?”
“Peter” I’m much obliged for your hospitality. Thank you.”
Over breakfast, Peter meets their daughter, Brooke, and their nine-year-old son, Brent. Charles observes, “Peter, now that you’re sparkly clean and shiny, you don’t look homeless for one minute. May I ask what happened?”
“I don’t mind, sure. I was the manager of the shipping department of a large corporation. When the company sold and merged with the new company, I was out of a job. I sought work for over nine months with no luck. Lost my entire savings and house. The rest is history.”
“How many years of experience do you have?”
“Twelve,” Peter replies.
“I have an idea. Would you be willing to start at low pay and work your way up, Peter?”
“Sure! Anything in my line of expertise would be great.”
“I believe I may have the perfect job for you. I’ll arrange for an interview next Monday. In the meantime, our friend has an empty cottage not far from here. You can stay there as long as needed until you get back on your feet.”
“You and your wife and friend must be angels. I give God all the glory for your kindness, friendship, and hospitality,” Peter joyously shouts.
The following Monday, Charles brings Peter into Alex’s office for the interview.
“Before you start the interview, Alex, allow me to inform you that Peter has twelve years of experience in shipping for a major corporation, compared to my zero knowledge of shipping. He fell on hard times when the company sold. However, I believe as God is my witness, Peter is the perfect person to fill your vacancy.”
“I’m curious, Charles. How did you and Peter meet? You never mentioned him before,” Alex inquires.
“Let me say, Peter and I had a heavenly conversation at the restaurant. I can assure you, Alex, you won’t find a better-talented person for the shipping department than Peter.”
“Charles, I know you’re a man of conviction and honesty and that you wouldn’t intentionally steer me wrong. So, Peter, can you start this afternoon at 4 P.M?
“Absolutely, and thank you.
“You didn’t ask Peter, but I’ll start you out at twenty per hour, and after ninety days, you’ll receive a 25% increase, and after one year, another 25% increase. Welcome aboard, Peter,” Alex reaches out to shake Peter’s hand.
During his ninety-day probation period, Peter made innovative changes in the shipping department, cutting costs by 8%. On the hundredth day, Alex invites Peter for a mid-afternoon celebratory lunch, asking him to come in early at 2 P.M. before his shift starts.
On the drive to the restaurant, Peter blares, “I forgive you.”
Alex, perplexed, asks, “forgive me for what, if I may ask?”
“I recognized the car when I got in. You and your wife were at Claudio’s restaurant on that bitter-cold Sunday evening. I was the one huddled against the dumpster, my only source of dinner during those nine months of homelessness. But you both kept walking, but I don’t blame you. I wouldn’t have helped either the way I looked and the condition I was in-totally deplorable.”
“Oh, you did hear that!”
“So, let’s cut to the chase. Who helped you?”
“Charles and Alice. After their shift ended at 11 P.M., two and half hours after you left, they saw me huddled against the dumpster. Charles thought I had frozen to death. They took me into their home that instant, giving me clean clothes, shaving and shower, a sofa to sleep on, and a hearty breakfast. Also, their friend is allowing me to stay at his cottage for a while until I get back on my feet.”
“I feel terrible, Peter. Thanks for forgiving me, but what must I do to atone for my judgmental attitude?”
“Accept the Lord, Jesus Christ as your personal savior and confess your sins unto Him.”
“But how do I do that?”
“As stated in the Bible, the book of Romans. If you declare with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”
“It’s that easy? No protocol? No rules?
“Yup. I’d happily pray with you in the car right now, Alex. Would you like to?
“I don’t know, Peter. It’s embarrassing. Maybe I’ll pray later in private.”
Alex, sometimes delaying action can lead to physical or spiritual death. “You probably don’t realize I would have frozen to death in another thirty minutes. If you were to die today without accepting Jesus Christ as your savior, your soul would reside in eternal hell instead of heaven. Do you want to risk that calamity?”
“No, I guess not.”
“Okay then, let’s pray.”
When finished praying, Peter shouts, “Welcome to the family of God, Alex. You’re now a new born again Christian. Life will be completely different for you from this day forward. Remember to pray throughout the day and join a church very soon.”
“I have no idea what church to join. Do you have any suggestions?”
“Let’s keep it simple. Why not visit the one I attend, Missionary Community Church.”
NINE MONTHS LATER
After six months of Alex living the life of a holy roller and praising the Lord out loud whenever and wherever he can, Carmen decides enough is enough. Not wanting anything to do with Alex’s crazy new religion, she files for divorce.
Carmen ends up with the mansion, car, jewelry, and other luxurious items. Plus, an excellent monthly spousal support. Alex gets to keep the eight companies.
This morning Alex invites Charles, Alice, and Peter to the downtown coffee shop for breakfast.
“Thanks for meeting me on this early Saturday morning,” Alex states as they all gather.
“I’m so sorry to hear about your divorce, Alex. If there is anything Alice or I can help with, just ask. We’re here for you.
“Thank you, Charles, I appreciate that and you. In a few short months, I’ve learned that a married couple should not be unequally yoked. Carmen kept her promise, she won’t be leaving her heart in San Francisco, but rather I will,” Alex proudly states.
“What do you mean,” inquires Alice.
“In the nine months I’ve been attending Missionary Community Church, the Lord has touched my heart for the homeless. I’ve been in contact with a men’s shelter in San Francisco, and they are providing a training program for yours truly to be their new director.” Alex politely shares with his friends.
“What are you doing with your companies, Alex? Are you selling,” inquires Peter reluctantly.
“Don’t worry, Peter. You still have a job. As a matter of fact, I’m promoting you to CEO of all eight companies. Charles, you’ll take over as shipping foreman for all the companies, and Peter will train you. I’m also promoting Alice to CEO of your family household Charles!”
They all chuckled at the wit and wisdom Alex shared.
This Monday, their only off day, Charles and Alice are having a serious conversation and prayer time during their lunch at home.
“Financially speaking, Alice, we would be much better off if I had accepted Alex’s job offer.
“That is probably true, and I could obtain a waitress job at the busy coffee shop in town. Tips would be slightly less, but then I wouldn’t have to serve alcohol. As a Christian, I shouldn’t be doing that anyway.”
“I agree. Neither should I be serving alcoholic drinks.”
Brandon J Rosenberg is the Christian author of the Cedar Creek County Mystery and Thriller Series. He has the unique craft of combining Christianity and Worldly living into a compelling fictional story of how God can change anyone’s life. His stories are filled with intrigue, flirty romance, humor, and heartfelt miracles that will inspire you to the last page.
Enjoy reading all his books in the Cedar Creek County Mystery and Thriller Series.