Never, in the history of the town, could anyone recall something like this happening. He just showed up one day, walking down the tracks and walked straight into the grocery. He asked for the manager and then he asked for a job. He said he would do any job and work any hours. The manager so happened to have a position open no one wanted so he hired him on the spot and told him he could start in the morning.
He left the grocery and walked down the tracks again before veering off to the woods. Sure enough, he was right on time. The grocery manager had to ask his age and before he said, “18”, the manager had a feeling he would stretch the truth a little. Not that it mattered. He needed a worker. Manager guessed him to be 15 at most and homeless.
On pay-day, the strangest thing happened. The boy went to the bank and cashed his check. That Sunday at church before service, he gave out all the money he made the previous week. Every cent.
He did this without stopping for five years and then began to take sick. The bought him to the house where the doctor lived where upon he immediately sent for her. She was a half a day away and the doctor knew she would be needed soon.
She was there by noon the next day. “Not yet” and slowly walked upstairs, holding the rail she had held hundreds of times before. All night from the bedroom everyone could hear her pray, even though she had a soft voice.. They had no idea when she would sleep.
The next day, she said, “the Lord is preparing his place.” They didn’t see her until the following morning. “Likely tonight, but it ain’t up to us.” In the corner of his room, three women from the church sang hymns from memory, some of which we still sing today although not as beautiful. Sang a beautiful gospel harmony which is alsmost lost save for a few remaining places in the south. She went to her bedroom and told everyone he would pass in the morning.
That morning, the doctor, the pastor, the women and the soul releaser gathered round his bed. He looked the same as the day he come into town. Rail thin, hollow eyes, and always so quiet. The elder said he would be buried in the potters field since he had nothing, however, the pastor stood up and said he has something to say about that.
When the church heard what was happening, they voted him to be buried in a fine casket near the entrance to the church so the bricks would go around him to the left or right. He would have a flat marble headstone with reading about his life and his name.
The soul releaser drew her chair next to his bed, close to his face, so he could hear her whisper. She held one hand and put the other hand over his forehead covering his eyes which were closing. The singing notched down to a whisper. No one ever knew what the soul releaser said, but just like always, in a matter of minutes he had passed.
She went back upstairs and at sunlight, you could see her walking down the dirt road. Long dreadlocks, long skirt that stirred up the dust as it hadn’t rained in months. Workers began the burial site and for the first time, the women continued to sing until this work was finished.
We know, there is a lot in the Bible about how to live. About how to give. About how to go about one’s life with respect and honor. You can read those verses on his headstone if you ever visit that church. Listen for the singers and perhaps you could leave all the money you had with you that day.