I am shaken out of a comfortable morning sleep by the incessent barking of my dog, Jackson. This is not an uncommon occurence, except that he isn’t shutting up after the usual admonishments. He even ignores the assaults of the spray bottle, which he hates. Finally, I hear what has sent him into a frenzy: a persistant pounding on the front door. I know who it is immediately…Arthur Bailey. He has arrived as promised….just 24 hours late.
At first I thought about ignoring him, in the hopes that he would just go away. I knew however that the odds of this were slim. I got up and walked to the door.
“Hey, man sorry I didn’t make it yesterday, I wasn’t feeling well and I would’ve called but I didn’t have a number. I’ve got my stuff here and I’m ready to go.”
“Well, Arthur, I don’t have anything to pay you with today. You didn’t show up yesterday, so we ended up spending the cash I had ready.”
When I told Arthur Bailey this, he turned his head away and looked genuinly crushed, like this had happened to him before. I could see the hurt was genuine and I told him that if he came back next Saturday, I would have the money to pay him to tackle the blackberries. We agreed and after I said he could leave his weed whacker (“a really good one”) and gas can in my garage he asked for a ride back to his house to pick up the Roundup he would use. I suggested that he just bring it with him next Saturday because I didn’t have time to drive him around, I have to get ready for church. To which he responded, “I knew you were a Christian.”
“Oh yeah?”, I asked. “How’d you know that.”
“I could just feel it. And I saw the Bible on the table in there.”
“Are you a Christian, Arthur?”
“Yep, 21 years. I got saved at Jesus West Coast.”
I was surprised by this answer. It’s not unusual, I would say, for someone in Arthur’s place in life to say they are a Christian, as many have probably spent a little bit of time in rescue missions across the country. But after talking with him for a while about it, I am pretty convinced. His answers and comments were not the generic ones you often get in conversations with the less fortunate. He knew when he was saved, he has been attending a church in town, we talked about some Christian music and had a nice little chat.
Time was growing short and I did need to start getting ready for church, so I started to wrap things up before he asked to borrow more movies or brought up his approval of the Governators job thus far. He said to me, “I saw that you did some cutting on those bushes. You didn’t trust me. I dont’ understand why people don’t trust me?”
“Arthur, you didn’t show up.” I didn’t mention the fact that he has no teeth, appeared out of nowhere, and bears a striking resemblance to a recovering meth fiend. He seemed to accept my explanation and bid me farewell. I have no doubt that I will be seeing him again in a about week as I am in possession of his only means of income. Maybe good help isn’t so hard to find afterall.
As an amusing sidenote, I was telling J Crew about the encounter this morning after church, and he said that he and his wife saw him walking on my street this morning on their way to church.
“I saw a long-haired guy walking down the highway, carrying a week whacker like a musket and I told Christine, ‘that has to be Arthur Bailey.'” Indeed it was.