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The Visitor--an inspirational short story series

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"...Choose only entertainment and media that uplift you. Good entertainment will help you to have good thoughts and make righteous choices...Do not participate in entertainment that in any way presents immorality or violent behavior as acceptable."
For The Strength of Youth

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Submitted by Steven ODell on 12 January 2009 - 3:55pm.

A Friend When In Need
Steven G. O'Dell © 2008

"Are you sure you want to do that?"

The voice had surprised Jimi Fong in the dark alley. At first he thought it might be a cop. Then he thought it could be a mugger. Either way, it was not good. But there was nowhere to run, for he had placed himself in a dead-end alley where he had hidden to take his first syringe of heroin. Jimi turned toward the stranger, placing behind his back the hand that held the needle.

"Who wants to know?" he asked belligerently.

"A friend", came the reply.

"I don't have any friends. Go away." He stared defiantly and waited.

"No friends? What a sad way to go through life."

"Look, mister, what business is it of yours whether I have any friends or not? Just beat it, will you?"

" I could do that, Jimi, but you won't live long enough to regret it."

Jimi's blood began to run cold. This man meant to hurt him. He might have to shoot the heroin into this meddler instead, in self-defense. He tensed and waited for the attack, but it didn't come.

"You have nothing to fear from me, Jimi. I have no intention of hurting you. I want to save you from death, actually. That's a worthy cause, isn't it? Wouldn't that make me a friend?"

"Who are you and how do you know my name?" The mis-trust remained.

"My name is Timothy and I know a lot about you, Jimi. How I know these things isn't important yet. Saving you from the greatest mistake of your life is."

"What are you talking about?"

"That heroin you were about to take is tainted. It will kill you. It's been cut with some very nasty stuff. If you don't believe me, go back to the guy who sold it to you and ask him to take it instead. He uses, as you know. But he won't use this stuff, I guarantee."

Jimi hesitated, not knowing what to do. He had never bought or used before this day. This was his first time. If the stranger was right, it would also be his last time. It wasn't worth a wrong test to find out. If he went back to the dealer and insisted he use it, then he would know for sure. If the guy refused, the stuff was bad and Jimi was out the money. If he took it and used it, the stuff was good and Jimi was still out the money. He wasn't happy about that, but his life was worth more than what he had paid for the stuff.

"Okay, mister. How do you know all this and what should it matter to you if I die or not?"

'You don't listen very well, Jimi. I told you--I am a friend. Friends look out for one another, don't they?" He began to step closer, slowly enough not to panic the boy.

"And you don't listen too well, neither. I told you I don't have any friends."

"Well, maybe I am one you didn't know you had. We can at least talk, can't we? After all, you aren't doing anything too important right now, it would appear." He smiled with teeth that were as white as the indirect streetlight could make them.

Jimi was intrigued. How did this guy know his name? What made him so certain the 'junk' was bad? And why would he go out of his way to warn Jimi? He relaxed noticeably and cocked an ear to listen, almost without thinking.

"Good. How I know the stuff is bad isn't as important as it was to just stop you from using it. We need to talk. Life is short and there is so much you have yet to accomplish, Jimi."

"What do you know about me? Who are you--some sort of 'saving angel' that wanders the streets looking for souls to salvage?"

Timothy grinned again. "I guess you could say that. Don't you think you are worth saving? Aren't your dreams as important as anyone else's? You had such high hopes. Are you willing to give them up so easily?"

"Okay, mister, I've had about enough of this double talk...."

"Jimi! You listen to me." He commanded it in such a way that Jimi was taken aback. "I have only your best interest in mind and would never hurt you. I am telling you the truth. That stuff will kill you! I was sent to save your life, son. There is a lot of good you have yet to do in this world and you are needed more than you can know at this time. Now, I know you want proof that I am telling you the truth. You can either go back to that dealer and demand he take the stuff himself, as I suggested, or you can listen to me a few more minutes and change your mind about my intentions. It won't cost you anything to listen."

"Okay. I'm listening." He was far more passive now.

"I know you always wanted to make a difference in the world, since you were able to think for yourself. Then your brother died and shortly after that followed the death of your mother. I know it took a lot out of your faith in life at that point. Lately you have just given up, though. You even lost a female friend to drugs and now you want to do this? What sense does that make, Jimi?"

Jimi stood wordless and trembling. This man knew things about him that he shouldn't know. And he knew the truth. There was no guessing in it. That was what scared him most.

"I told you, don't be scared. I was sent to save your life. I know these things because I have the best source of information there is. I'm no stalker. This is the first time I have ever seen you, but it doesn't change the fact that I care what happens to you, Jimi. Your life is still far beyond any value you might choose to place on it. I just want you to realize that. Until you value it, there is nothing I can do to help you.

"You wanted to help others and make the world a better place. You've had all kinds of ideas that could make a difference in the lives of thousands. Now you want to toss it all away. Why? For a night of forgetting and self-induced fog? I told you--that stuff will kill you. I tell you the truth, Jimi. Trust me...please." His very tone was of the utmost sincerity and it begged compliance. His eyes pleaded for obedience.

Jimi hesitated only a moment before he stepped forward and gently handed the paraphernalia over to Timothy. He was greeted with a warm smile and a loving hand on the shoulder. There was now a light in Timothy's eyes that hadn't been there before.

"Come on, Jimi, let's get out of this dirty alley and go someplace where we can talk some more, shall we?" He put a comforting arm about the young man's shoulder and began to guide him to the street and to safety once again.

Jimi was strangely relaxed now. There was no way to explain it, but his world had just changed and perhaps his life had indeed been saved. The man he had feared but a few moments ago was now a new friend he felt he could trust. It was certainly worth finding out.

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