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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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The Visitor--an inspirational short story series
    Ch. 44 The Wisdom of the Wise
Submitted by Steven ODell on 12 January 2009 - 7:00pm.

For the Benefit of Mankind
Steven G. O'Dell ©2009

Joseph L. Walsh surveyed his guests satisfactorily and lit his cigar. All the most influential and powerful people were here, on the fortieth floor of his office building, attending the event of the season—his party. Once a year he threw a party and only the most noteworthy and elite were invited. He had the highest of standards, everyone knew it and all wanted to be on that list of the privileged. Much like having an invitation to the castle of royalty was to be requested at one of his parties. And tonight was no different. He had pulled out all the stops and withheld nothing to ensure that his guests knew he was rich and powerful. In fact, Joseph Walsh secretly despised most of these people, but he had a reputation, a facade he wished to maintain—to keep the upper hand in the event that he should ever wish to ask favors of the attendees. There was an ulterior motive, to be sure.

An hour or so had gone by in glad-handing the guests, partaking of the catered refreshments and the entertainment that was more ambient noise and 'wallpaper' than anything else.

Just as Joseph was thinking to himself that he was getting bored more quickly than usual, he spied a face with which he was not familiar. The man was staring directly at him from the far wall and Joseph was in some strange manner unnerved and offended by the stare. That was most irregular for him, to be certain. That a man of his accomplishments and social stature could be so easily intimidated was unthinkable. He would never admit to it, of course. In fact, his motto and creed was to stand up to and face down any challenge in his path; to overcome and conquer all obstacles. And this being no different, Joseph Walsh set his course across the room to meet this challenge.

As he was almost within speaking range, the man turned and exited to the next room, an overflow area. Joseph followed, only to find the man now leaving for another room. The man must be a gate-crasher, an interloper, and it would not be tolerated. How he had managed to get in was a question of some consequence. There would perhaps be heads to roll for it.

As Joseph entered the third room, a virtual dead end, he found the man standing quietly with his hands folded in front of him, as if he were waiting for Joseph to arrive.

“Who are you, sir?” Joseph demanded firmly. “I am quite certain you have no invitation. I would know you, if you had.”

“You are correct, sir. We do not know one another—yet. My name is of no consequence at this time. My purpose for being here is.”

“How did you get in? I have guards posted at all entries and you would be required to show an invitation. I assume you have none.”

“Again, you are correct.”

“Then I shall have you removed at once,” and Joseph began to turn to accomplish that very purpose.

“If you would do me the courtesy of delaying that mission for a few moments, it would be in your best interest, I assure you.”

Joseph stopped abruptly and turned again to face the stranger. “And give me one good reason why I should.”

“I could give you many, but since you have asked only one, I shall oblige. Your very survival depends upon it. I hope that will suffice.” He continued to meet Joseph's glare with a calm and steady gaze. There was something unnerving about the man that commanded attention and hinted at a great power held in reserve.

“Am I to understand that you are threatening me?” His blood began to run hot with anger.

“Absolutely not. I merely state fact and wish to help you avert the inevitable if you do not listen to what I have to say.”

“Alright. I will give you a moment to explain...and then I will have you removed as an intruder.”

“Fair enough. You might want to sit for this.” He waited and when Joseph made no effort to follow the suggestion, he continued. “You, Joseph L. Walsh, have been greatly blessed with worldly riches. For many years now, you have only used them to gain more riches and more power.”

“And what is wrong with that?” His defiant attitude was unhidden.

“You do so at the peril of your soul. Can you honestly say that this party is for your enjoyment? Hasn't it been only to gain more influence over those you invited?”

“I see no business of yours in that matter, sir. Now, if you are finished....”

“No! I am not finished. You evidently do not take me seriously.”

“Oh, I take you seriously. I take it that you seriously want me to part with some of my money and give it to you for some lame excuse or cause that you are ready to offer. Well, let me inform you that I will not fall for it. You aren't the first and you won't be the last, but I assure you that you will remember this day for some time to come.” Joseph turned to the telephone and dialed the front desk.

“Yes, this is Joseph Walsh. Please have security come to the fortieth floor at once! And you may notify the police we have an intruder to be picked up and removed with all possible haste.” As he hung up, Joseph studied the countenance of the stranger for some reaction and sense of fear. It had not changed in the slightest.
“It appears you need convincing. Very well. I shall tell you things that only you and God could know. Be informed that the more I tell you, the more accountable you will be held in the eyes of God. You cannot mock the Lord and expect to remain unscathed.”

“Ahhh, so that's it. You are some religious nut that wants a contribution.”

“Be careful, Joseph. You walk on thin ice.” The stare was now more penetrating and the sense of doom that suddenly pervaded the room brought Walsh up short. “When you were alone in the cabin of your ship in the Bahamas last Autumn, you began to cry as you recalled the day you wed Lorraine. You dug out your wallet and looked at her picture. Her loss has been a tremendous burden to you, but you have been adamant in not showing it to anyone. It is not known to anyone but you and the doctor what she died from. You had it withheld from the media. She had a rare blood condition that left her nearly helpless in a matter of weeks. Because you still don't know if it is genetic, you worry that if you remarry, you could pass it on to your children....”

“Stop! Stop this instant! You have paid someone to get this information—admit it! You are a journalist. Well, I will not give you a story, but I will prosecute this trespass to the fullest extent of the law, I assure you.”

Unmoved, the stranger continued. “Tell me, Joseph, how I would be able to buy information form anyone regarding what you do when you are alone and unobserved.”

The intruder may have been unmoved, but Joseph was not. He began to tremble involuntarily. There was no answer to this question—none that made sense. He was mute, shaken and confused and stood waiting for whatever might come next from the lips of the stranger. It was not long in coming.

“Joseph, you will find this difficult to believe, but in a few moments, you will believe me. I am a messenger sent from God to save your soul. You have amassed all of your wealth and yet it does no good in the world. It has not bought you happiness. No one has benefited from it except you and that only temporarily, for when you go, you cannot take it with you. And it will have done nothing here to cause men to praise you, either. You will be a mere curiosity in the minds of the public. A passing name and a fleeting figure in a decade soon forgotten. What I offer is the chance to be remembered and loved by mankind for the good works you can do before your time is finished here in mortality. And I give you promise that if you remarry, you will have no cause for worry. Your children will be healthy all their lives. You have God's promise in the matter. But I also promise you that if you continue to heap this wealth upon your own lusts, you will never find the time or opportunity to remarry and neither will any woman want you. Now, Joseph L. Walsh, what do you choose—the path of God and true happiness in this life or will you remain on the path of destruction you have chosen for yourself thus far?”

“Are you....” Joseph couldn't finish the sentence. He was shaken and humbled, but still not certain that this wasn't a trick of some kind, designed to part him from his money.

“Am I a messenger from God, you were about to ask. Yes, I am. And you still harbor thoughts that I have come to take your riches from you. Joseph, your riches shall perish with you and neither will be long remembered in this world.”

He spoke as if he knew the very thoughts. There was no rational explanation, except to believe that the man was indeed who he said he was. All that he had told was true and no one could possibly have known it without an unseen power to reveal it to him.

“What would you have me do?” Joseph now sat heavily into the nearest chair.

“Find some good that you can do in the world with your wealth. If you want to be loved and remembered, you must do some good for someone other than yourself. And you will see miracles take place more quickly than you can now imagine. Start tonight, Joseph. Don't wait until you have time to change your mind. This is real and you must make a choice if you wish to survive in true happiness in the eternities. Mark well my words, for they are the words of God.”

“I will. I promise.” The thought suddenly struck him that security was on its way and there would be explaining to do.

Joseph quickly grabbed the phone and began to dial the front desk again. It was too late—the men he had summoned were entering the room already. They quickly surveyed the situation and asked in all sincerity, “Where is the intruder, sir?”

Joseph was stunned at the question and turned to point out the man. There was no one to point to. Except for the new arrivals, it was as if he had been alone all along in the room. It was impossible, but it was true. Just as the man had predicted, he did now believe, and so much quicker than he had expected.

“Gentlemen,” he announced respectfully for the first time in years, “I believe the man has chosen to leave of his own accord. Thank you for your quick response. It is encouraging to know that I have such dedicated and efficient employees. I assure you, this will not go unrewarded.”

And for the first time in years, he meant it. As they left, Joseph again sat deeply and heavily into his chair. It was of the finest leather and stuffed to the utmost with the softest of padding. He reflected on how this chair alone was equal to the income of many people for an entire month. And Joseph began to weep bitterly as he saw for the first time the depth of his selfishness and depravity.

“Ladies and gentlemen, may I have your attention? Please.” Joseph waited for the noise to die away and for full attention to be given him. Ladies and gentlemen, I wish to make a statement tonight that concerns something I had never thought I would ever discuss openly.”

All eyes were fixed solidly upon him and every ear begged his word.

“I wish to tell you the true story of how my wife passed away, if I may.” And he did. At the end of his revealing, he made an announcement that no one in the room had ever thought possible from Joseph L. Walsh, the high and mighty king of all he now surveyed or could get his hands on. In fact, there was an audible gasp as he made the statement.

“Tonight I am making it known that I shall donate the amount of one million dollars to begin a foundation for research into the blood disease that took my wife from me. In addition, as I have told you, I was afraid to remarry and begin another family. No longer is that true. I, Joseph L. Walsh, will open my heart to God and to the woman He chooses to bless me with in my life, if indeed He so chooses.”

Several seconds of stunned silence passed and then a wave of applause began to spread, getting louder as it went. Cheers and approval were voiced spontaneously. Joseph was without doubt taken aback by the reaction and stood wide-eyed and speechless at the degree of approval he had received. What cane next surprised him even more—a feat not easily accomplished at this point.

“Bravo, Mr. Walsh! And I will add another one hundred thousand!” came a voice from the crowd.

“And I!” another voice added.

In the end, another three and a half million, nearly, was added to the pledges. Joseph now wept openly before the crowd, who were more touched than ever by his sudden change of heart, desiring even more to be a part of this great and good purpose. The applause and cheering had repeated again and again after each new promised contribution. With each new pledge, Joseph was more certain than before that he was seeing the miracle the messenger of God had promised.
And for the first time in as long as he could recall, he was happy. He was now doing something, not for himself alone, but for the benefit of mankind. And it felt good—very good indeed.

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