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The Visitor--an inspirational short story series

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For The Strength of Youth

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The Visitor--an inspirational short story series
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The Visitor--an inspirational short story series
    Ch. 44 The Wisdom of the Wise
 
Submitted by Steven ODell on 6 May 2009 - 1:32pm. | | | |

Give Me Your Blessing
Steven G. O’Dell © 2009

The power of man lies in his hands…as may the power of God.

Thomas Milner III stood, as he had each day for twelve years, surveying his estates through the large bay window of his home office. The ritual energized and emboldened him for the day’s duties or conquests, as he had come to think of them—each new acquisition an enemy pressed into the service of the Milner Corporation. Today he was to look over an insignificant bit of property directly in the future path of growth. All of his hired experts agreed that this shabby little trailer park would eventually make way for the inevitable expansion to come. Now was the time to buy it cheaply and quietly, as he had done with the surrounding properties, under various names, so as not to incite speculation and competitors.

The trip to the property went by nearly unnoticed amidst the constant busy work Thomas was engaged in as the driver skillfully and quietly navigated the back roads leading to the site. When, at last, notice was given of their final approach, Thomas set aside his papers, checked the time and made a mental note to be finished within half an hour, if at all possible.

Pulling to a stop, the driver exited the vehicle and opened the rear door for Thomas to do the same…without so much as a ‘thank-you’. Thomas looked about with a mild revulsion at all he could survey. How could people live like this? Had they no pride? No ambition? No matter—soon this thirty-five acres would be his and the questions would be moot. And this last bit of business he would conduct in person, unlike the others surrounding it.

With a strong exhalation of breath, as if to rid himself of an unpleasant odor, Thomas made for the office, such as it was. Entering with an air of royalty, he demanded of the man at hand that he might see the owner.

“For all intent and purpose, you are speaking to him. I’ve been put in charge while the legal owner is hospitalized.”

Thomas hadn’t expected this and showed his exasperation openly. Yet, not one to let details stand in the way of progress, he pushed on.

“For all intent and purpose? Indeed? Then you have authorization to do any and all that the legal owner might, were he here?”

“Yes, I suppose so.”

Did Thomas detect a faint smile?

“Good. I am Thomas Milner III and….”
“Yes, I know who you are,” and he went back to whatever had been the focus of his attention previously.

Thomas halted but a few seconds, uncertain as to the meaning of this quick retort.

“I intend to purchase this property. Do you have authorization to engage in such a transaction?”

The gaze of the stranger lifted again, scanning Thomas in mild distaste. “You’ve changed…a lot.”

When the man’s eyes met his, Thomas felt that they penetrated into the real Thomas Milner III, more than any other time in his cold-blooded business career. The stare seemed to go to the bottoms of his feet and beyond.

“Now, see here,” Thomas re-gathered his composure. “I’ve asked you a simple question and I expect a forthright answer.”

“The answer is simple, too. There will be no transaction with you any time soon, Thomas.” He then returned to his paperwork.

“How dare you!” Assuming his most pompous and arrogant stance, Thomas demanded, “You will address me as Mr. Milner!”

The eyes were raised again to meet his. The stare was just as intense as before and just as unnerving. “I have called you Thomas since we first met. You demand respect, but it appears you’ve done little to earn it since then. Frankly, you disappoint me.”

There was no mistaking his meaning now. Thomas dug rapidly into every corner of his memory to retrieve any clue as to the identity of the stranger who treated him with such flippant disdain. The man did look familiar, but it must have been many years before.

“I’m afraid you have me at a disadvantage.”

“You’ve caused your own disadvantage, Thomas. You have yet to live up to your dreams and potential.”

“You are mistaken, sir!” The haughtiness was back. “I have become quite wealthy….”

The voice boomed across the desk, causing Thomas to involuntarily take a step backward. “I’m not talking about money! I’m talking about your potential to be a decent human being…to accomplish the goals you once confided in me…to live up to your measure as a man!”

Again Thomas scanned his mental terrain for a clue to this man’s identity. Suddenly a vivid picture popped into view and Thomas’ eyes opened wide in surprise. Was it possible?

“Yes…you remember, don’t you?”

“It isn’t possible. It was too long ago and that man would have aged significantly.” Thomas shook his head in disbelief. It was met by a disappointed shake of the head from the man across the desk.

“Doubting Thomas…O, ye of little faith.”

Thomas felt the blood drain from his face and again stepped backward until he fell into a chair placed strategically where most needed.

“It can’t be you….”

“It is. You were six years old when you grabbed me by the coattail and demanded I give you a blessing. I was impressed with your spiritual insight--you recognized that you were speaking to a messenger from God. You desired a righteous gift from me then.” He slowly shook his head, again in disappointment at the man he saw before him. “I see you are still demanding, whether or not it is required or righteous.”

Thomas was white as a sheet now, glad that he was sitting, as his knees would be too weak to support him.

“Thomas, you told me that you were sad because your father loved only money, to the exclusion of his family. Your grandfather had begun to see his own errors by then, but too late to make a difference for his own son. You had hoped to do some great good in the world with the family wealth when it came into your hands one day. Now look at you.” He scanned Thomas up and down with an air of pity that he didn’t bother to mute or hide.

Thomas sought the words…any words…to explain himself, but there were none that would suffice, he knew, and so he sat silent and troubled in spirit.

“It’s a different feeling now, Isn’t it, Thomas? You still know I’ve come in the name of God, but now you fear me. You once asked a blessing at my hands. Can you feel to ask for one now?”

Hot tears of anguish ran down Thomas’ cheeks and his heart was filled to overflowing with the remorse of the justly convicted. There was no denying he had strayed from the path he had intended so long ago. Could he again return to it…or was it too late?

“No, it isn’t too late, Thomas.” The man knew his thoughts, surely; and his countenance had softened considerably, as Thomas could hear in his voice and see on his face as he wiped away his own tears. Gone was the previous despisement…gone with Thomas’ arrogance. “You can still do much good here, my friend. You have the means. Do you have the will?”

Thomas fell to his knees in a renewed burst of tears, blurting out only, “yes…yes…yes.”

When Thomas Milner III returned to his car, red-eyed and humbled, he reflected upon the power in those hands that had moments before lain upon his head—power such as is seldom felt by mankind. He was saddened to think how rare an occasion it must be. Yet, he was thrilled at the thought that he had been privileged to experience it twice in his life.

“Home, please,” was all he quietly said. His manner was sufficiently altered to evoke a double take from his driver, who then silently obeyed.

Thomas spent the next week planning and re-planning his goals, reflecting on his purpose, checking and rechecking maps. When the week had passed, Thomas smiled his first real smile in several years and he made the snap decision to attend church—something he had also not done in years.

The drive was different this time. Thomas didn’t bury his attentions in paperwork, but enjoyed the scenery and spoke pleasantly with his somewhat startled driver. And it was with a greatly lifted spirit that Thomas entered the office of the trailer park this time. At the desk sat an older man that he had never met.

“Excuse me, I wish to speak with the owner,” he announced politely and cheerfully.

“That would be me. How may I help you?”

“I’m sorry; I spoke with a different gentleman last week. Would he be here?”

“Oh, you mean Timothy….”

“Yes!” That was the name he had been trying so hard to dredge from his memory.

“He’s no longer here, I’m afraid, but I can tell you this…the man was indispensable while I was in the hospital, I assure you. Say…you wouldn’t be Mr. Milner, would you?”

“Why…yes.”

“I thought so. Timothy told me to expect you. He said the two of you had talked over some exciting things together that you’d be contacting me soon to fill me in on it. He didn’t say any more than that; just smiled and was hush-hush, you know?”

Thomas smiled, too, remembering the conversation of the week past. “Indeed, we did have exciting things to discuss and now I have equally exciting things to discuss with you.”

“Well, ‘I’m all ears’, as they say. Have a seat, won’t you?”

When the transaction was completed, both parties were pleased with the outcome. Thomas took pleasure in the stunned look on the owner’s face and admitted openly that he was somewhat stunned at his own uncharacteristic generosity and, had it not been for Timothy reminding him of his long overdue goals, things would have been much different from what they now were.

The businesses Thomas had planned were still placed just outside the trailer park perimeter, but now they would provide jobs for the residents of the soon-to-be housing development that the present trailer owners would occupy. Thomas extended thirty-year mortgages to the tenants, with ten percent of the balance to be taken off for each decade of faithful payment. He also would take ten percent of each payment and assign it to the owner of the park, for as long as he lived, in addition to paying the balance of his medical bills left unpaid by insurance.

Thomas Milner III had such a feeling of elation that he wondered why simply doing good had never before crossed his mind during all his years of business. Had he become a carbon copy of his father and grandfather, without ever intending to be such? But now, this feeling…this total exhilaration had changed him entirely. From now on, his life would be different—he had received his blessing and this time it had stuck.

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