Thursday, October 24, 2013

What Flash Saw

His name wasn’t “Flash” – that’s just what we called him. 

Mr. Odell was about 85 and he “jogged” down our street with his walker every morning and evening.  It was doctor’s orders after a heart attack and stroke (and about a dozen other life-threatening issues).  He had moved in with his daughter and her family, and he soon became a fixture on the streets of Gainesville, Florida.

Our kids nicknamed him “Flash” one day.  Although he couldn’t hear two words if you were standing in front of you eyeball to eyeball, Mr. Odell could hear your car coming six blocks away.  He would pick up the walker and high-step it onto the neighbor’s grass to get out of the way.  He was not going to be an easy target!

Whenever he passed our house on his morning or evening “jog”, if anyone was outside he would stop and pass a few moments, telling us about his bride who was in another state recovering from “her madness”.  Even in the most painful of life’s moments, Mr. “Flash” Odell had a twinkle in his eyes and smile that made you wonder if he was teasing or crazy.  (Often, I thought it was both).

From our conversations, Mr. Odell knew I was a pastor at a local church, and I knew he was a retired accountant who really missed his bride.  His days were lonely as his daughter and husband both worked.  The grandkids were grown and rarely stopped in.  So, our little talks were brief, but often.  He would greet you with a smile, tell you about the squirrel he almost “flattened” with his walker, and then move on down the street to finish his laps; morning and evening, jogging with the walker.

Avoid even the appearance of Evil

Now, Elizabeth always wants things clean; this included the carport.  So, when it was time to change the oil in the old Ford Brownworth bus, I would pull it off to one side under the carport. 

That way the car would not drip oil on the carport floor (keeping Mrs. Preacher happy) and I could work in the shade.

One Sunday after evening services at church I decided to get a jump on the week and change the oil before retiring for the night.  The plan went well until the oil was changed, filter replaced, and I tried to start the ailing Ford. 

It wouldn’t.  

It was getting late, so I decided to try again in the morning. 

This was where the appearance of evil came full circle at the Brownworth parsonage.

Early Monday morning the preacher’s bride, awake less than 30 seconds, sporting hair curlers and pink robe with bunny slippers, ventured out the front walkway to retrieve the newspaper from the front lawn. 

Now, carrying a full cup of coffee when you’re only marginally awake is never a good plan.  When the parson’s wife bent over to pick up the paper, the hot coffee streamed over the pink robe and onto pink hands.  I won’t say what she said (I wasn’t up yet), but I know it was loud and included sounds that you may only hear when Dale Earnhardt fires up the monster engine of ol’ #83.

When the screaming stopped, Elizabeth opened her eyes and realized she was standing eyeball to eyeball with Flash.  The old man’s mouth was half-open, wondering if there was going to be another Archangel shout.  

He stared at Elizabeth’s morning hairdo, coffee stained robe and bunny slippers; then he noticed the Ford all “catawampus” hanging off the carport floor.  

He looked back at Mrs. Preacher – then to the car again, smiled and said, did you come home drunk AGAIN last night, honey?

I tell ya…you can’t make this stuff up!


Don’t take yourself so seriously.  But do avoid changing the oil if you can’t start the car!

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