A Two-Edged Blade

This is an excerpt that a future project that I am doing which will take off from A Wounded Heart.  Rick Sartori is a former street kid who is training to become a preacher/youth leader.

 

Rick kept his gaze on Jerry Cruz.   As Jerry wielded the switchblade against him, Rick recalled many a time he had done the same thing, including against his teacher Sam Treadwell.  He hoped Jerry would get the same rude awakening he had.   Rick’s life on the streets had hardened him, but it took Jesus to put him on his knees.

“Jerry, please put that away.  Man, I know where you’re coming from.  I’ve been there.  But just because you don’t like my words, you’re going to come against me?  I will tell you the same thing someone told me Jerry—you need Jesus in your life.  Now if you don’t like that, do your worst, man.”

Jerry Cruz continued to hold the blade for what seemed to Rick a long time and then he lowered it.    His eyes were clouded by hot tears, the tears of anger and anguish.   Angry because his girl had left him for the church; angry because Rick was stirring up things on the street, angry because the only life he knew was the gang.  They were his brotherhood, not these wimpy Jesus guys.  He had known Rick since they were kids, though because he was an Anglo, they weren’t friends.

Now, as he looked at Rick he wondered what had happened to him.  Oh sure, he knew Rick said he got Jesus.  But he wasn’t ready to believe that.  He went to Mass, he knew all the teachings of the Church and he did them, for his Mama.  But in his inner core, Jesus seemed so far removed from his everyday world, a world of violence and survival, of proving oneself man enough to get through it all.

He turned and walked away and Rick sighed, saying a quick prayer and thanking God for His protection.  He knew many of the Latinos, as well as the other gangs did not like him spreading the Word through the streets.  But they needed it.  They needed to hear the same message of power and love that he had heard within a jail cell.

As he leaned against the graffiti-filled wall, he thanked God for bringing him to a place where he had to face himself, to face what he had done to Connie, but overall, just to face that his anger and his hate were taking him nowhere.    Jesus had seen beyond that to his deep inner need for healing his brokenness and sent him Sam Treadwell.   Sent a man to pick him up, and pull him out of the pit he had made for himself.

As he recovered himself, he walked down the alley and turned back to Figueroa Street, walking toward home and to the woman he loved.  He was so thankful for Connie’s love which had helped to heal his life.  It was because of her that he had been able to accept Jesus.  She was such a sweet lady.   Together they had turned away from their past life and embraced the change God had made in them both four years earlier.  He decided he would stop by the florist on his way home and pick up some roses to give to her.  He couldn’t show her enough how much she meant to him.

Once he reached their apartment, he skipped up the steps until he reached the 2nd floor where they lived.  He opened the door, and Connie was sitting on the couch, knitting.  He looked surprised, as she didn’t do that often, but she looked up and smiled broadly at him.

“Rick, sweetheart.  I’m so glad you are home.”  She went to give him a hug, and then brought him a nice cold pop from the refrigerator.  He took the cap off and sat down on the sofa beside her.
“Dinner is ready, dear.  Would you like to eat?”  She got up to go in the kitchen of their small apartment, and he took her hand.

“I’m not hungry yet, Connie.  I just want to sit with you for awhile.  I brought you something.”  He handed her the box with the roses in it, and she opened it, smiling at him.

“Rick!  They are lovely.  Thank you, sweetheart.”  She gave him a hug.   She couldn’t believe sometimes the changes in him.  If anyone proved you became a new person in Jesus, it was Rick.  He simply was not the same as the young man she had known in high school, a man torn by inner torment.

She smiled, her eyes twinkling as she set the roses aside and took his hands.  “Rick, I went to the doctor today.”

“Yes?”

“Rick, I…we are going to have a baby.”

He looked in her eyes as his heart was overwhelmed with emotion…joy, that must be it.  He knew how happy that would make her, and it did him as well.  He had sensed since their marriage her longing for a child, and he knew her heart still hurt for their baby back east, little Samuel.   Samuel had been born before they were married, because of their past, because of their relationship at the time.  They always held the hope that they would be able to bring him home to live with them.

He reached out and embraced her and held her.  “Are you ok, Connie?”

She laughed.  Why did men always ask that?  “Of course, I’m ok, Rick.  I’ve been waiting all day to tell you, and I thought I would start knitting some things for the baby.  We just need to start saving for the doctor bill, and of course for things for it.”

Rick nodded.  His job as a mechanic was going fairly well.  God had taken care of all their needs.  “Connie”, he said, thinking aloud mostly, “Perhaps this means we should bring our baby home.  Once this one is old enough. Of course, I don’t want it to be too much for you, but if we are going to start having a family, we should include him in it.”  Rick knew what it was like, not having a normal family, and he wanted his son to be a part of theirs.

Connie nodded, surprised.   He was so considerate now, so caring.  It made her so happy that he had not forgotten about little Sam.  Her heart had ached for him so at first when she had to leave him, but at the time, it had been best to leave him with her aunt.  But Rick was right.  Now it did not make sense not to bring him home.

“Yes, sweetheart.  As soon as we can afford it, we’ll bring Sam home.”  She added, “Thank you, Rick.  Thank you for not forgetting him.”

He smiled at her.   Since the day God had given him his Spirit, things had begun to be restored in his life, and though he and Connie had taken their time, he knew she was the woman he wanted to marry.  She had seen him when he was a wretch and had loved him.   He hoped he could do the same with his son and be a real dad to him.    He would put the things of God in his life, teach him about Jesus, just as he would this new child.  Things his father had never taught him.

“Connie, I hope to put into our children the things I never had.  A love for God, a real family.  And I know you will help me to do that.”  He kissed her forehead, and then said, “I think I’m ready for dinner now, dear.  I can share with you some things that happened to me today.”

She nodded and went to the kitchen to retrieve him a plate of the pasta dinner she had prepared for him.  Rick always complemented her and said she made pasta like his Mama used to make.  She always did her best to make things the way he liked them.  She tried to give him the life that neither of them had had as young people, and thanked God that He had given them that.

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