“Preacher! Preacher!! PREACHER!”
The volume rose to such a point that it awakened Meningsbee with a start.
He laid on his bed, confused, trying to place himself in a context with time and location. He was still in his miniscule motel confines, but outside there was someone screaming for a preacher.
He decided to try to ignore it.
But the pleading continued, coming closer and closer.
Meningsbee eased to his feet and peeked out the window. There was an old codger with a gray, unkempt beard and long hair, and an army coat–probably circa Vietnam War–shouting for all he was worth.
“Preacher! Preacher!! PREACHER!”
Fearing that the desperate soul would be arrested for disturbing the peace, Meningsbee opened his door a crack and peered out. The screamer saw him and ran forward.
Meningsbee was afraid and slammed the door, peeking out the peephole. The fellow arrived breathlessly.
“What do you want?” asked Meningsbee through the door.
“Are you a preacher?” demanded the stranger.
Meningsbee paused. He wasn’t sure what to answer, so he opted for the truth. “Sometimes.”
“I need to talk to you. I’ve had a dream and I need someone to interpret it.”
“I don’t interpret dreams,” confessed Meningsbee.
“Then just listen to me,” the old man insisted. “Maybe we can figure it out together.”
Meningsbee peered out one more time through the hole in the door and decided the fellow looked weak enough that he could take him if necessary. He opened up and allowed the very confused gentleman to enter his room. The man found a seat on one of the tiny chairs and launched.
“Preacher, I had a dream and I need you to interpret it for me. It’s driving me crazy. I need an answer. I need to know.”
Meningsbee interrupted. “Well, I need to know how you know I’m a preacher.”
“Oh. That would be Jackie Bee down at the front desk. He said you signed in as ‘Reverend Something or Other.'”
Meningsbee nodded. “Just call me Richard.”
The old fellow reached out and shook his hand but objected, saying, “If you don’t mind, I’d like to call you Preacher. That keeps my mind right.”
Meningsbee shrugged. “What’s your name?”
“They call me Nico because I’m always trying to get enough money together to buy a nicotine patch so I’ll stop smoking.”
“Okay, Nico,” Meningsbee smiled. “What can I do for you?”
Nico leaned forward, folding his hands as if preparing for prayer. “Here it is, Preacher. This is my dream. You see, it’s Christmas morning and I’m sittin’ in front of this beautiful tree with sparkling lights. It’s so chilly in the room that I cozy up to the fire to stay warm, and there’s this one big box–a present–right in front of me. So I unwrap the present, and inside is another box, all wrapped up in the same paper, but a little smaller. Well, I open that one up and there’s another box, wrapped, smaller still. This goes on five, six, seven times. Finally I get down to this itsy-bitsy box. I reach out and I shake it to see if there’s anything inside, and sure enough–I can feel something move. I’m just about ready to get my prize when suddenly–my arms dissolve. That’s right–they just disappear. I have no way of opening up the final box. I know there’s something inside, but I can’t get to it. It’s driving me crazy. It’s like my brain is itching but I can’t scratch it. And then suddenly, there’s the sound of many people laughing. And then I woke up in a cold sweat.”
“Do you live here, Nico?” asked Meningsbee.
“I do, Preacher. I’m on disability. Have been for almost thirty years. Some folks think I’m a little crazy but I think there’s still some good left inside of me, because I wonder if I’m nuts, too.”
Meningsbee laughed in spite of himself.
Nico continued. “So what do you think it means, Preacher? Tell me about my dream. Tell me what God’s trying to say.”
Meningsbee liked Nico. Although still a little alarmed, he felt a shepherd’s heart toward the lost soul.
“Nico, I could tell you a thing or two, or speculate, but I really don’t know what it means. You see, even though I’m a preacher, I’m a little bit lost right now, and I’ve come here hoping I could get an interpretation for my own life.”
Nico squinted his eyes, listening carefully, and then nodded his head. “So what you’re saying, Preacher, is that we’re both screwed up.”
“I guess so.”
Nico stood to his feet. “Well, I didn’t mean to bother you, and I apologize for my screamin’ and hollerin.’ I hope you find your way back to your dream.”
Meningsbee shook his hand and said, “Nico, I hope you find that your dream shows you a way.”
As quickly as the visitor had arrived he was gone. Meningsbee shut the door.
Just a couple of moments passed and there was a knock. The preacher opened the door and there was Nico again.
“Listen… I have a request.”
Meningsbee jumped in. “You’d like some money, wouldn’t you?”
Nico smirked. “For breakfast. My check is not due until Tuesday. I’m on disability. Oh, I already said that, didn’t I?”
Meningsbee shook his head, chuckled and pulled out three one-dollar bills. “This I can interpret. Enjoy.”
He handed the money to the eager receiver. Nico gave him a quick hug and ran down the sidewalk.
Meningsbee stood staring at the departing figure and thought about the dream. How many packages had he opened up in his life, only to find them empty? Or were they just promises, leading to other gifts?
It was much too deep to think about.
Especially without coffee.
Published by Jonathan Cring