(My sermon for this Sunday, July 15.)
Greg groaned and tried to stand. His head hurt, but when he tried to raise a hand to touch it, the pain his shoulder stopped him short. Slowly he remembered; the picket outside that disgusting club—Miss KittyKat’s, it was called, full of drag queens and kings, perverts, homos and lezzies of every kind. He and the others from Missionary Four-Square Bible Church had shown them the power of God’s wrath, for sure. 100 strong, they had picketed that place of sin until the police made them leave. He must have taken a wrong turn on the way back to the subway—he put a hand to his back pocket. His wallet was gone! He had been mugged! The grinding pain in his head made his knees sag and he sat down hard on the doorstep. How was he going to get home? Then the grinding pain overwhelmed him again and he fell into darkness.
Ryan hurried down the street. Marian was going to be furious, that was for sure. Ryan had promised his wife he’d be home by midnight, and here it was almost 1 am. Well, Ryan had responsibilities as chair of the River City Moral Values Coalition, and he couldn’t avoid them. He had had to be there tonight, with the picket that had been promised—and sure enough, had materialized. Three churches had worked together to be sure there were people there protesting. But the police had made them leave, as if they had no right to speak their mind in a public place. Ryan stopped short and peered into the darkness. There was someone sprawled on the steps of the building just in front of him.
The man’s head lifted, wobbling, eyes unfocused. He put out a hand. “Help me,” he croaked. “I….” And he collapsed again.
Ryan stared in disbelief. The man must be drunk—or worse, Ryan thought, reminding himself of where he was. He turned and walked quickly on down the street. No, he told himself. I’m not responsible for every drunkard and druggie I pass.
Alex ducked into the alley. It was a shorter way back to the subway, if a little more dangerous.. Against the light at the end of the alley, a silhouette moved quickly past, and Alex recognized Ryan Roberts. He looked like he was in a hurry. Hoping to catch up with him, Alex moved quickly to the end of the alley. He glanced back the way Ryan had come, in case he was being followed. A body lay sprawled over the steps of a nearby building. He scowled and turned away as the man tried to sit up. Looks like the wino got what he deserved, he thought, as he hurried to catch up with Ryan.
Miss Butt R Fly was exhausted, that was for sure Three shows tonight, and those protesters and picketers on top of it all. They had made it difficult for customers to come in for the first two shows, but they’d been cleared out by the last one. And hadn’t the customers been ready for that last show? Her nerves had been shot by the tension, but she was a trouper—she had gone on like nothing had happened. But now her feet hurt, her head hurt, and she desperately wanted to get home, pour herself some scotch and put her feet up. Maybe she’d stop at that all night curry place and pick up some dinner for herself as a special—Something caught her eye.
“Please…” the voice wavered. Miss Butt R. Fly stared in horror. It was one of the protesters! Why was he asking for help? Then she saw the gash on the side of his head—brick, she thought with the authority of experience—and his torn clothing.
“Somebody…please…” She bit her lip, started on, then shook her head and turned back. Crossing the street, she knelt beside him.
“Come on, honey. Sit up,” she said softly, helping him lean back against the railing. She dug a tissue out of her bag and began wiping the blood from his face. “Someone worked you over real good,” she murmured.
“I didn’t even see them,” he mumbled, turning his head so she could reach the blood on that side of his face. “I—they took my wallet.” Suddenly his eyes flew open as he realized who it was cleaning his face. He was too weak and in too much pain to do anything more than look alarmed and try to pull away from her. But Miss Fly wouldn’t let him, and just shook her head.
“You need Miss Fly right now,” she told him. “Be easy.” She dug in her bag again and pulled out her cell phone.
“Ali? Hi sugar. Need you to pick me up here on Magnolia and…” She craned to see. “Magnolia and Third. OK? Great, baby. See you in a few, then.” She turned back to Greg. “OK, Ali will be here in a minute with a taxi. We’ll get you settled, don’t worry.”
A few moments later, the blue taxi pulled up. Ali and Miss Butt R. Fly helped Greg in. She slid in next to him as Ali took the wheel and as he pulled away from the curb, he said, “To Jack’s?”
She nodded. “He’ll be OK there for the night, and Jack will get him home in the morning.” Again she flipped open her cell.
“Jack? Me, baby. Listen, I need to use that empty furnished apartment for a night or so. No, I wish it was for me. Someone who needs a place to stay. Thanks, then. Ali and I are on the way over.”
Soon enough the cab pulled up in front of an apartment building, and again Ali and Miss Fly helped Greg out of the car and up the few steps to the door. Jack met them at the door, and led them down the hall to the apartment. They settled Greg in bed, and Miss Fly turned to Jack, handing him an envelope.
“This should cover tonight, Jack, and tomorrow too, if he needs it. And if he needs to go to emerg, there’s some there for that too.”
“I’ll take him,” Ali spoke up.
Miss Fly looked at him gratefully. “Thanks, sugar. OK, Jack? Good. If it comes to more, well, I’ll pay you back after the competition next Friday—you know I’ll win.”
Sinking into sleep, Greg knew he was safe and protected and cared for. He struggled for a moment to stay awake, trying to work out how and why a drag queen whose club he had picketed could pick him up off the street and take care of him; but then exhaustion took over and he slept.
"Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?”