When the electricity comes back on, so does the water, to the delight of just not the Cromwells, but millions of others around the city. Chasity is the first to take a shower, then Harry, and finally the kids.
The power’s been out for a week and a half, but it feels like an eternity to many people, especially to she and her family. As she dresses and gets ready, she thanks the Lord for his mercy and grace. She goes into the kitchen and finds Harry and the kids waiting for her. Harry says, “me and the kids thought we could all go to Micky Dees to eat as a celebration and treat”. Cocking her head to the left side, Chasity replies, “don’t you guys remember that I have to go see Asia today? Y’all know it’s really important. Even you said so yourself, Harry”. “You’re right Chas, you go on to Asia’s, and I’ll take the kids myself”, he says feeling a little miffed but knowing she’s correct. Chasity hugs her children saying, “I’m sorry guys, mommy will make it up to you, I promise”. And they hug her back, mumbling, “it’s okay mommy, we love you”. She picks up her purse from the counter, hugs and kisses her husband, and leaves. Glad to be waiting for the elevator, and not having to take the stairs, she glances toward Gladys’ apartment door and wonders about her friend.
She wonders if Gladys will be able to cope with what’s to come. The best thing that everyone should and could do is pray and put it in God’s hands, so she hopes her friend keeps the faith and does that. Hearing the elevator approach brings her back to the task at hand. When it
stops, she pulls the heavy metal door open and a rancid, pissy smell fills her nostrils, making her reflexively put her hand over her nose and mouth. A vagabond is huddled in one corner, so tightly scrunched into a ball, that at first Chasity mistakens it for a pile of clothing, until it moves which scares the shit out of her and she screams and jumps back. Now frightened to get on, she says, “Lord you must want me to lose more weight”, lets the door close and heads for the stairs. She’s a woman on a mission and nothing the devil puts in front of her is going to deter her from it, so she ignores her bad leg and takes the stairs. Normally, Harry would drive her, but they have no gas in their car, so she has to walk. She travels the same route she and Asia traveled as little girls for Asia’s parents live in the same building she grew up in. It’s mind boggling the massive amount of people on the streets. It’s as if no one goes to work anymore, and instead just roams about. As she’s crossing the bridge, she looks over and spots Gladys talking to someone on the other side; at least it looks like her.
But Chasity doesn’t have any time to waste so she doesn’t stop to investigate. She continues making her way through the horde of people until she reaches Asia’s parent’s building. Once inside, she breathes a sigh of relief, presses the bell and someone buzzes her in. Thank God this building is better kept and cleaner than where she lives, and she has no problem getting the elevator to the tenth floor. Chasity remembers Asia living on the seventh floor when they were young, so she figures her parents moved to a different apartment. She’s unaware that she’s huffing and puffing when she rings the doorbell until she has to catch her breath before answering the lady who opens the door. Ms. Sally stands there waiting for the extremely large woman in front of her to stop heaving. Chasity finally says, “hi, my name is Chasity. Is Asia here?” In her heavy accent, Ms. Sally replies, “no, ma’am, Asia’s not here no more. She and her family left and gone back home to Pennsylvania”. Chasity hears her, but her words don’t at first register, so she says, “huh?” When Ms. Sally repeats herself, Chasity’s face turns an ashen color, and incredulously asks, “Asia’s not here?” Repeating herself one
more time, Ms. Sally thinks, what’s wrong with this woman? Chasity is so disappointed that she begins talking fast like she always does when she’s nervous, and now hurt. “I’m a good friend of Asia’s and I need to see her. I’m so sorry, I know her parents just died, but it’s so important that I talk to her face to face. Oh my goodness, do you know when she’s coming back? Doesn’t she have to bury her parents?” Ms. Sally just blankly stares at Chasity and concludes their conversation with, “ma’am you gonna have to speak to Asia, me don’t know when she returning”. And with that, she closes the door.
Chasity is so grief stricken that she doesn’t move after Ms. Sally closes the door in her face. She stands there for quite some time in disbelief, and it feels like déjà vu, like when she just stood at Gladys door yesterday. She feels so stupid for not listening to her husband because he had warned her not to be so hasty. Now she has to go back home and eat crow. Well, she thinks, another lesson learned; however, she’s not going to be defeated because that’s what the devil wants. She’s going to call Asia and this time tell her friend about everything; about her needs, fears, concerns, desires, and wanting to leave the city to live with her. She’s going to tell her she knows she’s also having the Mark of the Beast dream, and that it’s a sign from the Almighty. These are Chasity’s thoughts as she turns away from the door and begins retracing her steps to get back home. She’s not going to lose hope for she has faith and she knows that the Lord answers prayers. It may not be when we want it; He’s never early, never late, but always on time. So, she will just have to be patient and wait on Him.
Harry doesn’t want to take the kids out with him because things are getting worse, but he knows they need to get some air, so he relents and brings them along. He wonders why the streets are still filled with so many people as he and his kids make their way to McDonalds. Of what he knows, they should have returned to work unless they’re laid off like him. And he concludes that’s what it has to be, that many people just don’t have jobs to go back to and that’s scary, he thinks. There are so many people at McDonalds that he tells Caitlin to get on
one line and Jacob on another, while he gets on yet another. Caitlin is the first to reach the counter so he goes over to her to order their food. He orders six Big Mac meals to go and when he pulls out his credit card to pay for it, the cashier says, “sir, we’re not accepting credit cards anymore”. “Then I’ll use debit”, but she interrupts him with, “no sir, no one is taking any cards at all, only cash”. An impatient guy behind them hollers, “yo, what’s the hold up, man? I don’t have all day to get lunch!” Harry ignores him and confusingly asks, “what’s going on? Isn’t the electricity back on?” “Yes sir”, the girl rolls her eyes as she continues, “the electricity doesn’t have nothing to do with it. We don’t know why, but the cards are not working so we can’t take them”. Harry just stands there in disbelief, not knowing what to do when the frustrated guy behind him pushes past Caitlin, gets in front of them and orders his food.
Jacob pulls his father away from the counter saying, “daddy, let’s get some money from the bank”. Still in shock, Harry replies, “I guess you’re right, son, we’ll have to go to the bank. I guess it’s a good idea, and anyway, your mother would have said that’s what I should have done in the first place”. And with their stomachs growling, the three of them leave McDonalds and head to the bank. The lines at the bank are worse than he anticipates. One single line starts from the door, goes down the block, and wraps around the corner. There are police officers stationed at every corner, waiting it seems, for anyone to get out of order. He and his children once again get on line, but this time they have to stay together. He looks at his phone and sees it’s already twelve twenty
p. m. and the banks close at three thirty. Harry begins to pray that he’ll make it inside the bank before it closes and there’s money left for him to withdraw. After being on line for two hours and four minutes, they finally make it to a teller. Harry withdraws the last four hundred-eighty- dollars they have and thanks the Lord for answering his prayers.
Instead of going back to McDonalds, Harry listens to the voices inside his head and goes to the grocery store. He knows the voices belong to his wife and the Lord, so he’s going to obey them. He and
his kids pick up many needed items like milk, bread, chicken, bacon, sausages, lunch meat, cheese, rice, crackers, coffee, sugar, soda, juice, potato chips, ice cream, cookies, cake, potatoes, and a whole case of water. While on line this time, he thanks the Lord for giving them the cash they need to pay for their stuff. He’s also grateful that trucks were able to get into the city and deliver materials to the establishments. And as they are walking back home, his phone rings and it’s Chasity wanting to know how they are. “We’re fine, Chas, and we’re on our way home now”, he says into the phone. “How’d it go with Asia”? He asks. “I’ll tell you when you get home”, she responds with a sigh. And he knows it’s not a good sign. “Okay”, he says, then clicks off. When they get to their block, he tells the kids, “take the groceries upstairs and tell your mother that I’m gonna check on the car”. “Okay, daddy”, Caitlin says as she and her brother each take a bag from their father and head towards the building. And something inside him tells him that he did right to send his children home for when he approaches his car, he sees trouble. Two shabby looking, skinny men, who look like crackheads, are sticking some type of object into the driver’s side window trying to force it open, while another is trying to siphon gas out of the tank. “Hey”! Harry yells as he moves his massive bulk as fast as he can towards his car, “what are you doing?! That’s my car, get away from It!” And he wonders, where are the police? Evidently nowhere to be found when you need them which is usually the case. One guy stops and looks up as Harry approaches them, but the other two continue with what they’re doing. Yelling and screaming and now attracting attention, Harry grabs the guy who’s forcing his window open, pulling him away, and they begin to fight with Harry getting the best of him. The other crackhead, who first stopped, runs over and begins stabbing Harry in the stomach with a knife. By now, someone notified the police, and they come running to the scene. Harry is now on the ground with the crackheads attacking him as he tries to fight them off. The cops finally arrive and break up the scuffle by pulling one guy off, while Harry continues chocking the other one.
A neighbor runs to tell Chasity what’s going on, she races down the stairs not waiting for the elevator, and makes it just in time to see an officer grab her husband around the neck and begin chocking him. Since Harry is a big man, he doesn’t go down easily, so another officer joins in. She and their neighbors begin screaming, “get off him! He’s not the criminal, he’s the victim! That’s’ my husband!” When the smoke clears, and things settle down and the officers subdue everyone, Harry falls out cold. That’s when Chasity notices the blood. There’s blood all over the place, on the car, on the ground, and on her husband. Some of it is also on the crackheads and the police too, so at first it’s difficult to see where it’s coming from until her husband falls out. The blood curdling scream that gushes from Chasity’s mouth stops everyone dead in their tracks. Harry is on the ground, with blood oozing from stab wounds in his chest and torso. The officer lets go of Harry as Chasity rushes over to him, leans down, and begins praying. By now, an ambulance and police backup have arrived, and EMS personnel begin working on Harry. Officers handcuff the perpetrators, and take them away in patrol cars. Neighbors holding Caitlin and Jacob back release them, they run to their mother, and all three cry and hug as they place Harry in an ambulance. A policewoman walks up to Chasity and asks, “ma’am is there anyone who can watch your children?” Chasity looks around searching the faces of the crowd to see if there’s anyone she can trust to watch her kids, and she spots Gladys. But when she tries to make eye contact, and ask her, Gladys turns around and walks away. So, Chasity ends up responding, “no I don’t have anyone to leave them with”. “Okay, they can ride with you in the patrol car”. She thanks the officer and they get in and travel behind the ambulance to the hospital. Harry is rushed into emergency surgery to repair the wounds and damage made by the stabbing, while Chasity trying to be strong, and holding it together for her children, remains in the waiting room. She uses Jacob’s phone to call Harry’s brother because in the mayhem, she left hers on the kitchen table. Harry’s brother, Paul, who lives in Conneticut, is the only relative that lives in the Tristate area. The rest
of his family moved back Down South. She gets his voice mail and leaves a message telling him that Harry’s been hurt and for him to call her back on this number as soon as he gets this message. She and the children are starving because they never got a chance to eat, so she asks the nurses if there’s anything they can give them. The nurse informs her that there’s a cafeteria on the third floor where they can get cold, as well as hot food. But Chasity has no money and informing her of this, she pleads with her saying, “Please ma’am, if you can just get something for my children, I’ll be eternally grateful”. Before the nurse can respond, the woman officer who they rode over with hears Chasity and says, “ma’am the doctors found money in your husband’s pocket”. Caitlin squeals, “oh yeah mommy, we went to the bank and daddy took out money because he couldn’t use the card”. The officer continues, “I’ll see if I can get it for you”, and she walks to the back. When she returns, she hands a package with Harry’s name on it to her. Chasity thanks and blesses the officer, then heads to the cafeteria to get she and her children some food to eat.
Even in the midst of all the turmoil, Chasity thanks the Lord and counts her blessings for the doctors say that Harry’s going to be alright. “He’s a lucky man”, they say. “Things could have been worse if he didn’t have a lot of meat on his body”. Harry’s fat and blubber helped to save him because it stopped the knife from reaching any of his major organs is what she’s hearing. “His corpulence protected him from harmful injury”, are more words the medical staff uses to describe his good fortune. But Chasity knows that it’s God’s Radical Favor! She remembers Proverbs 3:4-6, and recites it aloud, “So shalt thou find favour and good understanding in the sight of God and Man. Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths”. The doctor waits for her to finish praying before he approaches her and says, “Mrs. Cromwell, you and your children can go in and see your husband now”. She thanks him and they go to Harry’s bedside.