Chapter 6: Hurt People Hurt People
Sunday, July 11th, 2010
Jeremiah didn’t show up for church that morning at all. No morning service, no Sunday School, nothing. And even though the argument had occurred, Darius was still concerned. So he decided to pay Jeremiah a visit. It was then three-fifteen in the afternoon. Darius had become so disturbed by Jeremiah’s actions that he couldn’t sleep the night before and couldn’t let it go.
Darius walked up to the door and buzzed the doorbell. Jeremiah got up from the couch and answered.
“Hey Darius,” said Jeremiah in a very solemn voice.
“Whatsup, Jeremiah?” Darius tried to give Jeremiah a handshake and a hug, but Jeremiah was a little stand-offish. “You look a little tired, bruh,” said Darius trying to make small talk.
“I AM tired,” replied Jeremiah in a near mumble. Then silence. “What do you want?”
Darius felt awkward to go along with the slight chill and gave Jeremiah a blank look for a quick moment. The he finally answered. “Well, I want to check up on you. You wasn’t at church and I hope you’re alright.”
“Yeah, I’m fine.” Jeremiah’s words were very short and brisk. Jeremiah finally moved enough to let Darius through the front door.
Searching for words to fill the cold conversation, Darius responded to Jeremiah’s coolness. “Well, umm, I’m sorry that our convo got a little heated last night.”
“Yeah, cool,” Jeremiah replied with a biting winter’s cold.
“Man, what is wrong with you? Why are you acting like this?” wondered Darius.
“Just don’t feel like discussing this right now. You already told me off last night. So that’s that. And here I thought we were boys.”
“We are boys, Jeremiah. But you can’t keep doing what you are doing.”
“D, don’t tell me what I need to be doing. My dad died years ago. You can’t tell me what I can and cannot do! I need the money. End of story.”
“Then get it some other way. What has happened to your faith?”
“Why do you keep asking me dumb questions?! My faith went away, along with my job. I will never understand why God would set me up to bring me down.”
“Bring you down?! Did you ever stop to think that maybe God was setting you up for something even greater? But because of your blinders to God’s blessings right now, you have extreme tunnel vision. You only see things the way you want to see them.”
Jeremiah was at a loss for words and didn’t answer Darius right away.
Darius came back in. “Well, did you?” There was a sense of furiousness in his voice.
Jeremiah decided to retaliate by raising his tone. “Get out!! I don’t want to hear anymore!”
“So, now you’re putting me out of your house because I’m making things real to you?”
“No, Darius. I’m putting you out of my life. I need to be around people who’s going to be on my side. Either you’re for me or you’re against me. And right now, you’re against me.”
“Oh, wow Jeremiah. Are you serious right now?”
“Very. Get out of my house,” Jeremiah insisted as he pointed at the door.
Darius didn’t have a rebuttal and prepared to make his way out. He looked back at his best friend and shook his head in disbelief.
There is was. Darius didn’t even get to sit down. But before he walked out the door, Darius decided to say one last thing. “You’re wrong for this, Jeremiah. I’ll grant you your wish. But that’s not going to stop me from praying for you.”
Jeremiah let out a slight ‘hmph’ to signal that he was finished with the conversation. There was a look of disappointment on Darius’ face, but he made a choice to let it go. At that given moment, it started to rain a hard rain. Darius ran to his car and drove off.
Jeremiah went on about his business, not paying attention to the hurt had had put on Darius. Jeremiah went into the living room and grabbed his poetry notebook off of the side table at the left of the couch.
He opened it up to a blank page as though he was going to write a new poem. Instead he took a black Sharpie and wrote in big, bold letters “THE END!” The six letters and exclamation point mimicked a thirty-two point font in a word processing program.
Then in a strange turn of events, Jeremiah walked to the front door and turned the knob to open it. He glanced at his notebook one last time and pitched it as far as he could until it reached the ground in the rain.
The heavy drops from the sky soaked the pages that contained the art produced by the hands of Jeremiah. Some of the words began to smear to the point of being unreadable.
Jeremiah had no remorse for what he had just done. He shut the door and went back inside to pick up the list that had the various addresses on it for his running. He snatched his car keys up, put on a light jacket to repel the rain, and headed out the door. As he strolled along the walkway, he looked over at the water laden notebook and shook his head. Jeremiah got in the car, started it, and drove off down the street.
Jeremiah made rounds to every place on his list that he hadn’t went to on Saturday night without missing any of his stops. After his running, Jeremiah drove to a remote location where Deacon and his crew were hanging out.
“Jeremiah. Good to see you. Where’s the cash?” asked Deacon.
Deacon wasn’t much for formal greetings. Jeremiah handed over the money had had accumulated and Deacon counted it to assure it was all there. There whole time that was going on, Jeremiah nervously looked around with caution to make sure no one was paying any attention to the activity taking place.
“Looks like it’s all here. Proud of you, church boy,” said Deacon. Then Deacon handed over a stack of cash to Jeremiah. “Here’s your cut. Nice doing business with you.”
“Quit calling me that,” snapped Jeremiah while counting his pay.
“What did you say? Quit calling you what?” inquired Deacon.
“Church boy. It’s annoying and it’s getting old.”
Deacon gave Jeremiah a blank stare as to ignore what he just said. “Meet me tomorrow at seven,” instructed Deacon to Jeremiah.
Jeremiah exited the vacant warehouse and headed towards his car. But before he could open up the car door, he received a phone call from Michelle. Jeremiah glanced at the phone screen to see who was calling, but hit the ‘end’ button to ignore the call. He finally got in the car and drove off.
Jeremiah arrived back home, but before he was able to take two steps inside, he received another phone call. It was Michelle again. Jeremiah decided to answer this time.
“Hello,” Jeremiah tiredly answered.
“Jeremiah, I’m concerned about you,” said Michelle without asking how Jeremiah was doing.
“Look Michelle, not trying to be rude, but it’s been a long day and I’m tired. Not up to this.”
Not paying attention to Jeremiah’s request to be left alone, Michelle continued on. “How could you fight with Darius and make him leave?”
“I didn’t fight with Darius. We had an argument and he left on his own. That’s what happened. End of story.”
“Darius told me about it and it sounded pretty heated.”
“Yeah, well, my business is my business. I’ll talk to you later, Michelle. I am tired!”
“If that’s what you want, I’ll let you be.”
“Yes, that’s what I want.”
“Alright, I’ll t…” Michelle could not complete her sentence when Jeremiah ended the call.
Jeremiah went to the couch and stretched out. He flipped on the television and scrolled through the channels. He paused long enough to be momentarily captivated by a female poet doing spoken word at what looked to be a broadcasted talent show. She preformed “The.Light”.
The young lady spoke:
No sun, no light
All wrong, no right
No strength, no might
No battle, no fight
No eyes, no sight
No light, all black
No daybreak, all night
Death, no life
No joy, no delight
No love, just spite
No fire to ignite
No attack, no plight
No ground, all flight
Nor depth, nor height
All bark, no bite
No trouble, no strife
All joy, in spite
Of the torrential fight
Tell all evil, goodnight
No tears, no cry
Mercy on my side
No dim, all bright
Red light, green light
Now my life, in Christ
Once in the dark, now in the light
This is my rewrite
As I travel in the light.”
Just for a moment, Jeremiah was transported back to his times at Harmony. But that was behind him now. Poetry was no longer his desire and friends slowly faded away. He had nothing to hold him together. He had even divorced God in the midst of his fiery period. But perhaps it was just a phase. A phase he was going to grow out of. Even Jeremiah’s physical appearance had changed, with a more scruffy look, a beard only a shag carpet would envy. He wasn’t as neat as usual.
As Jeremiah turned the channel, his heavy eyes were beckoning him to drift off to sleep. He closed his eyes and rested for about an hour. But then he was awakened by the noise of his door bell. He turned off the television and slowly got up from the couch to answer the door. There stood Michelle in the rain.
“Michelle, what are you doing here?” asked Jeremiah. “Get in here out of the rain.” Maybe Jeremiah had an ounce of decency left in him.
“Jeremiah, you was very rude to me, but I can let that go. What I can’t let go of is the fact you are allowing yourself to get in a rut,” Michelle said.
“I was already in a rut when Granny died. The hole got deeper when I lost my job. And no one cares about what I go through. All I hear is have faith. Well, faith ain’t going to put money in my pocket right now,” ranted Jeremiah.
“Do you hear yourself right now? Jeremiah, I care about you. I care about you more than you ever imagined. You just sound like you’re bitter. You feel everything was taken away from you. That’s why you are trying to hold on to material things, so you won’t lose anything else. Even if it means doing it illegally. But in the process, you are still losing. Friends that have your best interest at heart. You’re losing them just so you can keep status and gain a sense of normalcy.”
“No, you’re going to let me finish this time, Jeremiah. It’s time to move on. Quit soaking in your own pity and move on! I like you…I like you a lot. And have often thought about what it would be like to be more than friends. But I’m going to need you to change. Would you like for me to pray with you?”
The often soft-spoken Michelle spoke up and had released her mind. Even though Jeremiah knew what she had said was true, he still had a rebuttal. “No! I don’t want you to pray with me, for me, or anything else. I want you to leave my house. Michelle, you don’t know nothing about what’s going on with me. And you decide to try and diagnose me? Not happening!”
“I’m not trying to diagnose you. I’m trying to help you.”
“Well, if this is your way of helping, I don’t need it. I don’t need your prayers and I don’t need you! Goodbye, Michelle.”
Michelle couldn’t believe what she just heard. But she politely excused herself from Jeremiah’s presence. “Goodbye Jeremiah.” She exited the doorway almost in tears.
Jeremiah went back to the couch like nothing even happened. He looked across the way at his Bible on the coffee table and picked it up. He randomly turned to a page. His eyes fell on the scripture in Jeremiah 29:11.
“For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ’plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.”
Jeremiah then opened up to the space between the cover and the first page where a note lied. It was from Mrs. Emma when she had gifted this Bible to him. It read:
To my Grandson,
I give this Bible to you as a token of my love and my devotion to your life. Use it, read it, live it. Remember, to study to prove your knowledge. Pray to add wisdom. Never give up on God, because He will never give up on you. Carry out His Word each and every day.
Jeremiah closed the Bible and placed it back at its place. He seemed to have gone into some deep though until the doorbell rung.
Jeremiah got up from the couch and opened the front door. What was revealed was a young man, who looked to be around seventeen or eighteen. He was a scraggly looking fellow. A rough life had wrapped his almond complexion and his thin body.
“May I help you?” asked Jeremiah.
“Hi mister. My name is Jerrel. Jerrel Bray.”
“Well, I was walking by your house and I found this. I figured it belonged to you.”
Jerrel handed Jeremiah the wet notebook with what use to be Jeremiah’s poetry. Jeremiah took it in his hands looked at it, then looked back at Jerrel. “Come in and sit down.” Jerrel stepped inside. “Do you want anything to drink?” Jeremiah reluctantly asked.
“No sir. I just want to say thank you.”
Jeremiah had a confused expression on his face. “Thank me for what?”
“Your poem saved me. It has changed me.”
“I don’t understand. What poem are you talking about?”
“Let me read it to you.” Jerrel took back the notebook and fumbled through the rain soaked pages to find a poem entitled “Re|Deemed.” Jerrel then began to recite the poem back to Jeremiah.
“Beautiful spirit buried deeply in sin
Tortured by this disease that has overtaken man.
Separation from God has befell him
Only God’s love could redeem him.
See, redeemed is to be revived
Relived through the eyes of Christ.
Reborn to be renewed
Black skies transform to blue.
Trade in the old life for a new mind
Submit to intervention so divine
Much given, much required is true
New man in as the old man flew.
I give myself three-fold
A renewed, living story is told.
Mind, body, spirit to the Lord
Living strictly in His Word.
Redeemed, now I reflect Jesus
Through Him, more power than Greek Zeus.
I walk differently, don’t talk the same
So fresh off the press that I have a new name.
Jesus died that I may have new breath
Picking me up when I had nothing left.
Now I owe Him everything I have
Releasing the iniquity that had me trapped.
Redeemed, deemed to be unfixable
Re, rewind to the future attainable.
Float to newness by God’s grace
Use to see darkness, but now I see His face.
No longer even recognized
By the mere human eyes.
Must look through me with spiritual sense
See the man I’ve become, a better me
Not the man I left behind, the use to be.
Redeemed, it’s a change that feels so good
New growth after the negative flood.
I praise God for who I am now
Redeemed to the point of a new vow.
Rehabed, Renewed, Re|Deemed
Thank God for Him being in me.”
Jerrel continued. “My mom died a few months ago and I don’t have anyone else around. So I’ve been roaming the streets trying to find somewhere, anywhere to belong. I’ve gotten into some bad things and I thought I needed to do these things in order to survive. But that poem, that poem right there has impacted me so much.”
“Let me ask you, Jerrel, how old are you?
“I’m eighteen, sir.”
“Did you finish school? Did you graduate?”
“No sir. I dropped out.”
“Do you have plans to at least get your GED?
“I haven’t really thought about it. Maybe I will get it.”
“You owe it to yourself to at least do that much.”
“Yes sir. Umm, what is your name?” Jerrel asked.
“It’s Jeremiah. Jeremiah Washington.”
“Well, Mr. Washington, your poem made me think. I don’t go to church anywhere but I do want Jesus in my life. Can you help me?”
Jeremiah looked at Jerrel and shook his head. “I can’t help you out there. You need to talk to someone else about that.”
“Ummm, ok,” Jerrel said to Jeremiah’s decline to talk to him about Jesus. He was at a loss for words. “Well, I’m sorry I wasted your time,” Jerrel said with disappointment. “I will go now.”
Jeremiah seemed unfazed by Jerrel’s hurt feelings, walked Jerrel to the door and let him out. Jeremiah then resumed his sitting on the couch. Three people entered. Three people gone. But Jeremiah seemed apathetic and unapologetic to what took place during the course of the day.
He didn’t tarry on the couch long before deciding to go ahead and turn in for the night. He turned off all the lights at the front of the house and walked to his bedroom.
Jeremiah crawled in his plush bed and stared at the ceiling for a while. He was almost in a trance. His body finally gave out and he went to sleep for the night.