Monday, August 18, 2014

Witness to a Fall

     In the tavern’s back room, a group of men gather in a small circle with one of them extending his arm, several straws sticking up from his closed fist. In turn, men pull a straw, look, then shrug in disappointment. But finally an older man pulls the short straw, and his face eases into a satisfied grin. The other men pat his back as he walks into the dining room that is roaring with guests. He looks for the young man who hosted this gathering, the foreigner with the fondness for parties and women. He passes the loud guests with their fondness for breaking things and consuming the food and wine, this young man pays for it all. He’s paid for all the parties, food, musicians, and yes, even the women. It’s no wonder they keep company with him.
     But we will see what happens tonight, thinks the man as he weaves through the jostling crowd. Now that the young foreigner’s money has run out, we will see.
     The older man finds the foreigner with one arm around a woman and the other holding onto a support column. They make eye contact and the young man smiles.
     “Sir,” the older man says. “We’re closed now. You must leave now.”
     The young man frowns, confused. But the old man sees the woman leave his side right away. She knew this was coming.
     “Your assets have run out,” the old man explains. The room begins to hush.
     The young man straightens up and the music stops. “What’s this all about?” he asks. “I’ve got plenty of money still.”
     “No sir,” the older man says. “You don’t. In fact, it’s all gone. We request that you and your guests leave immediately please.”
     The old man is aware of the movement all around him. People are leaving like waves receding into the sea. He looks up to the young man who is shaking his head.
     “No,” he finally says, and smiles. “My friends here can…”
     His words stop. The room has emptied. At first the young man looks shocked, but then a look of utter sadness darkens his face.
     No, boy, the old man thinks. They never were your friends. They were only after what you could give them. And now that you have nothing left, you are nothing now.
     The young man hurries out the door and the old man nods in satisfaction. That had been as pleasant as he had hoped.
     “What will become of him now?” asks the cook from the doorway to the kitchen.
     The old man shrugs. “He’s not our concern,” he says. “If he had a place to go, he could run there. But pity for him, he belongs to no-one.”
     The cook, a softhearted man, shakes his head and asks, “Where can he go, then?”
     But the older man slams the tavern door shut.
     And outside, the young man looks at the empty streets. The fall has begun, while at home someone waits for him to come to his senses.

You are there on the street with the young man, but you see the big picture; you know the whole story.
What do you tell him?