Eddie is a Christian writer and has been a mentor to countless young people through God's ministry over the past 20 years.
The Greyhound bus was loud inside, and the ride was rough. A bratty kid on one row yelling at her father for not giving in and buying her candy at the previous stop. It did not matter how many times he told her that there was no more money; she still harangued him for the missed purchase.
Kevin sat next to a window with an older woman in the seat beside him. She smelled of stale cigarette smoke and a hint of wine that was displeasing. He was staring at the passing scenery when she assumed an interest in him.
“Is something bothering you, young man?” The older woman looked at Kevin with curious concern.
Kevin politely tried to discourage any conversation. “No, ma'am.”
The older woman reached out to touch his arm. “I can tell...”
Kevin reacted quickly, pulling away from her touch. “Don’t touch me!”
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to.” The older woman said with dismay.
Kevin felt a little remorse as he turned back to the window. “I don’t let anyone touch me anymore.”
The older woman thought she could perceive a hidden apology. “That’s a shame. Why is that?”
Kevin scratched at the glass in irritation. “I’m an ex-con. I just got out of prison.”
With a brief pause, the older woman realized she had misjudged Kevin. She became troubled and, after a moment, prepared to talk again with a more cautious approach. “You remind me of my grandson. He went to Afghanistan two years ago to fight in that awful war. We lost him a month before he was to come home to one of those fools who blow themselves up in their cars.”
Kevin turned back to her with a brief display of empathy. “Was he an upright kid?”
The older woman beamed with pride. “Clay was a nurse. He helped other soldiers who were wounded. I really miss him.”
Kevin tried to suppress his inner pain. “I’m sorry for your loss.”
The older woman looked upon Kevin with compassion. “Why did you...uh…?”
“I killed someone.” Kevin turned back to the window as his bravado softened. “It was a car wreck. I was driving under the influence of alcohol.”
The older woman felt uneasy. “I had no idea.”
Kevin felt some guilt as he turned back to her. “I didn’t mean to frighten you. It’s a survival need when you’re in prison.”
The older woman pushed her fears aside. “You’re so young.”
Kevin spoke with regret and contempt. “I spent my seventeenth birthday behind bars.”
The older woman’s heart was touched. “How old are you now, dear?”
The frigidity returned to Kevin’s voice as he turned to stare out the window once more. “I will be twenty-seven in three months.”
The older woman seemed about to cry. “That was too long for such a young boy.”
Kevin turned further away from the older woman and studied the passing scenery. He was desperate to force all emotion from his mind, but it slowly took over him.
Kevin felt small and vulnerable as he sat handcuffed to a rail inside the prison transport van. Pablo Sanchez, a thin, dark-skinned Latino with muscles that stretched his orange jumpsuit to its limits, sat next to him. The road they traveled on was harsh, and it did not escape Pablo’s shifty eyes that the younger teenage boy was frightened out of his wits.
Kevin watched the countryside through his window, his eyes still red from crying. He listened to the other prisoners' smirks, taking it personally because he was still just a boy. The criminal justice system had not yet hardened him.
A shifty predator by his character, Pablo noticed Kevin as an easy victim and decided to act on it. “Hey, kid...it’s not such a good idea to let them see you crying.” He gestured over his shoulder with his head. “They will think you’re soft.”
Kevin could not hide his terror. “Do you know where we are going?”
Pablo feigned camaraderie to lure his victim in. “Huntsville is not such a bad place if you know the system.”
Kevin risked a brief look back at the other prisoners. He quickly looked away when a sparse, wiry man sneered back at him. “Have you been there before?”
“This is my second time around,” Pablo answered with a mixture of pride.
Kevin, naïve and trusting, was falling for Pablo's trap. “Momma told me it was a terrible place to go.”
Pablo realized he had a gullible victim that he could not wait to get his claws into. “Stick with me, man. You got to learn to be tough to survive, but I'll help get you through.”
Kevin thought he had found a friend and someone to trust in Pablo. He felt comforted and stared down at his handcuffs, turning them worriedly.
Kevin rubbed his hands as if the handcuffs were still there. He noticed that the bus was slowing down and glanced up to see in what town they were. The bus had pulled into a gas station to pick up new passengers. The doors opened, and passengers began to disembark. He remained sitting as the older woman stood up and gathered her belongings. She paused before leaving and fixed her gaze upon Kevin with compassion.
“This is my stop… I don’t know anything about you, but I really don’t suppose that you’re such a worthless person… I hope you find that young man you could have been,” the elderly woman said in a kind and forgiving way.
With nothing else to say, the older woman left with a countenance of regret. Kevin watched as she exited the bus, contemplating all that she said. She looked at him one last time as family members outside met her. She smiled at him as the bus door closed. Kevin turned his thoughts inward when the bus pulled forward, leaned back, and closed his eyes.
Continue reading Kevin's Homecoming - Chapter 3
- Kevin's Homecoming Chapter 3
Kevin intends for his return to his hometown to be as brief as possible. He just wants a final goodbye to his deceased mother's grave and then to move on. However, faith and fate suggest a different path for him to follow for redemption.