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Pariah : His Name Is Red (Part 3)

I have been writing poems and short stories for years, some of which I have published independantly. I also blog. Writing is a loved hobby.

The greatest discovery of my generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitudes.

- William James

pariah-his-name-is-red-part-3

Chapter 5

Mr. Bin sighed.

I’ve always known Mr. Bin as a kindly elderly man, one of the few in the town who was consistently nice to everyone and treated all his customers fairly and politely, whomever they might be.

He picked up the three rubber balls, red, green and blue, and put them in a plastic bag. Then he held them out to me and said, “Here you are, young lady, they’re yours.”

Stammering, I started, “But… Old Man Red…umm. They are? I don’t have any money to pay. My brother…”

Mr. Bin kindly but firmly interrupted me, “They’re paid for, by Mister Red.”

When I thought about it, it did seem like Mr. Bin was kindly reproaching me when he said ‘Mister Red’.

It was as if he made the point that Old Man Red deserved the same respect and attention all his other customers would receive from him at his store. Or perhaps, also, he knew something about Old Man Red to which the rest of us were not privy to, and which made him wanted to speak out on his behalf, as much as he could.
I didn’t know how that was going to help, seeing as I was a child. He should try saying something to the gossiping adults instead. Or maybe he already did but reasoning with adults could prove harder to do than with kids. Besides, not that it’s a good reason, ever, but fear has a way of making us into disrespectful people.

Mr. Bin continued, “He bought them for you. I guess he saw you staring and admiring them when he came in. Go on, take them.” And he shook the plastic bag towards me again with a smile.

That unfamiliar feeling still roiling inside me, except now it had made its journey from my stomach upward to my chest and clutching at my heart, I accepted the bag from him, just remembering to politely mumble a “Thank you, sir” at him.

Mr. Bin just smiled again.

Right about then my wayward brother finally burst out from where ever he had been hiding himself the last few minutes.

“Found it!” He crowed triumphantly, while holding out a bag of sugar.

I rolled my eyes inwardly, Just how hard is it to locate a bag of sugar in the only grocery store in our small town that he had been to countless times before anyway? Dimwit!

Mr. Bin must have been a mind-reader and had heard my uncharitable thoughts because he cleared his throat and shot me a reproaching look.

Flushing shamefacedly, I looked down, until I heard him chuckled.

pariah-his-name-is-red-part-3

Chapter 6

When I peeked up at his face, Mr. Bin’s eyes were twinkling merrily at me, like we just shared a joke. Tentatively, I grinned at him, clutching my plastic bag of precious rubber balls tightly.

“Oh hey, where did you get those balls from? You know mom didn’t give us enough money to buy your toys!” My brother frowned at me and made to take the bag of rubber balls away.

Making a small noise at the back of my throat in protest, I held my prize protectively behind my back.

My brother opened his mouth and I was sure he was about to loudly berate me when Mr. Bin interjected and said, “It’s alright, boy, the toys are paid for. They belong to your sister now. I don’t want them back.”

“Oh, really, sir? That’s alright, I suppose. But who paid for them? My mom told us not to bother other people even when we want something.” My brother asked with a frown at me.

“Young man, I do not gossip about and with my customers. And if I feel like giving away my own stuff to whomever, I can, can’t I?” Mr. Bin directed his own formidable frown at my brother.

Well, that was rather evasive of Mr. Bin. Not that he had to, but he could have just said that Mister Red bought them for me, but I supposed he knew better than I how adults would react to such revelations, with Old Man Red being notorious and all.
I was sure Mr Bin didn’t mean to lie — although I wouldn’t call it a lie — even if to protect Old Man Red, for whatever reason that he thought Mister Red needed protection. I would have no problem telling my wayward brother that Mister Red was the one who bought the rubber balls for me. But, I followed Mr. Bin’s discretion.
Ultimately, all that mattered was that it was a good enough explanation for my brother. Mr. Bin did manage to dissuade my brother’s curiosity and made him feel chastened.

“Yes, sir, I’m sorry.” My brother mumbled. “Thank you for giving my sister the toys, I’m sure she appreciates them.”

“She does, and she already expressed her gratitude.” Mr. Bin replied easily.

Not for the first time in my life, I was grateful for my ignorant and easily distracted brother, much as I loved him! He paid for the sugar, pick up the bag containing the purchase, and politely said ‘good bye’ to the store owner.

Then signaling at me to follow him, he turned to walk out of the store.

As I walked out behind him, I turned back to look at Mr. Bin. He caught me looking, and gave a quick wink at me.

Smiling, I walked out the door.

We cannot change our past. We can not change the fact that people act in a certain way. We can not change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude.

- Charles R. Swindoll

© 2022 Lynne Samuel