Near the entrance, near a row of carts,
an old man begged I’d pray with him.
Sayeth he: “I made a deal with God
to pray for one stranger at the store.”
I needed but two grocery items,
but this man needed to uphold a Holy
Bargain with the Almighty, and I wanted
not for the Lord to rescindeth His deal.
For what if this man had bargained for
one final day before an eternity in Hades?
Would God faulteth I if the man
turned to dust upon the white floor?
If he’d won a large sum at a slot-machine,
would God turneth his money to salt?
“Heavenly Father,” began he, with
his frail hand perched upon my shoulder,
“Jeremy,” I said.
A passing blonde temptress snickered at us.
“Silence, you heathen,” I wanted to bellow,
“or I will chastise your heart-shaped bottom,
in the name of the Father,” but I refrained
and kept my thoughts pure, as she bought
a lotto ticket and continued transgressing.
“In the name of the father, the son, and…”
“amen,” I mumbled.
“Thank you,” he said, while choking back tears
and I returned thanks, before gazing floorward.
He wandered outside to the parking lot,
disappearing into the sea of cars. Leaving me
standing and pondering this mystery.
Raising my head, I solemnly walked
to the grocery aisles, where I purchased
bread and a bottle of Welches, before
journeying home and watching football.
Jeremy Ball is a graduate student in the creative writing program at Central Michigan University. His poems and stories have appeared in The Central Review, Temenos, Greatest Lakes Review and Open Palm Print.