(A Vintage Petrol Lighter Story Volume 15: Fires Of A Home is a work of fiction presented by DependableFlame.com)
Another Chance(Ordained) Meeting
Elston had recognized the lighter the second he’d caught a glimpse of it in the man’s hand as he offered Elston the flame. When he carried plastic disposable butane lighters, they used to disappear on him all the time but that problem had not plagued him so much since he’d begun carrying vintage refillable petrol lighters. In fact, he couldn’t recall losing a single lighter in all that time.
Of course, losing a lighter is one thing and having it stolen away from you on purpose was quite another. A cheap, plastic lighter could seem part of the scenery like the pen you picked up to sign a check at the bank or your name at the post office that ends up in your pocket rather than back on the counter where it belongs.
A quality made fire making gadget like the Rollalite however, didn’t get lost in the hand as its craftsmanship made an individual take note and study it, check out its lines and see what it was all about. No, it was hard to imagine that someone could walk off with such quality craftsmanship in their pocket without realizing it.
The bigger issue on his mind at the moment though was the homeless man’s retort about needing a place to live. Elston was not trying to be cavalier about the man’s plight and he certainly was not trying to offer him a luxury when he actually needed a lifeline.
He had an idea though, that could be just what the old bearded man needed. He aimed his mind in that direction and tried to push the elegance of the Dunhill Rollalite to the back of his mind as he wondered if the man recognized him from their interaction in front of the dispensary the day that Elston introduced himself.
Carrying Each Other
Elston fought the urge to ask the man if there was any chance he recalled how he came into possession of the lighter. It just wasn’t important right now and perhaps it never would be but the thought continued to tickle the corners of Elston’s mind as he puffed on the joint the old man had helped him light and he ran him and his dog through the scenario he hoped could help them though Elston was uncertain if the dog could be a deal-breaker.
He had heard from his son Justin about a woman who was running a mission to the homeless out of an abandoned church in a nearby suburb. Elston knew she was operating a food pantry for the homeless and was hospitable to help those with nowhere to go but was quite in the dark about any accommodations she might have for overnight or extended lodging. The warming of the weather left many homeless without shelter this time of yr.
Elston popped open the hatch to the back of the Jeep Renegade and began attempting to coax the dog to jump up and in as the man piled his things from the grocery cart into the back of the vehicle. The dog settled into protecting his master’s belongings that were all kept tidy, tied up in dust-worn plastic shopping bags, stacked and piled onto each other.
“Where exactly we headed?” the homeless man queried as Elston maneuvered the Jeep down the street in the direction of their destination.
“Midwest City,” Elston answered as he took one last long toke from the marijuana cigarette and dropped it into a mostly empty energy drink can that set in the cupholder. “It’s not more than fifteen minutes east of here. If I didn’t know any better, I’d think it was part of the same town. Just an isolated corner of Oklahoma City.”
“I don’t really know the area,” the homeless man said. “I got off the bus at 5th and Hudson about seven months ago I think. Haven’t been beyond a radius of a couple miles since…”
Finding One’s Mission
Elston had been banging on the door for what seemed like at least five minutes and was about to doubt the validity of his plan altogether when he peeked around the corner of the building and saw the soup line that included dozens of people formed at the back of the church building. Maria was ladling out soup and addressing each individual as they stepped to the front of the line and thanked her for the meal being provided.
There was a sweaty looking pre-teen boy who kept shoving is face into the tub of ice that was keeping the bottled waters cold and fold-out picnic tables plenty enough for all to have a seat while they dined on the navy bean and scrap meat soup that she was serving. Elston joined his homeless friend at the back of the line as it seemed more appropriate than stepping to the front of the line simply to ask a question about what accommodations she could offer.
When the line was down to no more than two or three people between Elston and his friend and the soup, Maria clanged the ladle loudly against the empty pot and gave an unintelligible cry in the direction of the only visible door to the back of the church. Quickly and with a purpose, a spotless looking man adorned by a white chef’s outfit appeared with a stock pot just slightly smaller than the previous soup pot, sat it down and whisked away with the empty pot as he dropped the ladle in the new one.
Maria’s eye caught Elston’s as she was serving the brittle, spaced out looking young woman in front of them and he opened his mouth to introduce himself before being cut off by the homeless man whom he’d brought there. “Do you have enough for a couple more, ma’am?” Elston’s companion inquired. “My name is Weary Traveler and this is my friend Elston James. The first time we met I stole his lighter from him but today he brought me here to see if you could help me.”
(Please leave any comments, questions or suggestions in the comments section of this or any other page at DependableFlame.com. This is a work of fiction and any similarity of the characters or situations herein to those that have happened in real life should be seen as coincidental.)