What Can A Person Give In Exchange For His Life
Before answering the question posed by this composition in verse, my peripheral vision caught the glimmer of a strong reddish orange glow. Was I seeing a reflection of the setting sun off the living room windowpane of an apartment? No! It was not a mirror image. It was a flickering flame. No candles that I was aware off would carry a glow that passionate. I hurried up the stairs in order to locate the apartment in question. As I arrived at the entrance of the apartment the front door was already opened.
Standing in the hallway, looking into the living room at a group of young people sitting on the floor I inquire, “What is going on in here?” “You have a camp fire burning in the middle of your living room!” “Are you crazy?” “Are you nuts?”
A shaved head, bare crested burly young man answered back, “Hey man, what is up with you?”
I declared, “You can’t have an active burning fire pit in the middle of an apartment.” “It’s not safe to begin with and even if it were it is against the fire code, obviously!"
Acknowledging the situation the man attempted at defending the groups behavior stating, “We’ve just moved into the place, man.” “We don’t have any electricity until tomorrow.”
Two brothers, Johnny, (the burly one) and Jimmy had just moved into their rented apartment on the second floor in the R wing. Before taking possession of their new residence they forgot to arrange have electric service turned on. Johnny and Jimmy with some help from their friends decided to make light using a natural resource, fire.
These guys were not boy scouts. However, they fashioned a configuration for a campfire resembling ones made on a mountain excursion by scouts in the middle of their living room floor. Johnny and Jimmy’s invention was a circle of rocks with a rock base. Pieces of wood were placed in the middle of this geometrical figure. Fortunately before any real damage occurred the brothers with help of present company assembled cooperated and dismantled their work of art.
Thus began the first of many problem contacts by management staff with these two new characters. Both brothers were young, in their early twenties. They worked hard being crew members on a construction site. Between the two brothers Jimmy was more the unmanageable one. Jimmy also was the lady’s man. Jimmy never seemed to be apart from the company of really sexy looking women. Walking around the apartment, he liked to show off his bronzed tanned six-pack abs. I was jealous.
On a warm summer’s eve the heat from the sun seemed to have insomnia. It would not cooperate and retire allowing the cool clean crisp air to come out and play. Having already been warned, Jimmy had set up a clandestine barbeque hibachi.
His complete defiance, his conscience disregard for the rules of the apartment complex, these personality character traits possibly were what first attracted the young woman to him. That was academic. Any real leader in truth wanted to keep their devotees following to the beat of his drum would have to provide food to fill the empty stomach and drink to wash the food down with. The women at Jimmy’s flat were no exception to this rule. Jimmy had to top his transcendent appearance by more than mere rebellious energy by filling a hibachi with glowing hot ambers. What were really lacking were thick juicy lean steaks to cook on the grill.
Going together with by a friend, Jimmy set off for the Vons grocery store to be found around the corner from the apartment building.
“Hey, come back here.” “Hey, stop,” yelled a box boy as he came running from inside the Vons supermarket to the parking lot.
As the worker was asking himself, “Where is a cop when you need one?” Looking up it dawned on him that today was the box boy’s lucky day. A patrol car just happened to be parked nearby in the shopping centers parking lot.
The Vons employee waved catching the attention of the officer. “Glad to see you officer.” “Those guys on the motorcycle just ripped us off stealing some steaks.” “I saw the guy on the back of the bike put them down the front of his pants.”
Jimmy had shoplifted steaks tucking them between his t-shirt and his pants before. This time having been seen by store staff he was nearly caught.
Radioing the police dispatcher her location and description of the suspect given to her by the store staff member the patrol officer started to follow the motorcycle which was still in plain view. With his friend driving, Jimmy bunkered down, preparing himself for the getaway ride.
With the Police car’s blue and red lights flashing and the siren blaring, the police car was in hot pursuit. The chase was on looking like a horse race at Churchill Downs. Jimmy and his companion would not yield.
Recalling the “safety tip” policy the sergeant of the watch had stressed this very day in briefing not losing sight of the motorcycle, the patrol officer began to slow in the attempt to lessen the chance the suspect would become involved in a traffic accident.
“I am not going to let this situation get out of hand.”
Motivated by earlier findings by an investigative report having to do police pursuits the police administrative brass had just sent down new guidelines regarding such incidents as the officer found herself. Having engaged in this pursuit caused this officer to become the first officer on her shift to carry out these new guidelines. She did not want to screw up. The brass was watching.
The motorcycle driver shouted back over the noise of the engine to Jimmy “What have you gotten us into?”
“Just drive!” “I know the area coming up.” “The street we need to turn on is coming up on the right.” “Slow down and take it.” “We can lose him in there.”
Jimmy was referring to a street that showed a way into a residential neighborhood. Jimmy was thinking to himself about the luxury of mobility a motorcycle had over that of a car.
Laughing out loud Jimmy hollered, “That cop car won’t have a chance to keep up with us.”
Jimmy’s aim to twist and turn through the maze of street arteries that arranged themselves just inside the residential tract never materialized. The driver didn’t respond in enough time to follow Jimmy’s order to slow down. The motorcycle’s speed was too quick to successfully make the right turn in time. Leaving the thoroughfare, the motorcycle began to skid. Jimmy took to the air leaving the back of the seat like a baseball hit out of Fenway Park. Jimmy was pronounced dead at the scene. Jimmy was dead and the steaks were still in his pants.
I heard the rumor Jimmy had been killed in a traffic accident.
Once again I hurried up the stairs in order to locate Johnny and Jimmy’s apartment that months earlier I had witnessed a flame glimmering through the living room window. This time it was for the purpose of comforting and showing my respect. As I arrived at the entrance of the apartment as before the front door was already opened. Standing in the hallway, looking into the living room for the first time a shaved head, bare chested burly young man was sitting on the floor. Now this same man still sitting on the floor looked worn, as though time had taken a toll on him.
Unlike the brawny face I first saw glowing from the strong reddish orange heat of a fire that crackled inside his apartment reverberating defiance, “don’t tread on me,” Johnny’s face now looked ashen grey. Wearing a pull together combination of jeans and a sports shirt, the grey sport jacket he was wearing seemed a bit small on his stocky chest.
As I looked around the living room and dining room area something was a miss. Like a flash of lightning it hit me. There were no girls around now. Jimmy’s female entourage was absent.
After the funeral, friends of the family assisted Johnny in moving his personal effects and other related property belonging to his late brother, Jimmy. What a shame; what a waste.
When I first heard about Jimmy’s death, I recalled thinking to myself, “All this to impress some young babes."
What wasted jealously! I learned a valuable lesson. “Hey Jimmy, how impressed are they now buddy?”
“For what does it benefit a person if he gains the whole world but forfeits his life? Or what can a person give in exchange for his life?"
"My children, if sinners try to entice you, do not consent!"
If they say, “Come with us!" "We will lie in wait to shed blood; we will ambush an innocent person capriciously." "We will swallow them alive like Sheol, those full of vigor like those going down to the Pit." "We will seize all kinds of precious wealth; we will fill our houses with plunder." "Join with us! We will all share equally in what we steal.”
"My child, do not go down their way, withhold yourself from their path; for they are eager to inflict harm, and they hasten to shed blood."
"Surely it is futile to spread a net in plain sight of any bird, but these men lie in wait for their own blood, they ambush their own lives!"
"Such are the ways of all who gain profit unjustly; it takes away the life of those who obtain it!"
A Psalm by Asaph.
Certainly God is good to Israel, and to those whose motives are pure!
But as for me, my feet almost slipped; my feet almost slid out from under me.
For I envied those who are proud as I observed the prosperity of the wicked.
For they suffer no pain; their bodies are strong and well-fed.
They are immune to the trouble common to men; they do not suffer as other men do.
Arrogance is their necklace, and violence their clothing.
Their prosperity causes them to do wrong; their thoughts are sinful.
They mock and say evil things; they proudly threaten violence.
They speak as if they rule in heaven, and lay claim to the earth.
Therefore they have more than enough food to eat, and even suck up the water of the sea.
They say, “How does God know what we do?
Is the sovereign one aware of what goes on?
Take a good look!
This is what the wicked are like, those who always have it so easy and get richer and richer.
I concluded, Surely in vain I have kept my motives pure and maintained a pure lifestyle.
I suffer all day long, and am punished every morning.
If I had publicized these thoughts, I would have betrayed your loyal followers.
When I tried to make sense of this, it was troubling to me."
Then I entered the precincts of God’s temple, and understood the destiny of the wicked.
Surely you put them in slippery places; you bring them down to ruin.
How desolate they become in a mere moment!
Terrifying judgments make their demise complete!
They are like a dream after one wakes up.
O Lord, when you awake you will despise them.
Yes, my spirit was bitter, and my insides felt sharp pain.
I was ignorant and lacked insight; I was as senseless as an animal before you.
But I am continually with you; you hold my right hand.
You guide me by your wise advice, and then you will lead me to a position of honor.
Whom do I have in heaven but you?
I desire no one but you on earth.
My flesh and my heart may grow weak, but God always protects my heart and gives me stability.
Yes, look! Those far from you die; you destroy everyone who is unfaithful to you.
But as for me, God’s presence is all I need.
I have made the sovereign Lord my shelter, as I declare all the things you have done.