Borrowed Truths

Clarice

clarice
Borrowed Truths

Clarice

“Yeah, sure, like that time you had sex with that guy in the alley over by the auditorium before the concert for one little rock of crack, that’s a good one Clarice, tell us another one.” That brought another round of laughter to the assembled group under the bridge. They were all either high or severely strung out, just like she herself used to be for almost a decade. Some of the faces were new, it was these that she pitied the most, they were on a path that Clarice knew very well, other faces had changed, open sores, teeth missing, hair that had not been brushed much less washed for weeks. “I just want to help Sarah; all I want to do is help you and everyone else here. Jesus can do that for you, He did it for me, He can do it for you.”

Some started to shuffle away, the rain more tolerable than the Jesus talk, others laughed at and mocked her, several offered her their crack pipe or a joint, “You know you want it, come on back, you know you miss it.” Clarice turned her sad face to the ground, turned, and started down the sidewalk, the rain letting up a little. “Maybe tomorrow Lord, maybe just one tomorrow.” She had been at this now for almost three years, nearly every day after she got off work at the small grocery store, first the bridge, than at least two of the alleys that she herself had once called home, and then the mission on Fifth Street, usually arriving back at her small apartment around midnight or so. The routine changed somewhat on the days she did not have to work, but these places were on her list every day.

She felt compelled, even obligated to try to reach them for her Lord, and although at times it was indeed tempting to return, tempting to go back to that place where some moments were an incredible bliss, she remembered with greater intensity those times that were sheer pain, the need was so strong that she would do anything for the next high. A stripper, a hooker, a play toy, it did not matter, if she didn’t have what she needed and they did, she would do anything that was necessary to get it.

“I’ve let you get by with this one time too many young lady, now you have a choice, you can either sit in that chair and listen to me until I’m done, or I can call the cops, what’s it going to be.” Clarice loved Steve, loved him with all her heart, she loved his wife, his children, all of his friends. The “Talk,” as they still referred to it, had lasted almost three hours, Steve had even locked the doors of the small market, the market she now worked at, to give her this talk. Clarice was a walking miracle of Jesus, when she had got up off her knees in the back room of the store, she was changed, and not just in her desires of the flesh any more, even her face had cleared up, her complexion inside and out, she died on that floor that day.

“Thank you Clarice, you are a nice girl.” “You know why I do this Marty, is it alright if I pray for you before I leave?” Marty, Sarah, Johnny, Abigail, they were all her “Regulars,” people she saw nearly every day, when she could find them, or rise them out of their stupor. God had not given up on her, she would not give up on them, they were just as precious in His sight as she or anyone else was, she could not bear to see them in this condition, but she could not see herself giving up on them and leaving them to die in the gutter. Clarice had been to seven funerals since the day of her salvation, the day of the “Talk,” each of them a pauper’s grave, each of them an opportunity to bring someone to the cross of her Savior.

“Oh, Sarah, what happened!” Completely naked, tossed against the filthy wall among the trash in one of the alleys, Sarah could do no more than mumble. Her face was battered, it looked as if she had been stabbed several times, blood was starting to congeal with the pools of grease and slime on the alley floor. Clarice spoke with her as a passerby called hurriedly for an ambulance, spoke with her about her Savior, about the One who loved her and died for her, the One who would never leave her or forsake her.

Sarah’s funeral was the same as all the others, two men to lower the cheap coffin in the ground, one or two others standing silently to watch the final parade of another life. Clarice’s life went on for another forty-seven years, an old woman, a fine servant of Christ who brought many to His cross. Those that met her at the gate after she got to spend time with her Savior were many, but one of the brightest faces was Sarah’s.

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