clever jewelry

The Sick Man: A Parable

He was on his way into the store. He had been sick for the better part of the week, and was not ready to leave the comfort of his living room, but now, empty of nearly everything, there was no getting around leaving the house. He had tossed on a pair of sweatpants and a not completely dirty T-shirt.

Three women were loitering near the entrance. Two had come together to buy cookies for the women’s group meeting that evening. The other was a group member there on non-church related activities, who had been spotted coming in. For the past few minutes the trio had been exchanging compliments on the turquoise jewelry and clever black smocks one or another was wearing.

“Excuse me,” the man said as he endeavored to maneuver around the women, and get a basket. They skittered away like birds suddenly frightened away from a rain puddle.

The smallest of the women almost brushed against the man. She could smell the mix of sweat and illness on him, and wrinkled her nose.

The roundest of the ladies had a clear view of the man’s pale, thin face, and his stooped posture. She made the motion of tipping a glass as her companions stifled their giggles.

The tallest of the group saw shook her head at the man’s wrinkled shirt and soup-stained sweatpants. “My, what people wear out of doors these days,” she barked, causing the gentleman to wince as if bitten.

He straightened as he stopped. Then he stumbled to the side of the basket, made a gagging sound, then abandoned the basket in search of a men’s room.

“Ugh,” the small one cried. “Some people should not leave home.”

“Good grief,” said the round one. “What a wretch!”

“I’ll tell you what, girls,” said the tall one, “this world is surely going to hell.”