Caleb is a good ole boy. A big, healthy man, thirty years old or close to it. Broad shoulders and a strong back. He’s got a wife and three kids. Not a speck of gray hair.
The Wal-Mart Distribution Center has been his home away from home for the past seven years. Five days a week he’s up at 3 am, off to work. Keeping busy.
Loading and unloading. Making a living for his family. Being responsible.
Caleb and I met at the park. I’m making sure my grand-daughter isn’t glued to a TV or a computer screen. I think Caleb is doing the same. The kids were busy, sliding down the slides, climbing up the ladders, crawling through the tunnels, throwing sand up in the air.
I watch my granddaughter like a hawk.
Caleb watches his three children, like another hawk.
And, Caleb and I talk, while the girls are on the swing set.
Good Food. They just had dinner in the restaurant overlooking the lake. A good meal, he says, but the shrimp weren’t up to par. Caleb likes boiled shrimp, especially when they’re from New Orleans. He peeled all the boiled shrimp for his kids to eat.
Deer hunting. Caleb bow-hunts. He’s good at it. Said they haven’t bought any Wal-Mart meat since last October. Still have enough venison hamburger for a couple of more months, maybe longer.
“Sometimes, I get in the woods a full hour before daybreak, just to listen to the sounds, watch the world wake up. Then, back again in the afternoon, there’s so much going on in the woods, things most people don’t even think about. It’s nature. It’s alive.”
I like that.
Religion. “Have you found a church up here?” he asked. He knows we’ve moved.
Before I could answer, he continues.
“I know a couple of good churches around here. There’s one about two miles over that way. He points. A Baptist Church. The preacher is a good friend of mine. We worked together at Wal-Mart until he moved away. He’s a good preacher, if you need a church to join.”
I didn’t tell him we’re Methodist.
“Are you saved?” he asked, then he added, “I’ve been saved since I was nine years old. Best thing that ever happened to me. I know Jesus is my salvation.”
“Everyone needs a rock to lean on.” I said.
The kids were running around like hyper honey bees. They are everywhere. One saw a squirrel run up a tree. The others saw it too. They surround the tree. Talking, pointing, looking.
Some more kids show up, join in the fun. Parks are like that. In five minutes, they are old friends. No enemies, no prejudices, no colors, just little kids having fun.
Then Caleb said something profound.
“Mr. Mike, you know, a man needs to do something for nothing.” He looked at me and continued. “I work hard to take care of my family. I got a good job. I want to keep my job. They keep me busy. And, that’s why I like to hunt. A man needs to get away. He’s got to do something that doesn’t matter and not expect nothing from it. A man needs to do something for nothing.”
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