1. (visual) childlike drawing of chick and bunny
2. The warmth of a smile
3. The wind was ticking at my house.
Except for yellow Peeps I haven’t really thought much about Easter for a long time. When Grandma Proctor was alive, I used to go with her to church on Sundays, and for her, Easter meant a new hat and a new beginning.
I never knew anyone who needed a new beginning less than Gram. She was a strong lady in her muscles and in her beliefs, and if the gates of heaven opened only for the good, Gram was guaranteed a place inside.
There were a bunch of others at our church, though, that needed all the help they could get, at least to my eyes. Caleb Brewmeister, for instance, who’d been known to arrive at the church’s social hall already pretty well socialized.
“Caleb has some problems,” Gram would tell me. “We have to make allowances and pray extra hard for him.”
Personally, I found it hard to think of Caleb as worthy of redemption. I tended to spend my prayers on things that might actually be influenced by any little pull I might have with the Almighty, and by the time Gram was gone, I’d pretty much given up on the praying bit altogether. I was 18, then, and I knew it all.
Gram died on a Sunday in July. She went to services, shook hands with the preacher, and went home to have a nap. She never woke up; I never went back to that church again.
But all this is beside the point, really, because the incident I want to tell you about involves Caleb Brewmeister and his adventure with the locomotive at the railway museum. Apparently Caleb’s problems were upon him that windy afternoon in November, and he’d obviously resorted to his usual solace. When I first saw him about 3:30 he was wobbling down the dirt path that runs the length of the rail car display. He carried a brown paper bag that sloshed when he moved, and a suspicious bulge under his ratty old sweater hinted that there might be a handy refill next to his skin.
“Caleb,” I said. “How ya doin’?” He just looked on past me like I wasn’t even there. “Caleb!” I shouted. “It’s me, Henry. Are you okay?”
Caleb’s eyes suddenly focused on my face. I thought he probably recognized me, then, but there wasn’t any way to be sure. He started to raise the paper bag in greeting, but thought better of it. I did get the meager warmth of a smile, but certainly no invitation to share his libation.