Written by a Life Notes subscriber



I'm not a writer.  I never planned on putting any ideas out there for people to see.  This short story will probably not be the height of literary quality.  The dialogue will be mediocre and straightforward.  I wanted to make it easy to read and the reality is that I'm not a screenwriter, so I probably couldn't have made it more interesting even if I tried. 

 When I read Bible stories at a young age, I never really thought about the actual content.  Most stories were just skimmed through to get to "the lesson".  I think that many times people are able to read the Bible and not be phased when they read horrific stories because they are disconnected.  I routinely hear "it was a different time" or "God would never do that now" when these things are brought up.  This story will be my first attempt at taking a premise or story from the Bible and adapting it into a more modern scenario.  

The goal here is to get people to look at the true content in these stories and offer a different perspective on the topic than what you may be used to.  My intent is not to offend anyone.  I am not trying to attack people personally.  Ideas can and should be questioned.  Beliefs should be held based on evidence.  Thank you for taking the time to read the story and feel free to respond however you like or ignore it entirely.  



The Passerby: A Story of Compassion

Steve was walking down a sidewalk.  As he passed by one of the houses in the neighborhood, the owner of the home rushed from his porch to meet him.  The homeowner was out of breath and radiant with excitement.  Steve had never seen the man before and was taken aback by how elated the homeowner was to see him.  “I have great news. You can live upstairs with me”, blurted the homeowner.  Steve was confused. He didn’t know the homeowner and had no idea what the man was talking about.  His confusion was apparent, because the man said, “Sorry, I forgot to introduce myself.  I’m Jeff.”  After Steve nodded at him, still confused and cautious, Jeff continued. ”Sorry, I’m sure that was an odd thing for me to blurt out without context.”  Steve told him it was fine and that he must have him confused with someone else.  “No”, Jeff said. “I knew you’d be walking by, and I have been busy preparing the upstairs for you to move in.”  “I don’t mean to be rude, but I don’t know you and I have my own house.  Thanks anyway.”  Steve started walking away.  Jeff knew Steve didn’t know the trouble he had gone through for him so he decided to give him more details.  “You don’t have to go into the torture chamber!!”, Jeff yelled at Steve’s back.  Steve turned immediately so he wouldn’t have his back to Jeff anymore. The man was obviously unstable, and Steve didn’t want to be defenseless. “Excuse me?” 

“You don’t have to go into the torture chamber in my basement.”  Things were tense at this moment, and Jeff knew that he needed to help Steve understand by giving him more details.  Of course, Jeff knew that it made sense. He was only trying to help Steve.  He wished Steve could see how much he loved him.  He’d been watching him for a long time now, trying to get Steve to notice him.  He didn’t want to intrude. He wanted Steve to notice him on his own and realize that he needed Jeff in his life.  Jeff was patient, but decided that he had to act at some point.  Now was the time. "I’ve been very angry with the way the neighborhood has been going downhill.”  Steve was nervous and slowly backing away. ”I was just passing through on the way to a friend’s house”, he said.  Jeff took a few steps toward Steve and said, “I built a torture chamber in my basement to punish the people in this neighborhood.  They act like I’m not even here.”  Steve was frozen with fear. His legs were not listening to the voice in his head telling him to run.  Jeff continued. "However, I decided that instead of torturing the neighbors down there, I would use my own son instead. I recently took my son into the basement and tortured him to death. Through his death, my anger has been balanced, and now I feel like I can open up to people again.”  Steve was shaking. Should he attack Jeff? Should he run? “Because my son has been killed, you can live upstairs with me now. The upstairs has been redecorated recently, and I think you’ll like what I’ve done with the place.”  Steve decided that he would try to not become emotional and spook Jeff into another horrific act.  He needed to get away and notify the authorities.  He could see Jeff was clearly out of his mind.  “I appreciate the offer, but my house is nice, and I think that I’ll just stay there.” 

Jeff was confused. Why couldn’t Steve see that the upstairs in his house was clearly the better option?  Maybe he hadn't made himself clear enough. He’d had that problem before.  “Steve, I want you to make your own decision. I’m not going to force you to move into my upstairs.”  Steve was relieved. He started to back away, smiling.  “Thanks for the offer anyway.”  Jeff really wanted Steve to live with him. He loved him more than anything else on this Earth.  What was Steve’s reservation?  His house was the nicest on the block. He didn’t want to force Steve’s hand. It was of the utmost importance that Steve made his own decision.  He didn’t want Steve to make the wrong decision, though.  “Steve, you don’t have to live in my upstairs, but if you choose not to, I’m going to have to put you into my torture chamber and kill you.”  “I thought you said it was up to me.", Steve replied.  Jeff reassured him that it was entirely up to him.  Steve was confused but decided this was his way out. “Ok, I’ll just head back to my house and enjoy living with my family.”  “Steve, that’s not an option.  It’s either my upstairs or my basement.”  “You said it was my choice. How is it that those are the only two options?” Only fear kept Steve from getting angry at Jeff.  “I wasn’t hurting anyone when I was walking by. I just want to live my life and enjoy my family, friends, food and football.” Jeff was getting frustrated. "I’m afraid it’s too late for that.  Now that you know about my house, you can’t act like you don’t. The only compromise I’ll offer is that you can live in your own house for a short time, but then you will go into my basement to be tortured for your rejection of my offer.”  Steve started running. What had just happened?  How was a person like this thought to be a good member of the community?  As he put distance between them, he heard Jeff’s parting words, “It’s totally up to you. I won’t force you to do anything!!”  Steve was scared for his life.  He had to notify someone. The fear of the torture chamber and the fact that Jeff had sacrificed his own son for some sadistic delusion would haunt him forever.

Augustus Winterbottom