"Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: For thereby, some have entertained
Angels unawares." Hebrews 13:2
Sam Champion stood behind the counter at his diner waving his hand at Tom Lowe, Editor of the Three Creeks Gazette. Tom slipped through the crowd and took a seat at the counter and struck up a conversation with Sam.
Both men were amazed and surprised by the news that the State of Ohio was going to build a four lane highway, that would zip right past Three Creeks as it paralleled old I-71. That highway had so many potholes, from the air, it looked like a dice turned on its side.
"Could have hit me upside the head and down again, I never would've expected the State of Ohio to contribute to our redevelopment progress"offered Tom.
" Yeah it does a heart good to see the State do something right . Maybe those folks up in Columbus are doing more than just chewing the fat from Monday to Friday, 9-2. Is that 40 hour week I ask you?"replied Tom.
This conversation like so many others reflected the buzz and whisper of news...local, regional and state-wide. Local population kept a local focus and mused openly that most people living in the bigger cities had lost the quality of life that you find in a town like Three Creeks.
Sam owned the Red Rooster Restaurant, and of course, it had a huge life-size rooster out front, just as a landmark. Folks used to use it as the anchor to all kinds of directions... how to find the Hospital, the High School, the Sheriff's Office, Post Office and many other places. It had been the Red Rooster for years, as Sam's folks had run it before the fire. Then, Sam and his wife Maude rebuilt, put in a new commercial kitchen and now a sprinkler system. They were modern and pre-paired. Old or new, the Red Rooster was a gathering place, a waiting place, a "good day to ya"place. The buzz and whisper of news moved through here so quickly that it made the copy of the Gazette seem old by a few hours. But the Gazette had its place for the farmers and those living on the Mountain on the outskirts of town.
The buzz lately was the news about Enke Hansen. Do ya know? Enke did the deed and asked Louisa Holt to marry him. Who'd of thought? Enke, who rarely said two words to anybody, was going to be a married man? His friends were conspiring to give him a "Bachelor Party"and decided to rent out The Lodge 262 and invite all the men from the TCHS class. Then, they were going to invite three classmates from his college class, too. Enke had provided them with names and addresses of his college chums. For the locals, you could just go down the Three Creeks Phone Book.
As to the entertainment, no wild stuff in this burg, since the Sheriff would be among the guests. So they decided to do a "beer and liars contest". After three beers, who could tell the biggest whopper with the fine haze of an overlay of truth. Yes indeed, that was homespun entertainment. But, how to find a good judge of the tall tale competition? That was no biggee. Unanimous agreement, we'd put the squeeze on Rev. Paul. He had the honesty of a Reverend and the discretion of knowing a little white lie from a whopper lie. After all, he'd heard more than his share of would-be excuses for dumb and dumber behavior when he visited with the local "guests of the county"in the Sheriff's jail. Rev Paul referred to this as the "Who's Going To the Hoosegow Now"Talks. He had some real regulars...a few that were just having too good of a Saturday Night, and a few that thought the problems in their lives were solved by banging on their Mrs. Rev Paul was the perfect judge for a "beer and liars"contest. So it was settled.
That took care of the party, but Enke had another problem or two. His bride, Miss Louisa Holt, would have no part in living above the TC Mortuary. Not for her. She wanted a house, a little house would be fine. But she was not going to reside with the "happily gone."Period. Yep, welcome to the opportunity to tweak your life and c-o-m-p-r-o-m-i-s-e. How would that go over?
Enke had resources. He'd sold the big house that his Aunt Rose had left him. He'd paid off his college loans and banked the extra. He could afford a new house. But was that what he wanted? To move? To begin again the settling in and finding comfort in new walls? Enke seemed restless with the prospect of having to move. He was never bothered by living above his work place.
This was particularly true when it seemed the best plan after Rose had died and he no longer wanted to be in Rose's big house by himself. So he'd moved upstairs into the little apartment. Now that was two years ago and before Louisa came into his acquaintance. Enke moved with care in social relationships. He functioned fine in his official capacity of the helper to the bereaved. Beyond that in social circumstances, he mostly nodded his preferences to folks.
In a town where all the residents know your whole life, it never required much need to verbalize. That was fine too. Enke was a big patron of the Turning Page Bookstore as well as the Three Creeks Library. It was at the library that Enke had met Louisa. She was doing an internship from Kent State University where she was enrolled in the Master's of Library Science Graduate Program.
Louisa was a great asset to Mildred Brown, the main librarian. Louisa got to know folks quickly; she had an easy give and take of conversation that put people at ease. She was even able to get Enke into a conversation. He liked stories with a subtle humor and Louisa recommended he read Kevin Kling, the storyteller from Minnesota. What a great insight. Louisa saw beyond Enke's reticence. His shyness did not put her off. A few conversations over the Check- Out Desk and a few chance meetings in the "Coffee and Cake Fellowship"at All Saint's Baptist had led to a movie date, a dinner potluck at the Rev Paul's and a few more outings, like the Lodge Party at Halloween for the local kids to have a "Haunted House".
Soon, Friday's were movie nights and the weekend flew past with Enke and Louisa seeing much of each other. As the year moved into the spring, Enke knew that Louisa would return to her hometown of Uniontown, Ohio in Stark County. Go north, go home and go out of Enke's life.
After a deep and serious discussion with Rev Paul, Enke had popped the question to Louisa. Even he was surprised. But he was surprised and pleased.
He liked Louisa so much; she had kindled in him warmth, the feeling of deep intimacy, a feeling he'd known as a child with his Aunt Rose; It was the same kind of quiet love, that total acceptance, can call forth. It was a deep comfort, a sense of being understood. You could just be with Louisa and be warm. She had taken the temperature of his heart and pronounced him to be in the upper registers of Fahrenheit. So Enke had to move. He had to do this for his commitment to Louisa and her happiness.
Enke had come full circle. Now a grown man, he had found the acceptance he wanted all his life. He had been able to articulate his desire to be with Louisa. The date for the wedding was Dec 21 of next year. It was the miracle of love, renewed, and every Auntie in the town of Three Creeks was pleased. Many folks wanted Enke Hansen to be happy. He was a good man who held the door to the next life. He gave comfort and quiet strength. Enke deserved to be happy; The Angels thought so too.