The Three Sixteen
I stood at the edge of the frigid, deserted train platform. It was 3:14 am and the 3:16 nonstop was almost here. Death from the left at 70 mph, then peace. A leap into oblivion. Just one second and it’s all over. I can do this, I don’t want to live anymore. She’s gone. It’s too much.
“Excuse me, mister, you got a light?” The homeless guy tugged my right arm and held up the stub of a smoke.
God, the guy stunk. I pulled back a little. “I don’t smoke. Sorry.”
He coughed, the sound in his chest was rheumy. “That’s okay. Then don’t start. It’ll kill ya.” He shuffled away and I resumed my wait. It was 3:14 and I was even more determined than ever. Just a leap.
“Excuse me, mister, can you spare a little change? I’m John. We haven’t eaten for two days.” The same guy again, and I thought, dude, just go away. Then I thought of my wallet. I wouldn’t need it anymore. I nodded. “Sure. Hang on, John, let me get my wallet.”
His eyes widened. “Thanks, mister. Me and Alicia are mighty hungry.”
Alicia? I thought homeless guys traveled solo. I reached under my overcoat, and felt winter reach up my leg. Say, I might as well give it to him, I wasn’t going to need it anymore. My watch too.
I handed him both items. “Here you go, take it all.” His eyes lit up like Christmas morning. “Alicia is my fiancée. Was my fiancée. She was hit by a car yesterday and died tonight. My life is over.” I turned to my left again, watched the tunnel. It had to be 3:15 by now.
“Alicia is my little girl, sir. She’s right over there.” I looked right and saw what at first appeared to be a pile of junk. Then I saw a leg. It moved.
“Your daughter? It’s freezing up here. You need to get her inside, to bed.”
He shook his head. “We’re homeless.” He turned away.
Thirty seconds to oblivion.
I felt another tug at my arm. Annoyed, I said ‘what’.
“Mister, it’s not worth it. Life is precious, even through the pain. You can make it. I know a guy you need to know. His name is Jesus, and he can take your pain away.”
I sighed. My Alicia used to go to church and believed that God stuff. “Okay, guy, I’ll listen. You have 30 seconds.”
For a bum John sure was eloquent. I listened for what seemed an hour. I stepped back from the edge, broke down, cried and said yes to Jesus. Suddenly my pain was gone and I felt peace. I was forgiven. Life was worth living again. I got a second chance. Not many get one.
The 3:16 roared through the station. I turned to thank him and found the platform deserted. I looked down and saw my watch laying on my wallet.
In the shape of a cross.