For this week’s challenge at Christian Flash Weekly, we were given 500 words and the Scripture passage below as our prompt. I love the way coming up with an entire story based on one verse causes you to spend a good bit of time reflecting on what the passage is saying!
“Do not be misled: ‘Bad company corrupts good character.’”
I Corinthians 15:33
“Just say no,” my mother used to tell me as I helped her dry the dishes in our little country kitchen. This pretty much became my life’s motto throughout high school, and I was getting pretty good at enforcing this rule.
Until I met Max.
When I first met my college roommate, I was delighted by his easygoing manner. He was larger than life, with a smile that could brighten any room. His laugh was infectious, and as we got to know one another he laughed a lot. He laughed at my quietness, my manners, and even my clothes.
“Loosen up, man!” he would cry as he slapped my shoulder.
As for my high school motto, Max wouldn’t stand for it. “Come on… don’t be such a downer! You can cut class this once. One time never hurt anybody!”
I listened, and cut my first class that day. After that, Max and I gradually began to replace my high school motto with one of our own – “Just One.”
“Just one won’t hurt,” he said, offering me a cigarette. The smoke burned my throat and sent hot tears streaming from my eyes, causing Max to laugh all the harder. “See?” he coughed. “No harm done!”
“Just one for the road?” he would tease, tossing a can of beer into my hands. He seemed amused, but not too surprised, when I finally took him up on it.
Things got a little fuzzy after that. Somewhere down the road, the “Just One” motto morphed into “Just One More.”
Finding my floor littered with beer cans tipped me off to the fact that the drinking was getting slightly out of hand. “I’ll quit,” I swore to myself. “Soon. But first, just one more…”
I knew the stack of bills in the kitchen was growing thicker than the phone book, but as I sat in the casino I couldn’t help but reach out to that shiny lever on the slot machine one last time. “Just one more,” my mind promised itself.
Now I find myself standing once again in my mother’s country kitchen, hunched over the counter in excruciating pain as the cancer eats away at my insides.
Tears sting my eyes as I see the family photos – happy pictures of my wife and kids, long since gone. I slap the pictures off the wall in frustration. The coffee is cold and I spew it out, then curse as I get a stain on my fast food uniform.
“How did things get this bad?” I ask myself.
My mother’s voice interrupts my dark thoughts. “Hey – isn’t this your friend?”
She hands me an obituary. It turns out Max owed some money, and got caught in a deal that went bad. My hands tremble as I notice his bright smile in the picture, and you know what I keep thinking?
Those thugs didn’t need a whole lot of bullets to end it all for Max.