The Oasis


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The story entitled, “The Oasis” (2,166 words) is about a Pastor named Matthew Kennedy and his unlikely association with a seedy bar in Cedar Creek. . Matthew joyfully practices his unique Christian faith and deeply touches the lives of three people; Cole Harris, Sandy Carmichael and Sam Stanley. The story of the Oasis ends with a bitter-sweet conclusion that will inspire the reader to evaluate the true meaning of being a Christian.”

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The Oasis

  1. 1. “That night a tax collector by the name of Levi invited Jesus and his disciples to be his dinner guests, along with his fellow tax collectors and many other notorious sinners. But when some of the teachers of religious law who were Pharisees saw him eating with people like that, they said to his disciples, “Why does he eat with such scum. When Jesus heard this, he told hem, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor – sick people do. I have come to call sinners.” Mark 2:15-16 The Oasis By T. Brotherton A winding dirt road on the west end of Cedar Creek led to the town’s only Garbage Company, two salvage yards, and the Oasis. The Oasis Bar was an eyesore, according to the affluent population of Cedar Creek, and nothing more than a halfway house for drunks and losers. The crooked Oasis neon sign illuminated only the “O” and the “S” and was fastened by two wood screws and one wire hanger. A red crumbling brick exterior, old, faded, peeling orange trim paint and three barred windows reflected years of neglect. Two warped wood steps led to a padlocked, black, dented metal door. Inside the Oasis was a long bar with twenty-five bar stools that sat on a crusty pea green linoleum floor. There were five graffiti-etched tables and mismatched 50’s style red vinyl and metal chairs crowded around a broken jukebox. Five beer signs lit the dreary Oasis and a distinct smell of mildew and stale beer filled the air. The Oasis was not an establishment for wedding receptions, darts, pool, or to socialize with friends, but a place you went to drink and get drunk. Everyone in town knew that the Oasis was at the bottom of the barrel of “places to go” in Cedar Creek, and that only drunks and derelicts patronized the place…At least that’s what they believed. **************************************************** Matthew Kennedy stretched his tan tweed jacket over his head as a steady cold night rain pelted the small community of Cedar Creek. Thick red mud squished beneath Matthew Kennedy’s Doc Martin brown shoes as his long legs hurdled over a puddle and onto the covered ledge of the Oasis Bar. Matthew bowed his head and whispered a quick prayer and then darted into the Oasis. “Rev, what are you doing out on a night like this,” echoed the voice of a young female bartender named Sandy Carmichael who stood at the far end of a twenty-foot mahogany bar. Matthew Kennedy stomped his feet and shook like an old lab. “This is Friday night isn’t it,” Matthew smiled as he laid his jacket over a barstool. “And I just couldn’t miss an opportunity to spend Friday night with my friends.” “Rev, you got some pretty low standards if you call us friends,” Sam Stanley laughed as he slapped Matthew on the back. “Hey Rev, I checked into that job you told me about at the cement plant,” Sam said as he chugged a half a glass of beer, belched and wiped his lips with his dirty shirtsleeve. “But they had that question about ever being convicted of a felony on the application and blew any chance I might have had.” Sam was a regular at the Oasis and had been for years. Sam was married once, but hard drinking not only took a toll his on his thirty-nine year old body and his career, but also led to a divorce. Sam didn’t have any family, but considered the Oasis home. “Sam, I talked to a friend at the plant and he is willing to give you the job if you stay sober and come ready to work hard Monday morning at 7 am.” 1
  2. 2. “Really?” Sam stood tall for the first time in years. “No more beers for me Sandy, it looks like I’ll be working.” Sam looked at Matthew. His watery eyes spoke volumes of gratitude as he grabbed his coat and headed for the door. “Good luck Sam,” Sandy said. “I’ll be praying for you my friend,” Matthew yelled as Sam waved and headed for home. “Here you go Rev,” Sandy said as she slid a cocktail napkin underneath a class of ice water and pointed to a wobbly chair. “I’ve saved the best seat in the house for the worst tipping customer in the history of the Oasis.” “I tip,” Matthew said as he scratched his temple. “I tipped two weeks ago…I think.” Sandy giggled as she leaned over the bar and gently kissed Matthew’s forehead. “You’re a nondrinker Rev. People need to get good’n’drunk before I get a tip in this lousy joint. As long as you have a clear head, I ain’t ever going to get nothing out of you.” “Sandy, how is it going,” Matthew whispered “Rev, my son and I are in our new apartment.” Sandy tenderly placed her hands on Matthew’s, “I will never be able to repay you. You got me out of the shelter, gave me money to get back on my feet. ” Sandy began to sniffle as tears began to race down her face. “And you believed in me when everyone else thought I was a loser.” “Give me a hug kid,” Matthew said as he bent over the bar with open arms. “And you know the rules…no tears on Friday nights.” Sandy smiled and her face glowed. An unaccustomed peace and calm seemed to lift her spirit as she proclaimed, “Rev, I went to church Sunday.” “I saw you Sandy, but you bolted out the door before I could introduce you to everyone.” Sandy looked down trying to hide her shame and softly whispered, “What would an ex-prostitute, ex-cocaine addict and a single parent have in common with anyone in your congregation?” “Everyone that goes to Church is no different than you. We’re all screw ups and ex something or others.” Matthew’s eyes radiated compassion as he smiled, “But Jesus accepts and loves everyone.” “Even me,” Sandy questioned. “Of course little angel lady, even you.” “Rev, I never did go for that church thing, but I think am bending your direction a bit.” “Hey Sandy, don’t keep Rev all to yourself,” bellowed the deep voice of Cole Harris. “Rev, come on over NOW and spend some time with the town drunks,” Cole yelled as he stood up. “Sandy, I’ll be praying for you and your son all week,” Matthew said. “I’ll be praying for you right now,” Sandy replied. That Cole Harris can get awful mean when he has been drinking too much.” Sandy paused, looked at Matthew and added, “And he has been drinking way too much.” Matthew walked toward Cole wearing a smile. Cole worked at the Cedar Creek Salvage Yard across from the Oasis for the last ten years and spent most of his free time 2
  3. 3. at the Oasis. When it was time to drink, Cole got drunk. When Cole drank beer with whiskey chasers, he would always find an excuse to fight. “Hey, Sandy, bring me two beers and two whiskey shots,” Cole roared. “And make it fast.” Cole rocked on the back two legs of his chair and put his hands behind his head and smirked as Matthew approached. “Rev,” these boys don’t believe me when I told them that you are the head honcho at the fancy big church in town.” The other men at the table laughed as Cole dropped a shot glass of whiskey into his beer and chugged. “It’s not really that big and I promise you it isn’t fancy,” Matthew replied as he extended his hand. “Rev, I was just wondering why you come in here every Friday? You don’t come to drink, or to chase girls cause there ain’t no good look’n girls ever come in this dump.” Cole stood up and glared at Matthew. “And I’m sick of hearing about all that Jesus stuff and tired of you trying to convert all us drunks.” Cole looked at his drinking buddies, “Do any of you need Jesus?” “All I need is sex, beer, and a good fight once in awhile,” Ed Rielly laughed as he threw a full glass of beer at Matthew’s face. I’ll tell you what I don’t need Rev, I don’t need you coming in here every Friday night and telling me that I need Jesus.” Ed Rielly smirked as beer dripped off Matthew’s face and onto the floor, “And I don’t need you.” Matthew Kennedy stood tall, “Ed, I’m sorry I’m pushy at times, but I care and only want the best for you.” Matthew’s calm demeanor radiated as he smiled and said, “and Jesus is the best.” Cole Harris leaned on the table and glared. Cole’s eyes were full of rage as he clenched his fist and shouted, “Rev, don’t you get it! We don’t want you hanging out here anymore! Just go back to your church and leave us alone,” Cole shouted as he threw one quick punch that landed in the middle of Matthew’s nose. Blood poured from Matthew’s broken nose as Sandy ran and got between Rev and Cole. “Cole, just sit back down and let me buy you a beer. Who wants to fight when you can drink?” Sandy placed a dirty bar towel on Matthew’s nose and led him toward the bar as Cole and his friends howled. “I warned you Rev. Cole is mean when he drinks. Sandy spent the rest of the night pouring beer, serving mixed drinks, attending to Rev’s broken nose and listening to how much Jesus loved her. At the end of the night, Sandy, Matthew and a “passed out Cole Harris” were the last inhabitants of the Oasis. “It’s closing time Rev, I hope you feel better tomorrow?” Sandy paused and looked at Matthew and blurted, “I don’t blame you if you don’t, but are you going to take Cole home?” “Don’t I always?” “You never cease to amaze me Rev, even after he punched you right in the face, you’ll still take him home.” “Jesus never gave up on me, and I’m not about to give up on Cole.” Matthew walked up and nudged Cole. “Cole, its time to go home ole’ buddy.” “I don’t know what I would do without you Rev,” Cole slurred as he staggered to his feet and draped his arm around Matthew’s neck. “Lets go home.” Matthew half dragged big Cole Harris toward the front door and cheerfully said, “Good night Sandy.” Cole opened his eyes and slowly lifted his head, “Night Sandy.” 3
  4. 4. “Rev, you take care,” Sandy exclaimed. Sandy smiled, waved and whispered as Rev and Cole disappeared into the early morning, “I’ll see you in church Sunday Rev.” *************************************** An emergency meeting of the elders voted unanimously to dismiss Matthew Kennedy of his ministerial duties at Cedar Creek Community Church. It was noted on their final report that Matthew Kennedy spent too much time at the Oasis Bar with “undesirable members of our community” and regrettably we were given no choice but to terminate his employment. Matthew Kennedy soon got a job at the salvage yard working with Cole Harris. Matthew and Cole became inseparable friends. Ed Riely was killed in an automobile accident as a result of drinking and driving. Sandy Carmichael went to the Community College and studied nursing and is currently working as the head nurse on the maternity ward at St. Francis Hospital in Cedar Creek where she met, fell in love and married Dr. O’Dell. Sam Stanley is the manager at the Cement Plant, married, and has two healthy twin boys. The Oasis Bar closed and became The Oasis Church. A blue painted hood from the salvage yard with white lettering displays a simple message; The Oasis Church A fertile place in the desert offering hope, Acceptance, friends and Jesus in the midst of difficult times. Services: Sunday Morning at 9 am Reaching Out Ministry meets Friday Evenings Pastor: Cole Harris The barstools and tables remained from the old days, but now serve as pews during Church service. A small wooden pulpit stands between an old jukebox and an aged piano. A large cross-made of two aspen trees silently and simply delivers the message of Jesus. On the outside, the Oasis needs paint and just about everything else, but exterior needs never are a concern to the congregation of bikers, recovering alcoholics, drug addicts, and ex-prostitutes. On the inside of the Oasis acceptance, compassion, understanding, and the love of Jesus are practiced continually. On Sundays, the numbers are growing as a result of the “Friday Night Reaching Out Ministry” where the water-drinking congregation visits bars throughout Cedar Creek trying to reach those who have given up on themselves with a simple message; God loves you. Matthew Kennedy remained as pastor without pay of the Oasis Church for seven years until his death from colon cancer. Cole Harris is the current pastor and Sandy Carmichael O’Dell and Sam Stanley serve on the Church Board of Directors. 4