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His Father's Son - A Short Story

Updated on March 17, 2013

His Father’s Son



The sandy soil was treacherous, but there was no money for temporary shoring, although it was a government project. The political bosses were either trying to save money or were pocketing the savings. Corruption was everywhere.

The ditch was over seven feet deep, two miles long, and descending slightly to the west and the dry river bed. Its purpose was to drain the flood waters from the infrequent storms out of the city. The first mile was already lined with flagstones from the quarry, and quite stable, but the section where the crew was now working was constantly suffering from small cave-ins. There had been no major calamities, but Ben had plenty of experience, and he knew this was a bad one. And then, there was David.

David was Ben’s son, and he was thrilled to be on his father’s construction crew. He had served as a water boy for a year, but this was the first time his father had allowed him to work alongside the others, and he was determined to pull his own weight. The initial good natured ribbing from the crew gradually gave way to a well earned respect, and David was finally accepted as one of the men.

David’s partner Paul was a grizzled, older bear of a man, and he took David under his wing. He showed him how to pull a string to lay out a straight wall, and how to mix mortar. Then he showed him how to lay a solid and straight brick wall. The crew was made up of masons, and digging the ditch was part of their trade, because it would later be lined with stone.

“Look here, boy. See how the soil is dry and crumbly in this area? Stay on your toes, because it could collapse at any time.”

David nodded. “I see it. I wonder if we should…”

The horn sounded for dinner, and the crew climbed the ladders to go sit in the shade and eat. Paul and David were out and on the surface when David slapped his partner on the back and grinned.

“I was in such a hurry to eat that I forgot my dinner bucket. I’ll have to go back down and fetch it.”

Paul nodded, and headed for the shade and the rest of the crew.

David was at the bottom of the ladder and reaching for his dinner bucket when he heard the soft whisper of moving soil. He glanced to his left just in time to see the area Paul had pointed out suddenly give way, and as he watched in horror, the entire wall began collapsing in his direction. He turned to his right and ran.

He almost made it, but the wall in front of him also collapsed. He ran part way up the mound before something slapped him in the back and he fell face down in the dirt. He remembered to cross his arms in front of him and put his face into the hole it made before the last two feet of earth buried him. He could not move at all, and the air he had trapped by crossing his arms was limited. It was now in the hands of the crew.

For a moment, no one moved, and then the entire crew was on their feet and running to the ditch. What they found was terrifying. Nearly a hundred feet of the ditch had collapsed and there was no sigh of David. Frantically, big Paul shoved his way to the front.

“Here! Here’s the top of the ladder, and his dinner bucket was right at the bottom. Dig here! Quickly!”

Four men manned shovels, and the rest formed two bucket lines to take the dirt away from the ditch. There was no sense in piling it up where they might have to dig again if David was not found.

Ten minutes later they were at the bottom, but there was no sign of David. The crew looked at a distraught Ben with a question in their eyes.

“Dig two feet in each direction, but be careful. He is my son, but he is probably dead by now, so don’t risk your own lives.” He turned away, but not before they saw the tears. They began digging again.

The shouting had attracted a crew of carpenters working on a nearby house, and all but one were offering to help in any way they could. The remaining man was standing some fifteen feet away, looking down at another part of the collapse. Then he stepped on top of the dirt and began to dig with his bare hands.

Someone tapped Ben on the shoulder and pointed. “What the hell is he doing?”

“I don’t know.” He glanced down at his crew, digging frantically on each side of the ladder. Then he looked again at the lone man digging silently with his bare hands. He began to walk toward him.

“What are you doing?”

The man was tall, even on his knees, and he looked up at Ben as his hands kept digging.

“He is here. He is alive, and he is only a couple of feet down. Will you help me?”

He had such an air of absolute certainty that Ben hesitated only for a moment before stepping into the dirt, facing the other man. He too began digging, and less than a minute later, his frantic hands uncovered cloth that he recognized as the same as his son was wearing that morning, and he let out a shout.

David was terrified at first, but then, a strange peace came over him, and he stopped his fruitless struggling. If this was to be the way he died, it wasn’t all that bad. He would simply run out of air, and that would be that. He realized that he was not where they would think he should be, so rescue was unlikely. He had resigned himself to death when he felt a hand on his back, and the warmth of sunshine.

His father tried to get David to lie down in the shade, but he insisted that he was fine, so he found some shade, sat down, and grinned up at the crew. Paul shook his great head sadly, and grinned back at his young partner.

“Is there anything you worthless young pups won’t do to get out of a little work?”

The crew laughed, and Ben wiped at his eyes, even as he smiled. Then he remembered.

“Where did that carpenter go? I want to thank him.”

One of the crew pointed at a house. “He’s working over there.”

The tall carpenter listened to Ben as he expressed his gratitude, nodding now and then and smiling.

“I guess you saw where he ran, and knew where he was all along. Without you, he would have certainly died. I am forever grateful to you. Is there any way I can repay you?”

“It is not necessary. A father always loves his son and worries about him. I am happy that your son is well. That is enough.”

“I don’t even know your name or where you live. You are not from around here?”

“No, I am not from Jerusalem. I live in Nazareth, a small town some distance from here, and I am called Jesus.”

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    • Becky Katz profile image

      Becky Katz 4 years ago from Hereford, AZ

      Thank you Will, I really needed this right now.

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 4 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      You are quite welcome, Becky.

      Are you OK?

    • Becky Katz profile image

      Becky Katz 4 years ago from Hereford, AZ

      Just a bad day. Thanks for caring.

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 4 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      This too will pass, Becky.

    • aguasilver profile image

      John Harper 4 years ago from Malaga, Spain

      Just what I needed also, thanks.

      John

    • diogenes profile image

      diogenes 4 years ago from UK and Mexico

      Will...you are a magician, this coaxed a tear from even this old pagan.

      Truly beautiful.

      Bob

    • breakfastpop profile image

      breakfastpop 4 years ago

      Simply beautiful and voted that way.

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 4 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Thank you, John!

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 4 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Thank you, Bob!

      He was a carpenter, and things do happen on job sites, so I started wondering what He would do if....!

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 4 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Thank you, Pop!

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 4 years ago from south Florida

      How beautiful, Will! Well done!

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 4 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Thank you, drbj!

    • SubRon7 profile image

      James W. Nelson 4 years ago from eastern North Dakota

      Wonderful story, Will.

    • profile image

      Old Poolman 4 years ago

      WillStarr - as usual, the twist at the end saw me coming but I never saw it before I read it. Job well done as always my friend.

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 4 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Thank you, Mike!

    • wayne barrett profile image

      Wayne Barrett 4 years ago from Clearwater Florida

      Masterful, Will. What an ending..Wow!

      Voting up and sharing.

    • BlossomSB profile image

      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 4 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      Such a beautiful story and so well written. Voted it up.

    • poetvix profile image

      poetvix 4 years ago from Gone from Texas but still in the south. Surrounded by God's country.

      My heart was in my throat for that young man. One thing about your tales, they tend to suck the reader in from the start and not let go. Your ending shines in so many ways. Thank you for the gift of thanks on high and the reminder miracles still happen. God bless.

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 4 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Thank you, Wayne, for the comment and for sharing!

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 4 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Hi Blossom, and thank you, dear lady!

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 4 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Thank you, poetvix, for such a super comment!

    • resspenser profile image

      Ronnie Sowell 4 years ago from South Carolina

      Inspiring tale, and once again I'm going to vote it up and share it!

    • cam8510 profile image

      Chris Mills 4 years ago from St. Louis, MO until the end of June, 2017

      Well done, Will. You toyed with my emotions in this story. I have sons, and God forbid. Thanks for the inspiring story.

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 4 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Thank you, Ronnie!

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 4 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Thank you, Cam!

    • Genna East profile image

      Genna East 4 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      Ohhhhh, Will. Stunning as usual. Your writing is so outstanding, I'm running out of adjectives. :-) Voted up and far beyond. Thank you for this wonderful story...it made my day.

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 4 years ago from Central Florida

      Wow, towards the end I realized the stranger was Jesus, but I wasn't prepared for the goosebumps that covered my body when my suspicion was validated. Excellent story, Will!

    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 4 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      A parable for the Easter season. Very good.

    • klidstone1970 profile image

      இڿڰۣ-- кιмвєяℓєу 4 years ago from Niagara Region, Canada

      Very moving tale...thank you for such a heart felt story.

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 4 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Thank you, Genna!

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 4 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Thank you, bravewarrior!

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 4 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Thank you, Don!

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 4 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Thank you, klidstone1970!

      I need to take a peek at your work.

    • profile image

      Dani Novoa 4 years ago

      I read this out loud to Rich after he got home. All he could say was "Wow, Bill sure has a way with endings!"

      As I was reading this to Rich I took the story as a modern day work crew, it wasn't until the end that I realize its a past tense story. And an amazing one at that. I LOVE it!!! What a great way to bring Jesus into your wonderful world of readers!!

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 4 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Thought you might like this one!

      BTW, I wanted you to think it was a modern day crew right up to the end, but I thought all the biblical names might give it away.

      (^_*)

    • profile image

      Ghaelach 4 years ago

      Hi Will.

      How did I miss this one!

      Like many others, you had me with hook, line, and sinker with this story.

      Well concealed till the end. Your imagination does you credit and no wonder I call you the Master of Fiction.

      LOL Ghaelach

    • Angela Blair profile image

      Angela Blair 4 years ago from Central Texas

      Another absolutely stunning story, Will. I never even suspicioned the end -- and it made my day. Best/Sis

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 4 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Wow! Thank you, Ghaelach!

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 4 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Hi, Angela!

      Accidents happen on construction jobs, and Jesus was a carpenter, so I got to thinking, What Would Jesus Do if....

    • mary615 profile image

      Mary Hyatt 4 years ago from Florida

      I'm so glad I found this beautiful story this morning. It came at a time in my life when I am being "swallowed up" by an event in my life. Jesus will pull me out of this hole I'm in, too.

      Beautiful writing, thank you. Voted UP, Mary

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 4 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Yes he will! After all, you are Mary!

    • Just Ask Susan profile image

      Susan Zutautas 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Oh Bill, This was beautiful!

    • btrbell profile image

      Randi Benlulu 4 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Beautiful...crying! Thank you!

    • Wayne Brown profile image

      Wayne Brown 4 years ago from Texas

      An exceptional good story, Will...one that brings us to hope when all hope seems lost. That is when miracles happen. Thanks for sharing. ~WB

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 4 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Thank you, Susan!

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 4 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Thank you, Randi!

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 4 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Hi Wayne,

      Miracles happen all the time, but like Ben the father, we don't realize it.

    • lindacee profile image

      lindacee 4 years ago from Arizona

      Exquisitely crafted story. I look forward to reading more of your works. :)

    • WillStarr profile image
      Author

      WillStarr 4 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Thank you, lindacee!

      I just concluded 'Rebirth".

    • Billrrrr profile image

      Bill Russo 2 years ago from Cape Cod

      Hey Will,

      This is a riveting account and is fantastic right up until the end - and then it gets even better.

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 2 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Thank you, Bill.

      As I said, they're not all westerns!

    • suziecat7 profile image

      suziecat7 2 years ago from Asheville, NC

      Good stuff as usual. I missed this one before.

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 2 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Thank you Suzanne!

    • profile image

      Shelley & Dean 2 years ago

      Another heart warming and touching story with your delightful and surprise ending. We really enjoy reading your stories together, it is a special treat for us.Thank you and God bless you dear man. I am not the least bit surprised at how you are loved by so many.

    • WillStarr profile image
      Author

      WillStarr 2 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Thank you Shelley and Dean!

    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 2 years ago from Orlando, FL

      Awesome! Beautiful! :)

    • WillStarr profile image
      Author

      WillStarr 2 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Thank you, Linda!

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