I stole from him. I could make the usual excuses about being poor, but the truth is I am not poor. My parents do very well for themselves. If I told them I wanted it they would have bought it for me. I stayed quiet; I am not sure why.
It has been 20 years and the guilt is still there. Why didn’t I return it? I see the old cowboy all the time. He still speaks to me. He has to know. He would forgive me. What is my problem?
I stood in aisle 5 scanning the cold medicine. My ears were plugged, liquid drained and leaked out from everywhere. I used tissue to try and hide the bleeding. The pressure was pressing against my skull. I needed fast relief.
I skipped the adult meds – they take too long. I grabbed the children’s liquid cold medicine. I tore the box open, ripped off the child safety wrapping and swigged the cold medicine like a shot of whiskey.
“This stuff tastes like rattle snake piss!” I heard a laugh from across the aisle. It was the old cowboy.
“Ranchers can’t get sick.”
“Yeah, tell that to the nasty bug I swallowed. I got 50 head of cattle to bring in.”
“I here ya.”
This was my moment, alone in aisle 5. I froze; my mind went blank. The guilt burned inside of me. “I stole a rock from you when I was 9.”
“I don’t know why. It called to me.”
“Rocks are important for our way of life. They tell us the weather from the past. They show patterns so we can predict things to come. The rock tells us about the soil. The rock knew it could help you more than me.”
I stood in shock and disbelief.
“If you need help with your 50 head let me know.”
He turned and walked away. I was finally free…forgiveness.