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Monday 24 March 2014

Max The Last Story

Max and Father Simon talked for hours. Father decided to teach Max about the Faith one on one, as the RCIA was in full swing. A grateful Max agreed to meet once a week until Easter for two hours. He walked away with a Bible, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and A Treatise on Prayer by St. Alphonsus. Maybe Father Simon's lack of aestheticism revealed a sensitive spirit in other areas. Max avoided stumbling over the plants on the stoop.

On the way back to the shelter, Max ran into James coming home from work. James could not help but notice the stack of books in Max's hands. "Hey, those are Catholic books." James really was not surprised.

"James, too bad you are not practicing. You could be my sponsor."  James did not answer. Then, he said,
"I found out that Karen is now in RCIA. Must be something in the air."  The two walked on to the shelter, but first, they sat on their bench.  Max paged through the books. He felt that this journey would prove not only interesting and spiritually beneficial, but fun.

James remained silent. "My one brother died when I was a kid. I got mad at God. He did not have to let him die. And, Mike died. I just do not understand why we are here."

Max waited a moment. "Why do you have to understand everything? God and the spiritual life are mysteries to us. We can only learn so much, but we have to try."

Their ruminations ended when a huge gust of wind brought in a shower of rain. Max put the books under his shirt, and they ran into the shelter.

At this time of year, in the last weeks of March, the number of men in the shelter had dwindled to about ten. Some of the Memphis men left to go back to the city. A few had found jobs. Some just disappeared.

James laid down on his cot. "I just don't feel well, Max." Max looked at James. He looked very ill. "I am going to phone a doctor."

James tried to sit up, but could not. He was too dizzy and he complained of chest pain. Max got the director of the shelter and together they determined that James had to go to the hospital. He had symptoms of a heart attack.

Max said, "An ambulance is coming. Is there anything else you want, James?"

"I told you death comes in threes," he gasped. "Call Father Simon, would you?"

James asked to use the phone, and within a few minutes, Father Simon was kneeling next to James' cot.

Max and the director stood apart. They could hear the words of the priest, absolving James of his sins.

Then, the doors burst open and the paramedics came in with a stretcher. Father Simon stood up and walked over to Max.

"This was a good thing you did, Max. I don't think he will make it."  The paramedics began phoning the angioplasty doctor at the hospital. Then, one got out the defibrillator. They gave James two shots as well. But, after fifteen minutes, it was clear James was gone.

"Well," said Father Simon. "He is in a better place."

Max asked, "Do you mean heaven, Father?"

"I don't know for sure, but either there, or purgatory. He made a good confession, and I gave him the last rites. One cannot do much more than that. See you on Thursday."

Father left, but stopped and blessed James' body first. The paramedics covered the body up, and thanked Max and the director for phoning.

"He went so fast, it could have been something hereditary. We just saw this a while ago."

Max nodded. But, unlike Mike, James had opened his heart to God, as it was giving way.

"Thank you, Mary and thank you Jesus", was all Max could say.

Read This From Cardinal Burke

A great leader, and let us pray for him. Cardinal Burke speaks the truth. How many Catholics are listening?

POTUS meets Pope Francis on Thursday. I hope there are "words".


Max Sixth

Max told me three extraordinary things on Monday. The information he found online on Thursday, at the library, on the Eucharistic Jesus and the Real Presence astounded him. He said that if Catholics really believed in the Real Presence that St. Benedict's would be packed to the gills every Sunday, which the parish was not. Secondly, he told me that his prayer life was changing. Jesus had become "interiorized" and not exterior. Max mused that the reception of Holy Communion must be an experience like his of Jesus inside of him.

I agreed with everything he said. He wrote this to me in an email, which is my main source of information from Max.


James, being Irish. told Max that death comes in threes. Max knew this was false, being in the Middle East for years and watching men die in random numbers. However, he did not argue with James. James seem to be waiting for two more people he knew to die, but in the meantime, he was offered a job. Bill had lost Mike in the auto repair shop, the only auto shop in town, and one with an superb reputation. Bill and his five brothers worked in the shop full-time. I had met these men when I visited the town years ago, when I met Max, James, and Mike. Travelling through the South, I had a bad experience, as my car had a strange flat. Bill told me I had bought a faulty tire somewhere. It had blown in several places all at once on the highway and I was very lucky not to have had an accident.

Thankfully, I was in a place where I could pull over to the side and phone a tow truck. Bill's Auto Repair was the number I found on my smart phone.

The problem of hiring a new person took a while to resolve as Bill's sons had to be consulted. The two boys did not want to "take over" the business, but go into IT and medicine in the autumn. Ken was a year older than Rob, but had worked in the shop a year after high school. Now, he and his brother would go to the local, excellent university and pursue new lives.

Bill's older brother, Tom, became ill the same week that Mike died. He had gone to Memphis for tests. So, technically, the shop needed two new men. Bill knew that James had talent as a mechanic. He had to consult with the others, but James was offered a job on Monday. He took it. He could wear his baseball cap all day in the shop if he wanted to do so.

The homeless shelter has a policy that is a person gets a job, that man can stay one month until he gets paid and until he gets his own place. The housing run by the city has a waiting list of six months. The houses were all built in the eighties and are of a high standard for public housing. These consist of two neighborhoods of duplexes, each with a small porch and a little picket fence. Each house has one or two bedrooms. Maggie lived in a one bedroom. James had been right about one thing. Another death followed that of Mike's, as within ten days, old Maggie was found dead in her little kitchen.  Sadly, Punch had died as well, as Maggie must have been dead for a few days when found. Max wondered, but did not say this to James, "Was Punch the third death?"

The newspaper noted that Maggie was 93 and had been born in Lithuania. Whether she was in heaven or not was a subject not discussed by James or Max.

But, another extraordinary thing happened to Max. The death of Punch triggered a bunch of memories. Max remembered Andromeda, his dog in Iraq. He remembered all the months leading up to and from Sam and Joe's tragic deaths. He remembered his entire history except for the one month before he was in the hospital in New York.

Max decided to write all this down. I have not seen these stories, but he told me the writing was therapeutic and he hoped to share these with other men who had been abroad, especially the veterans. Max went to the pie shop by himself yesterday, as James was working at Bill's shop. All three "girls" were working as many tourists came to the shop for the weekend country dancing festival, and some stayed through the Monday.

Karen, Sue, and the waitress that was keen on Max, fluttered about the shop. Max had slept through the shelter breakfast, as he had been writing late at night with a small flashlight, so he ordered the full breakfast. The waitress keen on him had her long blond hair pulled back into a tight ponytail. Max noticed she had her nails done in green polish.

"Are you Irish, Kate," he asked? The tall waitress stared at him. "Oh, you noticed the green nail polish. Yep, I always put on green polish for St. Pat's Day. I guess I  need to change the color today."

She was pleased that Max noticed, but Max noticed everything. She poured him some coffee and moved on to another customer. Max wondered if Kate was Catholic. Max realized that he had known two Catholics in Iraq. One was the staff sergeant, Kyle Cummings, who did go to Mass when it was offered. The other was the Catholic priest chaplain, Father Miller. Other than that, Max was not sure he had actually met other Catholics, but then, he never attended Mass, which he was told at the time, filled up the air tent where it was held.

Max thought about his dog, Andromeda. She had been trained to guard soldiers and other personnel. She had accompanied Max everywhere, and was killed on the day Sam and Joe died.

Until Punch's sad death, Max had pushed the memory of Andromeda down into some deep, deep hole in his consciousness. The day the news of Maggie and Punch's death, (did Punch count for three, Max wondered again?), circled about the town, Max remembered Andromeda and that night, he cried for a long time. Those in the shelter ignored him, as no one had their own rooms, but the three dozen cots were lined up like beds in an old-fashioned camp hospital, in three rows of twelve.  The other men ignored Max's weeping, as they understood it was bad manners to question or even acknowledge tears in a grown man. Plus, most of them had their tears now and then as well.

In the morning, Max felt much better and was grateful for his regained memory. In fact, to show God gratitude, Max walked over to St. Benedict's and popped into the church. Now, this church had been built in 2006 after a fire destroyed the old one. The new St. Benedict's was a horror of modern architecture and bad taste. The entire church was shaped like a crown, which defied imagination, as St. Benedict never wore a crown, and the name of the church was not Christ the King. Inside, the walls were made of local stone, but the wood paneling in the sanctuary made that most sacred area look like a board room in an office building. A wooden cross without the corpus seemed to be stuck to the paneling. One hardly noticed this cross.

No one liked this architecture except the priest. And, no one knew why the priest liked it. At Easter, the ladies would try and make the stone walls and paneling look festive by draping pink and yellow material from the top to the bottom of the walls. They pinned dozens of fake butterflies of different colors all over the cloths. Their grandmothers had pinned false butterflies on the curtains in the parlors in the spring, in the 1930s, and this idea stuck in the church ladies' imaginations. In addition. long pieces of cloth festooned the center of the crown, reaching out from the sides of the church to the center window at the top. The entire effect created reminded most people of a wedding reception, or teenage girl's birthday party. The colors used mostly were not liturgical colors, and in Ordinary Time in the fall, the cloths were brown and orange, with fake autumn leaves of yellow pinned to the long sheets of non-liturgical colors. A few people drove out to the Catholic church in  .....ton, in order to worship in a "real church." That church, St. Mary's, was over a hundred years old and had not been ruined.

Thankfully, as it was Lent, somber purple cloths graced the walls, and no long drapes adorned the interior of the crown. So, when Max entered the church he was not "grossed out" as James would say, by the decorations. Only two statues stood in this modern church and both were made out of wood. One was of Mary and the other Joseph. In a small chapel to the side, the Holy Sacrament Chapel,  a large window of the Sacred Heart, salvaged from the old burnt church, had been placed above the altar. This chapel proved to be the favorite place for prayer, as it was more traditional and lovely. The priest had allowed some weddings in this chapel, as the brides preferred the large stained glass window as a backdrop to the wood paneling.

Father Simon had no taste in art or architecture, but he claimed he loved this church. He had brought in large potted plants, much to the chagrin of Rosie, who ran the local florist shop, and had provided the church with flowers for years. At least once a week, one could hear Rosie exclaiming the ugliness of the plants compared to her beautiful pieces. Her opinion held sway. Some brave church ladies had attempted to move the ugly plants after a spring clean, but Father moved those back.

Max did not noticed the plants as he made his way to the small Sacred Heart chapel. There, he experienced the same welling up of love that he had in the hospital so many years before.

Max had brought Will's rosary and a print-out from the library computer on how to say this. Max would give it a try.

An hour later, Max stood on Father Simon's doorstep, as the rectory was right next door. Max noticed that the entire porch was full of potted plants. No one answered, so Max walked over to the office, on the side of the rectory. Mary Kay Crimmins, the secretary, explained that Father could see him tomorrow at three. Max made an appointment. On his way out, Max almost fell over two more plants on the stoop of the office. Despite the plants, Max had made a decision. He now knew why people loved the rosary. Jesus had introduced Max to His Mother. And, Christ's Mother led Max to the Catholic Church. This was the third extraordinary thing Max told me.

Fifth Max

James found his "T" hat in the Free Shop. Maggie met him at the door as he was going out. She needed to find net curtains, as Punch, her cat, regularly climbed her curtains at home and most of these hung in shreds.

"Punch thinks my nets are his playground." Maggie mused. "My other cat, Welcome, died you know. I shall see him in heaven, I hope." James looked surprised. "Don't you believe in heaven," Maggie asked?

"Yeah, I do, "  answered James, "but I did not think you were a church-goer, Maggie." James' old Catholic upbringing sensed something. "I mean, we are supposed to be going to church to get to heaven."

"Naw, all people go to heaven, James. Well, I need to go. Talk to you later."  Maggie toddled into the shop, and James stood in the doorway for a minute. He thought he might ask Max his opinion on heaven.

Ten minutes later, James sat down on his bench in the park. The sun shone brightly, but the air felt chilly. Down the road, the river had flooded over the roads and drivers were forced miles out of their way into the town from the country. Little traffic ran past the park today. Max came out of the shelter. He held something in his hand. James could see that it was red. Max came over and sat down.

"Your red dragon?" James noted that Max carried it out on Wednesdays.

"Yep, Sam was killed on a Wednesday. It's funny, but I cannot remember what I did Wednesday last, but I can remember Sam's death day like it happened yesterday and he died ten years ago."

James nervously squirmed, "Do you think Sam is in heaven?"  Max thought, ah, now is the time to talk about God.

"Don't know for sure. I mean, we have to be really good to get to heaven and we have to follow the Commandments. You are an old Catholic. You should know."

James looked at his new cap, now in his hand. "Well, Maggie just said everyone goes to heaven."

Max stretched out his long legs. He put the red dragon on the space next to him and put his hands behind his head. "No, I don't believe that. The Scriptures are pretty clear about there being a hell, and even Jesus talks about people going to hell, and He is God."

"Well, I do not know. I hate to think of anyone in hell. I think there is a hell, too, but for really bad people." James was thinking of Mike. He did not understand how God could allow an atheist to die just like that.

Max continued. "Really bad means something else to God than to us, I think. For example, I am not a really bad or very good person, but I might not get to heaven. I have to work on stuff."

James was surprised. "Hey, you are a good guy, Max. What do you mean?" He thought of Mike again.

Max picked up his dragon. "I don't go to church. I do not honor the very first Commandment. Even Sam went to services when he could, regularly. I never did, even in my old faith. And, now, I can't decide where to go."

James looked at Max. "You mean someone could go to hell for not going to church on Sunday? That is pretty strict, Max."  Max looked straight at James. "Yep, but I do not make the rules, God does. I have been thinking lately of going to church on Sunday. I mean, would you want to go with me?"

The sun slid behind some clouds. Rain seemed to be building up in the eastern sky, as the clouds grew darker. "Hey, we should get inside." James noted.

The two men walked quickly to the pie shop. Karen wasn't there, but Sue was. Sue also cut hair. Today, she was a waitress. "Hi, guys. Pies?"

"And coffee, please," answered Max. Linda had given him a tenner and he was treating James today.

"In my old religion, one just can't go to church anyway. It's like, one just can't go to church. I mean, there are rules and I hate to think about those." James ate his apple pie like a serious pie eater, fast and with relish.

"Explain, James. The only thing I know about Catholicism is what Will told me last year. You remember the boy who went into the seminary?"

"Nice young man." James drank some black coffee. "Well, Catholics have something called confession, and one has to tell one's sins to a priest, who forgives you. Then, you can go to church."

Sue brought more coffee. She stood by the booth."My grandma is a Catholic. She goes to St. Benedict's up the road. But, my mom fell away and we all just did not do anything. But, if I ever got married, I would want to be a Catholic."

Max smiled. All the waitresses here wanted to get married "real bad". "Why Catholic, Sue?" Max asked.

"Well, they believe God blesses the marriage and it lasts forever. None of this divorce stuff." Sue wandered off to another customer.

Max put two sugars into his mug. He needed sweeteners in the strong, black coffee at this cafe. James continued, "I have not been to church in such a long time, that I am scared to talk to a priest, to be honest."

"Well," said Max, "if you really believe that people go to hell, and that not going to church on Sunday is a sin, I guess we have to think about either going to hell or going to church." He ate his cherry pie.

The rain did not come, but the sky looked dark. "It is good thing that the shelter lets us in during the day. I think we are in for some bad weather." James noted that the wind had picked up.

Max took something out of his pocket as they walked back to the shelter. "What do you know about rosaries, James?"

He held up the knotted one Will had given him last year. It had a simple wooden cross on it with a simple wooden Jesus. Max thought it looked like something made in the Middle East. In fact, he knew that, as one day he asked Karen to read the words on the back of the cross, as his eyesight was not so good. "Made in Bethlehem", read Karen out loud.

Max was happy to hear that, as he had been in Bethlehem a long time ago. His dad and mom took his only sister and him to the Holy Land when he was twelve. Max had a twin sister. But, he never saw any of his family. His parents lived in New York and his sister worked in Chicago. She was single, like him.

"I can't remember much, but one prays to Jesus's mom on the rosary, thinking about the things that she and Jesus did while praying the Hail Marys."

Max wondered why Catholics prayed to Mary. He was intrigued. He would pray to Jesus about this. "I think we should try going to the churches, one by one. We can try them all out."

James shook his head. "Nope, I could not do that. If I was to go back to church, I would just be a Catholic again." Max seemed amazed. "Why?"

James looked really sick. His face, usually ruddy, seemed white and pinched. "The Catholics have Jesus in the Eucharist. I learned that in school, but I can't go unless I went to confession and I don't want to do that."

Max was shocked. He had never heard of Jesus in the Eucharist. He told me that this statement of James caused him "much upset" as James would say. Max decided to read about this Eucharistic Jesus. But, he said nothing to James. Max would go to the library later and use the computer to look up "Eucharist".

"Well, I am going to write a story, now, James, like I do on Wednesdays. So, I am going in ...see you later."

To be continued...

Fourth Story from Max

I met Max in the park. Now, the park is really small. Because ....ville is small, the park is small. Actually, there are two parks. One is in the center of town and has been there since the 1890s. It has a gazebo and swings.

The second park is outside the town limits and one needs a car to get there. This park is where people go for picnics. There is a softball diamond in the park, and a swimming pool.

Max and James have "their" bench in the park. The homeless shelter backs onto this small park and is connected to the Methodist church. However, the Methodists do not run the shelter, the city actually does.

Max told me there were thirty men at any given time who stay in the shelter overnight. Some are from Memphis. There are shower stalls, the lock boxes, and breakfast. Lunch and dinner are not provided, but the Catholic Church has a dinner twice a week for any poor people who want to come. James and Max go there. That is where Max met Will last year.

Today, in March, James is still "going on" about Mike. Max knows that James is scared of death. But, Max is patient. He knows that James is not ready to hear about Christ and sin and death. Max believes in hell and in heaven.

Max told me this story. He was in a hospital in an eastern state, when he came back from the Middle East, and he was considering suicide. His old secularist ideas could not help him understand the deaths of Joe and Sam. No one visited him in the hospital at all. Max's family, well-to-do and ashamed of him, never visited him, not once.

The night Max had decided to take his life something happened. Max was in the hospital room when he felt a strong wind. He looked around. The two windows were the kind which were permanently shut. He had a night light in his room, which was sparse. He had a little hand electric "bell" to call a nurse if he wanted one.

Max said he just put his head under a pillow. Then, he heard someone talking to him. "You have been measured and found wanting."

Max remembered the passage in Daniel regarding the king who died the night he saw this handwriting on the wall. Max sat up in his bed. He told me he felt cold and scared. Then, he saw someone standing in the corner of the room. It looked just like Death in the movies. This thing was black and hooded. Max stared.

Then, Someone Else came up and stood between Death and Max.  This Man was so bright, so beautiful, Max could hardly look at Him. This Man did not speak to Max, but turned to Death in the corner and said this, "He does not belong to you. He belongs to Me. Look at My Wounds."

Death disappeared, "just like that" said Max. Then, the Bright Man held out His Hands to Max. Max saw the holes in the Hands. He knew Who this Man was. This was Christ.

Max reached out to touch the Hands, but the vision disappeared. The room was warm and a pleasant odor filled it. Max laid back down on the bed, stunned. Then, he noticed something. He no longer had any thoughts of suicide. He felt a deep peace. He told me he felt a great love welling up in his heart.

Then, Max sobbed and sobbed. The nurse must have heard him and came in. She was alarmed, but Max assured her he felt just fine.

The nurse insisted on taking all his vitals. Max wanted to laugh. He never felt healthier in his life.

By the end of the week, he was allowed to leave the hospital. He was deemed to be no longer a danger to himself.

When he walked out the door of the hospital, Max said Someone was walking next to him. Max knew the Person was Christ. Max stopped in the parking lot. "You should not be walking next to me, but ahead of me. I should be following You."  Christ answered Max. "You are one of my Chosen People. I shall walk next to you always."

Max told me that from that day, he was sure Christ was with him always. Even when he is without work or a house, Max states that Christ is with him. Even today, in the homeless shelter, Max knows Christ is there.

to be continued....

Third Story from Max

In the town where Max lives, there is a great charity shop. People bring in clothes, toys, shoes and kitchen stuff, and anyone can take up to twelve items free per trip. No one is charged anything for the things, most of which seem new and in good condition. One reason why the shop is so full of good stuff is that the college students do not want to take things back home at the end of the third term, so they drop things off at the Free Shop.

Max needed a pair of boots. The winter was hard, as we all know, even in the southern states. His boots were full of holes. James needed some jeans and a hat. His team is the Texas Rangers, as he wanted to find a "T" hat. So, the two walked to the Free Shop. Only three ladies, besides the shop keeper, were there. One was a middle-aged lady who has ten cats and always talks to Max. Her name is Mary and she was in the diplomatic core for years. She loves coming to the Free Shop.

The second lady was Maggie, who is so old no one can tell how old she is. Her husband is dead and her three children are all dead. She lives in housing provided by the state. James went over to talk to Maggie about Mike, who Maggie knew. In fact, Maggie knew Mike's dad.

"The widow-maker is what that is called. Mike's dad died in minutes. It is hereditary." Maggie moved on to the shelves where the glasses were lined up. "Mike's dad died at work. Poor Mike did not have a chance."

James walked back to where Max was trying on boots. "I just do not get it. I still can't believe Mike is dead."

Max did not say anything. He just looked at his feet. He noticed he needed new socks as well. Might as well get them here.

A third lady in the shop came over to James. "Hi, James, did you hear about Mike?" Max wanted to ask Linda not to talk about Mike, but it was too late. "I saw him just last week. You know, he was an atheist and never went to church." Linda went to the Lutheran church on the corner. There were six churches in ....ville. One was Catholic, one Lutheran, one Methodist, one Latter Day Saints, one labeled the "Native American Church for Christ", and one "New Church in Christ".  Linda somehow knew that Mike was an atheist. James knew that as well. So did Max.....

Linda turned to look at the handbags. James came back to where Max was sitting. "Man, I just do not understand why Mike had to die like that. All by himself, so suddenly."

Max looked at his new boots. It was not the right time to talk to James about God again. Not yet....

Second Short Story from Max

James is Max's best friend. James and Max have blue cots next to each other in the homeless shelter. They share a lock box provided by the St. Vincent de Paul society for their few things. James used to be married and has photos in his half of the lock box. Max has never been married and has few mementos on his side. One thing he has is a rosary, which he has not had the courage to use yet. A young student named Will gave it to him last year. Will went into the seminary. James and Max spend quite a lot of time together.

They talk about the "old days" less and less, as Max has memory problems. But, James no longer wants to think about his past. James not only use to be married, but he use to be an alcoholic. Alcoholism ruined his marriage. He has three kids he never sees, as his ex-wife remarried and moved far away to another state. James does not have enough money to visit his kids.

What Max does talk to James about is religion. James is a Catholic. He is an Irish Catholic, but fell away from the Church thirty years ago or so. James is slightly older than Max and claims he fell away in college.

Max knows something James does not know, yet. Max knows that God loves him even though he is homeless. James thinks God hates him, and he is angry about his wasted past. He has not forgiven himself for a messed up life. Today, Max and James decided to walk to the far side of the town. The town, .....ville...has 5,400 inhabitants most of the year, but over 20,000 during the college terms, as a famous, middle-sized university takes over the town nine months out of every year.

James went to that university and even played football. He was a local hero. He met his wife in college and opened a farm implement business just outside of town. James was the J....D....rep. He and his wife did well, as the locals said, but the drinking became more and more part of James' life until Anne left him.

James had refused to change, but he finally did after the divorce, and after Anne remarried Carl. Carl is in the Navy. The couple with the kids moved almost directly across country, over 1000 miles away.

Max tried today to explain to James that he does not have to be perfect to be loved by God. Max tried to explain that Christ forgives and forgets. But, James does not want to forget anything. He lives in the past.

Max wanted James to be open to God today of all days, as this is James' birthday. James asked Max, "Why are we here, anyway?'  Max answered, "To give glory to God."

(James does not believe Max). "Then why are we homeless? Why do other drunks have it nice, and here, I am sober, but still homeless?"

Max said he looked at the ground, which was full of green grass and small yellow flowers. They walked a long time to a cafe on the west side of town, where a nice lady usually sells them huge slices of pie "dead cheap".

One of the waitresses seems keen on Max, but Max knows he is too ill for a relationship. Besides, he does not want to get married. He cannot support himself, much less a wife and kids.

James rambled on about how God loves some people more than He does him. "Sure," agreed Max. "God can love anyone how He wants to, but He still loves you. And, maybe, just maybe, He wants you to be homeless just now."

James threw his fork on the table. "What?"  He stood up.

Max said, "Sit down. What I mean is we do not know how God loves us. How do we know how God loves? All we know is that He died on the Cross for our sins. He loved us that much."

James answered that he thought Max was stupid and full of daft ideas. Max agreed.

They finished the cherry pie and walked back to the park. (Some people ignore Max and James, but some people say "hi"). James wanted to stop at the auto repair shop where he use to work. Max said, "Sure".

He knew that James wanted to see his old friend Mike. But, Mike was not there. The owner, Bill, told James that Mike was found dead at home, of a massive heart attack. Apparently, Mike's dad died the same way.

Max noted that James was really upset. James seemed in shock. Maybe, thought Max, James never thought about death. Max has thought a lot about death. They walked back to the park slowly. "I cannot believe this. Mike is dead. I just don't get it. Why are we here?"

Max decided not to answer James. Not yet......