Trish came to the Sunoco station on the next Saturday, hoping to meet Dorcas again. She was not disappointed. But today she stood by the flower bucket with a young man who looked older than the girl she had first met. From across the street, Trish hesitated, but Dorcas recognized her and waved her over.

“This is Joseph, my friend and my sponsor. I was telling him about your sad life and he wanted to meet you.”  Dorcas embraced her and for a moment. Trish felt like all her doubts about their friendship had vanished.

Joseph’s speech was broken by stuttering. “ I…I  kn know how hard li  life c c can bbe e,” he reached out for her hand and shook it heartedly. A broad smile showed several broken teeth. “Y You mu must come w with us.”

Trish shook her head, “I haven’t decided on that offer. You both seem satisfied with what you’re doing.  How can I be sure?” Trish turned to leave and was startled as they both hugged her.

“If you don’t feel ready to join us, please keep coming back. I don’t know how many more Saturdays we have on this corner, maybe none, but please, give it some thought. We hate to lose you when you so desperately need our Brother and our friends. After you come into our circle your cares will melt away. Joseph and I are living proof.” They encircled her again.

“I will be back, I promise you.” Trish had tears in her eyes as she started for home. Her thoughts were as jumbled as the traffic around her and she wanted it to all go away. It would be so easy to walk away from a drunken mother and a young man, who had hurt her by going back on his promise, and a life of feeling inferior, no matter how hard she tried to fit in. She walked almost unseeing until a honking horn stopped her short before she stepped into its path.

The car pulled over and Moonie took her by the arm. “Are you trying to get yourself killed out there?” he was flushed and angry. ” What’s the matter with you, Trish? You look like you lost your best friend.”
She was shaking when he pushed her into the car. Tears ran down her cheeks,

He pulled over, out of the stream of traffic.

Her first impulse was to lash out at him. “What are you doing in this part of town? Slumming”?

“Is that what you think of me, Trish? After the lecture I got in school about not acting like ‘one of them.’ At that point I thought you really felt I was different.”

“I did, I do,” she muttered half to herself.

“What you did for me that day was give me a good talking to that I deserved. You see, I didn’t like myself very much. I was going down the wrong path and I didn’t know it until you showed me for what I was. I have wanted to thank you privately, to say thanks for saving me from being a jerk.”  He reached for her hand.

“I didn’t do anything…….” She avoided looking at him.

“There’s something else,” he paused.

“Let’s have it,” she moaned.

“I hesitate to tell you this, maybe you already know. Maybe it will keep you and Ben from hooking up again.”
She waited.

“It’s about Ben….he’s been making a name for himself.”

“Besides jerk, you mean.”
“He’s more than a jerk. He has new interests, Gloria…among others. Finally getting what he wants.”

She sighed. “Thanks for telling me.”

“I’ll take you home. Why were you walking so far from home? You could have caught a bus.”

“I like to walk and think. Sometimes it helps me decide things.” She got out and didn’t even give the usual excuses for her run-down neighborhood. Moonie already knew.

Her mother was waiting at the open door. “Where have you been?”

“No alcohol on your breath,” Trish broke the silence.

“I got a job as hostess in a supper club,” Jenny said proudly, kissing Trish on the cheek. “And, by the way, your Dad’s at the hospital. Mike Farrell had a heart attack.”

Trish glared at her mother, “And by the way, Mike had a heart attack, but first you have to tell me about your job?  You know how we all love Mike. He’s like my grandfather, for God’s sake. Where did you hide the bottle that was on the table? It’s only a matter of time, Mom. I’m going to ask Jo to run me to the hospital to be with Dad.” She ran past her mother, without hearing her explain.

“He doesn’t want company.”