By Errol Castens/NEMS Daily Journal
I’d been so busy that Roger and I hadn’t had much more than waved in passing since Christmas. He finally caught me at home working at home one morning this week.
I’d failed to find time – ever since Thanksgiving – to get the skin back on my hoophouse, meaning the primetime salads we usually enjoy all winter were absent. He was bringing over one of his occasional offerings of arugula, spinach and lettuce.
“Heard about your new skill,” he said with a grin. “Pants pulling.”
Sue had told Roberta, and Roberta had told Roger, about my visit to the courthouse a couple of weeks before. As I poured us each a cup of coffee, I felt compelled to clarify the incident.
I’d crossed paths in a back hallway with a shackled inmate and his lawyer on their way into the main courtroom for an appearance before the judge.
Problem was, the man’s shackles included a chain across his backside, and as he had repeatedly sat and risen that morning, the heavy metal had pulled against his jail-uniform trousers and briefs, leaving him fully exposed to both cold and the potential for ridicule.
He was trying to work up the nerve to ask his attractive, young, female attorney for help in hitching his britches just as I showed up from outside.
He whispered his problem to me as the attorney walked ahead, tactfully feigning ignorance.
It was an awkward situation, but a couple of tugs from my still-icy hands got him strategically covered again.
The wheels in Roger’s head were turning as he sipped coffee in my kitchen.
“That’s an illustration of humanity’s basic problem,” he opined.
I wasn’t sure what he meant.
“Well, those shackles didn’t miraculously appear,” Roger said. “Somehow, his behavior earned him those locks and chains, just as we all are guilty of sin.”
I waited for more details.
“The inmate might have been able to ignore the fact that he was in a jail uniform,” he said. “Maybe he could even pretend that the shackles were no big deal.
“But when gravity overcame his pants, he was left – just like Adam and Eve when ‘their eyes were opened’ – unable any longer to deny his nakedness,” Roger mused. “His shame was open, and the only thing he could do was to ask for mercy.”
I felt sad that I hadn’t thought of the episode that way at the time. It would have been a prime opportunity to introduce mercy’s Source instead of just its manifestation.
Contact Daily Journal Oxford Bureau reporter Errol Castens at (662) 281-1069 or firstname.lastname@example.org.