Three weeks later…
Nick wiped the perspiration from his brow with the back of his hand. The Ugandan sun descended on him like a heated blanket. He kept his hair cut so short so as to make out the dermis of his scalp. His head seemed like a solid cube, rounded off with a clean shaven jaw of granite. Putting on his raw leather gloves, he rolled back the sleeves of his threadbare work shirt, filled to swelling with the bulk of his mighty frame.
“Hodi, Brrick,” said Akello, a small boy of about seven.
Two other village children stared after him with huge smiles. Before he started work here, Akello and the other children had little more than thinly stretched skin over their bones. With gifts of food coming in, they now ate, along with their families. The village referred to him as “Brick,” regardless how often he corrected them. They laughed at first, thinking that calling him Brick warranted bouts of raucous laughter. In the end, both he and the locals quietly accepted his new name.
The corrugated iron village had given way; replaced rapidly with the concrete and steel box structures of his own construction. The box frames formed houses and shops. Some of the villagers added cladding to the walls, mainly timber, which he too supplied through his mission contacts.
Once he had a crew of twenty working under him, now, due to his gift, he worked alone. A few years previously, he worked by the side of a rounded base of freshly poured concrete. On his lunch break, he sat on the edge of the wooden barriers, holding the concrete in place. There he opened his Bible at John 5:1-8 and read of the miracle of the pool of Bethesda. Every now and then, an angel would stir the water and people of varying afflictions would enter, instantly healed of their ills.
He dropped his sandwich, tumbling from his lap and onto the cement. Not that he could eat it, but he had to retrieve the sandwich and smooth out the cement before it dried. In wonder, he froze, as the concrete began to stir in a circular motion, moving faster as he watched. Someone shoved him from his perch. He fell into the swirling mix and struggled in vain to gain his feet. Dark grey covered his head, blotting out the sun, as the cement sucked him under like quick sand.
He had only just begun to hold his breath, when the vortex ceased. His hand reached unsuccessfully for the retaining timbers, but fell short, and into a strong, waiting hand. The hand’s owner pulled him to his feet. With his face and eyes still covered in a thick layer of dripping cement, Nick couldn’t as yet see his rescuer. Temper brewed in his heart as he set his hands to his eyes. No doubt, the same person who pulled him out, knocked him into the cement in the first place.
A snarl formed on his face as he wiped the last of the cement away from his eyes, then gaped. Before him, stood a giant of a man in shimmering white. He had blue flames for eyes and wore a knee length hauberk and surcoat, in the same fashion as the crusaders.