by Bob Hazlett
Many believe Friday the 13th is an unlucky day, but don’t tell that to Rudolf and Klara Adamek.
Rudolf, not well educated, always lived on the bottom edge of society – last hired, first laid off. Through all his years, he had worked enough to just qualify for Social Security. That is what barely keeps he and Klara alive now in the year 2015. Certainly, not enough to retire in any semblance of comfort. Now work for Rudolf was always hard to come by. He spent most of his time walking the streets, looking for whatever work he could find – picking up bottles and aluminum cans as he went.
Several years earlier, on an unsuccessful day of looking for work, Rudolf paused to rest on a park bench, and encountered a scruffy mutt who refused to leave, followed him home, barked until they let him in, and stayed. Both Rudolf and Klara had a soft spot for animals. So, the mutt became part of the family. They named him Friday because it was on Friday the 13th that he stole their hearts. Friday was a mutt, about 25 pounds, with long hair, a mix of brown, black, spots of white. He had a happy disposition and a sweet face – now showing a lot of gray.
The Adamek’s lived in a small, one bedroom, wooden clapboard house with a wooden porch under sheet metal roof. The house was old and sagging, but the outside was painted white with green window trim. A classic example of the fact that poor people care about their living place too. Their little home was in Drullins, a poor residential neighborhood of Amesport, a rustbelt city that showed no signs of a future.
Rudolf and Klara shared a deep love that got them through rough times – like the ones they were facing in February 2015. Rudolf was a WWII veteran, so they relied on the VA hospital for all their medical care. Recently, Klara had been diagnosed with Boar Cancer and was experiencing delirium, tingling feet, and back pain with increasing frequency. That long shadow hung over their modest lives every day now, getting longer as Klara’s condition worsened.
A cold wind cut through Rudolf’s flimsy coat, and sleet nipped at his face as he and Friday hurried home after a successful day of work. A grocery warehouse had let him help unload trucks, off the record, and paid him with a sack of groceries. At least they would have a good meal tonight.
Nearly home, Friday suddenly broke into a fit of barking at a thicket of bushes just off the sidewalk. Friday would run a few feet, stop, turn, and bark some more, insisting that Rudolf follow. In the bushes, they found a man huddled on the ground shivering in the cold.
In his mid-fifties, gaunt, drawn face, straggly beard with gray, long hair, he wore dirty, worn clothes, not enough for February. His tennis shoes were old and tattered, and he wore no socks. The man looked up with clear penetrating eyes, having a softness that startled Rudolf.
Without hesitating, Rudolf helped him up and started to lead him to his home. “You can’t stay out here. It is too cold, and a storm is coming. You will sleep at my house tonight.” As they walked, Rudolf thought about the bag of groceries that now would be split three ways instead of two, and he hoped that Klara would be well enough to cook.
Klara, knowing that Rudolf spent the day outside, forced herself out of bed and got dressed and prepared to spend the evening with him. She was surprised when the door opened and Friday bounded in to greet her, followed by a very dirty stranger, and Rudolf carrying a bag of groceries.
Rudolf explained quickly, then turned to the man and asked: “What is your name?” “Isa Ibn Maryam,” he replied.
At Rudolf’s insistence, Isa took a shower while Rudolf and Klara prepared dinner. Rudolf gave him some clothes to wear, and he left the dirty clothes in a pile by the bathroom door.
Dinner conversation was small talk, with Isa revealing nothing about himself but repeatedly inquiring about Klara’s illness. After dinner, Klara fixed the sofa for sleeping, and they all retired for the night.
Morning came, and Rudolf found Isa gone. The dirty clothes were gone, and Rudolf’s clothes were folded neatly and left on the couch. They never saw Isa again.
The day arrived for Karla’s next visit to the doctor. Apprehension filled both of them.
It seemed to Rudolf that Klara was with the doctor for much longer than usual. A feeling of dread crept over him. Finally, she emerged, smiling from ear to ear. “Rudolf!” she exclaimed, “My cancer is gone!”
Later at home, Klara inquired; “Rudolf, what day did we get Friday?” “Friday the 13th,” he replied.
“… and what day did Isa stay with us?” “Friday, February 13, 2015.”
“… and what day is today, the day my cancer was declared cured?” “Friday, March 13, 2015” exclaimed Rudolf with a huge smile.
So is Friday the 13th a day of bad luck? Not in this house.