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A Divine Encounter


A Divine Encounter


Matt Kuvakos

A Divine Encounter

Copyright  2016 by Matt Kuvakos

Published by Matt Kuvakos at Shakespir

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For those who think they are forgotten. You are seen and heard by the God of the Universe.

A Divine Encounter

Rye watched his breath drift into the cold air as he pretended to smoke a cigarette within his imagination. He missed cigarettes, especially the feeling of the smoke whirling within his lungs until blowing out the dark cloud, calming his nerves. He tried to relax, but that was proving to be difficult since the back of the bus stop bench made him feel like he was being pressed into a waffle iron. He finally settled with his elbows on his knees, leaning forward watching cars pass him by. As he waited, he imagined himself standing outside of the bright entryway of the hospital.

In his mind he saw the sliding doors open as a paramedic shoved Rye out of the way, wheeling in a motionless body on a gurney. Rye could only see a hand dangling off the edge, lifeless. A muffled echo from the intercom spilled outside, calling for assistance in the ER. Rye saw himself take a step back, but when the sliding doors went to close, they stopped and began to make a buzzing noise while locked in place.

A car alarm was set off down the street, pulling Rye out from his imagination and back to the bus stop. The bus was running late and as each second ticked, he debated in his mind if he should just give up and not go. In fact, a big part of him, if not most of him, didn’t want to go. After all, he was only a few minute walk from home. He didn’t have to do this. His knees bobbed up and down rapidly as if he was trying to run away while sitting.

The waiting only made him more nervous. In high school he was told by his math teacher with crooked glasses, “Sometimes waiting will make the answer come to you.” Rye agreed with that, but this time he was scared of what the answer might look like. Rye noticed a group of people walking out of a church across the street. He couldn’t remember seeing a church there before.

The building looked as if it had been transported directly from France. There were two tall stone towers on each side with glowing lights, shining on two wooden crosses. “The Paris of America,” he thought aloud. He had never been to France, but he remembered watching a documentary on his crumbling city that gave Detroit that title. As he thought of what Detroit could’ve been, Rye slumped down deeper into the bench to try and escape the sting of the wind while his eyes remained fixated on the church.

He buried his nose into his wool jacket and looked toward the group of people that had walked out from the church and were still talking with each other. The massive doors creaked open again, releasing an orange glow from the inside along with another man. Rye naturally focused on this man. He stood out from the rest. He was older with long tangled grey hair that covered a white v-neck shirt with a smiley face scribbled on the front.

“Hey, see ya next week, Charlie.” A few people from the group raised their hands toward him and started to head down the street together.

“Always. Love you all.” Charlie waved, laughed a deep throaty laugh, and blew a kiss toward them with both hands while balancing on one foot. He then held the position while chuckling to himself for a few seconds before lifting his jean shorts back up to his waist that had started to slip off. He then shuffled toward the bus stop where Rye began to shift his position, hoping this guy was not going to sit next to him. He got his wish in that he didn’t sit next to him; instead he sat on the ground cross legged, facing him.

Charlie leaned back onto his elbows and looked straight up into the blackness of the night sky. He made this position look natural, as if it were his job to stare into the sky and wonder. “I love the cold.” He said while exhaling. His voice was gruff, but peaceful at the same time.

Rye wasn’t sure if he was talking to him or just himself so he stayed quiet and started to dig for his phone in his pocket. He really didn’t want to talk to anyone. Not on this night. Especially to a guy giving off a crazy person vibe.

“I think it makes you feel so much more alive. All senses of the body are heightened, until you go numb of course.” Charlie laughed a quick laugh before introducing himself. “I’m Charlie, by the way. Where you headed?” He extended his hand toward Rye.

Rye stopped his search for his phone, and surrendered his hand to Charlie’s dirt stained fingers. “I’m Rye, and I’m headed to the hospital…I think.” Just saying where he was going made his gut burn.

“Sorry to hear that. No one makes a trip to the hospital for anything good, unless you’re having a kid. I guess that’s a good thing. But, I don’t think you’re having a kid since the bus would get you there a few hours too late.” There was another chuckle from Charlie.

“Nope, no kid for me.” Rye nodded, and turned to look down the dimly lit street, where he saw two more people bundled up, walking hand in hand. He hoped him looking away would end the conversation.

“None for me, either.” Charlie shrugged, and still looked at Rye even with him avoiding eye contact. “You look young; do you want kids?”

Rye could feel Charlie’s stare poking him as if it were a pair of feelers from a bug. Even his eyes seemed to ask Rye questions he didn’t want to answer. “Hey man. I’m sorry, but I just don’t feel like talking.” Rye stuffed his hands into his pockets. “You seem like an interesting guy, but I would just like some quiet.”

Charlie smiled a bright smile, surprising Rye. “That makes sense to me, with your hospital trip on your mind and all. But, I’m afraid those are some bad manners.” Charlie went to a knee before reaching underneath the bench, and pulled out a pile of blankets. “I mean, you’re in my house after all.” Charlie motioned for Rye to scoot over a bit and sat down next to him with the pile of blankets on his lap. “And I also believe in divine encounters. So, can I at least guilt you into some conversation?” Charlie held that same bright smile as he spoke.

Rye was bracing himself for a sermon, from the least likely of sources. He looked toward the church and then leaned forward to see the suddenly empty street with flickering overhead lights.

“Alright, you’ve ‘guilted’ me into conversation, but I don’t think this is anything divine.” Rye said.

“Beautiful.” Charlie clapped loudly once. “You look like a man with a lot of questions flying around in his head. And that intrigues me.” Charlie stretched a blanket over both of their legs. “As for that divine encounter stuff. Well, I believe every conversation with another person is divine. And it is through people and their stories where I see God the most.” He patted the blanket flat on his lap.

“Ok, I guess that makes sense.” Rye cleared his throat. “You’re right. I am a man with many questions, and here’s my first. Why are you living on this bus stop?” Rye was still trying to evade the conversation and thought this may bring it to a crashing halt.

“Because, it’s where I belong.”

“How do you belong here? You wouldn’t feel safer in that church you came out of?” Rye asked, pointing toward the cross.

“To man’s eye, I’m a victim.” Charlie wiped his running nose with his arm. “But to Gods, I am what I am. It’s just a building, and no I wouldn’t feel safer. I’m far from the things that hurt me when I’m living here. No motivation, you see?”

“Motivation for what?” Rye asked.

“I can put on a fake face with the best of them. I’ve done all the rehabs and meetings. I’ve ‘gotten my life together.’” He did the universal motion of quotation marks and nodded toward the church. “But it was when I was comfortable, where I would find myself motivated to hurt myself the most.”

“So you put yourself in uncomfortable situations on purpose?” Rye looked at Charlie like he had been wanting to for the longest time, like he was crazy.

“Sure.” Charlie laughed his throaty laugh, throwing him into a coughing fit for a few seconds, allowing Rye to see the hospital in his mind once again. The burn in his gut returned.

“Enough about me. You’ve had that look on your face since I got here. Is it about your hospital visit?” Charlie asked as he spat out in front of him barely missing the edge of the blanket.

“Sure.” Rye said.

“I’ll finally ask, then. What’s the reason you’re going there?”

“I don’t know why we’re talking about all of this.” Rye took a deep breath, shaking his head slightly, causing a few strands of his brown hair to fall across his face.

“Because it matters.” Charlie rolled his eyes over dramatically toward Rye.

“I don’t know, man.” Rye was still shaking his head a bit.

“Your dad?” Charlie asked.

Rye looked at Charlie from the corner of his eye and nodded. “Yeah, my dad. How’d you know?”

“Call it a holy intuition.” Charlie looked to Rye to continue to talk as if he knew he was going to.

“I got a call from his girlfriend that he had a stroke, I guess.” Rye looked away as he talked. “I didn’t even know he was still living here. The last time I saw him was five years ago when I was eighteen. We both…” Rye laughed through his nose, “I’m sorry. I don’t see the point of talking about it. I really don’t.”

“You still want to see him, though?” Charlie asked.

“Yeah, I mean, no. I guess the stroke was pretty bad. So I just figured…” Rye shrugged with a strained expression frozen on his face. “I don’t know.”

“You’re a good soul, Rye. I can see that.” Charlie squeezed Rye’s shoulder. “Can I tell you something?”


“You won’t find anyone that hasn’t been bitten by the bad in this life. You know?” Charlie looked to Rye who was listening intently. “My friend must’ve been the most unlucky person to ever exist.”

Charlie had a distant look on his face. “He had a lot of the bad in his life.” He looked down to the blanket on his lap and started to pull some of the loose threads. “His wife left him for his brother two weeks into their marriage. He had just used up all of his money to buy them a house too.”

Charlie ripped a thread out of the blanket. “He still found the strength to smile, though. Then, during the market crash a few months after his wife ran off, he lost his job.” Charlie raised a finger. “Yet, he still found the strength to smile. He ended up on the streets and during his first night he was mugged for any crumbs he had left.” Charlie turned fully toward Rye next to him. “He was bruised, beaten, heartbroken, and alone. Yet…”

“He was still smiling.” Rye finished the sentence.

“Exactly.” Charlie clapped once again like he had just won something. “I knew the man well. These were not fake smiles.” Charlie pointed to the smiley face on his shirt with his thumbs. “He taught me that there’s power in joy. So much power that it can make you unbreakable in this life.”

“What’re you saying?” Rye asked.

“I’m saying that we have the power to choose goodness every single day. Now, can I ask you something?”

“Ask away.” Rye said.

“What is a good memory you have of your dad?”

Rye didn’t have to think long to answer the question, and he actually wanted to answer it.

“When I was a kid I had this basketball hoop that I would set up in the living room and play for hours, man.” Rye smoothed back his hair and left his hand on the back of his neck as if he were trying to grab the rest of the memory. “I remember the times that my dad would play with me. He’d be making the crowd noises and pretend to be the announcers too. If he wasn’t playing, there were times that he’d just watch me in my imaginary world as he drank his coffee. That mattered to me so much for some reason.”

Rye shut his eyes briefly. He saw his dad’s thin drawn out face, and his hazel eyes looking over the coffee mug, cheering him on in the imaginary arena that was actually in the middle of their small living room.

Charlie kept his hand on Rye’s shoulder as the bus appeared within the darkness down the street. “Well, I appreciated the company. It looks like your ride is finally here.”

Rye turned toward the oncoming bus and then back to Charlie. “Do I go see him?” He gripped onto the bench as if he was preparing to be dragged onto the bus.

“I think you already made up your mind.” Charlie moved the blanket off of Rye’s lap.

Rye looked at the bus when it stopped in front of him, and in his mind, he pictured it to be engulfed by fire. He could even feel the searing heat kissing his flesh, and he could see the rolling smoke dumping out from the bottom of the bus until it reached his feet, pushing him away. The metal began to bend and melt down the sides, crying into the rubber tires that popped underneath the rising pressure. Rye wanted to turn away, but inside of the bus he saw a figure waiving at him frantically to come. He knew who it was. His dad.

Rye pushed himself up from the bench while inhaling deeply, sucking in the flames raging within his head. He then extended his hand toward Charlie.

“Good luck tonight. Please know that I’ll be praying for your next divine encounter at the hospital.” Charlie unleashed his bright smile and folded both of his hands over Rye’s.

“Thanks, again.” Rye stepped onto the bus, scanned his pass, and was greeted by the warm stale air inside. As Rye sat down when the bus drove off, he saw Charlie walking away from the bus stop. He was tempted to jump off the bus and walk with him. He thought maybe that’s where he belonged too.

Instead, he found himself driving toward his pain and some of the bad in his life. He watched Charlie as long as he could, until the street lights took his place. With each light that passed, he saw his dad’s face as he once did when he was a kid, and a smile started to form on his lips.

I hope you enjoyed reading, A Divine Encounter. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the story. Please do not hesitate to leave a review, for it is much appreciated. Also, feel free to check out my first young adult novel, Addison’s Mark, the 2016 Silver Medalist for the Illumination Book Awards, and my other short story, Children Under the Stars.

Thank you for reading.

You are loved,


A Divine Encounter

  • ISBN: 9781370504831
  • Author: Matt Kuvakos
  • Published: 2016-10-31 22:35:08
  • Words: 2720
A Divine Encounter A Divine Encounter