A character study / inspirational story originally posted here over a year ago, as well as to zoetrope.com. It has been slightly revised for this current posting.
A Man of His Word
Jason Crawley was a man of his word. But, of course, you already knew that. It would have been impossible not to know; Jason himself made it a point to remind everyone he met nearly every time he opened his mouth.
"I'm a man of my word," he would say in that bulky voice of his, one that had been worn smooth after fifty years of lubricating it with well-aged scotch and tempering it with the finest Cuban cigars.
Oh, don't let that puzzle you. Just because Cuban products are illegal in the States doesn't mean you'd have cause to doubt Jason's word. The fact is, he never had to provide a single word about how he happened to come into the possession of Cuban cigars. Apparently, no one ever asked. It's possible no one ever cared to ask. It's equally possible no one ever dared.
But it's not that he had a particularly frightening presence about him. In fact, he could be downright congenial. That smile of his was not only genuine, it was permanent; and it was typically accompanied by anything from a friendly giggle to a gut-busting guffaw.
No, Jason was never frightening. But he certainly did have a presence. You couldn't help but feel dwarfed by his energy if not by his size, although his size alone was sufficient. I can't remember anyone ever dwarfing him. That meaty hand of his would engulf yours no matter who you were. Believe me. I saw it swallow everything from ballerinas to linebackers.
You see, Jason Crawley got around. He was a friend to everyone from politicians to protestors. I honestly can't imagine anyone not liking him, with that genuine smile, those giggling guffaws and that comforting embrace of a handshake he would never fail to extend, especially when he assured you he was a man of his word.
And he was. If he told you he would give you the moon, you'd better start making room above the garage.
I don't know how he managed to accomplish the things he did. He wasn't born with that proverbial silver spoon. He was never at the top of his class. And yet he exuded a kind of influence so powerful you might believe it was magic. Jason Crawley made things happen. It was almost as though all he had to do was envision something and then ‘presto’ it would come to pass.
If you want an example, let me tell you about his niece. At fifteen years of age she was tall and lanky, lacking the kind of curves most of her friends were beginning to display. To top it off, her skin was never clear and she exhibited all the grace of an ox.
Jason came upon her one day in the park. She was sitting on a bench far from the field where the rest of her friends were playing a pick-up game of softball. She was all curled up, trying to make herself as small as she could. And she was crying.
"Aw, now what's this about, Angel?" He said in that scotch-smooth voice of his, that smile never leaving his face.
He sat down beside her and tried to push long strands of brown hair away from her eyes, a task that could not have been easy with those sausages he had for fingers.
Before long his angel explained how she had tripped over her own feet while trying to make it to first base. And then she confessed that she hated being who she was. She was nobody.
"If you want to be somebody," Jason said to her, "all you have to do is hold your chin up, keep your back straight and greet the world as though you own it. And then you know what? You will own it."
"You're just trying to make me feel better."
"Sure I am," he said. "But you know I wouldn't lie to you, don't you? You ought to know by now that I'm a man of my word. If I say it, then you better believe it. Now I'm telling you that you can have anything you want, and you can be anything you want. All you have to do is want it bad enough to believe it."
Of course, she had no choice but to believe him. And within a year she blossomed. To this day she holds her chin up, keeps her back straight and makes things happen just like her uncle used to do.
Sometimes I wonder why he didn't envision himself living forever, why he didn't give his word to make sure it would come to pass. And then I look in the mirror, holding my chin up and keeping my back straight. And I realize that he did, after all.