The Hero Without A Name

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A Simple Smile

       A man and his wife were conversing over lunch at a diner in town after church one Sunday morning. It was a relatively small town and the diner had a rich homey feel to it that can’t be found in large industrial cities.

       Smells of breakfast and lunch mingled together in the air enticing one’s appetite. One T.V. was on a football game while another showed the latest news stories. Recently people had begun to talk about the news much more than usual.

       “Honey, who’s that man I keep hearing people talk about around town?” the woman asked her husband who was nursing a cup of coffee. She didn’t care for television and claimed reading the newspaper only depressed her so she relied on her husband to tell her about the important events going on in the world around her. Her husband looked up at his wife and set his cup down carefully before responding.

       “Are you talking about that guy that goes around helping people, but always lets the bad guy go?” he asked with a certain amount of distaste. His wife nodded so he sighed and started in telling her the rumors he had heard at work.

       “They say there’s this man, no older than twenty-five who just sort of wanders around, and if he happens to see something happening that he doesn’t like he just kind of stops it.” He wasn’t sure exactly how to put into words so he hesitated as he was speaking and held his hands out, palms up, and shrugged as if to say it didn’t make sense to him. 

       “They say he even once grabbed a bank robber, took the money from the guy, but let him go. He returned the money to the officers that had been pursuing the crook, but when they asked why he let the robber go he just smiled and said that catching the bad guy was the cop’s job, not his, and walked away without another word.”

       The man’s wife had been listening intently, and her husband could tell by the look in her eyes that she was considering the mysterious man’s actions carefully. She was used to her husband’s way of telling things, so she understood exactly what he was trying to say.

       “It seems to me,” she began slowly, thoughtfully, “that this town has acquired itself a hero; albeit an unconventional one.”

       “What kind of lunatic lets a bank robber go after he goes through the effort of catching him and retrieving the money? He’ll just go to some other bank and rob it. I think the guy just wants the attention,” her husband scoffed taking the last bite of his food.

       “Well, if gaining attention was his goal then he certainly succeeded, but something tells me that’s not his motive. What about that story Danny was telling you about how he saved that drowning horse in the flood we had last week? Why would he risk his life for no real reason?” the woman asked. 

       She was certain that anyone else in town would have let the horse drown and got a new one, though it made her smile to think that even a horse’s life was apparently important to the mysterious man. She wasn’t sure why her husband didn’t seem to like the neighborhood vigilante, but she wasn’t going to try to change her husband’s mind just like he wouldn’t try to change hers.

       “I don’t know Dorothy, but nobody knows who he is, and he refuses to tell his name. He just kind of shows up in bad situations then disappears when it’s finished. It’s suspicious to me. I mean, what kind of hero has black hair and always wears a full length black trench coat with metal studs down the front like one of these punks you see running around these days? Not the image that comes to mind when I think of a hero or guardian angel. For all we know he could be staging theses little events just to paint himself out to be a hero.”

       “As I said, he’s very unconventional, but to accuse him of causing trouble just so he could fix it is petty and unfounded George,” she scolded her husband causing him to look down guiltily.

       “I do wonder what he’ll do now that he’s become famous though…” 

       They both sat in silence for a moment while Dorothy considered her own words. As they got up to leave, the man in the booth in front of them got up as well. The three of them reached the door at the same time, but the man rushed to hold it before Dorothy or her husband could. 

       Dorothy smiled at the kind man and walked out of the restaurant behind her husband. It wasn’t until she had passed the man that she realized he was wearing a full length black trench coat and had hair as black as ravens’ feathers. She turned quickly in amazement to find him smiling at her. “Who are you?” she breathed.

       “I will not tell you who, but I will tell you what. I am the sound of vindication carried on the wind. I will bring light to the darkest of days, but then I must go for there are many others in need of a light to show them that there is good in a world so tainted with darkness. As for what I will do now…I will wander away from here to a place where no one has heard of me,” he smiled and Dorothy’s heart grew at the sight, but it also broke that this kind stranger would be leaving her town. 

       Dorothy thought he certainly could bring light to the darkest of days with a smile like his. It held no trace of bitterness, and the way he spoke was soft but masculine. He was obviously a man who didn’t feel the need to prove himself. 

       Dorothy nodded with tears nearly brimming in her eyes and returned his smile. Her husband watched the exchange, and even he couldn’t help but think that maybe there was something more to the mysterious young man. 

       It seemed almost funny that he should be wearing black from head to toe and talking about bringing light into darkness, but then again, George thought, maybe he was saying something. Maybe he was trying to say that appearances are just that, and even a man draped in black is perfectly capable of being a light in the midst of darkness.

       George shook his head at all of these thoughts. His wife had always been a deep thinker and after so many years it was finally rubbing off on him. He grunted wrapping his arm around his wife’s waist and gently pulled her away, but his eyes lingered on the strange man who still stood holding the door.

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