One rainy Saturday morning four friends met at a local café. They chatted about the weather and their jobs. Leo was drinking lemonade, Ollie was drinking orange juice, Billy was drinking chocolate milk, and Sebastian was drinking a brand new bottle of tomato ketchup.
“You’re a funny boy!” Sebastian’s friends chanted.
Sebastian grinned and took another slurp from the straw in the bottle of ketchup. “What can I say? I just love ketchup.”
“Has anybody seen Charlie?” Ollie asked. “I sure miss him coming to the café with us.”
Billy took a swig of his chocolate milk. “The last I heard, Charlie was spending most of his time in his room because his legs still won’t work since the accident.”
Sebastian eyes widened. “And his mum refuses to have ketchup in the house. Can you imagine life without ketchup?”
“I only like ketchup on my hamburger.” Leo rolled his eyes and then took a big gulp of lemonade. “Hey, I have an idea. Why don’t we take Charlie to see the Man who performs miracles?”
“Do you mean Jesus?” Billy asked.
“Yeah, that’s His name! He’s been saying and doing all kinds of cool stuff!” Sebastian continued, “Let’s take Charlie to Him and see if Jesus can make his legs work again.”
The three friends bolted out the door to find Charlie. Ollie jumped up so quickly he knocked Sebastian’s ketchup bottle over and splattered red spots all over Sebastian’s face.
“I’m sorry, Sebastian.” Ollie dabbed Sebastian’s face with a napkin.
“No problem. Accidents happen.” Sebastian licked his lips. “Mmmmmmm. Ketchup is yummy for the tummy.”
The friends galloped up Charlie’s stairs and scurried to their friend’s room. They each grabbed a corner of his bed and ran back down the staircase.
Charlie rubbed his heavy eyelids as they raced out of the house and down the road. The bouncing bed made his teeth chatter.
“Where are you taking me so early this morning?” Charlie gripped his blanket tightly. “I still have my jimjams on.”
“It won’t matter to Jesus if you have your jimjams on.” Sebastian huffed and puffed. “He looks at the heart of a person and not at what they wear.”
The friends ran until they saw a house with a large crowd gathered around it. When they moved closer, they saw the rooms were crammed with people. In one of the rooms was an old lady who reeked of cabbage sitting beside a young mother cradling a baby in her arms. The baby’s nappy needed to be changed. An old man clipped a peg on his nose so he wouldn’t get sick from the stench. Men and women, boys and girls spilled out of the house into the garden and then out of the garden on to the street. There were chubby people and skinny people, short people and tall people, old men with walking sticks and teenage boys with donkeys, pregnant mummies, and little girls on roller skates.
Leo, Ollie, Billy, and Sebastian wondered how they were going to get their friend to Jesus. That’s when Ollie spotted a narrow path around the back of the house.
“I have an idea that just might work,” Ollie hollered loudly. “Maybe we can find a back door.”
So they carted Charlie in his bed down the path. As they were making the final turn, Billy’s curly hair got caught on the laundry hanging on the clothesline. “Yeow! I’m doomed to have a bad hair day.” Billy howled as he yanked his hair free.
“Meeeeooooow!” wailed a fluffy kitten when Leo accidentally stepped on its tail.
“Now is not the time to be collecting ‘cattails’!” Ollie teased.
The four friends came to an abrupt halt. “There’s no back door.” Sebastian shrugged his shoulders. “Now what are we going to do?”
Billy snapped his fingers. “Look! There are some dustbins.”
The four friends stared at each other. Charlie looked at the dustbins and groaned. He didn’t like the idea of being carted about and climbing those wobbly dustbins, but his friends were determined to get him to Jesus.
They yanked and tugged on the four corners of the bed until they finally arrived safely on the top of the roof.
“Will somebody please help me get banana skins out of Charlie’s hair?” Sebastian ordered. “We want him to look presentable when he meets Jesus.”
The friends quickly removed the slippery banana peels from Charlie’s hair and started tearing the tiles off the roof. Ollie passed the torn shingles to Billy, who passed them to Leo, who passed them to Sebastian.
“All this hard work is making me thirsty.” Sebastian pitched the tiles on the ground. “Sure wish I had a big bottle of tomato ketchup to drink.”
“Sebastian, can you just forget about your beloved ketchup for a few minutes?” Leo scolded. “We’ve got to get Charlie to Jesus.”
After they removed a few more tiles off the roof, Billy said, “Now we’ve made a hole big enough to put Charlie through.”
Leo pulled a long rope from his tattered bag and tied it around Charlie’s bed. The four friends carefully lowered Charlie and his bed through the hole in the roof and placed him right in front of Jesus.
Sebastian cupped his hands around his mouth and called out, “Jesus, our friend can’t walk.”
Jesus looked up at Leo, Ollie, Billy, and Sebastian staring through the hole in the roof. “You must really love your friend and believe I can help him to go to all this trouble.”
The four friends’ heads bobbed.
“Because you went to all this trouble to get Charlie to Me, I will heal him.” Jesus turned and glanced at Charlie. “Son, your sins are forgiven. Take up your mattress and go home.”
Charlie’s toes began to tingle. He jumped up, grabbed his bed, danced a jig, and ran out the door.
“I don’t think he even cared if people saw him dancing in his jimjams,” Ollie giggled.
The four friends waved their hands above their heads and began dancing on the roof.
Crack! Creak! Crunch!
“Look out below!”
“The sky is falling!”
The four friends tumbled through the roof and fell into the house. Sebastian sat on the floor looking dazed.
“Are you alright, Sebastian?” Leo inquired.
“I think so.” Sebastian rubbed his head. “Where’s Charlie?”
The lady who reeked of cabbage peeked out the window. “Charlie is marching down the street right now, and he has something in his hand.”
“What is it?” Sebastian asked.
The old woman crinkled her nose and squinted. “Why it’s a bottle of ketchup with a straw in it.”
“Now I know I’ll be okay.” Sebastian winked at his three buddies. “Ketchup is yummy for the tummy.”