The Secret

The plane lifted off the runway and into the air. The person next to me turned and quietly whispered in my ear, " I know I'm supposed to keep this a secret but I absolutely must tell someone."

I eye balled the guy. Since 9 11 and all the bollywhack that followed being on a plane gave me the willies and I was half afraid this man would tell me he had a bomb attached to him. He just had that look.

" You don't have to share it with me! " I leaned away from him even as my curiosity egged me to lean forward and listen. The human genome seemed to contain a gene for drama, absurd doings, and just plain stupidity.

He gave me a hurt look and leaned wearily back. I stared ahead taking quick peeks at him. He was dark skinned with thick black hair. Not unattractive by any means. He seemed young compared to my 38 years. Barely in his twenties. My next look was a bit longer.

His eyes were ...haunted? His skin was dark yes but it had an unhealthy white cast to it. His lips were pinched as if he were biting back a scream and they trembled. I felt a stab of guilt. If he was one of those fanatics then wouldn't it be better if I knew now?

I leaned over to him. " What did you need to tell? "

He closed his eyes briefly almost looking relieved.

" I'm...I'm.. going to...die...and I'm afraid. "

I blinked at him not sure what to say for a moment. " What's your illness? "

Probably wasn't the best first question but it was out before I could think of more polite chit chat.

" Greed. " he replied softly.

" Greed? " I let that rest on my tongue a moment. " I'm sorry Mr. ..? "

" Tomaz. Kadar Tomaz. " He closed his eyes and his lashes grew damp. I glanced around wondering how I ,of all people on this blasted plane, had gotten stuck with this madman?

Well I had already broken my vow to not get involved so it wasn't much of a choice to decide to learn more. " How has your greed killed you sir? "

Mr. Tomaz looked at me for a moment his face sad and somehow ancient at the same time.

" I have done a stupid thing. I have sold both of my kidneys on the black market for 10,000.00 each. "

I looked at him aghast. " Sold your kidneys sir? BOTH of them? "

He nodded painfully and leaned forward weakly lifting the back of his shirt a tiny bit. Yes there were bandages but of course that didn't mean anything after all one couldn't live without kidneys could they?

As if he had read my mind he said " I will die within two days. Unless by miracle I get a transplant. "

I chewed on that a minute feeling a sour pang of sadness for this man even as I told myself he was probably addicted to drugs or perhaps some other vice that would require him to do such an idiotic thing.

" Why WOULD you do such an idiotic thing? " Curiosity was going to kill me. I just knew it.

Mr. Tomaz motioned to his pocket then with a sigh painfully dug out his wallet. He opened it to show me a stunning creature of incomparable beauty. The only reason I knew she wasn't a super model was because of the grainy dirty background and the plain tattered clothes she wore.

" My Rose. " He whispered. " I have loved her all my life...yet I cannot give her the life she deserves. Cannot keep her safe in the hellish place we call home. "

I handed the picture back feeling both sad and I admit a bit jealous as women were wont to do when faced with a woman more lovely and younger then themselves.

" I have purchased her passage ...illegally to somewhere better then there, but it is not enough for me to join her and I will soon be dead. This plane will be my grave. This is a terrible thing to burden you with..but...I am sorry..I am afraid to die alone. "

I frowned the scope of this issue suddenly becoming quite clear to me. " Listen here you! We must tell the flight attendant! We can land much sooner...get you to a hospital..I'm sure they could.."

He cut me off with mild disdain reserved for those who know that someone they are talking to has no idea of the hardships of life.

" I cannot...she will be deported...My death will be for nothing. My love will give her a chance. She is beautiful...she will be with family they will see to it she has a chance. If my crime becomes known so will her papers be proved as fraud and back she will go to a town where she will die by a bullet, or disease, or hunger with no chance at all. "

I stayed quite for a moment thinking. Mr. Tomaz leaned forward and grunted in pain. Without thought I put my hand on his shoulder and rested it there.

" Do you have faith? " he whispered. " I would like you to pray with me. Tell me please...do you have faith? "

It was on the tip of my tongue to tell him no. I had no faith. No faith because last week a woman in my neighborhood had strangled her baby because her boyfriend threatened to leave her for someone who had no kids. I had no faith because a man in a state next to my own had kicked his four old daughter to death for blocking the TV. I had no faith because my mother had been beaten everyday by her boyfriends until she took her own life leaving me and my sister to the mercy of the court system that cared not at all about us.

I had lived a life where I had dealt with the greedy , the lying, the smug. I had a menial job that left me lusting for more money so I could get my hair done more often, eat out, and dance as if I where a teenager again when my youth was long gone and I couldn't even muster the time to help the homeless or quite smoking or care about anyone other then myself.

I glanced at him, this young man who had purchased someone else a chance with his life. Someone who might not have even loved him half as much. Someone who might very well squander the money and still die young. He glanced at me and in his eyes I saw that he knew all this and more about suffering then I ever would. It hurt me to know this man was going to die and the world would have one less person in it that was actually willing to give up everything including their life for another person. I found myself wishing that I could name one person in my life that would ever care that much about me. There were none. There was only God and faith.

I took his hand and squeezed it. It was cold. His longish hair and beard brought to mind another who had suffered...given his life so others might live in the grace of God. Then and there the innocent faith I once had as a child hit me so hard tears came to my eyes.

I put an arm around him. Held his closed hands in mine.

" Yes." I whispered tears streaming from my eyes. " Yes. I have faith. "