a parable by Joseph Daylover
Alton James graduated from UNR with a business degree and set right about to his dream: opening a brewery and pub house. Having been trained by his father in brewing, his professors in organizational management, and by Catholicism in belief, he opened his doors on South Virginia Street in the fall of 1970 on the heels of a business loan and extraordinary faith. He soon married his college sweetheart, Daphne Marie, raised 3 wonderful children, and “Alton Brewing Co. and Pub House” became a local’s favorite known for delicious western burgers and flavorful Lagers. Each day at lunch, he proudly sat at the bar and enjoyed a salad, soup, or sandwich, waiting until after the workday for his single wheat beer. Everything in moderation.
In the summer of ‘85 a rival appeared on the scene, Beck’s Brewing and Pub just two blocks down on Virginia, boasting a wider selection of beers and a bigger menu—pizzas and wings, even. Alton began with a peace offering, a friendly hello coupled with a cherry pie made by the missus. Beck snorted and said, “All goes well, I’ll be the only Brewer on this here drag,” and began unwrapping the pie and eating it with his fingers right in front of the giver. Alton stormed out and retired home in a silent rage. He was brief with Daphne Mae on the retelling and couldn’t sleep.
Months went by, and the fear grew as did Beck’s business; word was you had to wait to get a table there at lunch! So Alton turned to prayer every morning before opening his doors at 6am, for Beck’s demise. He kept it up, all the while operating his dwindling business and attending Church and being a family man. Just three years later, Beck would close his doors. Reportedly he drank too much of his own supply and poorly managed the place. James felt relief but more so guilt as Beck divorced, left town. Rumor was he ended up in Sacramento selling drugs, got ratted out, and was thrown in jail.
Alton couldn’t tell anyone, not even Daphne Marie, especially as his business revived and reclaimed prestige. He couldn’t say that the secret to his success lied in a secret. Years came on, and it was worse, this guilt descending on him while sitting in his office or in congregation. He couldn’t turn to the confessional, either, for fear that God would undo his success, punish him accordingly. It was his duty to wife and family, he reasoned, to bear this burden in order for them to be safe. He carried it for 20 years until a massive stroke landed him in the ICU and Daphne would have to sell the business to cover his operations and medical bills.
Alton, now ashamed at being cared for in old age, couldn’t confess. But why not? The kids were moved away and successful, and his business was finally gone, the thing he had been most afraid of all those years ago when he prayed for Beck’s downfall. What was holding him back? So he finally told Daphne Marie, and she held him while he cried. Later, Alton long reflected and realized that the truth would manifest even if it were hidden, so one might as well speak it. How ironic that a confession and a prayer came from the same order.
What kind of life would you lead if you had no fear? #AlchemistMovement