He was by the pool when Yasmeen and his brother, Sandor found him. It was obvious that he was drunk. He was a little unsteady on his feet.
“What are you doing here?” he asked Sandor, his words a bit slurred. “Did she call you?” his eyes shifted to Yasmeen.
“Come on, Jozsef,” Sandor said quietly, putting his arm around him to steady and support him at the same time. “Let’s get you upstairs to your flat.”
“Did she call you?” he asked again as they headed towards the rear entrance of the building.
“No, she didn’t call me. I dropped by your flat to see you and she was in the hallway. She told me that you were here and that she was concerned because you were drunk–“
“She’s mistaken. I’m not drunk. My legs are a bit shaky that’s all.”
“Come on. Steady now.”
“What else did she tell you?”
“Didn’t she tell you that her boyfriend, Tuma asked her to marry him?”
“Congratulations,” Sandor said to Yasmeen.
“But–” she started to say but they had gotten to the flat.
“Do you mind opening the door?” Sandor asked.
Yasmeen felt in the pockets of Jozsef’s jacket, searching for his key. Their eyes met when she pushed her hand down in the left pocket of his trousers.
“What are you doing?”
“Searching for your key.”
“Ha. I thought you were trying to cop a feel, not that I would mind, of course but your fiance might.”
She found the key and opened the door. While she held it open, Sandor took him inside. She closed the door and after putting the key in the glass dish on the table in the foyer, she said, “I’ll go and fix him something light to eat.”
“Thanks. I’ll help him to his room.” They went straight ahead while she veered off to the right where the kitchen was.
She poured a glass of water and popped twice slices of bread into the toaster while quickly scrambling an egg. When she was finished, she placed the glass of water and the plate with the egg and toast on the kitchen table. She found something to cover the plate. She was about to leave the kitchen and slip out when Sandor walked in.
“How is he doing?”
“Fine. He just had a cold shower which seems to have helped. He’s more alert and doesn’t look as intoxicated as before.”
“I did toast and an egg for him,” she said. “A glass of water would help too.”
“Thanks for doing that. Look, it’s probably none of my business, but is there something going on between you two because he seems pretty upset that you’re engaged.”
“But, you see that’s the thing. I’m not engaged.”
“Why does he think that you are?”
“I told him that Tuma asked me to marry him and he assumed that I accepted the proposal.”
“No. I tried to tell him that but after he congratulated me, he walked out of my apartment. We were supposed to go to the Opera. I was about to run after him but the phone rang. After I finished talking to my mother, I came here and rang the bell but there wasn’t any answer. I had no idea where he was so I went looking. I checked the front stoop where he usually sits but he wasn’t there. I checked the grounds but there wasn’t any sign of him. I came back here to see if there he’d come back that’s when I ran into you.”
“You care about him, don’t you?”
She sighed. “I’m in love with him.”
“Why don’t you stay and clear things up with him?”
“I don’t think he’s in any mood to hear what I have to say. I’ll come back tomorrow. Take care of him.”
“I will. Goodnight, Yasmeen.”
“Goodnight, Sandor.” She let herself out of the flat.
Sandor closed the door behind her. He turned and went to check on his brother.
“Is she gone?” Jozsef asked as he finished buttoning his pajama shirt.
“You’re in love with her, aren’t you?”
“Pathetic, isn’t it? To be in love with a woman who’s marrying another man?”
“Look, I’d rather not talk about it.”
“All right. There’s some toast and scrambled egg in the kitchen for you.”
“Thanks, Sandor. You didn’t have to, but thanks.”
“Actually, it was Yasmeen who prepared it for you.”
“Now why would she do that?”
“Why do you think?”
“I don’t know. I can’t figure out women.”
“Come. I’ll sit with you while you eat. We don’t have to talk about Yasmeen if you don’t want to. We can talk about other things.”
“All right.” He followed his older brother into the kitchen. He sat down and uncovered the plate with the slices of toast and egg. It looked good. “Fix yourself a sandwich or two,” he told Sandor. “I have turkey slices, cheese, peanut butter and Pumpernickel and rye bread. Take your pick.”
“Thanks, I will.” Sandor made himself two turkey sandwiches with the rye. He poured himself a glass of orange juice and sat down opposite his brother.
Jozsef eyed the glass of water. “Was this your idea?” he asked, making a face.
Sandor smiled. “No, it was hers. Water is the best beverage to have when you’re trying to sober up.”
Jozsef pursued his lips as he put some of the egg on one slice of toast and bit into it. It tasted good.
“Feeling better?” Sandor asked.
Jozsef nodded. He finished the first slice of toast and took a couple of sips of the water before he remarked, “This has been a really lousy evening but the best part of it is that you and I get to spend time together.”
“Yes. Just like old times.”
“So, what made you stop by this evening?”
“The Lord told me to.”
Jozsef stared at him. “He did?”
“Yes. He knew that you were hurting so He sent me.”
“Why would He do that?”
“He loves you, Jozsef.”
“I’m surprised that He still does.”
“He never stopped.”
“Even though I’ve turned my back on Him?”
Sandor nodded. “Yes, even though you’ve turned your back on him, He’s the Friend who sticks closer than a brother.”
“I don’t deserve His love or–” Jozsef started to say but couldn’t finish because he got all choked up.
“Some people believe that we don’t deserve God’s grace but that He gives it to us because He loves us. That’s not true. Grace is a gift from God. A gift is something given willingly to someone without payment. It is a present. That’s what grace is. It’s something God willingly gives to us and we accept it. It is free. It didn’t cost us anything but it cost Him something. It cost Him the life of His Son. When you buy a gift for me, it costs you something but it doesn’t cost me anything. When you give me that gift and I accept it out of gratitude because it came from someone who loves me and whom I love in return. It’s the same with God. When we accept His gift of grace out of love and gratitude, it pleases Him. Do you see what I mean?”
Jozsef nodded. “Yes, I understand.”
Sandor spent the rest of the evening explaining other things. When, he was done, he prayed with Jozsef. He offered to study the Bible with him. By the time he left, Jozsef felt better than he had in a long, long time. A peace he couldn’t explain filled him and he vowed never to touch liquor again. Thus marked the beginning of what would be a total transformation for him.