I’ll Draw Blood for a Quarter!
Ephesians 4: 29 Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building up, as there is need, so that your words may give grace to those who hear. 
One night in 1969, after my band finished a “Battle of the Bands” at the St. Matthew Episcopal Church in downtown Detroit, Michigan, when the lights were turned on and young people were spilling out into the street, as I struggled under the weight of carrying my keyboard to the trunk of my mother’s car, I walked past some of the musicians from the other band. We clearly outplayed the other band. To add insult to injury, during the heat of the night, when my band was “Taking no prisoners,” some girls jumped on the stage beside our tall, slender, sound system speakers. The girls were dancing like there was no tomorrow! One of the girls bumped into the speaker system and it fell off the stage through the drum set of the other band on the floor beneath us. My first thought was, “We may have to fight our way out of here tonight!” I was not worried, because the toughest boys from the Russell Woods neighborhood traveled with my band, mainly so they could enter the parties we played for free. There would be no problem inside the building. However, when the party was over, the tough guys from my neighborhood had gone their separate ways.
A fellow I knew from my high school was talking to the guys from the other band. I heard him say in a voice that reeked of liquor, “I’ll draw blood for a quarter.’ My first thought was, “My, that’s mighty cheap for a life!”
I continued into the pitch-black parking lot beside the church, struggling under the weight of the organ I was carrying. I noticed the guy who offered to “Draw blood for a quarter” was following me. It did not take me long to realize that he was talking about me! I was surprised because I knew him from school. He and I had never had a cross word between us. He was often in attendance at the dances and events where my band played. I was shocked to think he wanted to fight me. Following the rules of the street, I did not acknowledge his threat. With each step, I prepared myself for a fight. Without saying a word, I continued to bear the weight of the organ. He never said a word. Neither did I until I reached my mother’s car. As I gently set the organ on the gravel parking lot, I turned around and looked at my classmate and said these words, “You know, whatever happens out here, you and I will have to look at each other on Monday.” He looked at me, turned around and walked back to his waiting friends. I am thinking about that near fight in the darkened parking lot of an Episcopal church, because I just learned that the fellow who boasted about “Drawing blood for a quarter” died and his family asked if his funeral could be at my church. I told them they were welcome to have the service at my church.
Let me tell you what makes me feel bad about my last interaction with the deceased. A couple of years ago, his former wife brought him to worship at my church. I did not recognize him during worship, but at the door of the church she introduced me to him. Without guarding my words, I looked up at him and reminded him that 40 years ago he threatened to beat me up. He looked embarrassed at my recollection and at the same time, even now I feel dumb that I brought it up to him. Perhaps he was thinking about attending the church or even joining the church, but I messed up the moment with my words.
The Apostle Paul and James are very clear that we should not use bad language. Even though I was not cursing, my language did not help the situation.
James 1: 26 If any think they are religious, and do not bridle their tongues but deceive their hearts, their religion is worthless. 27 Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.
Questions for Reflection:
- What are your thoughts about Paul’s warning to the Christians not to use bad language?
- What is the effect of a Christian using bad language?
Prayer: Lord, guard my tongue! Remind me that others are watching my words and actions and judging you by what they see in me. Lord, make me a true witness, a true believer, and a true lover for you. Through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior I pray. Amen.
Written by Rev. Dr. Nicholas Hood III
Photo by Rev. Dr. Nicholas Hood III
Additional Prayers Photos and Meditations from Rev. Dr. Nicholas Hood III at https://nicholashoodiiiministries.wordpress.com/