I want to make it very clear that this story isn’t my idea. I’m pretty much plagiarizing it from my little sister’s original work from when she was about 7 years old. But the story is too good not to try to bring back like Footloose or Transformers. So here from my good heart is an attempt to rewrite a classic.
There was a homeless man that sat in front of a grocery store all the live long day. He looked down under his camouflage hunting hat with big fuzzy ears. The fuzz had grown threadbare. Spending many a night in bus stops or neighborhood sheds, his other clothes had holes and rips. He pushed up the sleeves of his fraying flannel and kept looking down at the sidewalk. He also had the misfortune of having bursted blood vessels in his eyes.
The man’s name was Fitzhenry. He hadn’t made the best of decisions to get to this point of living on the streets. But he was kind, easily influenced and was not the best at keeping up relationships with family or friends.
He didn’t like the idea of feeding birds or providing them baths. He thought about how no one was inviting him to bathe publicly in their backyard or watch him eat. As a matter of fact, he was very much in need of a shower which could always be put off. But he was hungry. He only liked sweet things (ding dongs, snowballs, or any other product signed by Little Debbie herself). This would later prove to be diabetes-causing.
The grocery store was of the typical Middle American shopping center variety. It did not support vagrancy by any means, but as members of the large corporation, and making few monies, they didn’t care to enforce policies. The workers at the grocery were too busy on their break blowing bubbles of gum or puffing on cigarettes to notice Fitzhenry’s loitering.
So Fitzhenry had a lot of time to perch on the benches around the automatic opening doors of the super market. Mothers guarded their children from looking at the bedraggled man. He needed help but did not know how to go about asking for it. See, he played no instruments. The answer was not a simple strum of the gee-tar and an opened case that doubled as a collection jar. He had no permanent marker to write out a sign. To make matters worse, he was ashamed of his poor spelling skills. His inability to spell the word “banana” at the spelling bee in elementary school and the following public disgrace, made him blush to this day.
Shy men were not meant to be beggars. Shy men had trouble getting jobs and dates and noticed.
The grocery store had a line of quarter machines out front, including the quarter fed machines that let children ride a small horse accompanied by aggravating circus music. The pony machine was not very popular minus one Asian tot with dimples and an excitable demeanor.
The little called herself Libby. Very passionate for such a small child, she particularly liked dogs, insects, and cheetah print. Her mother gave her a quarter every time they went grocery shopping. It was up to Libby’s discretion whether she would like to use the silver piece for Mike and Ikes, Chickletts, a ride on the wild side (i.e. the toddler pony ride.) Perhaps, a striking silver necklace made out of metal that would surely leave a stain, would suit her fancy. If her mother was feeling extra generous with the quarters, she might try for a stuffed animal from the metal arm and claw that descends into the depths of plush animals.
Libby held on tight to her mom’s hand as they walked through the parking lot towards the carts in the front of the store.
Fitzhenry met Libby’s teak colored eyes. She smiled shyly at him, looked away, but kept looking back to study the man.
“Mom, why is that man so dirty?”
“He doesn’t have a job.”
“He looks skinny.”
“Drugs will do that.”
“Why does he take drugs?”
“He probably isn’t very smart.”
Libby was not happy with her mother’s answers and thought deeply about the homeless man next to the gumball machine. She had heard about the wild world of drugs and the correlating downward spiral. She considered not having any parents to give quarters every once in awhile for candy.
Her mother, like clock work, gave her a quarter to go get a treat. Shyly approaching the candy dispensary, she held her quarter tight and made way towards the large gumball machine, where the colorful ball must make its way down a long clear slide adding for extra enjoyment. The gumball seemed to be set in slow motion as it made its way down to the bottom. She grabbed the treat and bravely approach Fitzhenry with the bon bon.
Libby stuck out her open hand to the down-on-his-luck man.
Fitzhenry obliged, opened his mouth, put in the large gumball and chewed.
He rubbed his belly and for the first time in a long time, he had hope.