Hope Lives (from Spaded Truths: Themes and Proclamations)
/queenofspades short story 15/02/2014 20:00:09 link
One theme in Spaded Truths: Themes and Proclamations is that "Helping is its own reward." Hope Lives
I wanted to write a poem that represented this, but each one I wrote seemed to fall short. Then, I had an idea, but it blossomed into a story. Yet the story fit the theme, so I put it in the collection. It's called Hope Lives. Enjoy!
Once upon a time, in a slum outside the suburbs, there lived a man named Willie. Legend said he used to be excessively rich. Because of a messy divorce, Willie lost everything he had. As a result, he made his home in a cardboard box behind a dark alley.
Each day, he would make trips to collect change to get him a bite to eat or something to drink. Usually, the pickings were quite slim. At times, he would go home empty handed. Sometimes, his tummy would grumble so loudly that it would keep him up at night.
One day, he got very sick and needed some medicine, which he couldn't afford because he had just spent his last dime on food. He crawled out onto the busy sidewalk where people were scurrying to get to various destinations.
He could barely get out the query for help without people barking at him to "get out of the way" or "go to a shelter". He even got his hands stepped on for not being quick enough. Willie cried out in pain, which caused him to feel even sicker.
"My Lord," Willie exclaimed, "Death must be better than this Hell on Earth!"
So he closed his eyes, seemingly waiting to die.
Hours later, he felt someone tap on his shoulder.
Willie opened his eyes and thought he was in Heaven. A lady was standing above him. Deep concern was etched in her face.
"Am I in Heaven now?" he asked.
"No, you're not there yet, but you will be if we don't get you to the hospital," the lady answered and helped him to his feet.
As they made their way to the hospital, it occurred to Willie that this lady hadn't asked him his name or been cruel to him in any way. One could rarely find people who would pick up a total stranger off the street and help him.
Before she could get him inside the hospital doors, Willie lost consciousness again. His last thought was that he was definitely going to Heaven.
When he awoke again, sun rays were dancing on his eyelids, and his back felt the warmth of cotton sheets. The surroundings were unfamiliar to him. All he knew was this wasn't his little cardboard box back in the alley.
The same lady that helped him before entered with a tray. It contained a plate full of grits, eggs, bacon, and toast, as well as a cup of coffee.
"Good morning, sleeping beauty! I fixed you some breakfast. Eat up so you can regain your strength."
"What is your name? Where am I? How long have I been here?"
"Whoa! Slow down, slow down," she laughed. "My name is Hope. If you must know, you are in my home. You were in the hospital for a few days, and they wanted to keep you there for observation. I assured them that I would give you the best of care, so they released you. Willie, you gave us all an awful scare, considering the length of time you had been cruel to your body. No worries. We will get you well again."
"Hope, what about the hospital bills? I have no money..."
"The bills have been taken care of."
Willie began to cry: a mixture of relief, gratitude, and shame. He felt relief because he wasn't left on the street to die. He felt gratitude because of the help he had received from Hope.
However, he also felt ashamed to be such a burden on her.
Willie looked deeply into Hope's eyes as she wiped away the tears that flowed down his cheeks.
"I give my word as a gentleman that once I get on my feet, your kindness will be rewarded."
"Helping another human being is the greatest reward one can receive. You don't have to reward me anything else, Willie."
But after she nursed him back to health, Willie couldn't stop thinking about Hope and was determined to keep his promise to her.
He gathered up his courage, threw away his pride and decided to start from scratch: working odd jobs to get money. Eventually, he was able to get his own place.
One day, after getting off work, he heard a strange message on his answering machine. It was from his lawyer who had handled his divorce, stating some new information had surfaced that would be of interest to him.
At first, Willie did not return his lawyer's phone calls. That was a chapter of his life he didn't want to reopen. As far as Willie was concerned, the business was over and done with.
However, his lawyer kept calling. Finally, Willie decided to stop by the lawyer's office to see what the fuss was all about.
"Mr. Harris, you have called me several times concerning something having to do with the divorce. To be honest with you, I really don't want to get back into that business."
"Mr. Wilkshire," his lawyer stated, "what I have to tell you will change your life forever as we know it. Please have a seat."
To Willie's surprise, Mr. Journey, his ex-wife's lawyer, was in the room as well. A miffed expression was painted on his face.
"Can someone tell me what is going on here?"
"Some new information has come up about your ex-wife," stated Mr. Harris. "Apparently, the two of you did not have a legal marriage."
"Um, this is a joke, right?"
"Afraid not," stated Mr. Journey. "About a year after your divorce, your ex-wife started dating my son. The two of them were making plans to get married. Then, one day, out of the blue, a man comes around looking for her. He had gotten your old address from a private investigator, who he hired to have her found. But she had since moved in with my son."
"This is all fine and dandy, but what does this have to do with me?" Willie asked, still feeling a bit confused.
"Come to find out that the man looking for her was her husband. The two of them had never gotten divorced. He was looking for her to let her know that her daughter needed a blood transfusion and wanted to get her tested to make sure their blood types matched."
"Wait a minute!" yelled Willie, unable to conceal the shock. "You mean to tell me that Olivia is not only still married but she also has a daughter? She told me she couldn't have children!"
"Yes, that is true," replied Mr. Harris. "It's unfortunate that all of this wasn't revealed sooner. I know you have lost so much time and money because of this situation."
"So since Olivia never got divorced from her first husband," Mr. Journey chimed in, "she has no rights to your money. Therefore, all of the assets in the divorce decree are being returned to you. All we need for you to do is sign for them."
Willie felt like he was in a dream. For years, his life had been destroyed because of Olivia. But to find out that the woman who destroyed him wasn't even technically his wife was an extra blow to him.
"What a story!" Willie thought to himself as he left his lawyer's office. "Riches to rags and back to riches again."
After his financial matters were put back in order, Willie's thoughts turned back to the wonderful Hope, the lady who helped him when he had nothing. The lady, who had no knowledge that he used to be financially prominent, yet was still able to see the potential in him and lit a fire under him that had become dim. He did not forget about the promise he made to her.
He researched until he found her address. Once confirmed, he decided to visit the woman who had changed his life for the better.
Hope had just taken brownies out of the over when she heard several knocks on the door.
"Coming!" she yelled and whipped off her apron before opening the door.
There before her stood a clean shaven man wearing a very expensive looking suit. In his hands were a dozen red roses.
"May I help you?"
"If you are Hope, then these flowers are for you."
"Wow, I'm flattered but surprised because I have no admirers of any kind. Are you sure you have the right place?"
"Hope, look at me. Do you remember me?"
She looked into his eyes and touched the outside of his hands. In that moment, she did remember.
"You do remember!"
She embraced him tightly.
"It's so good to see you again! You have often been in my thoughts. I wondered so much about you after you left my home. I even looked for you at your old hangout but didn't see you."
"Hope, because of you, I changed my life. The day after I left your home, I got off that street corner and started living again. I came here to honor my words to you that I stated those years ago."
Willie handed Hope a greeting card, which contained a check for the money that had covered Willie's hospital bills.
"Willie, I can't take this."
"You can and you will because I have it to spare. May I come in? I have so much to tell you!"
Once Willie came in, he told Hope his amazing story: everything from the divorce, to getting back on his feet, and to the discovery that led him back to his former glory.
"That is remarkable! I am so glad everything worked out for you."
"Well, not quite," Willie replied. "I need one more thing."
"And what is that?"
This began a journey which led to friendship. grew into love, and eventually blossomed to happily ever after.