A man tries to help a scruffy beggar but is shocked to find out that the beggar was the same boy he used to bully when they were younger.
John Mason had a lot on his mind as he wheeled his cart towards checkout that Monday morning. "That'll be $149.50 sir," the clerk, a young teenager with multiple face piercings and a punk cut, said after processing the goods.
The amount shocked John, who did not need nearly as many things as he purchased. "Why did I buy all these?" he asked himself as he reached for the shopping bags.
John was at the grocery store when he saw an old beggar and decided to share his groceries with him | Source: Shutterstock
"I don't need all these things," he said and stopped just before he passed through the double doors of the store.
John had been divorced for a whole year, but he was still having trouble reconciling that fact, so he was having issues with readjusting. This time he had gotten double of all he actually needed.
"I might have to get rid of these. It ain't like I'm any good at cooking anyway," he said.
He had just stepped out when a man moved into sight. He quickly caught John's attention, and immediately a light bulb went on in his mind.
The man looked a bit familiar for some reason, then John remembered there was a person who was always at the store's entrance begging for handouts from the shoppers who usually ignored him.
John slowly walked towards the man then offered to share his food with him, but suspicious of such an offer, the older man turned it down. "Is this a prank?" he asked. "You want to share that much food with me? It's unprecedented. What's the catch?"
John was confused by the man's rejection; he just wanted to avoid throwing most of the food away by giving it out to a person who needed it.
Still, it made sense to the beggar who had been able to recall who John was regardless of his age. "I promise you old man there is no catch, I just don't want to waste the food is all," he said.
John remembered that the older man was the one at the store entrance begging for alms | Source: Pexels
After some moments, the old man agreed, but he seemed unable to meet John's eyes and had pulled his hoodie tighter to further hide his face.
"As if the scruffy overgrown beard and facial hair is not enough," John thought to himself.
John had just divided the food up equally between the two of them when he remembered that the beggar had been using a crutch to move around.
"You can't walk without assistance can you?" he inquired.
"You don't have to worry about that," the beggar said, clearing his throat. He was trying to avoid any discussion about his vulnerability.
"Well I don't think you can move around with this many things in your state sir," John said. "If you don't mind, I could drop you off at home, my car is parked at the lot over there."
"Why are you doing this? You don't have to go that far," the old man called out to John, who was already walking away with their bags. The homeless man picked up his crutch and rushed after him with a sigh — just like old times.
The drive to the man's abode was not long, and when they arrived, John examined the two bags to make sure he gave the man enough because he felt very sorry for him.
The old man tried to call out to John, who was already walking away with their bags | Source: Pexels
He stepped out of his car and followed the man into his house with his share of food. As he entered, he couldn't help but grimace.
The man was living in terrible conditions; there were mice in the cupboard and roaches crawling over everything, and the whole house creaked and groaned as they moved around in it.
Everything looked dirty, and almost all the surfaces were covered in dust. Nothing valuable could be seen as well — it was as though the house had been sacked and no valuables were spared.
After taking a few moments to look around without seeming too shocked, John carefully made his way to the man's battered fridge, which was completely empty and out of power.
"You can leave the perishable on the table, I'll go through them first," the beggar, who had been watching him, said, then offered tea.
"I don't mind," John said and looked for a place to perch.
They had a nice conversation over tea and crackers, but as he finished his, something suddenly occurred to John — the man had taken off his hoodie, and his profile was on full display. His face looked familiar to him.
John knew it could not simply be because he had seen him often at the storefront, and he was suddenly consumed with the need to know. "I'm sorry," he said, "but have we met?"
They started having a nice conversation over tea and crackers when John suddenly took one long look at him and realized that the old man's face seemed familiar to him | Source: Pexels
"What do you mean?" the older man asked, his guard suddenly back up.
John took a few moments to consider his thoughts before he replied, which is when he realized he had not introduced himself. "I forgot to introduce myself. I'm John Mason, what can I call you?" he asked, deliberately maintaining eye contact.
"I guess it finally came to you huh?"
John stared at him more intently, and the older man watched, literally seeing his brain connect the dots. "Mr. Jackson? That you?" John asked, eyes wide as saucers.
"Yes it's me, Johnny boy," Jackson said, referring to what he called John back when he was a teenager.
John was stunned. Jackson had lived in the next house while John was a kid. It had been fun for him but hell for Jackson, who got harassed by John and his goons because of his limp.
They would climb into his garden and make a mess, and whenever they played softball, they would smash several of his windows, most times deliberately.
It was John's turn to feel very ashamed. However, one thing nagged at him. "How come you're in this city?" he asked after some time.
"It's a long story but the short form of it is that my daughter sold my house and took most of my money for herself. After a lot of begging, she eventually got me this small house."
John kept buying groceries for and helping Jackson around his house, not to atone for what he did in the past, but because he genuinely enjoyed the man's company | Source: Pexels
"That's evil," John said with a frown.
"I'm glad you think so because there's more. You wouldn't believe that that girl tried to get me shipped off to a nursing home."
"How did you get out of that?"
"I was saved by a stray dog I adopted. She is out right now but her name is Ash and I said I wouldn't leave her alone," Jackson said.
They talked some more, and when they parted later, John promised to return. From that day, they started talking more, and John told him about his divorce and life.
He kept buying groceries for Jackson and also took to helping him around the house occasionally. It was not to atone for what he did in the past, but because he genuinely enjoyed the man's company.
One day, John got a call from his former wife, Ria.
"Hey baby," she crooned.
"What do you want, Ria?" he asked with a sigh.
"You don't sound very pleased to hear from me," she said, sounding petulant. But when John stayed silent, she kept speaking.
"I wanted to tell you that I am now pregnant," she said. "Jeff and I can only cater to two kids and not four so I was wondering if you could take custody of the boys."
Ria had been given custody of their kids, Dave and Angela, so John was elated by this news because he had missed his kids, and this meant he would be allowed to spend all his free time with them. They agreed on a date to pick them up, and he congratulated his ex-wife on her conception.
One day, John received a call from his former wife, Ria, who told him she wanted him to take custody of their sons | Source: Pexels
But when the time came to get the kids, Jackson's dog died, and this meant his daughter would be selling his small house and sending him to a nursing home.
"You won't lose the house, don't worry," John told the man. They talked about it then he came up with a plan.
"Let her sell the house," John told Jackson.
"Are you sure?" the man asked.
"Yes, I am, don't worry, you won't lose your house," he assured the man.
Jackson did as John told him, and his daughter sold the house; however, she had no idea that the buyer was John, and the person he gave the money to was Jackson, instead of his daughter.
The reformed bully took it upon himself to renovate the house later, turning it into a haven for Jackson and his kids, who enjoyed visiting the man, and he was equally fond of playing with them. Their bond drove him to invest some of his money into a fund created for their college tuition.
John took it upon himself to renovate the house later, turning it into a haven for Jackson and his kids, who enjoyed visiting the man | Source: Pexels
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