A struggling, homeless musician receives a pleasant surprise when he takes on a gig to dump an old mattress and finds a little zipper behind it.
Caleb Burns was confident that nothing could stop him from becoming a successful musician when he initially arrived in New York City to pursue a career in music. But those hopes had only lasted two years when he discovered his passion would cost him far more than he could have imagined.
And so, after two years of being duped by casting directors' false promises and being kicked out of his small dwelling for failing to pay the rent, here he was – homeless, poor, and without a penny to return home – to his girlfriend, Libby Diaz.
Caleb found a zipper behind an old mattress. | Source: Shutterstock
If someone had asked Caleb to clean toilets for a living at that point in his life, he would have done so just to get by. Because if he wanted to get back on his feet and reclaim Libby – who had broken up with him – he needed to prove himself. He needed to become a successful musician.
And so, when his paths crossed with another homeless man named Mr. Simon Carter, who offered him a shelter to spend the nights when he was sitting on a roadside, begging passers-by for a night's shelter, he was overjoyed.
"You can come with me if you want. I can let you sleep at my home," he'd said as he approached him.
Caleb was sitting with his head bowed, despondent that he'd have to spend the night on the streets, but Simon had come to his rescue. "Your home? Sure, sir! Thank you! Thank you so much!" he replied.
He followed Simon to his "home" and discovered an alley lined with other homeless people, sleeping snuggled in ripped blankets and on newspapers.
Caleb wanted to make a career out of music. | Source: Pexels
"By looking at you, I can tell you are here to pursue your dream. Please correct me if I'm wrong..." Simon said with a funny grin on his face. "After all, my hair didn't just turn gray because of the sun. I've spent almost my whole life on the streets, and I can instantly identify a struggler..."
A struggler? When did I go from being a passionate musician to a struggler? Caleb thought. But Simon's statements made sense. After all, I'm someone struggling to barely get by and perhaps a failure too...
That night, Caleb slept in the alley, joining several homeless people there. Simon offered him a spare blanket and some food he'd managed to buy that day.
You never know when your life will take a turn.
The next morning, at 5 a.m., Caleb was awakened by the sounds of a patrol car. All of the homeless men dashed off to various areas as soon as they heard the car approaching, and Caleb, who had no idea where he was going, blindly followed Simon.
"Where are we going?" he inquired halfway through their escape.
"Somewhere we won't be caught," Simon said and continued walking.
They arrived at a bridge a few minutes later, and Caleb was panting heavily by then. "What - What a waste! You can't even rest peacefully in this city?"
Simon was a homeless man just like Caleb. | Source: Pexels
"Are you new here?" Simon inquired.
"Well, it's been two months..."
He laughed. "Then you don't know anything about this place," he ridiculed – or rather remarked – Caleb thought.
"Come on, let's go," he said.
"You need to work in this city to survive, so follow me," he said as he carefully lifted his cane.
Caleb didn't quite understand what was going on, but he followed him regardless. And a few hours later, he found himself working as a loader.
From that day on, Caleb would join Simon every day to a little shop that paid them $10 a week for moving old, discarded items from neighboring houses into the store. Of course, it wasn't much money, but for people like Caleb and Simon, it was a lot.
And so, for a while, Caleb had put his music on the back burner, focusing on his job as a loader and his survival. However, everything changed one morning.....
Caleb started working as a loader. | Source: Pexels
"Excuse me? Would you please come here?" a female voice alerted Caleb just as he was about to leave the neighborhood.
He turned around to see a lovely brunette on the porch of a large house. "Yes?"
"Hey, my name is Rita. Actually, I just moved in yesterday, and I was wondering if you could assist me with some cardboard boxes and old mattresses, and other items. Don't worry, I'll pay you for it! I think $50 would be good?"
"$50?!" That was more than what Caleb made in a month as a loader. He nodded.
He began to remove all of the old cardboard items from the house. Suddenly, his eyes fell on an old piano in the corner of a living room. "Do you play the piano?" he asked Rita.
"No way!" she giggled. "Actually, my grandfather owns this music company in Australia, and his house – I mean his ex-house, as he gave it to me – pretty inheritance I must say…. has all these old music junk. You can find many in the basement."
Caleb helped Rita get rid of the junk in her house. | Source: Unsplash
"That's insane! It would be a musician's dream to have them all!"
"If you want them, you can have them. Are you...umm...into music?"
"Kind of. I came to this city to pursue a career as a musician, but as you know, life happens….Anyway, where are the mattresses and beddings?"
"Here, follow me. What's your name, by the way?"
"Caleb - Caleb Burns."
"Nice name!" she muttered.
Caleb followed Rita to her rooms and helped her get rid of her old mattresses. However, as he flipped the last one, he spotted a small zipper at the back.
He tried to open it out of curiosity, but it was old and wouldn't budge. So he had to use some force to open it, but as he did, a bit of the material surrounding it came off, and he felt something tucked deep inside the mattress. He began ripping the material more and more, and soon there were a lot of dollar bills strewn across the floor.
"Holy Jesus!" He and Rita were both taken aback. "There's so much money in here!"
Caleb and Rita calculated the money after collecting them all, and it came to $10,000. "Oh my goodness! I need to tell Grandpa about what we found! Just a sec!" Rita said, baffled.
Caleb and Rita found several dollar bills inside the mattress. | Source: Unsplash
She called her grandfather immediately to tell him what happened, and he started to laugh. "So you found it? When I was a kid, your great-grandmother kept some money from the monthly budget in a drawer, and I used to take one or two dollar bills and slip them into the mattress. I'd completely forgotten it was there throughout the years."
"Oh, Grandpa!" Rita laughed. "Actually, I had some help finding it. I'm going to give it to him because he discovered it. I hope that's ok."
Rita's grandfather agreed, so Rita offered the whole sum to Caleb. However, he was hesitant to accept it. "I - I can't take it from you. This is a lot of money!"
"Well, consider it a bonus. Now you may quit your job and return to music, Caleb. I can see it in your eyes...your passion for music. So please keep it, and if you need anything else, I can ask my grandfather. You're aware that he has a music label?"
Caleb couldn't believe what had just happened. He was nobody to Rita and she was only a stranger, yet she was so considerate, unlike Libby, who didn't give a damn about him.
At that moment, Caleb realized what mattered the most to him. It was his passion, which he'd left behind due to his difficulties, and Rita who had inspired him to pursue it.
He fell in love with Rita and his passion at that instant, and he returned to music with her assistance. They began frequently meeting at her house, where Caleb rehearsed his music. Then he auditioned for her grandfather's music label and landed his first contract!
What's more, Rita fell madly in love with him too, and the two are now engaged. Caleb is also helping Simon financially because he was the first person in NYC to help him.
Caleb and Rita fell in love. | Source: Pexels
What can we learn from this story?
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