Mother’s grabbed their children’s hands and hurried and crossed the street. Men in business suits tossed coins. Teens laughed and sneered. Some even threw rocks. Mr. P is what he was nicknamed.
I heard someone call him that when I went into the grocery store to purchase my month supply of groceries. The government was good to me. I got ninety dollars a month for food. I lived in a room across the street from the store. My son owns the building. He went to a lot of trouble. He turned my one room into two. He took the closet and turned it into my own private toilet. He put in a used stool and a small sink. It had a lot of rust in it, but it was mine and I knew how to use a scrub brush. He don’t even charge me any rent.
Every morning I would get up and reheat the coffee left over from the night before. I get stamps for food but I do have to be careful. Every day I sit at the table my son gave me. It is pretty old, sort of wobbly. I only got one chair, but that’s alright, because it is only me. I had to put some paper under one of the legs so I didn’t knock my coffee over.
I watched the old man walking down the street. He wasn’t a beggar mind you. He was just hungry. I never did see this man hold out his hand one time like I seen those other lazy people doing. You know, those ones who could work but don’t feel like it.
No siree, Mr. P, this is what the store calls him, he goes looking for free food. Maybe he be lucky some days and the local restaurant will throw out some outdated bread or rolls. Old Mr. P will stand near by and wait patiently for something to eat.
My old ticker beats so fast when I see him wandering the streets. I just wanna help him so bad, but I can barely feed myself. One time I did get some cash for Christmas from my son. I took it to the store and bought a few extra things. I made up a Christmas plate and when I saw Mr. P go walking by, I raced outside and handed it to him. Yep, I just placed it in his hands. I didn’t give him a chance to say no. I just said, ” Merry Christmas Mr. P.”
You know that very next Valentine’s Day I found a card laying at my front door. Whoever slid it under the door didn’t sign it, but I always figured it was Mr. P’s way of saying thank-you. I still got that card. Nope, I won’t throw it a way. First Valentine Card I have had in years.
You know, I used to have life so much better. I was really quite a pretty thing, or so the guys in my station used to say. I was a nurse. I worked as a nurse in the Army, but one day I got a surprise letter in the mail. It pretty much stated I was getting too old. It said I had to retire, that I had done my duty.
I got a nice retirement out of it though and I really loved my job. Helping all those soldiers that got hurt. I made a lot of friends, I did. Yep, all over the world. I used to write a lot of letters but most of them are dead now.
My son handles my retirement money. He gives me this place to live. I guess I should be most thankful for the things he does for me, but I always thought getting old wouldn’t be like this.
Now old Mr. P, he is in the same boat as me practically. He served in the war. He was a damn good soldier, so I’m told. But he went and hot himself injured. He got hurt real bad. He lost his leg. Yep, that’s why he limps. He has a wooden stump. Sort of makes him walk a little funny. That’s how he got his name, Mr. P, short for peg leg.
He got sent home on a discharge. He did come back home and he took up living with his parents. His parents I heard was real poor. They took his money and promised him a place to live but they needed his money to help feed all of them.
Well you guessed it, they both up and died. No, not at the same time. When the Mom died, the Dad ended up in a home. The bank came and threw old Mr. P out because there was no money to pay the nursing home payments with. Yeah, can you believe it? They threw old Mr. P right out on his ass. Left him with his clothes and his wooden stump. They didn’t even try to find him a place to live. Well that’s what I heard. That’s why you see him walking by all the stores each day. The poor man served his country, and matter of fact, so did I, and yet look where we both are now.
Yeah, I guess life isn’t what we think it will be when things happen, but we got to do the best we can and hopefully the good Lord will look down on us and smile. He will keep giving me a roof and poor old Mr. P some food. Well, that’s what I heard.