It was a windy day. The bitter chills made Jerry sink down inside his jacket. Snow flakes were gently falling. He blew into his hands trying to warm them up. He watched people pass him. Thinking he was invisible until one child walking with her mommy stopped and stared at him.
” I’m not invisible afterwards. The guy who had stepped on my foot was just rude.” He pulled his hat farther over his ears and prayed. ” Lord, if there is a God, well, if you are really real, can you do me a favor? Can you get me out of here? Can you get me off of the streets? I promise if you help me, I will do anything you ask Lord, anything.”
He sat there shivering, continuing to watch people. No one stopped, no one talked. The world seemed to be a place where no one gave a damn. There once was a time when he felt like the world was all his. He worked. He had a nice pad. He had grabbed an opportunity and ran with it. Now those days are gone.
He looked down at his tethered jacket. Frayed and worn it did its job. It kept the cold a little farther a way. He once wore pin-striped pants but had traded them in for these jeans. They only had a couple of small holes and the snap was gone, but he fixed it by using a safety pin.
Yes, one time he had dined on fine food and he remembered back to the company he had kept. Nice people, good people. He put his hand inside one of his pockets of his coat and pulled out a wrinkled, brown bag.
He had discovered it this morning on his way to his usual spot. He hadn’t taken the time to search through it. He never wanted to be caught going through others trash bins. Now he slowly opened it up. Inside was a nice, red apple. There was also a half-eaten sandwich.
Looks like it was a turkey and cheese sandwich. Someone must have been in a hurry. They had only taken a couple of bites and threw it back in the sack. Jerry turned it over a couple of times. He made sure there wasn’t anything crawling or poking out.
He took a bite thinking not too bad but a little dry. He bit into the sandwich again when he saw a dog coming towards him. The dog came up and sat down beside him. He looked a little rough for wear.
” Hey mutt, where did you come from? Did you smell my food? What you doing out in this weather? Did you run a way from home? Or did you get in trouble and they threw your butt out. Or maybe they just got plain tired of you and opened the back door, just like they did to me.”
The dog looked at Jerry and then down at his hands. Jerry had a soft spot for animals. He used to have two dogs of his own. He tore off a small piece and resting it in his hand waved it in front of the dog.
The dog sniffed at it and then ate it without really chewing it. The dog wanted more but Jerry said, ” Now go a way. I gave you some. Go, shoo, get out of here. Go find someone who can do more for you.”
The dog didn’t leave. In fact, he sat closer to Jerry. He laid his head in his lap and looked up at Jerry with those big brown eyes. ” Oh now, come on mutt. You know I don’t have anything else for ya.”
Jerry felt inside his other pocket and pulled out a glass bottle. He had found an old gin bottle in the trash last week. He stopped at a gas station and using the bathroom he had scrubbed the glass clean with hand soap and rinsed it with as hot of water he could get. He filled it with water and now was the perfect time to get a drink to wash that bread down.
Jerry’s belly felt a little better but his heart still felt empty. He was getting sleepy but there was no where to escape to get out of the cold. He took a deep sigh and looked down at the dog still resting in his lap.
His cold fingers touched the warm skin and the two bonded. Petting the dog, gave him a sense of belonging. He felt a little less empty. From a distance he heard yelling. As it got closer he could make out words. ” Rusty, Rusty where are you? Come on Rusty, play time is over. Time to get going home. Come on Rusty.”
Jerry looked down at the dog. ” Is your name Rusty?” The dog’s ears perked up a bit, but as the voice came closer the dog sat straight up and began wagging his tail. Jerry looked in the direction the dog was facing and instantly buried his head deep within his coat.
” Rusty, you darn dog. There you are. Why did you take off on me like that for? You know better.” The man was standing next to Jerry and the dog now. He looked down at the bum and took notice of how he looked.
” Mister, mister, are you alright? Do you need some help?” Jerry raised his head slowly looking up into the man’s eyes. ” Jerry, is that you Jerry? Well, what in the hell are you doing out here in the cold? And where did you get those clothes, out of some trash bin?”
Jerry didn’t answer. The man sat down beside him. ” It’s me Jerry. I’m Alan, remember? I worked with you. It’s been some time since I have seen you. Always wondered what happened to you.”
The man became silent. It was like putting the pieces of the puzzle together then he spoke. ” Jerry, listen. I know what they did to you wasn’t right. Just because a company decided to down size shouldn’t mean they get rid of their better people. You had been there for years. I suppose that is why they let you go.”
Jerry looked into Alan’s eyes. They became teary and he felt a lump in his throat. He turned and looked in the opposite direction, not wanting Jerry to notice his despair. Alan stood up and hooked the leash back onto the dog’s collar.
” Stand up Jerry, come with me. About the same time that good old Duke took off running I had a voice whisper to me. I just hear two little words. I brushed them off but now I think those words were meant for me and you. The words were, help him.”
Jerry thought back to earlier when he had prayed. Had God sent this dog and this man to help him? Was he going to answer his prayer and get him off the streets? Alan helped Jerry to stand. Wrapping his arm around Jerry’s shoulder he said, ” Come on Jerry. Come home with me. Let’s get you some food and into some clean clothes. After that I have a business opportunity to talk to you about.”