Payback

By Meg Sorick. A short story from July 2015, edited and ready to go into the collection. Here’s one last read:

“I know it’s not much,” I said, as I handed the homeless man an orange and a five dollar bill. I had passed him every day since he first appeared a week ago, on my route to work. With haunted green eyes and a sad smile, he looked neither dangerous nor crazy, just like a guy who had fallen on hard times.

“There but for the grace of God, go I,” I thought as I entered the diner where I waited tables. With a heavy sigh, I tied my apron around my waist and picked up my order pad. I had the worst section again: the one right by the door. Every time the door opened and closed, the wind rushed in, chilling my stocking clad legs and bare arms. Despite the fact that I never stopped moving all day, I never managed to get warm. By the end of my shift, my feet were sore, my back was aching and my meager tips wouldn’t go very far toward paying my bills.

I packed up the last of the vegetable soup to take home for my supper. I smiled. There was enough for two containers. No sense in letting it go to waste. On impulse, I grabbed the last two rolls and a couple of packets of butter and tucked it in the takeout bag with the soup. My homeless friend was waiting in his usual spot. “I brought you some hot soup,” I said. “Do you have somewhere you can go for the night?”

“Thank you,” he said, gratefully accepting the container and the rolls. “Now don’t you worry, I’ll be all right.”

The next day, I packed another orange in my bag for the homeless man, but to my surprise, he wasn’t in his spot when I passed. I trudged on to another long day at the diner.

Just as lunch rush had ended, a handsome man in a business suit sat in my section and smiled at me.

I gaped in confusion at his familiar features. “Is it you?” I gasped.

He smiled and gave a little shake of his head. “You’ve met my brother, Marcus.” Flicking his eyes toward my name tag, he added, “Cecilia.”

“Is your brother all right?” I asked, fearing the worst.

“He’s all right now. I’ve taken him home.” He passed me a business card which read, Lucas LeGrande, Executive Chef, above the name of the finest restaurant in town and said, “You’re the only one who ever showed my brother any kindness. I’d like to return the favor. Come work for me.”

Header Image: “Together” – artist, Lesley Oldaker, oil, 2011

33 thoughts on “Payback

  1. I remember this one. Great lesson in there. I always tell the boys, and I’m not religious at all, that the homeless guy under that overpass could be god in disguise, seeing if anyone will offer compassion. Never to underestimate the difference something as small as an orange and a kind word can have on someone in need. You said it perfectly here. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much! And I agree with you. I hate the people who won’t take a minute to help or they immediately conclude that a handout is just going to encourage the behavior. Really? 😒 These folks are desperate!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yep. Breaks my heart every time. I can’t not give them something. We’ve even turned around on the highway to give somebody food. I feel super strongly about teaching the same to the boys. I’m always proud of them when they do something without being prompted or without my knowledge. I guess they do pay attention after all. 😃

        Liked by 1 person

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