Charlie sits there like a free man with a blanket no thicker than a phone. His dirty, stained with dirt hand reaches out, asking for alms. Funny how few months ago he was a man with 2 mortgages and 3 cars.
Charlie was a business man. Like every other business man, what he does is playing with risk. Making investments here and there; taking a risk. It just so happens that Charlie took the wrong risk at the wrong time. In these days, recession hits everyone Charlie included. He remembers the day when he was finally chased out by the Bank that he owes money from. It was sad. His wife divorced him, took the kids and went back to her family down south.
The one thing he never regrets was upholding his principle. He accepts what he has and what he doesn't. In his mind, he's a poor man with a value. Well, at least he has something in him.
Charlie, of course, sleeps on the street. He starts wandering around at 7am and ask for alms. By 12 noon, he'd make enough to have a piece of bread for lunch. After that he would wander off again till he gets enough for dinner. That was his daily routine. Much like when he was still working. 7am at work, 12 noon lunch break and continue off till dinner time. Funny how our life dictates us the same even when we have nothing.
There was once, a man who Charlie had saved from being robbed. The man was in his late 60s, 5ft 8in, medium build with a white beard. His name was Arthur. This man has been living alone for 20 years after his wife died. Hasn't got any kids. Charlie would be about the age of his son, if his son were still alive.
Arthur let Charlie stay in his home for a few days. Heck, for as long as he wants. Arthur probably knew that if he gave that offer to a homeless guy, that guy would never leave. But there was something in Charlie that Arthur saw. Something so special that it made Arthur trust him well enough. Besides, he could use some company.
Charlie never knew his dad. Never knew what is daddy's love like. That night, he imagined Arthur as his father. Although it might be far-fetched because Charlie looks nothing like him but it gave a sense of comfort to him. It felt like home.
After quite some time, Charlie felt so comfortable he thought he never want to leave. Arthur insist that he stay until he is able to find a job again. To stand up on his two feet. But the economy was bad. It was a global recession, one that many analyst define as the Great Depression.
Arthur saved enough money during his work days, he could feed a family of four for 10 years in the recession. Arthur was a man who saves money for times of trouble. All those years paid off finally.
Charlie felt it was wrong. He's poor. He's homeless. But yet he's in a home. Comfy and warm. His clothes are clean and tidy. He gets hot shower in the morning. A bed and a pillow to sleep. A kitchen to cook and eat. A living room to enjoy. He has what normal people has and yet he has nothing.
So Charlie takes his old clothes, one that he kept in a box in the wardrobe. He puts on his sock while sitting on the stairs. He take one last look in the house. A place of warmth. Arthur is sound asleep. Being an old man, he sleeps early. Charlie muster up his courage to face reality. One that he was meant to be. He opens the door, and head into the blistering cold.