It was a particularly gloomy day, the sky was puffy with different grays, and there was a heavy mist about the street. I had just sat down to get to some outstanding letters, i prefer the hand written communication over the new modern types. But just as i was about to finish off one to my dear friend, a knock at the door rattled me out of focus. I remember thinking that it was crazy for a person to be about in this weather, but who am i to judge another. I answered the door to fine an older gentleman, huddled in a big coat, and dingy green fishing boots that covered his very stained brown corduroy pants. I did think his attire was odd, but we do have a good pond just down the road, so i didn’t think much of it. I asked him, “sir, pardon my lack of hospitality, but might you please tell me who you are, and what you are doing at my home on a day like this?” the man made no good effort to make me feel any more comfortable with his presence. yet he smiled. The man smiled so suddenly and gently at the same time that it took me a while to realize it was a smile. Now i could also see more of his face. He was covered in soot, and dirt of all different types. The bags under his eyes seemed to go down to the bottom of his nose, and his teeth were orange-yellow, with what seemed like a few missing from the back. Then he spoke, “You do not know me or my story, But i do ask of you one favor stranger, just for tonight pretend i am your friend, and provide me with a nights sleep and a settling dinner. To most it’s not much of a request, unless you, like me, are a struggling man. However; struggling or not you can now choose to send me away, back into the mist, or you can invite me in, and we can eat and sleep, then i shall be gone in the morning, possibly before you even wake up.” His voice was soft but worn, he was still smiling, but he seemed to be fighting to keep it up out of fatigue. Who would i be to send this man away. To not extend to him the same hospitable hand that i would want, or expect if i was under the same circumstances. So i let him in.
He was thinner without his gear on. Much to thin to be considered healthy. This made me feel sad for the man. I know all to well what its like to be starved and deprived of a full stomach, and how the little bit of food you always seem to scrap up is always never enough. I took his coat and sat him down on the sofa. He made a sound as if relaxing was hurting him, and after grunting for a while to situate himself finally let out a sigh of relief. I then turned to the kitchen, and began to fix dinner. I thought of what to make and decided i wanted to give him the meal of a life time. Taking his missing teeth into account though i prepared soup, with soft dumplings, i make carrots steamed and softened along with mashed potatoes, and for his main dish i made pasta, focusing on starches to fill him, then a dessert of different puddings layered with whip-cream on top. The man devoured the food as quickly as i could set it out, thanking me before and after every course. I watched him eat with glossy eyes and watched color return to his face. But he was still covered in dirt. After dinner i drew him a bath and let him wash his face and body. The water afterwards was so dark you couldn’t see through it. I decided to tuck him into my own bed, thinking he was to brittle to be placed on a couch. Just when i was about to leave the room that man spoke again. “you have showed me much kindness tonight, more food then i could have ever imagined, and cleanliness i haven’t felt in over a year. I want to thank you for your efforts, and for your trust, and faith in me.” That’s all he could manage before is exhaustion was to much and sleep pulled him in. I put his clothes in the wash and put them in the dryer, instead of on the line, not just because of the mist, but i wanted them to be warm when he put them on next. I laid on my sofa that night, thinking if he was right. Had i really done more for him than any other would, or had i only done just enough.
The next morning, the man was gone, his clothes were gone, and in his place a freshly made bed. and a lesson, to forever have faith in people. To not judge and to extend kindness to those in need. Something our society seems to forget to do, but always needs.