A café owner uncovers the horrible life of two youngsters after his pet dog guides him to a sewer grate. Will his genuine efforts in rescuing them and changing their lives bear fruit?
Carl’s grandfather had built the café he owned in the early 1980s from the ground up. It was then passed down to Carl’s father and then to Carl. Over the years, Carl not only kept the eatery going but also the tradition of greeting customers with a furry friend.
So every morning when Carl arrived at the café, he tied his pet dog, Jack, to a chair near the front door, where the doggo was showered with pats, kisses, and cuddles from the customers.
Not to mention, it was a business strategy that drew more customers to the café. Who doesn’t love a furry companion when they’re out shopping for their favorite baked goodies and coffee!
That particular noon was no different. Carl tied Jack to a chair, flipped the sign on the café’s entrance to ‘open,’ and tied the apron around his waist. As customers arrived, they greeted Jack by patting him on the head and shaking his paws. But Jack was staring at the sewer grate instead of interacting with the visitors…
“You all right, Jack?” Carl called out to the dog while packing freshly baked bread for a customer. For the first time, Jack didn’t respond to Carl and continued to stare outside.
“Hey, boy, what’s wrong?” Carl asked the dog as the customer left. But before he would get an answer, more customers arrived, and Carl got busy.
For the next two days, Carl noticed Jack always stopped by the sewer near the cafe and peered through the grate. He dismissed it as something unimportant until the next day.
Carl tugged on Jack’s leash, but the dog refused to move. He continued clawing the sewer grate as if there was something he desperately wanted inside. “Boy, we’re running late for work!” Jack said furiously. “I’ll leave you here if you don’t come with me!”
Despite Carl’s warning, Jack refused to budge.
“Fine! Just stay right here!” Carl gave up and walked away, tossing Jack’s leash to the ground. But the dog pursued him and began pulling him to the sewer.
“Leave me alone, Jack!” Carl muttered as he yanked his shirt from the dog’s grip. “I’m running late! If you do—”
It was then that a loud voice distracted Carl. “HELP! PLEASE!”
“Wait a minute, what was that?”
“HELP!” A different voice echoed around Carl this time, and it was then he realized where the noise was coming from. He dashed up to the sewer and pressed his ear to the grate.
“Is someone in there? My name is Carl, and please let me know if you need help!” he shouted.
In response, Carl heard two screams in unison, begging for help, and it was clear they belonged to two children. What frightened him was the fading frequency of the children’s voices, as if they were about to collapse at any moment.
Carl panicked. “Guys, hang in there, alright? I’m calling someone for help!” he yelled through the sewer grate as he pulled out his phone with trembling hands.
“Ple—please help us!” shouted one of the voices one last time as everything fell silent.
Carl quickly dialed 911, and minutes afterward, firefighters in safety suits were entering the sewer. Imagine Carl’s shock when the firefighters rescued not one but two unconscious boys bathed in putrid water, algae, and sewage garbage.
The children were then transported to the hospital by paramedics. And days later, Carl would find out about their horrifying life.
“We discovered signs of harmful gasses in their lungs, and they are in a coma. We need to wait till they regain consciousness,” the doctors told him.
Carl didn’t know what to do. He waited at the hospital with the children since he didn’t know whom to contact. The kids had nothing on them. There was no phone, no money, and nothing to indicate who they were. How did they get into the dangerous sewer?
From that day on, Carl visited the children daily after work, leaving Jack with a neighbor. One fine day, the two children regained consciousness, and thankfully, Carl was at the hospital then. He wanted to call the cops, but first, he wanted to meet the kids.
“How did you guys even get inside the sewer?” he asked the two boys lying on adjacent beds in the hospital. They said their names were Tim and Harry, and they were brothers, with Tim being the younger one.
“We… We were stuck inside while saving the kitty,” Tim admitted. “Thank you for helping us…”
“Did you find the cat too?” Harry asked sharply, looking at Carl, then he rolled his eyes and looked away. “It’s alright if you didn’t. I’ll just find her on my own!”
The damage done to a child can never be undone.
“Well, guys,” Carl said. “I didn’t find the kitty or anyone else besides you two, and you need to give me your parents’ phone numbers so I can call them, OK?”
“You don’t need to do that!” Harry told Carl. “We can go home by ourselves! Dad is always busy! And mom… she’s not with us!”
“Busy? Hey, buddy, listen to me. No parent is so busy that they don’t care about their children, OK? If they are, they are not parents.”
Tim’s eyes welled up with tears. “The hospital would want money from you, Carl,” he added. “Dad won’t pay the money, and he will leave us here. Or he’ll disappear, so he doesn’t have to pay. We don’t have any money.”
“Shut up, Tim! We don’t need a stranger’s help!” Harry said. “We don’t need your help, Carl!”
“Woah, woah, you guys don’t need to worry about that, alright? I’ll take care of the bills. We’re going home tomorrow. I’ll take you guys home. Alright?” Carl said.
“As I said, we don’t need your help!” Harry snarled. “Tim is weak, so he doesn’t think twice before asking for help! I’m not weak like him, and I can care for him and myself.”
“Well, buddy,” Carl said. “I am taking you boys home because, as a responsible adult, I can’t leave you alone. You either call your dad or let me take you two home, and—”
“I need a phone,” Harry cut Carl off. “I’ll just call him!”
Carl sighed and pulled out his phone from his pocket. “There you go.”
Harry dialed his father, David, several times, but all the calls went unanswered. “He’ll call back! We don’t need you!” Harry told Carl, but David did not call back. So the next day, Carl drove the boys home.
However, Carl would’ve never imagined what awaited him. When he arrived at the boys’ home, he was surprised to see the terrible conditions they had been living in. Their house was old and depressing, and it seemed like no one had lived there for a long time.
The table was covered with dirty dishes, and the garbage can was overflowing. There was no food in the refrigerator, and stale pizza boxes were strewn around the front couch.
“OK, I need to know what’s happening around here!” Carl demanded. “Where is your father?”
Harry looked away from Carl and began cleaning the couch.
“Harry…” Tim said. “Should we tell Carl everything?”
“Shut up, Tim!” Harry hissed. “You don’t need to know where Dad is, Carl! Just get lost!”
“And leave you two alone here? What is going on, Harry? Where the hell is your father?” Carl raised his voice this time, and Tim shuddered. “Daddy doesn’t—”
“Tim!” Harry screamed. “I said, ‘shut up!'”
Carl let out a sigh. “OK, if you don’t want to tell me, that’s fine. I’m sure the cops would be curious to learn how two small children survive alone in a filthy house with no adults around!”
Carl then pulled out his phone and began dialing 911.
“Stop!” Harry screamed, and Carl spotted tears in the young boy’s eyes.
“Why? You weren’t going to tell me anything, were you?” Carl asked, his phone now pressed to his ear.
“Please, Carl, stop!” Harry cried as hot tears rolled down his cheeks. “Please! They’re going to take Tim away! STOP!”
“What?” Carl removed his phone from his ear and stared at the young boy, perplexed.
“They will send him to a new family, and he’ll be alone. Don’t do this, please!” Harry said. The boy burst into tears, and Carl had to console him.
“Hey, Harry, you need to tell me what’s going on, OK? Look, all I want to do is help you. If you tell me what’s wrong, we’ll find a solution, and you and Tim will be fine. Nobody’s going anywhere, OK?”
When Carl consoled Harry and told him he genuinely wanted to help him, the small child began describing how awful their life had been since they lost their mother to cancer. Harry confessed that their mother had died due to the lack of proper treatment.
After their mom’s death, their dad, David, changed completely. He didn’t care about them, and he didn’t work. He’d disappear for days and return home at odd hours in the morning. The boys were scared of him and would never tell him anything, even if they needed something.
Harry and Tim didn’t even go to school. After their mother died, their father stopped paying for their education. Harry knew that if someone told the cops how they’d been living, social services would place them in foster care, and they would eventually get separated. That was something he didn’t want since he didn’t want to lose Tim.
So to protect his younger brother, Harry was hesitant to tell anyone about how they lived. Shortly before Carl found them, they were running behind a kitten they had adopted after finding her abandoned on the street. Unfortunately, the sewer was not covered, and they were trapped after descending into it to save the kitty.
Carl was shocked that two young children, both under the age of 10, were living such a horrible life. He had to do something to help them!
So the first thing he did was clean their house. He took out the trash, cleaned the kitchen and living room, and ordered pizza and drinks for the two boys. He didn’t open his cafe that day, knowing he’d lose money, but nothing was more important to him than helping these young boys.
After finishing the cleaning, Carl and the boys were having dinner together when they heard the front door open. They all jumped to their feet when they noticed David. He was home and furious at Carl.
“Who the hell are you? What’s going on here?” he asked, looking at his boys. Tim and Harry were scared and hid behind Carl.
“Don’t get too worked up, David! I was just helping the kids!” Carl said, stepping forward towards him.
“And what makes you think you can walk into my house and do whatever you want? OUT!”
“I said, GET OUT! Do you want me to call the cops? Let me just do it! I’m sick of taking care of these monsters! And what’s the deal with the bandages on your heads, uh? Did you scratch and injure yourself again?”
“STOP!” Carl screamed. “Don’t call anyone! Your kids were trying to save a cat, and they fell into a sewer! Where have you been all this while? You weren’t there for your children when they needed you! So if you call the cops, David, you’ll be charged with child neglect and abuse!”
David sighed. “So be it!” he said, dialing some digits on his phone, but as he continued, he burst into tears.
“At the very least, they’ll have a better life! I’m exhausted, and I deserve to rot in hell. I’m not even a good father! I was a terrible husband, and I am a terrible man! I lost my previous job, and I’ve not been able to find a new one.”
Carl was taken aback as David slumped his shoulders and began sobbing like a child. He then began explaining how tormented he had been since losing his wife, and Carl felt awful for the man.
Because David was reeling from his wife’s loss, he couldn’t bring himself to go out and work. He sometimes drank to forget his problems, but it only made him worse. He couldn’t love his children as much as he used to, and he despised himself for being a lousy father.
“Why didn’t you ask anyone for help?” Carl asked.
“What would they think about me? I’M A MAN, and I can’t ask for help!”
“No way, dude! That’s a stereotype, David,” Carl gently patted David’s shoulder. “Reaching out to someone doesn’t imply that you are weak. In reality, it’s a sign that you believe you’re strong enough to express your thoughts and ask for help. We all need a shoulder to cry on in tough times. Hey, how about I help you?”
“But why?” David asked in tears. “You’re just a stranger!”
Carl smiled. “Cheer up, man! There are no strangers in the world! We all need each other. Your boys need you. You need to pull yourself together for their sake.”
And Carl followed through with his promise. He helped David reclaim the dignified life he’d lost by assisting him in getting a stable job and introducing him to a therapist friend.
After several months, David returned to Carl with Tim and Harry, and the kitten they had lost. While Jack couldn’t stop racing after the kitten, David thanked Carl for turning his and his boys’ lives around.
What can we learn from this story?
Nobody in this world is a stranger; we all need each other. Carl’s help enabled David to reclaim his life and become a better father.
The damage done to a child can never be undone, so if you see a child in danger, please help them. Thanks to Carl’s help, Harry and Tim were pulled out of a miserable life.
Share this story with your friends. It might brighten their day and inspire them.