A former bully accidentally meets the man he used to make fun of when he tries to do a good deed for a haggard-looking beggar. Did karma never get to him?
Robert Dean was hurting as he paid for purchases in Mary’s Mart — the town’s largest supermarket. As the clerk finished with him, rather than leave the premises, he stood near the exit, lost in thought.
“Why did I buy so many groceries?” he wondered, staring down at his full hands.
Robert was a one-year-old divorcée who still hadn’t gotten used to living independently, which is why he sometimes went overboard when shopping.
I might have to throw many of these away because cooking isn’t something I’m very good at anyway, he told himself.
While he kept contemplating all that, an older-looking man moved into his field of view. He quickly caught Robert’s eyes — a perfect candidate for his brilliant idea.
He also remembered that the older man was the one at the store entrance begging for alms. He slowly approached the man and offered him his goods, tea, biscuits, and some real food.
At first, the old man refused. “I couldn’t possibly take what you’re offering, it’s quite unprecedented for a person like you to be giving things out for free. Is this a prank?”
The older-looking man’s words confused Robert, who just wanted to share his food to avoid wasting it. But it made perfect sense to the beggar. He had recognized Robert regardless of his age.
“I assure you, old man, this is no prank, I simply don’t want all this to go to waste is all,” he said.
It took some moments, but the man eventually agreed, but he couldn’t look Robert in the eye due to his shame. He pulled his hoodie tighter to hide more of his features.
As Robert handed him some of the packages he’d gotten at the supermarket, he remembered the crutch the beggar had been using to move around.
“You can’t walk properly can you?” he asked.
“Ahem,” the other man cleared his throat, trying to evade the question to protect his vulnerability.
“Well I think you won’t be able to bring so many things to where you sleep if you can even walk well, kind sir,” Robert said. “Why don’t you let me drop you off at home, my car is parked just around the corner.”
“I don’t think you need to go that far,” the old man wanted to say, but Robert was already walking away with both bags of goods, his included. With a sigh, he picked up his crutch and ambled after Robert — just like old times.
When they arrived at the old man’s home, Robert checked the two bags to make sure he gave the man enough because something inside him felt very sorry for him.
Stepping into the man’s house, Robert couldn’t help but grimace. The place looked terrible, and the whole house looked like it could collapse at the tiniest push.
Everything within was in a state of disrepair, and dust clung to it all. Nothing in there could be sold to make money which is why no robber had ever attempted to steal from there — most houses on that block had not been so lucky.
Robert carefully made his way to the man’s old fridge, which was completely empty, and helped him assemble perishable food in it.
After doing that, the man offered Robert some tea.
“Don’t mind if I do,” Robert said.
They got to talking over the tea and biscuits Robert gave the old man earlier. Then Robert suddenly took one long look at the man and realized that his face seemed familiar to him.
“Have we met?” he asked.
“What do you mean?” the old man asked.
It took a few moments for Robert to place his thoughts, then he replied. “Oh don’t mind me, I forgot to introduce myself. I’m Robert Dean, what can I call you?”
“So you figured it out huh?”
Robert was staring at him intently once more, and the old man could literally hear his brain working things out.
“Forest? That you?” Robert said, eyes wide as saucers.
“My name is indeed Jason Forest and I know who you are, Robert Dean. There is no need for introductions.”
Robert was shocked. It was Forest, his family’s neighbor when he was still just a kid. Back then, he and his other friends used to harass Forest because of his limp.
They once climbed into his garden and smashed several windows in the house with their ball. It was Robert’s turn to feel very ashamed, but one thing bothered him.
“How did you end up in this city?” he asked after some time.
“My daughter sold my house and kept most of her money to herself. All she gave me was this small house in the city because it was much cheaper.”
“That’s terrible,” Robert said with a frown.
“That’s not even the worst of it. You wouldn’t believe that she tried to get me shipped off to one nursing home. She doesn’t care about my comfort, she only wants to get rid of me by selling this small house to pay for the nursing home.”
Forest told Robert the only reason he was not in a nursing home was his dog. “I can’t leave Monty alone while I go get taken care of,” he had told his daughter.
With time, Robert made talking to Forest an everyday thing. He kept on buying groceries for him and helping him around the house and not just to atone for his wrongdoings in the past, but because he actually enjoyed the man’s company.
One day, Robert received a call from his former wife, Rose. “Hey sugar,” she crooned.
“What do you want Rose?” he said with a sigh.
“You don’t sound happy to hear from me. Is everything okay?” she said softly.
When the silence stretched on, Rose kept speaking. “I called to tell you that I’m pregnant,” she announced happily before revealing that she and her husband could only cater to two kids and not four.
She had custody of her kids with Robert, a boy named Jack and a girl named Angel. However, with twins on the way, she wanted the two older kids to move in with Robert.
Robert was elated by the news — he was going to be allowed to spend all his free time with his children. He scheduled a date to pick them up and congratulated his ex-wife on the conception.
However, when Robert was about to get his kids, Forest’s dog died, which meant that his daughter would likely decide to sell the small house and send the old man to a nursing home.
“You won’t lose that house,” Robert assured the man and he started to come up with a plan.
“Agree to let her sell the house,” Robert told the man.
“Are you sure?” the man asked.
“Yes, don’t worry, you won’t lose this house, trust me.”
As Robert said, Forest let his daughter sell the house, but unknown to her, the buyer was Robert, and he gave the money directly to Forest instead of his daughter.
The reformed bully renovated the house and turned it into a haven for Forest and his kids, who loved to visit the man. Forest was very fond of playing with Robert’s children, and that bond drove him to invest some of his money into a fund for their college tuition.
What did we gain from this story?
The past doesn’t define the future. Robert was a terrible bully as a kid, but he grew up into a morally upright man who still had enough humanity in him to pity a beggar. Let go of the past to embrace who you can be.
Do good; it starts a cycle. That single favor Robert did Forest after meeting him again changed the man’s life, and in return, Forest chose to spend his money on Robert’s children.
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