On a very cold night, a rich man outside met a homeless old man – a Short Story

Not all stories have happy endings, and in this case, it is a sad story that carries a hidden meaning. When you promise something, make sure you are fully aware of what you are saying. Words might seem meaningless to you, but for others, it carries strength. The false hopes of unfulfilled promises have the capability of crushing another’s spirits as it was for one homeless man who met a millionaire on one dark and cold night

In the beginning, life was good. But then…

Dylan Jeering was born in Massachusetts to a seemingly happy home. To everyone looking in, they had the perfect family and lived that sought-after American dream. Dylan went to school every day and came home to help his mother around the house. Occasionally, he would go on a delivery run with his father, who farmed an assortment of vegetables for a living. He had recently gotten into his first relationship with a girl in his class, she was his best friend since kindergarten.

Dylan helped out at home
Image credit: pexels

In reality, their picture-perfect life was completely different behind closed doors. Dylan’s father had a drinking problem, and he would get violent with his mother from time to time. He promised every time he had an outburst that he would change and stop drinking. Dylan hoped beyond anything for that to happen.

One night, his parents had a terrible row. Dylan was frightened by the pitch of their screaming and worried for his mother. There was one big thud, and then everything went quiet. In the morning, Dylan tentatively came out of his room. His mother was nowhere to be seen. It dawned on him that she had left, and he knew she wasn’t coming home.

I promise I’ll come back.

One week after his mother left, Dylan received a letter. His father had been drinking for days on end, so he hadn’t noticed. the letter was from his mother, explaining where she had gone and why. But more importantly, she promised she would come back for him as soon as she had settled down and found a job. Dylan held onto that promise as if his life depended on it.

Months went by, and she wrote to him a few times. At first, the letters came once a week, and Dylan would rush eagerly to the post box. But soon, they came less frequently until there were no letters at all. After a few years, Dylan accepted that his mother was never going to come back, but that acceptance burned a hole into his heart.

Dylan hoped, but she never came home
Image credit: pexels

A life of struggles

Dylan did not lead an easy life. His father’s drinking problem led their family to ruin. Not only did he not bring in an income, but what little assistance they got from the government was spent on his father’s nasty habit. Drinking was one of the many coping mechanisms he had adopted over the years. Dylan left school in an attempt to get away from his father’s abuse and set forth to make a life of his own.

He struggled to keep a job
Image credit: pexels

Stability did not come easy to Dylan; he did not have a great example growing up. He had countless jobs, doing whatever he could to get by. However, for some reason, he struggled to keep a job for longer than a few months. One day, he bumped into an old friend from school.

They went for a few drinks together, and Dylan poured his heart out about his struggles. The friend took pity on Dylan and promised him a job. At the night’s end, he took Dylan’s number and promised to call him with the job’s details on Monday.

A friend promised him a job over a few drinks
Image credit: pexels

Monday came, but the phone call did not. Dylan desperately tried to find his friend online, but he had no luck. He waited a few weeks, hoping that something had just waylaid his friend. Eventually, he gave up hope. By now, Dylan was at the epitome of despair, and he turned to drugs to ease his sorrows.

A sad reality

Many years went by, and Dylan was now an old man. How he had survived to this point was a miracle to him. When he thought back to his life, most of his adulthood was spent on the streets, high on something or other. Even though he managed to get clean, it was too late to do anything for his future. Now, Dylan is homeless and sleeps under a bridge. In the Winter months, he truly suffered in the cold.

Every day, he would sit on the sidewalk with a cup, begging for spare change; this was about all the energy he could muster. People would pass by and barely acknowledge his existence even though he had sat in the same spot for years. It still surprised him how people could turn a blind eye, but still, every day, he sat and hoped someone would put enough coins in his cup so he could afford a bed at the shelter. The sad truth was that rarely happened.

He became homeless
Image credit: pexels

One final false hope

One day, Dylan was sitting on the sidewalk. It was a particularly cold day, and he felt the urgency to get coins for the shelter. Instead of his usual seated position, he stood with his cup, waving it in people’s faces. Every one of them ignored him, and his heart sank. He knew it would take a miracle to survive the night in this weather. He had read in a discarded newspaper that snowfall was expected.

He waited for the man to come back.
Image credit: Pixabay

Then, the unexpected happened. A man was walking in his direction. At first, Dylan thought he would pass by without a second glance, but then, he stopped. Dylan gasped in surprise, suddenly unsure how to use his voice.

The man looked at him incredulously and asked if he had a better jacket for this weather. Dylan looked down, patting his thick tweed coat with patches, and shook his head. The man looked mortified at the thought. He paused for a moment as if deep in thought. Then, he told Dylan to wait right there. He lived around the corner, and he wanted to give Dylan something warmer to wear.

Dylan couldn’t believe his luck. He promised the man he wouldn’t budge, and he waited. His heart brimming with hopefulness. He waited and waited. Maybe this time, someone would come through for him.

A tragic realization

Shaun Cunningham was a family man. He had just received a job promotion that he had been hoping for quite some time. He was in high spirits on his way home, excited to share the news with his family. On his way home, he passed a homeless man in the street begging for change. It struck him how thin his cat was. Being in the generous spirit that he was, he told the man to wait right there while he fetched an old coat him his house. The man’s face lit up joyfully, and Shaun hurried home to fetch it.

When he arrived, his wife jumped on him the moment he was at the door. Somehow she had heard the good news of his promotion, and she wanted to shower him with her appreciation. She had cooked a marvelous meal, which they shared with a few glasses of wine.

They shared a meal, and he completely forgot about his promise to the homeless man.
Image credit: pexels

In the morning, Shaun woke up with a sudden horrible realization. He sat up, cursing. He had completely forgotten to take the coat to that homeless man. Quickly, he ran out with the coat in his arms. Only to find an ambulance at the place where he asked the man to wait. He had died during the night. Shaun’s heart sank to the pit of his stomach. He had asked the man to wait there, and he completely forgot to come back.

The guilt ate at Shaun’s consciousness for many years. He vowed never again to make promises he couldn’t keep. He also became a regular donor to homeless shelters to compensate for letting that homeless man down. Sometimes life teaches us lessons in the most unfortunate ways, but we can learn from Shaun’s story and be there for the people we care for.

The homeless man died in the night

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