Annoyed at being interrupted from his morning writing time, Ted got up to answer the knock on his front door.
Opening the door, he was faced with a bearded bum. His greasy straggly hair was hanging down shoulder length over his dirty clothes. He looked like many of the homeless he had seen on the streets of his town.
“Who are you and what do you want?” Ted asked.
“Uncle Ted, don’t you recognize me?” The bum asked.
“Well, my name is Ted, but what makes you think I am an uncle of yours? You don’t look like any nephew of mine.”
Ted was about to close the door in the bum’s face when the bum said, “I’m Sean.”
“Sean who?” Ted asked.
“Oh yeah, It’s been what 30 years since I’ve seen you.”
Trying to be hospitable, Ted said, “Take a seat” as he gestured to one of the chairs on his front porch.
“So what do you want?” Ted asked.
“I need a little help,” Sean replied.
“So you want money. Right?”
“A little money to get me by would help.”
“I’m not in the habit of giving money to strangers, even someone who comes to my door claiming to be my relative. And after 30 years, you are a stranger.” Ted said. “By the way,” Ted continued, “where were you when your mother passed away 10 years ago?”
Sean looked down at the floor and in almost a stage whisper said, “I was in jail.”
“Have you seen your ex and your two daughters?”
“No. They have restraining orders on me.”
“I’m not surprised. Let’s go for a walk,” Ted said.
Sean stood, picked up his backpack, and followed Ted out to the sidewalk. They had walked a couple of blocks when they paused in front of a house.
“Remember this place?”
“This is where Norm Wilson lived. He has since passed. But when you and your brother were in high school, you stole some tools from his garage and your mother had to bail you out to prevent him from pressing charges.”
As they walked on Ted said, “You remember you tried to get my underage daughter drunk at one of your daughter’s birthday parties?”
“Sort of,” Sean said. “We were just trying to have fun, as I remember, and you flew into a rage over it.”
Continuing on their walk, they came to the town’s main street and stopped in front of a store. Remember this store?” Ted asked.
“Sort of,” Sean said.
“You shoplifted several items from the store and again your mother rescued you from being arrested.”
“We were just kids back then,” Sean said.
“You may be older now, but you are still an immature kid.”
Sean let loose with a string of expletives. “All I’m asking is for a little help.”
“I’m going to give you some help. Let’s keep walking,” Ted said.
A block later, they came to the bus station on the corner. Going inside Ted said, “Okay Sean, tell you what I’m going to do. I’m going to buy you something to eat at the counter, then I’m going to buy you a bus ticket. How does that sound?”
“I don’t want to go anywhere. I’ve been to a lot of places living on the street.”
“You wanted help. It’s this or nothing.”
Ted looked at Sean, who seemed to be hungry and desperate.
“Okay,” Sean said.
When Sean finished lunch, Ted handed him the bus ticket he had purchased.
Sean looked at it and said in a loud voice, “Anchorage, Alaska” then let loose with a loud, long string of expletives, causing everyone in the station to turn their heads.
“And don’t come back,” Ted said as he walked out the door to return home.