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The Man Who Wore No Shoes

He always sat in the same place at the same time. Leaning against a large wooden crate, legs crossed, arms sunken to his sides and eyes peering through the crowd, he rested. His feet were bare and his long locs disheveled and carried upon the stained T-shirt he wore.

Change was often tossed into his wooden crate but he never took it. He’d always leave the money in the spot where he sat or would simply give it to the homeless people who pushed carts of belongings. Just as he routinely sat in the same place every day, the same people walked by everyday.

One day, the man again sat with his large wooden crate however, this day was different. This day, there was a sign fastened to the crate. It invited people to instead write their own needs on a piece of paper and drop them into the crate. People were amused at the idea. It filled their hearts to experience humanity in such a way as to acknowledge- to him (a so-called homeless person) - that they too are in this struggle called life. It brought a sense of equality to everyone who read the sign, whether they participated or not. Only a few participated however, every passer-byer either praised him for his project or brightly smiled while tossing in dollar bills instead of coins.

Weeks later, the man appeared a bit later than his usual time. He was with his large crate as usual but, again things were different.

This day, the man wore shoes and a suit. A fancy suit. And his hair was neatly pulled back into a man-bun. He was actually stunning. People didn’t recognize him until he stood adjacent to his wooden crate with a sign that read, “I wasn’t homeless. I actually came here everyday for a month to cool off and wait for gardeners to deliver flowers to my crate. I was in the process of planting a surprise garden for my wife. But today, I wanted to say thank you for your kindness”.

As he recognized people who gave him their written down needs, he would reach into his wooden crate, retrieve a box and give it to them. People were in shock. “Wow! I can’t believe this!”, cried one woman and proceeded to hug the man.

As the people began to disperse and go home, a little boy walks up to the man and asks why he never wore shoes the previous days. To which he replied, “Sometimes angels need to improvise to fulfill God’s work. Just as I didn’t need shoes, the people here today didn’t need what they wrote upon those pieces of paper, they instead needed hope and assurance”.

The boy looked away for just a second to ponder what he just heard. He turned back to ask the man if he had wings but the man vanished. The boy then ran to the wooden crate to peer inside. There he found the fancy suit and shoes the man wore, neatly folded inside with a note that read, “Son, Give this to your dad”. As soon as he got home, he burst through the door to tell his mom everything that had happened. She was amazed and speechless at the same time. She just smiled and hugged the boy. As the boy was leaving to go play he gave her the fancy suit and shoes and told her that since the man was an angel, he no longer needed clothes and wanted to give them to his dad. The mother had such mixed emotions. She wanted to be happy and celebrate this moment but, she knew her husband was in no shape to wear a fancy suit, let alone see a fancy suit. The last couple of years, the husband spent most of his days in depression, unable to be the husband he once was. He fell into a deep depression after his father died in a house fire. All of his belongings were burned, leaving nothing personal to remember him by. He had such a strong bond with his father. He was his namesake, Presley Smith II but, he felt he needed something tangible to remember him by. His only possession was a single picture. His father hated taking pictures so, the husband was the only person to have a picture of him.

Even through her doubts she held hope that she would lift her husband’s spirit by giving him the man’s gift. Inside the garage, the husband sat on a stool watching football. Beer cans strewn all about, he told his wife he’ll pick them up before the boy comes home. She sensed that her husband wasn’t in the mood to talk. “I know, Honey”, she replied. Before turning to leave, she placed the suit and shoes down and mentioned that a man gave it to their son to give to him.

The man was puzzled but didn’t budge. It was only until a bird flew into the window and landed on the tip of one of the shoes that he went to investigate. He didn’t mind the bird, but was curious as to its lack of fear. The bird seemed to be very comfortable being close to the man. The man wanted to see just how comfortable the bird was so he proceeded to slowly push his hands under the shoes and folded suit and raised them to get a better look at the bird. The bird stood contently upon the tip of the shoes as the man walked out of the garage into the house. As he was walking into the kitchen to further explore the bird’s comfort level, the bird flew. He flew back into the living room and sat right upon the only picture of his father. The man’s heart began to beat faster but he reminded himself that he doesn’t believe in the supernatural or coincidences. His confusion prompted him to place down the gifts given to him. He just needed to think through and process the meaning of the bird’s presence and if there was any at all. It drained his energy trying to choose if he wanted to believe that this bird was in some way connected to his father. He was so overwhelmed that he just covered his face with one arm and let out a long sigh.

His wife rushed over to him to console him. She was irritated that the bird reminded her husband of his father at such a time but she was glad to see her husband truly take interest in something again. “I can take him back outside, Honey”. “No, it’s okay,” her husband answered. It’s not the bird’s fault. As he was looking at the bird, he noticed that the suit he placed near his father’s picture was the same color of the clothes worn in his father’s picture. He then was finally curious as to what the clothes looked like and if they would fit him. But, once he noticed how expensive the material was he quickly decided to sell it. “You know, it’s a really nice suit but I don’t actually need it. I can sell it for a good price and put the money away for a rainy day,” he resolved. His wife nodded in agreement and left the room.” Hey wait! What brand is it?” the wife yelled out from the kitchen. “You and your brands, Lady!” he taunted her. The wife came in from the kitchen curious as to his answer.

As she walked in, her husband began to panic. “Dad! Oh my God, this may be my dad’s suit! I thought everything was burned!” “Okay calm down, what are you saying?” his wife asked. “This suit! This suit may be my dad’s!” “But how do you know?” said his wife. “The tag! Look at the tag! It says his name. Look there! It says Presley Smith I. Oh my God!” “Okay Honey, but there's more than one Presley Smith”. “Your right. Besides, there’s a patch missing from the inside of the jacket. It’s like someone neatly cut a square out. Who would do such a thing to a nice suit?” he said, shaking his head. “Didn’t you do something similar when you were a child?” his wife recollected. “I thought you told me that you wrote on one of your dad’s suits and years later, cut it out as a souvenir? You mean to tell me there’s more crazy people out there like you?” she giggled.

Just then the boy walked in. “Hi mom! Hi dad! What are you doing? “I’m looking for a souvenir?” “But we don’t buy souvenirs, dad. We just take pictures,” the boy shrugged and turned to leave. “Oh!” He jumped. “But there’s one souvenir you showed me years ago and you said that it was very special. Yup! It’s right there, behind grandpa’s picture,” the boy pointed.

“I forgot! I completely forgot!” The man opened the back of the picture and was overwhelmed to find the missing patch to the suit. The patch read, ‘loves Presley Smith II”. The boy seeing his dad speechless and holding the suit, grabbed the patch. “Look here! This patch fits the hole in this suit and it’s the same color! When you replace the patch, it says, “Presley Smith I loves Presley Smith II.” “See dad, the angel knew the suit was yours. He was just trying to return it.” “Son, what angel?”

Written and Copyright by L.B. Hamilton

All writings stem from life experience or imagination.

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