I am a man who is not rich, neither do I have a normal income, I don’t even have an income. Once I earned more money than most people in my town, but that time has passed. Now, all of my money goes to food and what I need, really need. I will tell you the story of my life, how I ended up here.
It didn’t start with a bang like you might think. I was a wealthy man who thought of myself as a good man. On the news, celebrities were paid tribute to because they gave some of their millions to charity. My friends asked why I didn’t do the same. “It’s not that you are in lack of money!” they said and laughed until they fell off the chairs. The thought had come to me as well, but I was not sure how much I could give away. So I started with small numbers. When I had donated for a while I got a mail which said;
“Dear Mr. Humble.
We are very grateful for the money you have given us and we know a flower is not a compensation for everything, but we hope it shows you how much we appreciate your care.
The Pink Help”
I looked at the flower. It had been squeezed into the envelope and had left some marks on the letter. It was an close to dead pink rose. From that moment I felt more attached to the people I helped. After that I gave more money, not because it felt like I had to, but I would help them as much as I could.
One evening I decided to take a walk and deliver the money personally. I left the car at home and walked to the other side of town, the poor side. Slowly the surroundings changed and the buildings became darker, full of dirt. The streets were almost invisible. Dirt mixed up with pee and other stuff was all over the place. It was literary disgusting.
Everyone I met glared at me with anger in their eyes. I was the one outstanding, I was the outsider. I have to admit. I was afraid, especially because I was stupid enough to carry my money in cash. Hearing them making noises in this quiet neighbourhood made my pants wet.
I will tell you right away what happened. I am not very good keeping the action. I was robbed. Simple and cruel. Don’t misunderstand, I fought for those money, but I lost. They were many and I was one. They took everything. Every penny, my house and car key and the watch, they stole it all. It was getting dark and I had no place to sleep. I was near the charity centre and they might have a room left over.
It didn’t take me long before I saw the sign saying; “THE PINK HELP” I was there. The front door was open, without a lock of any kind. Inside it was a little bit nicer than outside, but only at the edge of acceptable. There was a bunch of people in there, eating. No signs of a reception or anyone in charge. I remember how embarrassed I felt when I tried to find a person to ask.
I looked in their eyes. So… warm. I could see their body shaking of cold, but their eyes were filled with so much hope I can never forget. “What are you looking for, mister?” someone called at me. “I’m… I’m looking for the person in charge. Could someone tell me where to find him?” Even the day today I’m ashamed of how discriminating that sentence was. “If you’re looking for a he you will not find him. She can be found at her office down that way… mister.” The voice did not sound very pleased, but I will not blame her. My choice of words was not good.
She was at her office as told, leaning over her desk with papers all over the place. “Excuse me? I… I came over to donate some money, but I managed to be robbed on my way. And… Well, could I ask for a room?” I asked nicely. She stared at me. It took her some time before she said anything. “Can I ask for your name, mister?” I was a little shocked. I had forgotten to tell her my name! “Of course, my name is Henry Humble. I’ve donated money to your company for a while. You sent me a letter some months ago. Remember me?” Now she looked a little shocked. She started to mumble and then said; “Mr. Humble? Asking for a room, you said?” It sounded like she couldn’t believe it. I am sure my face looked just like a tomato, but it was true what she said. “Yes, Miss. I see myself in need to ask for a room. As I told you I am broke.” I was afraid she was going to faint. That woman’s face was pale as snow! “Miss?” She really didn’t look well. “Mrs. Barkins. Mrs. Barkins is my name. Yes, of course you can stay here. I will make a room ready for you. If you may, please go down and eat some food meanwhile. I will get someone to call for you when it is ready.”
And that was how I ended up here. Sitting among you broken people, telling the story of my life. “Hey! You’re broke too!” a voice said. “I know, Billie. I didn’t mean to be offending! Come on now, tell me your story.”