One Cigarette a Day Man

2 min
Each day he wakes hungry and makes his way to the crossroads, where he holds a sign that says:
I’m hungry
anything helps
God bless.

People driving by give him their leftovers, hand him drinks, and spare change. One day someone even gave him a crisp five dollar bill.

He stows their charity in a beat up backpack that he keeps at his feet. He doesn’t eat much when he's out with his sign, even thought his stomach rumbles. He sometimes nibbles at fries or eats a granola bar.

On this day, he couldn't stop himself from eating when he was given half of a still warm, meatball sub. He packed his sign into his backpack, left the crossroads, and walked into some nearby bushes to eat it.

But first, he rained blessings upon the driver of the blue Chrysler that had given it to him. He imagined for the man: hugs being given and received, sweet, sweet friendships, and a table filled with food, where his patron sat at the head of the table surrounded by family. All the things he wanted for himself, he blessed the man with. When that was done he took his time unwrapping the sub, because it felt like he had truly received a gift.

Eating it filled him to the brim and it made him want to smoke his one cigarette early, but he resisted. Instead he went back to the crossroads and held out his sign until the sky turned red with the looming night.

He then carefully packed his sign into the backpack and left the crossroads, making his way to a nearby park. He entered, but didn’t stop at the tables, he walked right by them, and instead followed a narrow path into the woods.

Soon enough he came to a clearing where three people, in all manner of disrepair, looked up at him with hope. They had laid out a blanket and sat in a circle that would only be complete when he sat and joined them. He took his spot, opened the backpack, and began to pass out the charity.

He placed the remains of a hamburger and some fries in front of Sheila, it was her turn for the best dinner. Before Rod he laid a granola bar and the remains of a turkey club sandwich. Mitchell, who was having trouble with his teeth received the remains of a burrito and rice plate. For himself he laid out an apple sauce package and an explanation about eating his share early. Everyone ate their dinner with gladness.

Then he passed around their pack of cigarettes. Each took one, they lit up, and shared a prayer of thanks and gratitude for the generosity of the benefactors. Asking the smoke to carry their thankfulness and requests for blessings to God’s waiting ears.

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