This is part-two of my Christmas story. Again, it is written in the form of factual fiction. For the record, I am not certain of Covenant Houses’ policies on taking in young people but I do know they are fabulous organization. Enjoy!
Part Two – New Beginnings
And I’d actually had the wisdom to bring along some reusable cloth grocery bags. I stowed my goodies into the two with one fitting comfortably over my shoulder and the other draped on my forearm, the contents of each not being too heavy.
Making my way to the Skytrain to head home, a familiar rumble gnawed at my belly. I had not eaten in several hours. The decision was made to head to Waterfront Station. There were some really good restaurants in that area where I could grab a nibble.
A couple inches of snow had accumulated and I felt like a child in that moment. The hood on my jacket was pulled up and my cheeks were cold as I trudged along the sidewalk.
It was then that I saw him. He was huddled down by the London Drugs store at Georgia and Granville St. A chewed up sleeping bag was drawn tightly around him. I stood for a moment feeling so conflicted as I always do. I was hungry and tired but hell this young man was a kid. I was guessing perhaps sixteen years of age. Hard to tell sometimes but I made my decision and moved toward him.
“Hi there.” I said when I reached him.
He gazed up at me and offered a weak smile. He was coming off of a fix of some kind. Cold sweat was running down his face.
I knelt down now. “You’re not doing so good. Look why don’t you come over to the Starbucks here. I can buy you a sandwich and a hot chocolate. Might make you feel a bit better.”
“Okay.” He replied softly.
I helped him up. “How old are you, dear?”
He gave me a look, the fear and mistrust both very evident.
“What’s it to you?” he hissed at me.
“Well, I know you’re young. Covenant House is just a ways down and they may be able to help you out.” I offered.
He didn’t say anything. We stepped into Starbuck’s and I sat him down and asked him what he wanted.
The place was busy and many of the patrons gave him a rather dubious look.
“It’s okay.” I smiled getting him to refocus.
“A sandwich and hot chocolate would be great, thank you.” He replied.
A few moments later I came back with a heated Chicken Panini, fruit salad, coffee cake and hot chocolate.
Sitting across from him I asked again how old he was.
“I’m fifteen.” He muttered.
“Would you like me to contact Covenant House?” I asked.
“Who the fuck are they?” he growled.
“They are an organization that helps young people, such as you, that are going through a tough time.”
He regarded me for a moment and then nodded before turning his attention back to his food.
Taking my cell phone out I got hold of an intake worker by the name of Rick. He wanted to know if I could escort the young man down to Covenant House.
I sighed. “I suppose I could.”
“Are you okay?” Rick asked a moment later.
“Yes, I’m fine. Just a little tired is all.”
“Listen, I’ll come up there. It won’t take me long.” He offered.
“Thank you so much, Rick. I’ll see you soon.” I replied gratefully and hung up.
I smiled at the boy and told him a fellow by the name of Rick was coming up here from Covenant House to chat with him.
“My name is Nancy, by the way.” And I held out my hand.
He wiped his grubby hand on the sleeping bag, looked at it for a moment, then took a napkin and wiped it again before taking my hand.
“Listen Jay, I just want to try and pass on a little wisdom to you. Whether you take it or not is up to you.” I paused for a moment, not sure if what I was about to tell this kid was appropriate or not.
He sipped his hot chocolate and savoured a bite of the coffee cake. “Go on.” He muttered.
“I was out on my own when I was sixteen.” I began, “I know what the streets can do to you. Get your head out of the drugs, man. That shit will just chew you up and spit you out. If you thought you had no control before, well let me assure you, you’ll have none if you keep going down the road you’re on.”
He sat glaring at me.
“Look,” I continued, “I just don’t want to see you throw your life away. The best thing you can do for yourself is get an education.”
At this statement he scowled but said nothing.
Perhaps I was out of line and all of what I was saying was falling on deaf ears so I finished with the only truth I felt he really needed at this time.
“Jay, I’m not trying to lay a trip on you, but the only person that can really help you is you. Once you make that decision to clean up your life and get the skills that you’ll need to carry on, you’ll be surprised at the doors that will open. And they will.”
And then I just smiled at him. The words that I’d hoped would rise to this occasion unfortunately had not.
A man walked over to me then. “Nancy?”
I looked up at him. “You’re Rick?”
“Yes.” He replied.
“Rick this is Jay.” I said standing.
Rick turned his attention to Jay then. I offered my seat as I would soon be taking my leave.
Gathering up my bags, I straightened my wig then pulled the hood back up. I leaned down and gave Jay a hug. “Good luck, Jay and as absurd as it may sound Merry Christmas.”
He just hugged me back and smiled rather timidly.
Rick thanked me as well and I left and continued on toward Waterfront Station.
I decided to go to Steamworks for a bite to eat. I was feeling rather reflective. The soup and sandwich came and I watched the snow falling outside while I consumed my meal. Sitting back I sipped my beer and looked down at one of the napkin’s on the table.
It was a Christmas napkin.
A red Poinsettia with vibrant green leaves was emblazoned onto the white surface. I smiled at this.
I picked up one of them and looked at it thoughtfully. An idea then came into my head. Retrieving a pen I jotted down a brief story on the inside flap of the napkin. I then requested my bill. The server brought it over and I tucked the cash along with the napkin inside. On the outside of the napkin I wrote “Please open me and read.”
Likely nothing would come of this little venture of mine, but it would be cool if it did.
And so began the napkin’s odyssey.