Charlie was a prominent businessman at a very young age. He had everything—cars, women, money, a condo in downtown Chicago.
When I met him, he stood in front of me at the corner shop—two brown paper bags of junk at his feet. He leaned down and removed a five dollar bill from the inside of his green wool sock, and paid for the pack of off-brand cigarettes.
Charlie was nearly sixty-years-old and homeless.
“Sorry kid,” he said, apologizing for the long wait.
“It’s okay, sir,” I replied.
“Sir? Look at me…I’m a dirtbag!”
Then he walked out of the store.
As I exited I saw him fishing through the trashcan for a food.
“My name is Stephen,” I said to him, holding my hand out to shake his.
“Charlie,” is all he said, without looking up.
“Can I buy you a sandwich or cup of soup?” I asked him.
“You can buy me a beer,” he responded.
“How’s Rick’s?” I asked.
“What do you want from me, kid?”
A smile came across his face.
And I knew, I had succeeded for the day.
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