The boy pushed the garbage bag off him and lifted the lid of the dumpster. Peeking around, he saw the coast was clear and hopped out. As he brushed himself off, he could smell breakfast from the nearby deli. His stomach let out its usual groan.
He located himself on a bench near the deli. Across the street, he saw the old lady that lived in the little house in the middle of town. Sometimes, she’d step outside with her dog to do its business. Then she'd disappear back inside. His attention honed in on a woman dragging a little girl by the arm. She tossed a half eaten sandwich into the garbage can. "You're so wasteful" she scolded.
The boy snagged the sandwich like a veteran sea gull. He sat back on the bench devouring it. He licked his fingers, finding the last crumbs. A pretty girl dropped her cell phone near him. As she retrieved it, their eyes met, “eww, you stink!” She distanced herself. He’d find a public restroom and clean up later. People would still look at him like he was dirty.
He kicked a groove in the ground with his tattered sneaker, watching by passers. Suddenly, he heard the old lady yelling. “Chester! Come Back! Chester!” Her little Yorkie dog was running down the street after a cat. The boy pursued them. Luckily, the cat ran up a tree and Chester was at the bottom barking. The boy reached out, “nice doggie;” cautiously picking him up. The dog growled but he was able to bring him to the old lady. Here is your dog.
Giving Him the once over, the old lady asked “what is your name young man?”
Head hung, waiting for the put down, he replied "Henry".
“Thank you for rescuing my Chester” she hugged her dog. “My name is Flora. Would you like to join me for breakfast?”
Looking at her in unbelief he said “sure.”
“Chester and I don't have visitors, but I think he likes you,” she winked.
Inside, the house was tidy. Chester plopped himself down on his doggie bed.
“Do you like pancakes Henry?”
“I love pancakes” he grinned. Seating himself at the table, a wonderful sound emanated from the pan. The batter sizzled causing a delicious fragrance to escape into the air. His heart was dancing.
“How old are you?”
”Where do you live?” She asked, flipping a pancake.
“Down the street” he said nearly knocking his glass over.
“Really, what do your parents do?”
Fidgeting, he responded, “Um my mom is a nurse and my dad is a fireman.”
Plating the second pancake, she put butter and syrup on them, and handed them to him.
"You’re lucky, I never knew my parents. I grew up in a foster home; this very house. Now I’m alone." She flipped a pancake and looked back at Henry who was smiling; empty plate in front of him.
Handing him two more pancakes she asked “how would you like to read to me each afternoon and I'll make you dinner? My eyes aren't as good as they used to be.”
“Awesome,” he said imagining hamburgers and desserts. He had a couple comic books stashed away. Surely she would like "Out of the swamp" and "The zombies are coming."
They cleaned up from breakfast and she asked him to come back about 5 pm to read to her.
That evening, they sat and she handed him a bible saying "start at John chapter 1 verse 1 please."
“Oh -- the bible he said with a frown.” Eyeing the index, he finally found the page he was looking for and began reading. Afterword, she fed him, hugged him, and then he left, finding shelter for the night.
They continued this schedule for a few months. Whenever he heard the sizzle of food cooking, it was a reminder of the warmth and love Flora showed him.
One night, they sat down to read as usual. Holding the bible and staring at it, Henry blurted out; “I don't know who my parents are. My foster parents only want me home if the social worker is coming by so they can keep collecting money for me.”
Flora leaned over and hugged him tightly. “You can stay with me and we can take care of each other. You know what Henry; you are like the lost coin. Turn to Luke 15 and we will read from there today. I have some important things to tell you.”
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