Jake was right!
“Don’t eat all that junk food, mate,” he told me. “I can show you a much better spread. Come with me tomorrow and I’ll take you to the Royal Palace Hotel.”
The Royal Palace Hotel! Well, that sounds like a step up from my usual haunts.
“Sure,” I told him. “I’ve got nothing on tomorrow. I’ll come with you.”
With a smirk he shuffled off. “Be here tomorrow, then,” he said, “and be my guest.”
So here I am by the bridge at the appointed time next day. Jake arrives.
“All set, mate? Off we go then.”
Right down Main Street we head, around the corner and follow the river to the West side of town. In front of us glows the Royal Palace Hotel all lit up with neon signs sparkling in the late night darkness. We stare for a while; I don’t often come this far from home, if home is what you’d call my little patch.
We pass by fancy steps that lead to an enormous entrance. We pass the signs advertising luxury rooms and fine dining. We skirt around well-dressed people as they hurry out to their waiting cars. Jake takes me down the side alley and around to the kitchen entrance. The delicious smells wafting out the ventilation shafts just about knock me out. I haven’t eaten much the last few days.
“Shhh,” whispers Jake, pulling me back into the shadows as a door opens. A figure appears and scrapes the contents of a large plastic tray into the trash can.
“Couldn’t be better,” Jake whispers when the boy disappears. He pulls me forward and lifts the lid. The smells assail us, a mixture of sour rotting, and freshly cooked meat. Jake knows what he is doing. He rummages for a not-too-dirty napkin and swiftly places slices of meat and a handful of veges on it.
“Here, take this and go behind those bins,” he says. He joins me with his haul and plonks a bread roll on top of my pile. Quickly and quietly we tuck into our meal. I haven’t eaten this well for a long time. My usual haunt is near the fruit and vege shops in another district where they make sure their throw-outs are properly rotten.
We sit quietly and wait. Later more figures hurry out the doors and back inside again and more trays are emptied. I think of a saying my old mother used to quote, ‘A generous man will be blessed for he shares his food with the poor.’* I doubt the rich diners inside realise who they’re sharing with.
“Dessert coming up,” Jake says with a grin.
My eyes pop as, peering through a gap in our barrels, we see half used packets of meringues, fruit, whole slices of cheesecake, cakes of various types, all get tossed into the bins. The excess of the rich.
“I’ll get sick with all these rich foods,” I joke, and he laughs quietly.
“Do you good for a change. You’re too skinny, and these won’t hurt you.”
I stuff meringues into my mouth. They’re nice with orange juice squeezed over.
“Join me from now on,” Jake says. “You’ve been in all the wrong places since I’ve been out of town. Now I’m back I’ll look after you.”
Jake’s right. I won’t go back to my old haunts for junk food again. From now on I’ll dine on the rich leftovers from the Royal Palace Hotel.
Proverbs 22:9 NIV
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