A rich man calls the police and demands they arrest a homeless man for trespassing on his property but makes a shocking discovery.
It was a lovely morning for a Boston winter's day, sunny and bright. Powdered snow glittered on Howard Ulster's driveway. He'd have to have it swept away, he thought.
He was about to call his gardener when he remembered. The man had quit, gone back to where ever he had come from and left everything in a shambles. Irritated, Howard walked to his garden shed and swung open the door, and what he saw stunned him.
A stranger in the shed | Source: Shutterstock
There was a man sleeping in his garden shed under an old plaid blanket! A complete stranger! Howard backed out of the shed and reached for his phone. He called the police and reported a break-in by a drunk homeless man.
Half an hour later he was leading two officers to the shed where the man still slept. The officers opened the door, and before long they were handcuffing the man, who looked dazed and confused.
"We need you to lodge a complaint, Sir, so if you could come down to the station?"
A homeless man | Source: Unsplash
"Of course," Howard said, but before he left for the police station he decided to inspect the shed. There was a lot of expensive equipment in there, and he wanted to be sure none of it was gone.
It was all there! Howard sighed with relief, then he noticed a worn duffel bag lying in a corner. This isn't mine! he thought. Curious Howard opened the bag. It contained a few pieces of clothing, scrupulously clean and neatly folded.
Under the clothes were three or four old books. He opened the first, 'The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.' There was a dedication on the first page: "My dearest Gary, I hope life will bring you many joyful adventures. Love Grandpa."
Howard thought Gary was a drunken vagrant, then he learned his story.
The books in the duffel bag | Source: Pexels
The other two books had a name, 'Gary Holter' neatly printed inside. The man had either stolen the books or they were his. Next, there was a bundle of letters tied with a tatty ribbon, all addressed to Gary Holter.
Curious and a little ashamed, Howard opened one of the letters. "I miss you so much, when will this war end? I can't wait for fo you come home on leave..." The letters were all signed by an Emma.
The last letter was in a different hand, and the writing was so smeared that Howard could hardly read more than a few words. "don't know how to tell you...Emma and the baby....doctors said...so sorry..."
The old letters | Source: Unsplash
Howard folded the letter carefully and was about to put everything back when he glimpsed an old tin in the bottom of the bag. He opened it, and inside was a cluster of medals, and a photograph of a sweet-faced woman.
"Emma!" whispered Howard to himself. He touched the medals respectfully. There was a Medal of Honor and two Silver Stars, and some foreign medal he didn't recognize.
This man was a hero, he realized, a man who had given everything to his country, and lost everything he loved -- his wife, his child, and his place in the world. This man had been sleeping in his shed and Howard had had him arrested...
Howard ran into the police station dragging the duffel bag. He headed for the front desk. "I want to withdraw the complaint!"
A hero's medals | Source: Unsplash
"Hold on...A complaint?" asked the desk sergeant.
"Yes!" cried Howard, "This man was sleeping in my shed..."
The sergeant called the arresting officer and Howard quickly revealed what he had discovered and explained that he didn't want to press charges. The officer took Howard to the lockup where Gary Holter was sitting with his head in his hands.
"Gary?" Howard said, "Mr. Holter?"
The man raised his head. "Was it your shed I was sleeping in?" he asked, "I'm sorry, I didn't take anything...and I'm not a drunk."
A helping hand | Source: Pexels
"I know," Howard said, "I was wondering...Do you want a job?"
The man shook his head. "I've been looking, but I have a history of mental issues, and no one will take me."
"I will!" said Howard, "I need a gardener..."
Howard gave Gary a job and he slowly put his life back together. Howard's helping hand made a huge difference in Gary's life, and Gary changed the way Howards saw the world and the people in it.
What we can learn from this story?
1. Don't judge people before you know who they are. Howard thought Gary was a drunken vagrant, then he learned his story.
2. A helping hand can change a life. Howard gave Gary a job, and a chance to reclaim the life he lost to grief and PTSD.
Share this story with your friends. It might inspire people to share their own stories or to help someone else.
Any resemblance in this story to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
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