Everette’s son, Lucien, abandoned him during his most vulnerable time. Years later, he was shocked to discover his kid among the homeless people he tried to help; then, he heard what Lucien went through.
“Lucien, please, we must work together to improve things. If you get a part-time job, and I work double shifts, we can save our house,” Everette told his son one night.
Unfortunately, life had not been kind or easy for the single father. The last few years were tougher than ever, and he was about to lose the house he had worked so hard to get. However, his son, Lucien, was 18 and could start helping out instead of staying at home and playing video games after school.
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“The house is not my problem, Dad,” Lucien retorted and continued playing on his console.
“Where exactly will you live if we lose this house?” Everette asked, placing his hands on his waist.
The police would not do anything.
Lucien rolled his eyes. “You’re the father here. You have to figure it out. I’m still in high school. It’s not my responsibility!”
“Kid, I started working at 15, and I have provided everything for you for the past 18 years of your life, including that stupid video game that numbs your brain. Now, it’s time to be an adult and work for what you have! Do you want to eat? Do you want a roof over your head? You need to work!” Everette shouted after losing his temper.
He didn’t want his child to work as hard as he had from a young age. But the economy was tough now. It seemed that one income could barely feed one person nowadays, and Lucien needed to start learning the value of hard work.
However, the 18-year-old lost his temper too. He threw his Playstation controller on the floor, grabbed his book bag, and stormed out of his room. “Fine! I’m leaving!”
“You can’t leave!” Everette shouted, regretting his harsh attitude.
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“You said I’m an adult now. Well, I get to come and go as I please!” he screamed from the front door.
“Lucien, please. I need your help. I just needed you to help me with some part-time work so we wouldn’t lose this house. After a few years of payment, it’ll be yours, and you will never have to worry about paying rent or anything. That’s all I want for you, kid. I’m just struggling right now,” the father continued in a soft voice. His anger dissipated entirely as he watched his son threaten to leave. “Please.”
Lucien pursed his lips, and there seemed to be an internal struggle in his eyes. But he lifted his chin and walked out, closing the door on his way. Everette shut his eyes and rubbed his forehead. He would try to make his son understand things better when he returned.
However, Lucien was gone for several days, and at some point, Everette returned from his double shift at work to find most of the teenager’s things gone, including his video console and his clothes.
“He really left?” the man asked himself after seeing the emptiness of his son’s room. “No note or anything?”
Everette tried to contact some of his son’s friends, but no one would tell him anything about the kid. The police would not do anything because Lucien was already 18. However, the father later discovered that his son had apparently dropped out of school, and the principal couldn’t stop him because Lucien no longer needed parental permission for anything.
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Everette cried heavily that night, thinking of all the things he could’ve done differently for his son. He worried for the kid he had tried so hard to raise. As a child, Lucien had been adventurous and curious about life, but his teenage years were tough. His friends were not the best influence, and Everette had to take on even more hours at work as the economy worsened.
He hoped Lucien would grow out of it, but he hadn’t.
Everette felt like he had failed at everything.
After Lucien’s mother disappeared, he thought he could do things on his own. Maybe, that was his first mistake. Perhaps, he should’ve married a lovely woman who could be a mother figure for his son. But he had also been so busy.
It was useless to think of those things anymore, though, because the damage was done. His son had dropped out of high school, and Everette had no idea where he was. Additionally, Everette would likely lose his house without the kid’s help.
He was late on his mortgage payments because several things had taken precedence, such as food and car repairs and new shoes for Lucien for his soccer practice. The father had tried to sell some things. Most of their stuff was second-hand and basically worthless now. That was why he begged his son for help, but the kid was gone, and Everette’s world crumbled even more.
The only good thing about going through hard times is that they teach you so much about yourself. Resilience is something I never thought I had until I lost my house, Everette thought back to several years ago when the bank repossessed his home, and he was left with the clothes on his back and his beat-up car.
He was dealing with too much at the time but had to bounce back somehow. He knew the meaning of hard work and that he could return on the right track. But Everette was also depressed over his kid being gone for good. Still, life had to keep going.
Once he had his house paid off, Everette decided to make his childhood dream come true.
He stayed a few nights in his car, at a friend’s house, and at some shelters while he interviewed for better jobs, and finally, something came through. A career in construction was much better than his hourly pay at a canning factory, so he started immediately, learned as much as he could, volunteered to help all his colleagues, and added more and more hours to his schedule.
Everette raised enough to rent an apartment and started saving up. Unforgettably, the bank sold his old house as the prices rose insanely in his old neighborhood, but he found a new, tinier home again. His credit was awful, but somehow, he managed to get a mortgage again and paid it all off in a few years.
He lost hope that Lucien would come back or communicate as time passed. None of his friends in town actually knew where he had gone too, but Everette hoped that his son had at least gotten his GED and started working for his future. He hoped Lucien didn’t get into a worse crowd or fall for the allures of easy money.
Once he had his house paid off, Everette decided to make his childhood dream come true, and he opened a small cinema in their small town.
Most people had to go into the city half an hour away when they wanted to see a movie, and he wanted to give something to the people. It wasn’t a huge entertainment spot. There would never be big movie premieres there, but people loved it.
He had all the typical concession stands and a little technology but with a vintage feel that everyone in the neighborhood appreciated. So for once, Everette’s life seemed to be going well. He could only hope that his son was happy too.
However, Everette knew immediately that many people had not been doing well. The economic crisis hit many people; unlike him, many never recovered. Some people who lost their homes still lived on the streets, and one winter was shaping up to be bitterly cold.
One night, he closed down his cinema for the night and saw a man standing outside rubbing his hand and trying to shake off the cold. “Sir, are you alright?” Everette asked, concerned.
“Actually, you’re the owner here, right? I was wondering if you had some coffee left over from the business day?” he asked.
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“I don’t sell coffee here, but I can give you a glass of warm water?” Everette offered, feeling useless and pathetic.
“That would be great too. Anything helps,” the man answered. “I’m Roger, by the way.”
“Everette,” he responded. “Follow me.”
They went inside, and Everette took some warm water from the water cooler and gave it to Roger.
“Thank you, man. This cold is insane, right?” Roger commented, finishing his glass and tightening his jacket.
“Hey, do you have a place to stay tonight?” Everette wondered before Roger could leave.
“Well… no. I’ve been on the streets for a while,” Roger said reluctantly.
Everette thought for a second. “Well, you know this isn’t the warmest place in the world, but it’s better than out there. Do you want to stay here?”
“Really? Are you sure?”
“Yeah,” Everette said and looked around. “You can also take some food from the stand, but just write down what you ate for inventory purposes.”
“Thank you,” Roger said, breathless.
Everette walked away, not knowing what he would find the next day. But Roger slept on one of the comfy sofas in the waiting area and only ate a candy bar. They talked for some time, and Roger helped him open the shop.
“Do you need any help here?” Roger asked.
“Actually, yes. Do you want to work here? I can offer you a storage room in the back because I can’t pay that much since it’s still a new business,” Everette responded, feeling bad.
“That’s better than anything else I’ve been offered in years,” Roger said, and he got to work right away. Roger turned out to be a fantastic addition to his team and a hard worker.
That winter, Everette let other homeless people take shelter in his shop. The town heard about his kind gesture, and people offered to help with blankets, food, and more. All Everette required was that the place remained spotless for the public. But it felt wonderful to help people who went through what he did at some point. He never imagined that his kind gesture would bring Lucien back.
“Ok, Roger. I’m heading out. Is everyone inside already?” Everette asked as he put his jacket on.
“Yeah, and there’s one new person. I hate that so many young people don’t have futures these days,” Roger replied and continued sweeping.
Everette agreed, but at least they were helping out in some small way. However, he walked by the crowd and saw a man sitting on the ground with his arms wrapped around himself. He wore a bright red winter jacket that Everette had not seen before. He must be the new guy, and he’s clearly cold.
“My life spiraled after that…”
“Hey, man. Do you need something?” Everette asked, just like he did some time ago with Roger, but this time…everything changed. Because the man who looked up at him was… Lucien.
“Dad?” he said quietly, and tears gathered in his eyes.
“Son! Son! Oh, God!” Everette repeated, almost chanting as he knelt and brought his son into his arms. “How? Why? What’s going on?”
Lucien didn’t answer. He cried into his dad’s shoulder, his body sobbing every once in a while. A few minutes later, Roger approached them, not knowing the whole situation. But he helped get Lucien up and towards Everette’s car.
The owner told Roger quietly that the new guy was his son, and then he took Lucien home. Lucien took a long bath, and his father prepared him some warm soup and sandwiches, which he devoured quickly. The older man almost died thinking that his kid might not have eaten in a while or slept on a bed, or taken a shower.
But he avoided talking about anything serious and encouraged him to relax that night. He wanted to be patient – the way he should’ve been years ago. Maybe, his son wouldn’t have run away if he had not pushed him to work just like that.
The next day, Lucien finally opened up, starting with the words: “I’m so sorry, Dad. I didn’t know how good I had it with you.”
He then explained how he jumped from couch to couch for a few days until one of his buddies – from a dangerous crowd – offered him some work and a room in a neighboring town. That’s when he dropped out of school and left for good.
“My life spiraled after that, and I wanted to return so many times, but I couldn’t. I mean…I didn’t know if you were in a worse situation,” Lucien muttered, his frustration showing.
“I just… I wish I hadn’t been so stupid.”
The buddy eventually kicked him out after stealing what few dollars Lucien managed to save, and he had been on the streets since then. He returned to their town that year, hoping to have the courage to find his father again. But he stumbled upon the cinema that let homeless people in, and he decided to start staying there during this bitter winter.
“I had no idea it was yours. How did you get it? I thought… I thought you would be worse than me,” Lucien said, hanging his head.
“Well, it’s a long story,” Everette started and told his kid everything. Lucien cried again, and his father did too.
Afterward, the younger man promised to work hard, and he kept his word, getting a job at the same construction company and moonlighting at his father’s cinema. He had learned his lesson, even if it had taken years.