Christy had no doubt that what she was doing was the logical thing to do. He wasn’t moving, plain and simple. (Ultram) What other choice did she have?
She could never have foreseen what would happen next. Her blood would be pumping after he stared back at her and pulled out what he had hidden behind his back.
Ice Ran Through Her Veins
Dropping her bag, she backed up with both hands in front of her. “I’m so sorry. I didn’t know. I swear!” She stammered as she made the distance between herself and the homeless old man.
She could never have expected to be put in a situation like this before. She was used to living her middle-class life without worrying about the trials and tribulations of others. But now, she was going to pay for it.
Tears streamed down her face as she apologized again. “I’m going to make this right, I promise. Just please, forgive me.” She was willing to say anything to get into the good graces of the old man.
Maybe then, things wouldn’t have to get ugly. She just prayed the homeless man could see it in her heart to de-escalate the situation. Then she would be safe.
Who He Was
The man was staring daggers at her with his arm raised. But after her apology, his face seemed to soften a little bit.
But he wasn’t done yet; he was going to make sure she never made a mistake again. After an uncomfortable silence, he finally opened his mouth and told her exactly who he was. She had no idea what was coming.
Couldn’t Believe It
Christy really jumped the gun. She didn’t know who she was dealing with when she made the straight-to-the-point comment that might have been a bit unfriendly.
After he told her who she was dealing with, she genuinely was doing anything to make amends. She knew that anyone who knew who he was would have done the same.
Christy Baker had mostly a normal life growing up. She had normal parents who took her to school every day and made her lunch too.
She sometimes wished her childhood was more eventful. But she was happy with the hand she had been dealt in life. She didn’t have many hardships and appreciated that fact.
Not Much Empathy
One thing that her bland childhood left her lacking was empathy. She didn’t often empathize with people. Even her friend’s complaints about boyfriends or finances.
She just didn’t get it. She had never experienced anything like that, so she genuinely didn’t know how it felt to be in their shoes. But one day, that would all change.
Now an adult, Christy had experienced most of what “normal” life had to offer. She had gotten married to a man named Robert at 23 and had even recently given birth to a beautiful baby boy she named Peter.
After having her son, Christy still had two months off of work while Robert continued working at his job. But things would escalate quickly.
While her husband was away providing, she knew that she would have to look after Peter as well as run various errands. This is where things got complicated.
Christy had to leave Peter in the care of her brother while she ran her errands. She didn’t like taking a month-old baby into the dirty world just yet.
Where she was going, she didn’t think her son should be going just yet. Since she lived in New York, she mostly walked everywhere she went.
Sometimes she’d hail a cab if it was across Manhattan, but otherwise, her feet were perfect alternatives. But she’d soon regret that decision one day.
A Discount Store
To make sure that they could still afford things after their baby boy came into the world, Christy decided to start looking for cheaper alternatives to normal brands.
She started walking to a new discount store that had opened recently. It was only three blocks from her apartment, and she enjoyed the exercise. But Peter couldn’t come.
There was only one problem; the store was in one of the dingier areas of Manhattan. The homeless population was high, and the factories made the air thick with pollution. But she had no choice.
Still, she couldn’t afford to go to fancier stores, so she set out for the store. She had already walked there three times and didn’t think this time would be any different. She was sorely mistaken.
As a young woman walking through a rougher part of her city, she would be lying if she said she didn’t find it a bit unsettling. She clutched her handbag close to her side as she walked past anyone.
She walked past homeless people crowded around burning barrels. She just hoped none of them would confront her.
Two blocks later, she was nearly there. She just had to make a left and cut through an alleyway. The journey was ten minutes faster because of her shortcut.
But as she ducked into the alley just as she had done twice before, she saw something. There was something that she hadn’t seen before that made her second-guess herself.
As Christy walked with one foot in front of the other, she noticed an unfamiliar shape that definitely wasn’t there the last time she had cut through the alleyway.
As she got closer, her fears started getting the better of her. It was definitely a person. She knew what happened when she got scared, and she would end up paying dearly for it.
Christy had a peculiar habit whenever she felt scared or threatened. Instead of running away, she got defensive. She thought that if people thought she was more confident than she actually was, they would back off.
But this situation was different, and she knew it. Would she make it out without a scratch? Or was she walking toward her doom?
That was exactly what she was feeling now. Anxiety was flooding her system as she kept walking toward the shape that was clearly going to be in her way.
But then the shape moved, and everything changed. Christy’s body shut down completely, leaving her more vulnerable than ever before. At that point, she was no longer as determined as she was before.
Frozen In Place
Being frozen in place left Christy in a position she didn’t want to be in. She had never been paralyzed by fear before. But she had heard of it happening to others, and the results were never good.
Would she become one of those statistics? Would she end up in hospital because her fear got the better of her?
What To Do?
Christy tried everything to get her mind to focus on a way out. She needed a plan. Something that would help her get out of the mess she had walked into.
But what was that? What could she possibly do to get herself out of this treacherous situation? How could she stop herself from getting hurt while trying to escape? Should she even escape?
There was one thing that Christy was well aware of, and that was that there was no way she could fight her way out.
Even though she had done some martial art training, she knew she couldn’t go up against a man. But there had to be another way. Maybe being nice would help? Maybe she should pretend she didn’t exist.
Couldn’t Give Up
Another thing that she knew was that she couldn’t just give up. One way or another, she had to get to that store, and she only had a limited amount of time to get it done.
So she couldn’t go forward, and she couldn’t go back. What could she do? Was there a way to get around the man?
Should She Walk Away?
There actually was another way. This was just a shortcut Christy had gotten used to taking. She could walk around the block instead of trying to pass through it.
But that presented her with yet another problem. Her brother only had so much time to look after the baby. So she couldn’t waste a single minute.
Extra 20 Minutes
But walking around would take her 20 minutes longer than the trip should’ve taken to begin with, and that was something neither she nor her brother could afford.
He had told her that he only had 30 minutes between meetings, and he couldn’t have a crying baby around when he was trying to focus on his job.
And knowing how much his job meant to him, Christy promised she’d be back to pick her son up in 20 minutes. That was how long everything should’ve taken her.
Yet, there she was, wasting time she didn’t have to begin with. If she didn’t come up with a solution, her brother would be stuck between a rock and a hard place.
What Did She Learn?
With that thought roaming in the back of her mind Christy looked at the situation she had gotten herself into. She knew her instructor told her something about situations such as that one. But what was it?
“The biggest strength a woman has when facing off against a man is intimidation,” the instructor told her.
He had gone through a list of intimidation tactics, but the one that was stuck in her mind at that very moment was being loud.
He said that if a woman was in a public place and she was faced with a threat, she needed to be loud in order to get the attention of onlookers.
Moving A Little Closer
Now that Christy had a plan she felt comfortable with, she moved a little closer to the man. She wanted to size him up so she could come up with a backup plan in case she needed one.
But she was in for one heck of a surprise. Christy was about to learn that this was no ordinary man. He was someone she didn’t stand a chance against.
Getting A Better Look
Christy got so close that she could see his outline clearly, and what she found shocked her to her core.
Her eyes roamed over his hunched-over body, taking in his age and physique. And that was when she realized that she bit off far more than she could chew. This situation could become very dangerous very quickly.
A Massive Man
The man was massive. If he was at his full height, he would probably dwarf a woman as small as her. But that was just the beginning of the things she realized.
A dim light was shining on the man’s face, illuminating the scars that were etched into his skin. That was when the tables turned.
Far More Dangerous
It was clear that this man had been in more than his fair share of fights over the years. And instead of being intimidating, Christy felt intimidated.
The man was far more dangerous than she ever thought he would be. And for a moment there, she felt like a rat who had just walked into one massive trap.
Worth The Risk?
That was when Christy decided to reevaluate the situation. For the first time in her life, she was thinking about more than just herself.
She had to consider her husband and son. She had to determine whether taking this risk was worth losing everything she held dear. What would her conclusion be? Would she risk it?
Didn’t See Her
The man wasn’t facing her; he was hunched over by a fire. But between the dumpsters and his tent, he was blocking the only way forward.
She made her footsteps louder in the hopes that he would notice her and shuffle to the side. But it was clear that wasn’t going to happen. She was going to have to take more drastic measures.
Getting His Attention
Christy was now five feet away from the man. She called out to try to get his attention, but it wasn’t successful.
Now irritation was mixing in with her anxiety, and she knew what that meant. She had no other choice other than to be a little more direct.
A Direct Approach
Christy finally had to do it. “Hey, Move! I need to get through, and you’re in my way!” she yelled at the old homeless man.
Finally, she saw life. The man stirred and slowly turned around to look directly at her. He didn’t seem happy to be yelled at by a stranger. But he was hiding something she didn’t expect.
Something Behind His Back
But Christy realized that maybe she shouldn’t have been so unfriendly in the first place. The man’s gaze was unwavering, and his arm was behind his back; what was he hiding?
Christy didn’t have to think about it for too long before he started bringing his arm forward. She had to fight back her instincts to run away. But what she saw next made her want to cry.
He pointed his arm forward so that she could see what was in his hand. But that’s when she realized the tragic truth.
The old homeless man didn’t have anything in his hand. In fact, he didn’t even have a hand at all. She was shocked to see that he was missing it. She immediately started apologizing.
She stammered out an apology as best as she could, with the anxiety flooding her body. She wanted him to know that she really didn’t mean to be so rude.
But he stared at her with a fierce look. He seemed to be trying to tell her something even though she had no idea what it was going to be. After an awkward silence, she finally heard him.
Through his mumbling, she could hear that he was trying to say one word. It was difficult to make out what he was saying. Did he say “veterinarian?”
Then he spoke a bit clearer. That one word shook her to her core. She couldn’t believe she had mistreated him after knowing who he was.
Not An Ordinary Man
She put her hand over her mouth and tried to hold back tears. Christy couldn’t believe what she had done to the old man.
She knew that there was no going back now. All she could do was hope that he would be happy to be amicable. But what did he say?
The single word that the man said was “Veteran.” It all made sense now, and Christy didn’t need the man to explain anything else.
She understood that he meant that he was a veteran from fighting in a war. This filled her heart with sadness. She had never really felt empathetic towards people, but seeing him in the sorry state he was in brought out her compassion.
Making Things Right
Christy knew that what she had done wasn’t okay. She knew that in order for her to be able to live with herself, she’d have to make things right with the homeless old man.
That’s when an idea dawned on her. She asked him if he wanted to walk with her to the discount store. She told him that for payment as a “bodyguard,” she would buy him some food.
For the first time, the old man’s face contorted into a grin. He seemed to like that idea very much. Christy smiled back and beckoned him forward.
He slowly rose to his feet, and this was when Christy noticed his intimidating size. Even with his slight hunch from old age, he was at least six feet. She beckoned him to come with her and continued to walk to her destination.
When Christy got to the store, she picked out the essentials and then asked the veteran what his name was. He smiled and said that it was Carl.
“Well, Carl. For helping me, you can pick out whatever lunch you want, okay?” He smiled at her and then shook his head. He wanted something else.
He shook his head from side to side. It seemed he didn’t want her charity. But then he did the unexpected. He reached into his moth-eaten jacket and pulled out a worn-out photograph.
He stared at it longingly before showing it to Christy. It was a photo of a young girl and a much younger Carl. Then she realized what he was trying to tell her.
She smiled at him and nodded her head. She understood exactly what he wanted, even though he was mostly mute.
For the first time, she felt like she was making a difference in someone’s life. She kept up the search. All the old man wanted was to be reunited with his daughter, and Christy would never give up.
In order to protect the privacy of those depicted, some names, locations, and identifying characteristics have been changed and are products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblances to actual events, places, or persons, living or dead, are entirely coincidental.