Misjudged – Part Three

short story about prejudice

Short Story

In the next few weeks, Tommy had talked to Scarlett a few times, and hung out with all three of them every few days. Greyson told Tommy that Jason had given them the ok to bring Tommy to visit. Tommy was ecstatic, but Cash told him it wouldn’t be for a few more weeks because Jason wanted to surprise him with something.

It had been a few days since Tommy had talked to any of the teens, and didn’t notice them as they walked up the sidewalk. Tommy was too busy drawing on the road with some chalk, focused in on trying to create the perfect elephant.

“Hey, Champ!” called Cash.

Tommy was startled at first and dropped his chalk. Upon realizing who it was, however, he recovered quickly and ran over.

“How’s it going, T?” asked Scarlett.

Tommy shrugged. “I’m ok.”

“You’re about to be more than ok,” grinned Greyson. “Because you’re about to meet Jason!” He took the backpack off of his shoulders and opened it for Tommy. He thought there must have been 20 cans somehow stuffed in there; soup cans, vegetable cans, and a few cans that contained meat.

“Really?!” Tommy bounced around in his excitement, but stopped when he had an idea and ran into the house. “I’ll be right back!” he called.

“What do you think he’s doing?” asked Cash.

Greyson made a noise that sounded like, “I dunno,” and said, “Maybe he’s asking his parents if he can go?”

Scarlett shook her head. “I don’t think so. He’s never asked them before…I don’t think they care that much, I mean, he was gone for six hours the other day and they didn’t say anything.”

Before they could come up with anything else, Tommy ran out, struggling with a plastic bag full of something heavy.

“I didn’t want to show up to visit Jason empty handed, so I went through my pantry and got some cans!” panted Tommy, still trying to figure out to hold the thin bag without tearing it.

Cash ruffled Tommy’s hair and took the bag from him. “That’s very thoughtful of you, T.”

The walk to Jason’s was uneventful, with Tommy asking questions about Jason the whole way. The teens didn’t mind. They thought it was sweet that Tommy cared so much about their homeless friends.

After walking about a mile through the forest, they came across a clearing with a few tents and a fire pit in the middle. Tommy thought it was extremely clean and well kept. There was a faint sound of a banjo playing from somewhere unknown.

“Yo, Jason!” called Cash. “We brought someone special here to see you!”

The banjo playing stopped and one of the tent flaps opened up; Tommy assumed it was Jason.

Jason was nothing Tommy expected him to be. He was tall, with a short, probably in his mid fifties, with a well kept beard. He could probably walk right out of the forest and no one would suspect he was homeless.

He smiled. “You must be Tommy. I’ve heard a lot about you.” Jason held out his right hand to Tommy.

Tommy took Jason’s hand and shook it. “Yup! And I’ve heard a lot about you!”

Jason laughed and called out behind him, “Hey, Spud, go set up a fire.”

A man, who must have been around Jason’s age, came out of another tent, nodded towards the group, and went to go find some wood.

Greyson took the backpack of cans off his shoulders and handed it to Jason. “I got a lot more than usual this week, so you should be good for a while.”

Cash handed the plastic bag to Tommy, who immediately held it out to Jason. “I brought you some cans, too!”

Jason took the bag and set it inside the already bursting backpack. “Thanks, son.”

Scarlett put her arm around Tommy’s shoulders and said, “Tommy didn’t wanna come without bringing something for you, too.”

Jason smiled and lifted up the pack full of cans. “You guys weren’t kidding about this kid. He’s got a bigger heart than most adults I’ve met.”

Scarlett pulled a can out of her jacket. “Hold on, there’s one more. I was able to find some of that weird canned haggis stuff you like.” She tossed the can to him. “It wasn’t easy to get, either.”

Jason caught the can and looked at it like he was holding a hundred dollar bill instead of just a can. “Thanks kid, I haven’t had this stuff in months!”

Scarlett smiled and said, “No problem, old man. Just make sure you taste it instead of snarfing it all down in one bite.”

Jason mumbled something that sounded like, “Smart ass kid,” and went into his tent for a moment. By the time he came back out, Spud had the fire going and a few others that lived there had emerged from their tents. Tommy was talking to a woman who looked kind of like Stevie Nicks.

Jason walked over and motioned to a few logs that were near the fire and said, “Did they tell you about my surprise for you?”

Tommy sat down and nodded excitedly. Jason sat on a log next to Tommy and asked, “Are you ready?”

next: Misjudged – Part Four

previous: Misjudged – Part Two


photograph by unsplash

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