Mr. Robinson stared out the window of his quaint, modest inn. He looked sadly at the neon vacancy sign shining in the night. Even during the holiday season, there were no customers. He sighed to himself as he wondered how he could possibly keep his pride and joy running. “I’ve put so much into this little inn,” he said miserably to himself. He had already taken 150 dollars out-of-pocket that month just to keep the lights on and the water running at the inn, and he only had one customer during that time. As he gazed at the crumbling road and the flickering street light, he contemplated how to save his only source of income. He would soon have to withdraw from his already-minuscule retirement fund. He closed his eyes, weary from the heavy pressure and tension. He nodded off to sleep still leaning on the counter.

           Mr. Robinson dreamed of his wife. Shannon had passed away 15 years ago, but he still grieved her. In the dream, Shannon was young, still in her twenties. Mr. Robinson somehow knew, as people occasionally do, that he was young, too. She was holding Mr. Robinson’s mittened hand, and they were walking down a beautiful snowy street. Christmas lights were strung on every tree and house, and in every window, there was a blissful family gathered near the Christmas tree. Shannon whispered to Mr. Robinson, “Don’t be upset about the inn, Mark. Just give everything you have to give away until you can give no more.” Mr. Robinson was surprised and was about to object when he was startled awake by a knock at the broken-down oak door. He walked slowly toward the door, slightly irritated at whoever it was for taking Shannon away from him. He muttered to himself as he opened the creaky door.

           “Hi, sir!” said a small blond boy that looked to be about six. “Will you please donate a few dollars to help my mom? She is sick, but she doesn’t have any money to go to the doctor.” At this, the boy faintly cringed as if expecting a door slammed in his face. Mr. Robinson almost did just that, but he remembered his dream. He thought to himself, “Why not give it a chance? I’m desperate.” He said to the young boy, “What is your name, mister?” The boy’s eyes hinted at surprise. “Arthur.” Mr. Robinson smiled. “All right, Arthur, I’ll see what I can find.” He went to the register and brought back a hundred-dollar bill. “Here you are,” he said to Arthur. He added sternly, “I trust you to take this where it belongs.” “Yes, sir!” replied Arthur. He started to run off the steps of the porch, then swung around and said, “Thank you, sir!”

           Mr. Robinson felt a little warmth in his heart, and he felt his aged face move into a huge smile. He ambled to his room in the inn, and he picked up a photograph on his nightstand. He looked at the black-and-white photo of him and Shannon. She was holding Abigail, their only daughter, a baby at the time, who died of a mystery condition when she was only two. Mr. Robinson put the picture down. He still felt immense sorrow over his beloved daughter. He opened a drawer. It was dusty inside. It was Shannon’s drawer. Mr. Robinson hadn’t opened it in 15 years. When the dust cleared, Mr. Robinson was shocked. There were five stacks of hundred-dollar-bills with a mustard-yellow band, along with a yellowed note from Shannon. The note read: “I invested a little here and there. There are 50,000 dollars here. I know you will use it wisely.” Mr. Robinson held the note to his heart. “Thank you, Shannon,” he whispered, looking towards the sky. Mr. Robinson donated 10,000 dollars to the local library, which was broken-down and shabby, and watched as the library became alive again. He gave 20,000 dollars to the only doctor’s office in town and saw the place become a successful medical center. He gave all the rest, 20,000 dollars, to start a homeless shelter because he saw more and more folks sitting on the side of the road in cardboard boxes and cardboard signs. He had used all of his money, but it was not lost.

           One morning, Mr. Robinson heard a knock on the inn’s door. He opened the ramshackle door, heard the squeak of the rusty old hinges, and saw a crowd of men. The man in front said, “Hello. My name is Peter Samuels. I am the director of the homeless shelter. I have brought a few of the men to help save your inn.” Mr. Robinson was so dumbfounded, all he said was, “What?” Peter Samuels said, “Sir, we will provide free labor and materials. I personally have seen what you have done in our community, and this is just a small thank-you to the man who saved our town. Will you please allow us to help you fix your inn?”

           At this point, Mr. Robinson’s eyes were overflowing with tears. “Yes, thank you,” he managed to choke out of his swollen throat. Nobody had ever done something so kind to him. In the very back of the crowd, he saw a familiar face. He was holding a lady’s hand. The young redheaded woman was beaming and lovingly gazing at Arthur. Mr. Robinson said, “Arthur?” Arthur and the woman walked to Mr. Robinson. With tears running down her cheeks, the woman said, “I can never thank you enough times, Mr. Robinson.” Arthur added, “You made my mom get better. Thank you, Mr. Robinson!” Mr. Robinson just smiled through his tears and nodded towards the pair. Arthur tightly hugged Mr. Robinson and said, “I love you!” Mr. Robinson got down on one knee and answered, “I love you too, little mister.”

           Over the next few months, the homeless men worked on the inn, transforming it from a shabby, crumbling old shack to a quaint, polished lodge. Customers from all over poured into the little inn, and Mr. Robinson was so grateful that he gave.

December 27, 2019 00:47

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