Fiction Happy

“How are you today, Mr.Boris?” I approached the elderly man who sat on the stairs by the local park every weekend. I always took my weekend walks past this location and noticed his little setup a few months ago. A tiny little fold-up table with an assortment of little things for sale. Given his appearance, I assumed it was his hobby since he had to be retired. His deep-set wrinkles and sparse peppery hair indicated that he was beyond the age of 70, but I couldn’t determine how much older than 70 he could have possibly been. 

“Hello, Julia. I am quite dandy. How are you?” He greeted me with his usual mellow smile. 

“What do we have for sale today?” I surveyed the items sprawled out on his little table. It had become a habit of mine to always buy from him when I walked by. Today it was a variety of beaded bracelets that were $2 each. I pull out the $5 I always have prepared for my walks and buy two bracelets. “Keep the change,” I said, though he already knew I would say this, so he hadn’t made any movement to retrieve the $1 he would have owed me. I always told him to keep the change. I didn’t need it.

“Thank you as always,” he shakily stored away the money in the cheap little lock box on the corner of the table. We chatted a little bit, and I continued my walk. It was beginning to get chilly since it was late September, so I didn’t think I would see much more of Mr.Boris for the year, and I already thought it was too cold for him to sit outside for too long. It was already starting to snow a bit on and off. Online little dustings here and there, but it isn’t good for brittle bones. 


It was a surprise to see Mr.Boris the next few weekends, and finally, I expressed my concern. An inch of snow was on the ground, and he wore a light, worn-out jacket. His face and the tips of his skinny, boney hands were flushed red.

“Well, you know-” he responded, his raspy voice indicating an oncoming cold. He sniffled and smiled at me like always, but it was different. It was a tired smile that didn’t reach his eyes. His hazel eyes looked darker and sullen. I had noticed his energy fading over the last few transactions and was hoping it was not due to ill health, but if he kept this up, it was only a matter of time before it would turn into something medical. 

I started to always carry a small amount of cash on me for my walks. Despite the increasingly cold weather, Mr.Boris sold his little crafts more often outside. I’ve bought a lot from him lately. Beaded jewelry, painted rocks, origami, the list goes on. I expected something small and cute like this when I walked up to his table today and was shocked to see the spread he had laid out: wallet, books, clothes, and some household items. 

“What is this?” I asked awkwardly.

“I am just selling some things I don’t need,” Mr.Boris responded lifelessly with a bit of cough at the end. His sad jacket offered him no warmth. He shivered aggressively, and his teeth chattered when the jarring breeze would cut through. Something was wrong. I probed him for answers, and he eventually told me he needed money. His beloved pet needed a life-altering surgery, and he was trying to save up for it by selling his littler crafts, but they didn’t sell well. He hoped that actual items would sell better but didn’t make many sales. The cold weather also negatively affected his sales since fewer people walked by. He refused to tell me how much the surgery cost.

“Here, why don’t you go home today? It is too cold to be out here.” I tried to hand him $50, but he refused to accept it. He said it was too much money for him to accept. I continued pushing him to accept the money, but he said he would only accept it if I bought some of the items. Eventually, I gave in about bought everything on his table. 

I wasn’t proud of it, but I waited out of sight so that I could eventually follow Mr.Boris home. He lived in a tiny little house only a ten-minute walk away. I wasn’t doing this to be creepy, I did this with good intent. I took a picture of the house to remember the location later and hastily left. When I returned, it was with a large shopping bag to drop off on his porch. The bag contained a thick coat and some nice warm clothes. If he would continue to set up his little selling table in the cold stubbornly, he at least needed to be dressed warmly. However, I hoped he would no longer need to do this after my following action.

When I saw Mr.Boris the next day, I acted surprised to see him in his new jacket. He told me he had no idea who gave it to him and that Santa must have confused the months. I chuckled. 

“Mr.Boris, what was your first name again?” I asked casually. 

“It’s Albert,” he responded with the slightest smile. I missed this smile. I had become attached to this old man, possibly because he reminded me of my grandfather, who passed away a few years back.

I rushed home with my new information, my bank card ready. According to Google, I called the closest vet and used the name ‘Albert Boris’ to look up a pet, but no client was under that name. So I called the second nearest vet, and it was a success. They were very willing to give me the information about a 10-year-old Dachshund needing Intervertebral Disk Disease Surgery. The cost for the surgery itself was $3,000, but this did not include the cost of x-rays and medicine. My heart panged knowing that Mr.Boris had such high hopes for selling his little crafts and people ignored the elderly man. 

“I would like to put $10,000 worth of credit into Albert Boris’s account,” I told the receptionist after she finished listing all the possible costs. 

“I’m sorry. Could you repeat that?” The woman questioned after a stunned silence.

“Ten-thousand dollars,” I spoke slow and deliberate. “And do not let Mr.Boris know where this money came from, and tell him it is some type of sponsored fund that randomly selects clients for your clinic or something.” 

“We can’t take such a large payment over the phone,” the lady stammered.

“Fine, I’ll be there in less than twenty minutes.” I sighed. I stopped at the bank and retrieved a cashier’s check for safety. I stroll into the red-brick building with paintings of dogs and cats and place the check on the counter, re-iterating what I said on the phone. I also added that they should immediately call Mr.Boris to arrange an appointment. 

 I returned home and finished packing my bags, happy that I was able to get this sorted out before my next modeling shoot. I hoped that the next time I saw Mr.Boris, it would be during nice spring weather with his little dog and a massive smile on his face. 

April 28, 2023 21:37

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.


RBE | Illustrated Short Stories | 2024-06

Bring your short stories to life

Fuse character, story, and conflict with tools in Reedsy Studio. 100% free.