Contest Entry for Monthly Story Contest 12/2016
The weather in Southwest Pennsylvania was frightful as it usually is. He had just arrived that day and had only a thin jacket to his name. It was early November and already the nights were so cold they could chill a person to the bone. He spent his first night huddled with a group of vagabonds and winos around a burn barrel. He had come to the city of Pittsburgh of his own freewill to do a story on homelessness. The best way to find out about homelessness in his mind was to become homeless himself. He mentioned his plan to his girlfriend, a very rich lady who lived in the Pittsburgh area and she was all for it. He told her he wanted no help from her as he wanted to experience everything an inner city homeless person experienced. She agreed on the condition that he agree to leave the research if things became too rough. He told her he would.
The first night was a real eyeopener to him as he saw drug deals going down, he witnessed a stabbing, two assaults, and a mugging. he was so glad when morning finally arrived. However the night had not been a total waste. He had found some people to show him the ropes and help him stay alive. His friends were two gay men who seemed to love each other very much. This would also become of interest in his research.
The next night his friends took him to a local homeless shelter. It had been too cold the night before even for them. He would eventually come to have the utmost respect for the manager and staff at the shelter. Night after night he would talk with them and learn of their genuine concern for the homeless. He kept track of all the information, at times recording their conversations with a hidden recorder in his pocket. During the day the homeless would leave the shelter but were allowed to come back for meals. The meal hours meant the shelter was more or less open around the clock.
Since it was close to the holidays area churches gave the homeless all types of things they lacked the remainder of the year. In typical fashion the man wanted to soothe his guilty conscience brought on by crushing the weak. To do so he gave them goodies from Thanksgiving until January 1. After that most of the do goods wouldn't spit on a homeless person if they were on fire. So throughout that time period the homeless were given gift certificates of all types to various restaurants and fast food places. The two gay men and the researcher went to one of these fast food places one evening and were refused service because they were "faggots". They left peacefully but the researcher went back the next day and talked to the head manager. The fast food place was immediately looking for a crew for night shift!
After Christmas had passed and the new year had come the researcher decided it was time to come clean with the shelter manager as to his true identity. He let his girlfriend know his plans. She wanted to go along with him to do so. In order not to clue the manager in until he was ready the researcher took his girlfriend some clothes he had gotten from a thrift store. The two of them then went to the shelter and attended the soup kitchen together. After the meal the researcher talked to the shelter manager.
"Joe", he said "I haven't been completely honest with you. I didn't tell you who I am or what i was doing because it would compromise my work. I had to be sure you didn't treat me any differently than you would a person who is really homeless. However I have a home in an affluent suburb. I'm here because I'm a freelance investigative research journalist doing a report on homelessness. I want you to know that I feel the work you're doing here at the shelter is marvelous. Now if you'll accept it my girlfriend would like to give you something to pay for our lunch."
"Now you don't have to do that", Joe replied.
"Joe", the researcher answered "trust me on this and take it. Merry Christmas!"
The researcher's girlfriend handed Joe a check. He opened it. It was for five million dollars.