The Vagabond

March 15, 2011
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It was a bright summer day, when the weather was still warm, with the sun gleaming
All over my back. I was riding my bike to run an errand, and I was riding at a casual
Pace. I had $20 in my back pocket and 75¢ worth of quarters in my side pocket. As
I rode my bike, I could feel the wind in my face, and I could hear the birds chirping,
Singing their beautiful songs, better than anything else I’ve ever heard. I was riding
Down Ottawa Beach Road when I met a homeless man sitting on the curbside with
A wagon next to him, which held all of his belongings. I looked at him, and I
Questioned what I should do. My conscience got the better of me. “Talk to the man,”
It said. “Talk to him. Talk to him!” I listened to my conscience, doing a good deed
From my heart, and I stopped where the vagabond was sitting. “Hello, sir,” I said,
“How are you?” The man looked up at me. He looked like Santa Clause with a long
White beard and long silvery hair with a balding head. His eyes were a deep-set
Blue, looking desperate as he sat in the shade on the wooden wall next to the
Condominiums. He was bare-chested, wearing nothing but pants and a pair of beat-
Up sandals. He looked up at me and said, “hello” in a rather friendly manner. I gave
Him my 75¢ to help him, and he said thank you and put it in his wallet. Then he
Started to talk. “Have you ever suffered from heat exhaustion?” he asked me.
I nodded. “I’m trying to make sure to drink a lot of water.” The man told me that
Heat exhaustion was a bad nightmare, since he always tried to stay hydrated in
Vietnam. That’s when he told me his life’s story. He told me about his life in the Nam,
How hard it was, and how he came back without any money on him. Vietnam
Had been scary, he said. You always worried about who was attacking you, and you
Always had to be on the lookout. He told me how he came back the home front,
Wounded fatally in the chest, with his right leg broken. He had stayed at a veteran’s
Hospital, living a hard life of sorts. It was like seeing Born on the Forth of July, only
The way he described it was much worse. He stayed there for many, many years,
And I began to feel sympathy for him. When he was let loose, he was stuck with a
Limp, and a bionic heart. He had no money, no family, nothing. He tried over the
Years to get Social Security funds, but the bank wouldn’t let him. He stayed night
After night in homeless shelters, if he was lucky. Otherwise, he slept on the streets in
The summer and outside in the cold during the winter. He tried very hard to find
Money so he could at least get a decent apartment, but the bank wouldn’t let him.
Then an interest group – the American Veterans Society – found him, and they did
Everything they could to help him out. They helped him with special funding, but
It was not enough. The man worked hard with a steady job, yet he had nowhere to sleep,
Especially since he had minimum wage. He got to the point where he was too old,
He couldn’t do a job anymore, and he still could not get his Soc money. The AVS, who tried to help
Him, helped him find a lawyer who would help him get his Soc money. The man told me that the
Lawyer began to help, but it was going to take some time before they found him his Soc money.
As I listened, I felt bad for the man, and how it inspired me for a book in my mind, Into the Nam. It
Was not much I could say, but I listened to him, and I heard his story and how his life was hard. He
Came from a poor family who had no morals. They threw him out on the street. And life was hard
From there. He told me that he had to keep moving, and I said farewell to him. I rode my bike down the
Road, and I continued to think about the vagabond. He was an amazing man who had a lot of courage
And a lot of willpower. There was no denying it. A man like that was an American hero, especially
A decorated veteran. Yet, I still thought about him, and I remembered him to this day.

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