Sometimes people's lives go terribly wrong - maybe their marriage breaks down, they lose their job, their house, their friends; they have to live on the street, they drink too much, they don't wash...
Who will give a man like that a second chance? Only a very special kind of person - like Nan, a fruit-seller on the streets of Kingston...
Sonny had a new plan, but he did not know if Nan would agree to it.
He and Jake were building a house, which was big enough for two families. And one day they decided between them that Sonny's ex-wife Tanya and his children should have it.
'Nan,' Sonny said to her quietly, 'I going to let Tanya and the children live in the house.'
'What!' shouted Nan. 'Why?'
'It is good for the children,' said Sonny. 'They will be off the streets, and the boys won't have to hustle like me.'
'But what about me and you? Where we going to live?'
'We will try and build another one,' Sonny said.
Lord, he thought, is she going to leave me now? Maybe this is too much for her. I love her. I hope she understands what I'm trying to do.
'So...' Nan said slowly. 'You tell Tanya already?'
'I said something about it.' Sonny looked away from Nan's eyes. 'She agrees because it would be good for the children. I don't want my daughters living and dying like dogs on the streets of Kingston, and I don't want my boys carrying guns and selling drugs. I want them to have a place to live, Nan, a place where they can study their books and have a better life.'
'It is a hard thing you ask, Sonny,' Nan said quietly.
Sonny was a good man, and Nan trusted him. But she could not understand why he still cared about his ex-wife Tanya. Why can't he have a clean break with this woman, she thought. Tanya ruined his life - she went with other men and she kicked him out on the street. And then she sold all his things.
Nan remembered the day when she first met Sonny - a day that changed her life. He was just a street man, a drunkard, and so dirty. There was hunger in his face, in his eyes, even in the way he walked. She watched him for a while, then called out to him.
'Old man, come here. You hungry?'
What kind of a street man was this, she thought. Nobody ever called her Ma'am. That wasn't a word people said to women who sold fruit on street corners. They usually called out 'old girl', or something worse like 'dutty sketel'. It felt good, to be called Ma'am.
She took some of her fruit and gave it to him.
'Thank you, Miss,' he said. 'I'm very grateful.'
He came by every day after that, and every day she gave him some fruit. Then one day she took him to the church on Harbour Street, which helped street people with their drink problems. They agreed to help him and took him in.
Two months later a clean, tidy man in a light brown suit stopped by her stall and said, 'How are you, Madam?' He gave a big smile, showing his white teeth. 'Here's something for you,' he said, and held out two 1,000 dollar bills.
'Thank you,' Nan said, 'but why you giving me so much money?'
'You helped me when I needed someone,' he said quietly. 'You brought me back to life.'
Nan stared at him, not understanding.
'I was that old drunkard on the streets,' he explained, 'and you gave me food every day.'
'What!' said Nan. 'I happy to see that you alright now.'
'Yes, thanks to you. I now have a job with the town council, you know. I drive the garbage truck.'
Nan smiled happily. She went on smiling for the next year and a half. She felt young again, and full of hope. At last, she could forget the sad years when she was sixteen, with a baby, and no chance to go to school and get a better life for herself. She and Sonny started living together, and now they were planning to get married and have a home of their own. She decided to give Sonny this one thing, and to give it freely, because she trusted him.
'Okay, go on,' she said to Sonny, 'let them live in the house, and we will work together to build our own.'
Sonny put his long arms around Nan's comfortable body and pulled her close. He understood what she was saying - that she trusted him, that she was strong enough to wait.
He put his mouth close to her ear and whispered, 'Thank you.'
- THE END -