Old Tom limped down the street in the warm rain. He was heading for the bar on the corner of Henderson Boulevard where he regularly went for an ice cold brew on hot summer afternoons. Come to think of it, he didn’t so much drink his beer, as sit in the corner nursing the same glass for hours at a time watching those perfectly round chilled droplets hit the mahogany countertop. A young sporting type, who looked remarkably similar to his youngest boy, approached him and offered him a drink but Tom just shook his fist and discretely muttered a few curses under his breath. He spoke to no-one, and after a while rose slowly from his chair and hobbled slowly towards the door.
The rain had not stopped, and rivers of water were coursing down the road. On the way home his neighbour stopped his truck and offered the old man a ride home but Tom shook his head and shouted out some obscenity. He could not tolerate any hint of pity. The only thing he had left after a lifetime slaving day after day at the docks was his pride. He would never accept anything from anyone, and he could manage on his own now, as he always had always managed before.
As he continued his March towards his apartment as his back ached heavily and his old injured leg was so stiff that he had to frequently stop and attempt to rub some life back into it. Nurse Williams came out of the old folks’ day centre as he passed the gate and invited him in, with promises of sweet cherry pie, a warm drink and something to ease the pain in his joints. Old Tom growled a negative response and struggled on down the road.
Just ahead of him a small dog skipped merrily along the sidewalk. It looked scrawny, as if it could do with a good meal, or several. It had ears that flopped over down past it’s chin and a black patch over one side of its face. When it turned to size Tom up it cocked its head back and looked directly into the old man’s eyes. Some bizarre spark of fellow feeling passed between them...