A Christmas Charity Story
Story by: Sherry Hanes
It was a cold December night, the 20th to be exact, a few days just before Christmas. It was around 3:00 A.M. The alarms at the local car dealership had just been set off. Three police cars responded to the call only moments after the piercing shrill of the alarms resounded throughout the streets of the little town. Police rushed the front doors of the showroom, as they had already been smashed in by the perpetrator to gain entry. Inside, they could see a dark figure scrambling frantically towards the back exit. You could hear the heavy breathing of the young soul as he was trying to make his now failed escape. The police called out loudly to the man.
“Hey! You there! Stop and give yourself up! Don’t try to run for it or we will have to use force!”
Still trying to run like a scared rabbit, the meek, darkened figure realized his attempts to try to resist would only bring the next level of force that would only mean a greater conviction for him. He immediately stopped and threw up his hands. Exhaling with the sound of defeat, a soft and shattered voice replied from behind the cash counter.
“O.k.! O.k.! I surrender!” as he fell to his knees, begging the police to go easy on him.
Quickly two police officers detained the accused, rose him to his feet and cuffed him. They read him his rights, escorted him outside and placed him in the back seat of the cruiser. They drove him to the police station for processing as he trembled and sobbed at his now, virtuous demise.
At the station, one of the officers contacted the owner of the dealership, informing him of the break-in.
“We’re sorry to call you so late Mr. Rollinson but, your place of business was broken into just about 30 minutes ago and we have a suspect in custody. He is headed for the station right now, where he will be held in lock-up until his hearing in the morning.”
“Oh my God! Do you know who did this?”
“We don’t know who he is yet, but we will keep you informed.” Replied the officer.”
The officer continued, “If you could go to the showroom and meet with the investigating officers, they would appreciate you verifying some information for the incident report, that would be a big help right now.”
The owner, we will call, Bud, went down to the dealership promptly and then after verifying security information and providing a statement, he headed off to the police station.
Bud was upset, but he was also curious as to what would make someone think there was any cash in the showroom, or even the building for that matter?
Upon his arrival at the police station, Bud anxiously approached one of the attending officers.
“Officer? Officer? I was wondering, is there any possibility for me to see who the accused is or can I get to talk to him? I just want to ask him something?”
“Well, Mr. Rollinson, we don’t usually allow the victim to speak with the accused. I would have to check it with the Captain.”
Bud thought for a few seconds and then asked the officer to proceed with his request.
One hour later, as the accused was huddled up and vibrating from his ordeal in his holding cell. Mr. Rollinson was pacing the hall, waiting to see if his request to take audience with the young man would be granted. The Captain finally arrived and stood before Bud, Mr. Rollinson.
“I understand that you wish to speak to the accused, Mr. Rollinson?”
“That’s right Captain. Just for a few minutes.” He replied.
“Can you tell me Mr. Rollinson what would be your intention to speak with this young man?”
“Well. You see Sir, I just find it really strange that someone would want to break into my business…and for what? I don’t hold any cash in the building and other than that…I only have inventory. I am just really, really curious and I have to ask the young man myself.”
The Captain hesitated for a brief moment, looking Mr. Rollinson up and down, and then he replied.
“I’ll give you five minutes and five minutes only. We have never done this before ever but, then again, no one has ever asked so, keep it civil and I will allow it. Should you disregard my instruction, or agitate or aggravate the prisoner, the visit will cease immediately. Are we clear on that?”
“Oh. Yes Sir! Absolutely clear! Thank you! Thank you so much!”
Bud was then lead down the corridor and through the security doors, accompanied by two officers. He was frisked and lead to the prisoner’s cell.
As they approached the jail cell, the one officer called out to the young man, “Hey. Wake up. You have a visitor.”
The young man begrudgingly sat up at looked at the stranger that stood before him. Bud was an older man, around 60 years of age. The greying hair around the edges of his face and his lines of character around his eyes and mouth, portrayed him as a man who saw he better part of his youth. Wearing a brown, double breasted suit of heavy winter material, covered by a full length woolen black dress coat and a Fedora tipped off to one side, Mr. Rollinson exuded exacting confidence in his presentation of himself. No ego. No ‘better than you’ attitude. Just an ordinary, hard-working businessman that made his way through life and all its ups and downs.
The young prisoner had an attitude of anger and distain. The officer advised the young man to have a change of expression because Mr. Rollinson came in good faith and is not here to challenge him nor to ridicule him, nor judge him. He continued to inform the young man to oblige the curtesy to Mr. Rollinson, of answering a few questions for him. He also announced to the young man that the man that stood before him was the owner of the dealership that he had just broken into and that he should at least allow him as much as a five, minute conversation.
The young man stared into the eyes of Mr. Rollinson and saw for himself that, Bud was not someone that looked to have any ill intentions towards him so, he arose from his bed and walked slowly over to the edge of the cell, but he still chose to show some resistance to the request. With a confrontational attitude, the young man began to speak.
“Yeah? What is it I can do for you?”
“On the contrary, my friend…what can I do for you?”
The young man stood to attention… confused and bewildered by the response from this older, but yet seemingly wiser, gentleman.
“What do you mean? What can you do for me? I just got through breaking into your precious little business and you’re asking, what can YOU do for me???”
Bud was a bit annoyed at the response by the accused. Making it out to be like HE was the victim in all this.
“Without a doubt my friend, I am aware that you broke into my ‘precious’ little place of business, as you call it…what I really want to know is just one thing.”
“Oh yeah? What’s that old man?” the young man retorted.
Holding his demeanour at ‘cool’, Bud took a step closer to the boy and looking him straight in the eye, whispered these words,
“Tell me honestly son…Why? Just why did you choose my place? What could possibly be there for you to steal?”
The young man stepped back away from Bud and immediately felt the pangs of all of his past coming to get him. He weakened in his stance and fell slowly against the cell wall. He had not expected that question. He was expecting something like ‘What the hell is wrong with you? What’s wrong with you anyway? Do you know how much this mess is going to cost me?’ The young man fumbled and stuttered with his words for a moment, clearing his throat and then he replied.
“Look old man…I didn’t really want to do this…I was only going to take one of your buggies and get a good dollar for it so I could get enough food to last the month and maybe a room somewhere, where it’s warm and has a bed in it!”
Bud took a good look at the young man and he could see that his clothes were torn, moldy and disheveled. His finger nails were all broken and chiseled and his hair was ragged and he smelled of someone who had not bathed for months. His skin was of leather and his teeth were rotting. But his eye? His eyes revealed he had remorse and if there was remorse…there was, somewhere deep down inside, a soul crying out!
Bud told the young man “That’s o.k. if you don’t want to say anymore. I just wanted to know why is all” and then Bud moved back away from the cell and told the officer that he was ready to leave now. The young man jolted himself forward, into the cell bars, reaching out for Mr. Rollinson.
“Hey mister? So, what is it that you were going to do for me? I mean…you mentioned it?”
Bud looked at the painfully broken person and said, “You’ll see in the morning. But in the meantime, I want you to think about what kind of person you want to become. I will be back in the morning and I will expect an answer from you.”
That was all Bud said and then he motioned to the officer to show him out.
The next morning came rather quickly and Bud came to the court house, as he said he would. The case hearing came up for remand and as the judge, who had seen more years than Bud and the young accused combined, read the charge out to the accused who was standing before the court. Mr. Rollinson stepped forward from behind the public seating area, to the bench. He asked His Honour to indulge his request to be heard before sentencing of this young man. His Honour, knowing Bud personally, granted Bud permission to be heard, and asked him to keep it brief.
“Your Honour?” Bud started, clearing his throat.
“Your Honour? At the risk of appearing not to be of sound mind, I most earnestly request from his Honour that this young man be placed my care, under house arrest so that we may show kindness to this poor soul and practice Christmas charity by offering rehabilitation under the guidance and instruction as set out by His Honour, with the condition that, if the young man deviates, even slightly, from the prescribed conditions, sentencing shall be immediately enforced and he shall be incarcerated for twice the full term of his sentence in the provincial penitentiary?”
His Honour was shocked by Bud’s request but he fully understood the reasoning behind it.
You see, not too many years ago, Bud himself stood before this same judge, when the judge was a younger man, and Bud was just a young boy of twenty-two, pleading his own case. Bud was a troubled young man who had taken that wrong turn down a long and lonely road. A young boy, abandoned by family and society, Bud was left to fend for himself out on the streets. Fighting and stealing every day for life and limb, Bud too endured the hardships of a violent and emotionally tortuous life, until one day, he stood in this very court room, his doomed soul and life, soon to be cemented in incarceration, with no opportunity for redemption. And then, like a prayer whispered and answered on the breath of an angel, a man, much like Bud himself today, stepped forward and begged upon the mercy of the court to have the opportunity to offer redemption and rehabilitation for the young man, we now know as Bud.
And now today, Bud, Mr. Rollinson, makes the same request to His Honour, with hopeful heart to pay forward the kindness that was afforded him, and changed his whole life.
His Honour, gazed upon Bud with a long, humbled stare and then slowly turned and proceeded to address the young man standing before him today.
“Young man.” Demanding the young man’s undivided attention.
“Young man? Do you have any idea what is happening here right now? This man. This man that has worked so hard to turn his life around and who has without a doubt became one of the most respected citizens and businessman in our town, now offers you the gift of a freedom that you will never have the good fortune to receive again. This man is not only offering you the opportunity to have a safe and warm place to live for the next six months, but also the greatest opportunity you will ever be granted to change your life. A place to rehabilitate yourself, should you be so inclined to be honest with yourself and literally change your ways with the help of the courts, this man and his great family. Should you choose to be released to this man, under house arrest, for the next six months, you must follow every rule to the letter. Should you decide to not take this opportunity to make good of whatever is left of your sad life, you shall be imprisoned for the full duration of your sentence with no chance for reconsideration. What say you?”
The young man stood in disbelief, as no one has ever even offered so much as to lift a finger to help guide him or show him a better way to live. Orphaned and kicked around, the young man awoke to each day with the same feeling of despair and hopelessness. But today? Today…All that can change. All he had to do was make a simple decision, and then he spoke.
“Your Honour.” He said, as he started to tear up, feeling his throat thickening from the deepening of his gratitude.
“It is my belief that I am being offered this reprieve in life, from a prayer I had long ago. Even though I do not understand it, mine is not to question this gift and I gratefully accept the conditions of this man’s generous offer and that of the courts. I shall obey all rules and leave myself open to change, for I am not capable of thinking myself into good acting, therefore, with the help of His Honour, this court and this man, I must learn to act myself into good thinking, which should ultimately rehabilitate me, one day at a time.”
The young man was released into the care of Mr. Rollinson and he and Bud formulated a friendship that could only be perceived as a ‘father-son’ relationship. The young man worked alongside Bud for the duration of his sentence and then, for many years after that.
The guidance and support that Bud and his family bestowed upon this young, troubled soul, proved to be the missing piece that was so much needed in the early stages of his life.
The young man grew to be that older, humbled businessman and when Bud, Mr. Rollinson passed away fifteen years after he had taken the young man under his wing, he left a legacy and his business to Brandon Rollinson. That’s right. Bud adopted the young man as his own son and called the car dealership Rollinson and Rollinson. Brandon, the rehabilitated man he always wanted to be, promised his boss, his dad, that he would always pay it forward and show the spirit of charity, not only at Christmas, but, at any time of year.
Sixteen years later, one year after Bud had passed, … It was a cold December night, the 20th to be exact, a few days just before Christmas. It was around 3:00 A.M. The alarms at the local car dealership had just been set off. Three police cars responded to the call only moments after the piercing shrill of the alarms resounded throughout the streets of the little town.
There is a reason for everything. Sometimes, events are arranged to test our souls. Some are arranged to have us ‘get the message’, while others are arranged for us to ‘be the message’.
When you think of charity, it is not always about money. Charity does not come from a bank account. It comes from your heart and if you see things through your heart, you will always get to see the results of what true charity can do.
May you have a Charitable heart, now during this Holiday Season and throughout the entire year.