The Christmas season. A desolate road. Georgia. It was late. Cold.
He was driving home from work. Windows cracked, smoking a cigarette. He was a lonely old man. No kids. No family.
He was a rough man. He lived in a lonely house. His lonely lawn was overgrown. He’d been married once, long ago. It didn’t work out. In his younger days, he had his share of problems with a bottle.
He heard hollering through his window.
He pulled over. He walked into a dead field, following the sound.
It was a girl, brown-skinned, holding a baby. She was delirious. She moaned. She was burning hot with a fever. The baby was screaming.
He carried them to his vehicle. He drove them home. He laid her in his bed. He held a cold rag to her forehead. He gave her red Gatorade.
She mumbled in a language he didn’t understand.
He phoned his neighbor, who spoke Spanish. The neighbor translated: “Her husband left her. She says
she’s been living in the woods...”
“Husband?” the old man remarked. “She doesn’t even look eighteen.”
Her husband had been fired from a factory job. Times got hard. He left. She was homeless overnight.
She’d moved into a tent made from a blue tarp. She was living in the woods, eating food from garbage cans—which had made her sick.
For nine days, the old man stayed beside her bed. Mornings, afternoons, nights. He made chicken soup. He spoon-fed her. He bottle-fed the baby.
He prayed aloud. And when he was done talking to God, he would tell her stories—though she was half-delirious, and unable to understand him.
She was weak. He helped her use the restroom. He cleaned her accidents. He changed the sheets. He kept fluids running through her.
And one afternoon, while…