The prompt on Search Engine Stories this week is funny rich man.
Here’s my story…..
Horatio Hogg was one of the richest men in the world but he tried to hide it. When he was out walking among the general populace he wore threadbare jeans and boots with scuffed toes. He let his hair grow long and didn’t shave.
Once a little girl remarked to her mother: ‘That man is a hobo.’ It made Horatio’s day to be called that. He felt he could walk through the streets without fear of being recognised. His friend, Martin Minton, saw him one day and looked straight through him, his lip curled into a slight sneer as if he found Horatio’s hobo garb distasteful. Horatio ran down the street in delight, clicking his heels.
Some days he wore his normal attire. His Yves St. Laurent. Some people noticed the expensive cut of his suit but looked quickly away, almost as if they felt unworthy. Horatio felt bad about that, it was after all, just a suit, not the measure of a man.
Sometimes he would follow those people, give them money, usually a couple of grand. They backed away in surprise, clutching the money, worried he would expect them to participate in some sordid act, but he expected nothing in return.
‘It’s a gift,’ he would say. ‘I want you to have it. I want to try and make a difference.’
‘Who do you think you are? Robin Hood?’ some people would ask. Horatio would laugh and say: ‘I’m just a rich man.’
‘Funny rich man,’ they would say.
Trudy Thompson worked in the café. She served forty Full English breakfasts before 9AM every morning and over one hundred cups of coffee. Her fingertips were stained orange from the pulp of 200 glasses of freshly squeezed juice.
There was nothing about Trudy’s current life that resembled her previous life. She had once owned the café she now worked in but her father had died and her mother had grown ill with grief, so Trudy had sold the business so she had more time to care for her mother. Sometimes it irked her. It was a step down. She had worked so hard to build up the business. Yet she knew she should be grateful for the job. Not everyone would be as flexible with the hours as Sandra, her new boss, was. And the lump sum of money from the sale allowed her to employ a part-time carer for her mother.
Sometimes Trudy stayed up for the entire night as her mother groaned and wept. The dark seemed endless. She grew so used to shadow that the colours of the morning seemed electric. Sometimes it took all her strength just to keep breathing.
A man had been coming into the café. There was something captivating about him but Trudy suspected he might be homeless. When Sandra wasn’t looking she slipped him extra slices of toast and refilled his coffee for free. He always paid with a handful of coins. Trudy usually cut a few dollars off the bill, making up the difference from the tip jar.
‘I know what you’ve been doing,’ the man said one day. ‘The extra food, the discount. Your kindness is appreciated. I’d like to thank you by taking you out to dinner.’
Trudy was taken aback but she agreed. The man, his name was Horatio, had soft, tender eyes and a voice that made her feel there was more to life than she had realised.
He picked her up at eight wearing a fancy suit. Trudy didn’t know much about fashion but it looked Italian. ‘You scrub up well,’ she commented, laughing to hide the fact she found Horatio really attractive. ‘I have my moments,’ Horatio replied.
He took her to a place that turned out to be his home. A mansion on the waterfront. Trudy was embarrassed that she had assumed he was homeless. She hated people who judged others by their appearance. Horatio laughed the whole thing off. ‘It was intentional,’ he said. ‘I wanted you to like me for me. I didn’t want you to like me for my money.’
For the first time in his life Horatio Hogg was happy. For years he had lived without hope, his options had seemed limited. Now that Trudy was in his life he felt a sense of outstretched possibilities. The day glimmered with breezy thoughts. One day he couldn’t wait any longer. He asked Trudy to be his wife, the waitress he had met in a café, the girl he loved best of all. His mother would be horrified but he didn’t care. Love was love wherever you found it.
Trudy agreed to marry him, she filled his heart with a sweeping brilliance.
‘This is the happiest day of my life, ‘Horatio said. ‘The world stands before me. Lush, full of joy.’
‘Funny rich man,’ Trudy said.