There weren`t many occupied houses left in the neighbourhood, most had people had sold up and left, Ajax Constuction had been offering well above the value of what the properties were worth but there were still a few that refused to sell even when strong arm tactics were used. the ones that had moved all had young children and had found jobs elsewhere.
It was Christmas week and all the houses were decorated with the usual coloured lights and other Christmas decorations, all except one that is as number 19 never seemed to celebrate Christmas or any other religious festival like Easter. The old man who lived there was regarded as a weirdo by everyone in the neighbourhood and everyone even the clergy left him alone
There was an unknown benefactor that had made sure that the children received gifts that their parents could never have afforded to buy on their birthdays and at Christmas, the old people always had enough to eat and their bills were always paid if they got into difficulties.
It couldn`t have anything to do with number 19, he never had any postal deliveries, no visitors, in fact he was rarely seen only when he shopping or just out for walk and always appeared to be scruffily dressed in ragged unkempt clothing, no matter what the weather he never wore a coat. It seemed like the old man had lived there for eve.
After Christmas the neighbourhood would be demolished thanks to Ajax`s strong arm tactics, they were even threatening violence against the old folk, smashing their windows and in other ways making live difficult for them.
When Ajax first made their offers a meeting had been held and everyone except number 19 attended, they were told that Ajax wanted the land for a new building project and that the area had to flattened by the begining of February at the latest. The area had been a happy to place to live until Ajax appeared on the scene and now people were glad to get away from the area.
The old man confounded everyone , was he going to move as well? , for some unknown reason Ajax had left him alone and people were beginning to wonder why. nobody thought of going and asking the old man if they were involved someway with Ajax, they just assumed it and started hurling abuse and damaging the house.
Of course the old man knew nothing about Ajax except for they had heard but didn`t retaliate in anyway, he was just another lonely old man who`s only companion was an elderly sheep dog that never left his side.
Christmas Eve and the old man was sitting in the park across the seat with his dog along side him , if someone had looked closer they would have the tears running down his face but nobody even looked in his direction, and after a while he got up and went home.
As usual he made his simple meal fed his friend and sat in a chair lost in thought, in all the other himes that were still occupied parties were being held and no one had even thought of inviting the old man. His loneliness stretched back through the years, as a child he had never had a friend, his family had him taken into care of the social services when he was 10, they hadn`t wanted him either.
The years in the care home had treated him cruelly as had the other children because he was different from them, when he finally left the home he was givena place to live and a job had been for him, he had struggled and eventually put himself through college.
He was in twenties when he was informed that parents and siblings had emigrated abroad, he wasn`t told where they had gone but he didn`t care anymore, they had dumped him when he was 10 and had never even answered his letters and pleas to be allowed to come home. They did however give him the house which wasn`t in very good condition and they couldn`t sell it. Over the years he carried out all the repairs he could manage and when he could afford it hire tradesmen to the work he wasn`t able to do.
Over the years any attempts to make friends failed, at work people avoided him and eventually he set up his own business which proved to be very successful for him, he didn`t care about money, fancy furniture or clothes. Most of what he had he bought in second hand and charity shops, if he had to buy new stuff it was because he couldn`t find anything suitable anywhere else.
He was in his forties when he sold his business and had enough money that he would never work again, his friend Mac he found as stray and since taking him in Mac had never left his side.Both of them had never been loved by anyone and their love for each other was unconditional. and lasting. The pair of them were getting on in years and the old man had made arrangements for them to be buried togetherThe grave marker was inscribed with both their names on it all that was missing was the date of their death.
By the light that streamed in from the street lamp the old man could see the time was 1 minute to midnight and got up to go to bed, suddenly the room was enveloped in brilliant light , the old man thought it was from some sort of firework until he heard a voice calling his name. He looked around and saw Mac standing there wagging his tail and looking younger, he felt a hand on his shoulder and turning he saw a beautiful woman dressed in white and bathed in light. The starnge woman was smiling at him but the old man wasn`t frightened, he felt a peace for the first time in his long life.
"You don`t seem surprised us " said the mysterious woman
"No, I knew my days were few and I am at peace with myself " said the oldman
"Life hasn`t been very kind to you has it " said the woman
"No" said the old man
Mac went and started licking the Womans hand and she in turned stroked and patted the dog, after a few minutes mac went and climbed up on the sofa next to old man, well Mac seems happy enough thought the old man.
" You have been watched over the years and for all the wrong done to you, you have never sought to even things up once, you have helped people and have been treated like a leper in return even by the church you attend. We know you are the one that has helped the people in this neighbourhood and always made sure the children got their gifts, but why have you never told the people you have helped them. We also know that because of your actions Ajax is going to fail in their project and will go bankrupt but in this we have helped you in small ways because they destroy people lives. Tonight you will be rewarded for your unselfishness, what the church teaches is wrong and goes away from our Lords teachings."
" I want no reward, just knowing that I have made people happy and helped were I could is enough, it doesn`t matter what people think off me, I have my friend here and have made arranged for him on my death if he is still around, Only Mac has ever shown me love and will want for nothing when I`m gone" said the old man
" No your wrong , when you die Mac will pine away for you and will suffer because he won`t eat through no fault of yours, Mac needs you like you him your souls are bound together for eternity, No when your time comes so will Mac`s you will die at the same instance and move to the next level of existance together" said the woman sadly
The clock struck midnight Christmas day had arrived, the people in the neighbour had come outside to what the starnge light was and saw number 19 bathed in brilliant white light, they congregated outside across the street and waited.
Inside the house the Woman and the old man talked
" What would be your greatest wish" she asked
" To live my life as I should have, as a girl and woman" said the old man
"Sadly,that I unable to do but I will give you tonight as girl" said the woman
The light in room intensified and when a few moments later it diminished to an acceptable the old man saw himself in the mirror, he was now a little girl and Mac was puppy.when asked her name the girl said "Shiela", the woman watched as Shiela and Mac played together for what to them was a few hours
After a while the woman looked at them and said "Child, It`s time to go"
"Ok " Said Shiela
They both looked at the sofa and saw the body of the old man still smiling , with Mac lying in his arms, as the light finally faded away so too did the Woman , Shiela and Mac the puppy
Outside people were wondering what had happened now that the light had gone , the police were called and they had found the door unlocked, when they entered the house they checked one room at a time until they discovered the two bodies lying together in death.
One of them called for ambulance while his partner went outside to tell the people what they had found. After the bodies of the Old man and Mac were taken away a team of detetectives entered the house and examined everything, they found a large box containing a lot of paper work which they hande over a court appointed lawyer to check through once the Christmas festivies were over but other than that they found no signs of foul play, but they did notice the building had been vandalised.
After the Christmas period was over and everyone had returned to work, the autopsy revealed that the old man had died of natural causes, the lawyer who had been charged with checking through the papers was surprised when he when through everything, after reading the Old mans diary and journal he was furious.
He made sure that the old man and Mac were buried together and that the grave marker was finished and put in place.
He then went and called a meeting of the old mans so called neighbours to let them know what he found out and to tell them that they disgusted him.
The meeting hall was half full but all the neighbour attended.
The lawyer told them that Ajax was now bankrupt and their homes were now safe, at this the people cheered and congratulated each other.
"What the hell are you congratulating each for ?" stormed the lawyer
Everyone looked at him in surprise
"Sit down and tell you a few facts " he shouted at them
After they had all resuned their seats he began
"You all disgust me, A lonely old man and yet you treated like he scum. All his life he wanted love and friendship and never received either from anyone not even his family. He payed his way through college and had his own business which he eventually sold and you people benefitted from his weath, he was responsible for destroying the Ajax corporation and you have the audacity to congratulate yourselfs" he paused and looked round the room
"Your children received the birthday and Christmas presents you could never afford to pay for, he even paid for quite a few of you and your son`s and daughters to go to university. He did none of you any harm yet you abused him and I believe vandalised his home although I can`t prove it, have any of looked inside his home and saw how frugally he lived, he didn`t even have a television or a telephone, not because he couldn`t afford it but because he didn`t want it. I also noticed that except for myself, the Vicar nobody attended the funeral of this lonely man. Well I suppose you`ll have a big party to celebrate the demise of Ajax, well you have your party but just remember who did it all for you and how you treated him."
With that the Lawyer left, and the people began to talk in hushed voiced as the Vicar walked in, "I see your all here, just to let you know I am also disgusted myself as I had no time for that old man, I believed what I was told by his so called neighbours much to my everlasting regret, I hope he and Mac have both gone to better a place, in fact I know they have for I believe that the light we saw in his home was the angels taking him home to a better place, on sunday a memorial service will be held for James Mckenzie and Mac and YOU WILL all attend or you need never set foot in my church again" with that the Vicar stormed out
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