Tristan’s Place

Tristan’s Place

A Short Story by By Corrie B.

Another night draws over the small town of Alba, rainy and cold. The residents are all either snug in their homes or bundled up and about their business on the dimly lit streets. All except one. Shivering against the cold wind, he pulls his threadbare blanket tightly around his shoulders and presses his back against the brick wall.

The pedestrians pass by, unaware, or uncaring, of his presence. He sniffs as a well-dressed businesswoman strolls by and she glances at him disdainfully. Sighing, he stands up and slowly steps back into the alley, careful not to trip over his prosthetic leg, a trophy from his days of serving in Iraq.

This is no way to live, he thinks to himself. A sinister voice breaks into his thoughts. You’re worthless, it says. You can’t get a job, you don’t have anywhere to live and, worst of all, you’re all alone. Just give up. Not for the first time, he pushes it to the back of his mind, sits down on the concrete and closes his eyes.

“Hey, you!” A voice wakes him, and he lifts his head and looks around. A shop owner glares at him from the back door of his business. “Yeah, I’m talking to you. You can’t sleep here; this is my business. Now move along before I call the police!” The man sighs and lifts his blanket to get up. “I said go!” Still glowering, the businessman moves closer.

“I’m sorry, I’m going.” He rises to his feet and heads out of the alley. He’ll have to find somewhere else to sleep tonight. Maybe some other store owner will be more welcoming.

Awakened by a light tugging on his pants leg, the man startles and opens his eyes to find a small boy looking inquisitively at him.


He sits up on the park bench, stretching out his legs. “Hi. How’s it going?”

“It’s goin’ good.” The little boy sniffs and wipes his sticky face on his coat sleeve.

“Where are your parents?” The man asks.

“My Momma’s in that store over there,” the little boy points, “She said I could go play in the park, ‘cause she was gonna take a minute and I really like the red swing because it’s really fun and goes really high.”

When he pauses to take a breath, the man holds up his hand, “You really should be with your momma, buddy. I’ll take you over to her. What’s your name?”

“Gabe. But, Momma calls me Gabriel, ‘specially when I’m being naughty.”

“Nice to meet you, Gabe,” the man smiles as they start to walk, “My name is…” He pauses.

“Your name’s what?” Gabe looks up with squinted eyes.

“You can call me Tristan.”

“Momma says I can only call growned ups Mr. and Mrs.”

“Okay,” Tristan smiles, “You can call me Mr. Tristan, then.”

“Okay, Mr. Tristan.”

They make their way across the street to the grocery store on the other side, where Gabe spots his mother at the checkout counter.

“Momma, look who I found!”

The pretty, tired-looking lady turns around and smiles gently. “Hey, bud. Who’s this nice man?”

“This is Mr. Tristan. He was sleepin’ on the bench in the park, and he’s tired and hungry, and his clothes are messy, but we can take care of him, right Momma?”

She laughs, “Honey, slow down.” Turning, she offers her hand to Tristan, “Hi, there, Tristan. I’m Angelina Salvator, and I see you’ve already met my son, Gabriel.”

Tristan shakes her hand and smiles, “Yes, I was…”

“Are you gonna stand there all day talking or are you gonna buy something?” Tristan turns and sees the clerk, arms crossed, and nose wrinkled, looking him up and down. “If you can afford it.” she says under her breath.

Tristan ducks his head and opens his mouth to apologize when Angelina speaks up, “Now, Mrs. Alastair,” she chides softly, “That’s no way to treat a customer.”

The woman rolls her eyes and huffs, “Ain’t much of a customer. Probably can’t even buy a loaf of bread.”

“Mrs. Alastair…” Angelina begins but is interrupted.

“You gonna pay for your stuff or not?”

“Of course. Here you are.” Angelina pays for her groceries with spare change and grabs Gabe’s hand. “You can come outside with us if you want, Tristan.” She offers. “Unless, of course, you need some groceries.”

“No, I don’t.” Tristan says, but his stomach betrays him as it rumbles loudly.

Angelina smiles and clears her throat, “Well, we don’t have much,” she glances at Gabe, “but, if you’d like, you can have dinner with us.”

“I appreciate that, Angelina, but I can’t ask you to share your food with me. I have somewhere else to be, anyway.” He lies.

“I understand.” Angelina nods. “Another time?”


After saying their goodbyes, Angelina and Gabe turn and start walking down the street. Not having a thing to his name other than his threadbare blanket and no reason to stay, Tristan sighs and slowly walks out of town, ignoring the stares and disgusted looks, ready to spend another night on the streets. If he can find somewhere to stay. And something to eat.

Tristan travels from town to town, looking for a job with no luck and experiencing discrimination and hatred from the residents of each place. He sleeps under bridges, in parks, and behind old buildings, occasionally getting caught by property owners who, leery of being associated with those less fortunate than themselves, drive him away.

The weeks turn into months and the months into years. Tristan ages and is still homeless, passing through community after community, holding on to the hope that, someday, he’ll find somewhere to belong.

Over the years, Gabriel Savator also grows older, but stays just as kind and caring. He runs for mayor and starts a homeless shelter and small food bank in his neighborhood, never forgetting about “Mr. Tristan” and even naming his shelter “Tristan’s Place.” He and his mother welcome the impoverished and homeless that others shun into their home, feeding and caring for them. But never far from Gabe’s mind is one homeless man met years before: Tristan.

Some twenty years after leaving Alba, Tristan finds his way back. Tired and weary, he limps into the park where he met young Gabe and kind Angelina so many years ago. Coughing, he turns and heads downtown to find somewhere to sleep. Settling on a lonely alley, he barely notices the rain beginning to pour as he lies down and falls asleep.

“Sir, excuse me. Sir.” A gentle patting on his shoulder awakens Tristan. With all his strength, Tristan forces his eyes open and slowly focuses on the young man hovering over him.

“Hi, there.” The young man smiles. “Are you okay?”

Shivering, Tristan can barely manage to nod.

“I’d like to take you to someplace warm and get you into some dry clothes. How does that sound?”

“Okay.” Tristan manages to croak out.

The kind young man lifts Tristan and helps him limp down the street and into Tristan’s Place. Too tired to lift his head, Tristan doesn’t notice the name on the sign.

“Hey, G!” the young man calls as the door clicks behind them. “I found a gentleman out on the street. He’s freezing and soaked.”

Another young man appears and helps lift Tristan into a bed waiting nearby. “Thanks, Michael. I’ll take care of him.”

Michael nods. “No problem. I’m going to go finish the soup. Holler if you need anything.”

As Michael walks away, the other young man gently removes Tristan’s shoes and wraps the blanket around his small frame.

“Don’t worry, sir, we’ll take care of you,” he gently pats Tristan’s arm. Tristan nods and drifts off.

A few days later, Tristan awakens and is startled by his surroundings. The young man appears beside his bed. “Good morning. How are you feeling today?”

Tristan smiles softly. “Much better, thank you, but where am I?”

“You’re at Tristan’s Place,” is the reply.

“Tristan’s Place?” he repeats. “Tristan is my name.”

The young man grows silent. “Your name is Tristan?” he asks in disbelief.

“My name is Gabriel Salvator,” the young man says quietly.

“Gabe…little Gabriel?” Tristan wonders.

“Do you remember me?”

“I certainly do!” Tristan responds. “You and your mother were so kind to me all those years ago. I never forgot it.”

“I never forgot you either!” Gabriel says. “I have to tell my mom. She’s never given up on finding you.”

After informing Angelina of the surprise reunion, the three rejoice in the miracle that has happened. Twenty years after a chance encounter in a small park, three lives and a small community were changed for the better, all due to a little kindness and compassion.

The moral of the story: never underestimate an act of kindness, no matter how small. You may just change someone’s life.

About the Author:

“I am 19 years old, a volunteer librarian and in flight training. I enjoy many different interests, such as writing, photography, martial arts, crocheting and teaching violin, to name a few.”

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