It was a cold winter night. The wind seemed to penetrate the bones in their body while they slept in the park. They huddled together for warmth. Jonathan, Jeffrey, Chasity, and Chrystal were brothers and sisters, and they were runaway children. Jonathan, aged twelve, was the oldest of the brood. Jeffrey was ten, Chasity was eight, and Chrystal was six. They had been living on the streets for the past two months without anyone noticing they had no adult supervision, or simply maybe no one cared. After all, who would bother wasting time talking to smelly, dirty kids, dressed in rags? How did they become runaways, anyway?
Their story began one stormy day. It started as a sunny morning but had quickly turned overcast, threatening a downpour. Then the rain began to pour, the wind became gusty, thunder rolled, and lightning flashed.
“Mom, we’re home,” the children yelled as they put their backpacks on the floor. All the schools in all levels were forced to shut down due to the inclement weather. The school bus took the children home early before the storm became severe. They found their father sitting on the sofa waiting for them. From the way he looked, he had been crying.
“Dad?” the children asked.
Their father hugged them and started crying. Between sobs, he told them their mother passed away early that morning. They lost her to a long battle with cancer. The children knew their mother was sick, but they didn’t know she had cancer. They didn’t know what it meant, but they could have looked it up if they had known about it. Maybe they could do something to prevent it. Maybe they could have saved her. Now it was too late, and all they could do was cry.
James was devastated and didn’t know what to do. His wife, Martha, had always been the decision maker in the family. He earned money, but his wife was the one who handled the finances, the budgeting, taking care of the children’s school activities, checking their homework and everything else. She took care of them without complaint.
Now that she was gone, there was no reason for them to stay in Toledo. The only reason they lived there was that they had to take care of Martha’s mother when she became ill. After her death, they remained in Ohio, and now that Martha was gone, there was no reason to stay. He decided to start a new life in Bridgeport, Connecticut when his college roommate offered him a job there. James was the executive chef at an exclusive country club, but he needed a fresh start with his children, so he accepted the position.
James worked as a supervisor in a textile mill. He was kind to everyone and treated them fairly. If they needed time off to take care of a sick child, wife or parents, he would cover for them. He was admired by everyone including the customers. They had such high respect for him.
James never had any vices. He had no thirst for drink or cravings for smoking. As soon as the alarm went off signaling their shift was over, James would stop by at the grocery store to pick up something for dinner that he would prepare for his children. He liked to cook healthy food for them. His children were happy as could be and anyone who knew them would say that James was a perfect father to his children. He was a role model.
However, James popularity at work became a problem for one co-worker. Diego had always been jealous of him. He had been in competition with James since he started working for the company. Diego expected to be promoted to a supervisor, but they offered the job to James instead. He had despised him ever since.
One day, Diego was assigned to give a tour to a few investors of the company. He was ecstatic. He thought it was his time to shine. He did his best to answer all their questions and tried to charm the women. However, Diego was not a people person. In answering some of their issues and concerns, he offended some and made a few others uncomfortable. It so happened James was in the warehouse at that time talking to the delivery guys. They were laughing and having quite a conversation. When Diego and the investors entered the area, one of them recognized James. He walked toward him and shook his hand. James introduced himself to the rest and welcomed them to the facility. The investors started asking him questions, and he answered them with grace, honesty, and politeness. They followed James as he walked around the warehouse and explained all the machines and equipment and what they used it for.
When everyone left him alone standing in the middle of the room, Diego gritted his teeth in anger. He went home, sulking and angry. He was so furious at James that he wanted to get even and disgrace him. He concocted an elaborate plan to discredit him publicly, and once he had done that, he was sure they would promote him and fire James.
His plan came at the right time. The company had just landed a multi-million-dollar account from one of the establishments at the New York Garment District. James would take care of all the details—manage the supplier, oversee the delivery, and make sure he was in contact with their vendors at all time. James assigned each of the workers their duties to ensure everything went smoothly. Diego was responsible for inspecting all incoming and outgoing deliveries.
One night, when everyone had left work, Diego stayed behind and quietly went to James’ office and accessed his computer. It wasn’t hard to get in because he had carefully watched James for several days and he’d memorized his password. James was too trusting. Once Diego knew the password, he decided tonight was the night to put his plan into action. He accessed the purchasing file and canceled ten orders that were scheduled to be delivered on Friday, three days away. He turned off the computer and wiped off his fingerprints from the keyboard before leaving.
As he expected, his plan worked perfectly. The delivery was not made, and the owner had an unflattering outburst of temper.
“What happened, James? I gave you that assignment to make sure everything would go smoothly. Do you know what you’ve done?” he said rather loudly.
James tried to explain that he had spoken with the warehouse supervisor, and he assured him it would arrive on time.
“James, I just spoke with him, and he said the order was canceled three days ago. How do you explain that?”
“Canceled, sir, I didn’t cancel the order.”
James quickly went to his office and checked his computer. His boss was right. The purchase order showed the scheduled deliveries were canceled. “Someone here is trying to derail me,” he said. “I didn’t do this.”
“Why would anyone do that to you, James?” the owner asked. “Instead of you accepting responsibility, you are trying to point the blame at someone else. This is unacceptable, James. You cost this company and me lots of money. I want you to pack up your things and leave. You are fired!”
Diego’s lip drew back in a weird, evil smile. His heart rejoiced upon hearing it. He succeeded in getting rid of James. He was sure he would get promoted now.
“But, sir,” James tried to reason with his boss, but he didn’t want to hear any more.
“You heard me, James. We lost our biggest contract because of your stupidity. Now, get out before I call security.”
No matter how much James tried to explain himself, his boss didn’t want to hear any more of what he had to say. With his head low, he walked to his office and put all his personal belongings in a box. He walked out the door, dismayed at how everything turned out. Who would do such a thing? Why would anyone sabotage him?