“Ouch! Let go!”
Ramon yelled at the shopkeeper who held a firm hold on the back of Ramon’s neck. For a man in his 60’s, Luiz Ramirez had a grip like a vise.
“Let you go?” yelled Ramirez back at the young teen. “Why? So you can vandalize my shop again with your spray paint? I’ll let the police take care of you.”
“I wasn’t vandalizing anything,” pleaded Ramon, his adolescent bravado starting to diminish when the word “police” was mentioned.
“No?” asked Ramirez. “Then explain this can of paint in your hand.”
Ramon struggled to free himself but to no avail. Sighing, he confessed.
“It was for that car out front. It’s been sitting there for almost a year. It’s covered in rust and makes the neighborhood look like trash. I just…” his voice faltered. “I just wanted to make it look nice for you.”
Luis Ramirez looked hard at the boy and then released him. He saw truth in the young man’s eyes. The neighborhood had been declining for years and Ramirez realized he only saw the worst in people now. Maybe it was time to change. He sighed and nodded towards the car.
“Ok, show me what you can do, Rembrandt,” he said with a smile. Ramon smiled back at him.
Several years later, Ramon, now a successful artist, heard that Mr. Ramirez had passed away. When he returned to the old neighborhood to visit the small grocery store that Mr. Ramirez had owned, he saw the car. The paint was fading but it still brightened the whole street.
A coat of paint had turned a junk car into a neighborhood icon. And an act of kindness and generosity had changed a man’s life.
[This is my entry this week into the Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers challenge. A photo prompt is given and writers are encouraged to create a short story of 100 – 150 words, + or – 25 words. I did go over on this one a bit so my apologies.]