Stewarts Fall And Rise
The sun shone brightly in Stewart Montgomery's face as he left Kendrick Prison.
Stewart had been in for 3 years after being caught stealing from the local supermarket. Stewart was well known to the police as a thief, this latest theft was the final straw for them, deciding to fully prosecute Stewart in the hope that he may learn his lesson.
Stewart had indeed learnt his lesson. Prison had been a living hell for him, he had been singled out on numerous occasions by several prisoners, this may have been due to his lack of height, standing at a mere 5 foot 7, and his slight build. Stewart had kept himself to himself inside, counting down the days until his release.
Stewart had decided to start again, starting with getting a job, perhaps even further education, he had never really been academic at school. Not once did he ever consider college or university.
Stewart lived at home with his mum, who had been bitterly disappointed to say the least at her sons imprisonment. She had had to deal with the same disgusted looks from the locals, the same questions and the same nosey people prying for information about what happened, information that would no doubt be used as gossip, and exaggerated to great lenghs.
Three days passed since his release, and the atmosphere at home was frosty, his mum Sheila had been very cold towards him, he could understand why, but at the same time he felt he deserved a chance to prove himself.
Stewart was having even less luck finding a job, several knockbacks had already begun denting his confidence. It was bad enough that there was a recession happening, but with a conviction, particularly for theft, it was making finding a job nigh on impossible. Was this the way of it then? He thought, mistakes when you were young ruining the rest of your life. Would anybody ever give him a chance to redeem himself. This thought depressed him.
The rejections kept on coming, nearly two months since his release and not even an interview to show for it, with his mum constantly on at him to get a job, life was becoming unbearable. Things were going horribly wrong, he had planned on settling down when he was released, but he never even stopped to think that his conviction would hold him back.
Stewart had given up after nearly five months of looking for a job, No money, no job, no hope.
Meanwhile his mum had been promoted at work, giving her a 15% pay rise into the bargain. Whilst Stewart was pleased for his mum, he also resented the fact she was doing well and he was not.
The thought had been going around his head for a couple of days now, he tried to get rid of it, but it became overwhelming. The opportunity presented itself one evening, his mum had fallen asleep on the couch, leaving her purse lying on the kitchen counter, he took advantage of this opportunity and took £60 out of his mums purse.
Stewart was becoming more and more depressed, to the extent that he had considered taking his own life. He had tried hard to eradicate those thoughts from his mind. He had become a thief again, he was disgusted at himself for stooping to this level, but he felt he had no choice, he convinced himself the world had turned its back on him so why not.
After seeing his neighbours leaving their house, he crept around to the back of the house, to his amazement they had left the kitchen window open, enough for him to squeeze through.
He was pleased with his haul, £150, some expensive looking jewellery, and a couple of ornaments.
The complete lack of guilt he felt began to worry him. His life was about to take another turn for the worse.
An opportunity to help himself to his mums purse presented itself one Monday night. His mum had just left to meet up with her sister, In her haste at getting ready she forgot to pick up her purse. It was only about ten minutes after she left that Stewart had noticed this, he was happily helping himself, when the words "what the hell do you think you are doing" hit him like a kick in the stomach. He was speechless, the moment felt like a dream.
"I had my suspicions at what was going on, guess I just chose to ignore what was going on eh?"
Her disappointment felt worse than anger. He was unsure how to respond.
"I'm sorry mum" was all he could muster
"Is that it?" she asked. There seemed to her to be lack of sincerity in his tone.
"I was going to pay it back"
"When? And with what exactly? You don't have a job"
"I know I don't, god knows I've tried"
"Not very hard lately"
"It's tough after getting so many rejections"
"You're not the only one struggling, most people carry on looking, you just sit about feeling sorry for yourself. And now you steal from your only family, I give up with you, I forgave you last time because you were young and immature, yet even after being in prison you haven't learned have you?
Stewart was shocked at this outburst, he felt anger coming over him, he could not believe his own mother was being like this
"So you're just going to give up on me then, eh? Who the bloody hell do you think you are?"
"Your mother, remember, the mother who stood by you every time you got into trouble, the mother who defended you to teachers, neighbours and family, the mother who gave you a home after you got out of prison. I never expected gratitude, but I did expect a bit of respect."
His mother had given him the rest of the day to get his things together and leave.
He had been packing in a daze, unsure exactly what had transpired today, he still struggled to see what her problem was and why she was so upset. He had heard her crying in her room, but had chosen to ignore it.
At no stage had Stewart though about where he was going to go, he didn't really have any friends, he had lost contact with most of them when he went to jail.
He had wandered the streets all day, with his rucksack of clothes strapped to his back. He was walking about aimlessly, not knowing where to go, or where he was going to sleep. How did it all go so wrong he thought as he lay down bench in the middle of the local park.
Nearly a week had gone by and Stewart was still living rough, he had barely eaten, and had started to become very thin and gaunt looking.
Life had hit rock bottom, no home, no food, no shelter and no money. Worse of all, no future.
It was in his third week of being homeless that Stewart met Brian, a man who would change his life for the better.
Stewart had barely been eating and was rapidly fading away. He had lost well over a stone, he didn't exactly have a lot of weight to lose in the first place.
Stewart had found a small corner in the park that was largely hidden from view. He seemed to be the only person who knew about it, or so he thought.
"awright mate" came the deep voice, Stewart was awoken by the voice, he wasn't sure if he had dreamt it or not at first.
"How're you doing"
He was not dreaming it, he opened his eyes to discover a man of about forty looking back at him.
"My name is Brian. Who are you?"
Brian was about 6-foot-2 with a bushy, unkempt beard, his height only accentuated the fact that he was built like a rake.
"I'm Stewart "Pleased to meet you Stewart, no disrespect but you look like crap"
"So do you"
Brian let out a bellowing laugh, the kind that made you want to laugh along with him.
"When was the last time you ate?"
In all honesty Stewart couldn't remember. "I don't know"
"It looks like you haven't ate in ages, listen I was like you, never eating, never knowing what to do, or where to go, somebody helped me and I am going to do the same for you. Come with me"
Stewart followed Brian out of the park, across the road and towards the city centre, they were now heading towards the riverside, Brian led him down a street he never knew existed. He had probably walked right past it at some stage. It was near a club he used to go to when he was younger.
About three quarters of the way down the street was a cafe, Brian led them in, he was clearly a regular as he was greeted by several people inside.
"Brian, how are you big man?" said an old man with a long, grey beard that had been left to grow.
"Not bad thanks Ernie, how are you?"
"Ach not so bad" he replied unconvincingly.
"Brian you auld git, how's tricks?" said a man who looked like he was still in his twenties, he had a scar running from his left ear down to his jaw line
"Just dandy Stevie, hope your keeping out of trouble"
"You know me"
"Yeah, that's why I asked"
Stewart and Brian found a couple of seats near the door.
Stewart looked up to find one of the prettiest girls he had ever seen, she was small and slim, with green eyes and a smile that made him weak at the knees.
"Well, hello Katie how are you?"
"I'm alright thanks Brian, how are you keeping?"
"You're looking a lot better these days, especially now you're actually eating"
"I feel better too, anyway where are my manners, this is Stewart, Stewart this is Katie"
"Pleased to meet you Stewart"
Stewart opened his mouth to respond, but nerves got the better of him, he eventually managed to force the word "Hi" out.
Stewart is in the same position now as I was a couple of months ago, i was hoping you could help him like you helped me."
"Sure, let's start with food then shall we?"
"That would be great, thanks" said Stewart appreciatively.
"Nothing special, just soup and sandwiches"
"Sounds good to me" said Stewart smiling for the first time in what seemed like an eternity.
He ate the soup and sandwiches Katie had given him almost without taking a breath in between.
He didn't realise how hungry he was until he had started eating
"Wow, I'm guessing you enjoyed that" said Katie observing his clean plate.
"That was superb, thank you so much Katie"
"You're welcome" she beamed a smile at him that made him feel special.
Stewart watched Katie go, he couldn't take his eyes off her, she was beautiful, naturally beautiful, she did not have to rely on make up to look good.
"You like her then?" he had forgotten that Brian was still sitting with him
"Yeah. She's really nice"
"pretty hot too eh?" Brian said with a huge grin
"She is beautiful" Stewart looked at her to discover that she was looking right at him, she smiled at him then looked away.
"I think she likes you too" Brian said, observing the look Stewart and Katie had shared.
"Nah, don't think so, look at the state of me"
"You know, self pity isn't exactly a turn on for girls"
"What would you know?" Stewart said only half jokingly.
"I've been reliably informed, you just have to believe in yourself a bit more, don't just assume she doesn't like you, you know what they say - never assume, it makes an ass out of u an me"
Stewart left the small cafe a happy man, he hadn't felt like this for a long time. Katie had given him a big smile as he left, he felt his legs turn to jelly, his heart skipped several beats too.
He couldn't sleep that night, his thoughts dominated by Katie. He desperately wanted to see her again, he had already decided he was going back tomorrow, this time he would make a bit more of an effort.
The water felt great on his face, he had not had a wash, if you could call throwing water from a pond onto your face and body a wash, for over a week.
"Wow, is all this effort to impress me?" said Brian walking towards him.
"Aye, you wish mate" said Stewart in high spirits.
"I'm going to take a wild guess and say all this is for Katie's benefit, am I right?"
"Yeah, sure is, can't stop thinking about her, never felt like this before"
"It's pretty obvious you like her, I have some good news, and some great news for you."
"Really, and what would that be, dare I even ask?"
"Well good news is I pinched this for you" he pulled out a can of deodrant.
"I pinched it from the wee supermarket on the High Street, wire in" Brian threw the can to Stewart, who against his better judgement took the can and sprayed half the contents under his arms, then up his shirt, covering as much of his body as he could.
"Thanks pal I needed that"
"You're welcome, you can keep it if you like. And so for the good news." He consulted his watch and smiled. "As we speak the lovely Katie is making her way here to see you"
"What?!" Stewart was dumbfounded at this "Why?"
"'Cos you like her, you moron, she want to help you too"
"Bloody hellfire Brian, what did you say to her?"
"Just that you are a nice guy and you liked her and think she is beautiful"
"Thanks a lot" he said angrily "You have made me look like a right loser now"
"No I haven't, we were just chatting and she mentioned you, so I took the opportunity to talk you up, wish I hadn't bothered now"
"She mentioned me? What did she say?"
"She just asked who you were, how we met and how you became homeless, she also asked when you were coming back to the cafe"
"I've no idea what to say to her"
"'Hi, how are you you?' would be a start"
"You'll know when you're with her"
"I hope so"
Here's your chance to find out" he nodded his head in the direction of Katie to indicate to Stewart to turn around, when he did he seen Katie walking towards him.
"Well, see ya" with that Brian walked off leaving him face to face with the woman of his dreams.
"Hi Stewart" Katie said pleasantly
"Hi Katie" replied Stewart shyly
"How are you getting on?"
"Eh, not so bad I suppose" he lied
"Really?" one look at Stewart was enough to know that was a lie.
"Well crap to be honest, I've made a mess of my life" It was the first time he had ever admitted it to anybody, even himself.
"Shall we sit over there?" she indicated a bench near the pond.
"Okay" they walked in silence
"So, when are you coming back to the cafe then?"
"I was planning on going later on" she cast a doubtful look at him. "I was, honestly, you have no idea how great it was to eat proper food again"
"So foods the only reason you were going to come back then?"
Stewart was not sure how to respond.
"Well, eh, there is another reason for coming back, I wanted to see you again" he could not believe he told her that, he was looking straight ahead, he could not bare to look at her, to his great surprise Katie linked her arm through his and rested her head on his shoulder for a moment.
"Aw that's so sweet, can I ask you something?"
"You don't have to answer if you don't want to" she hesitated for a moment before continuing.
"How did you end up like this?"
The question hadn't really surprised Stewart.
He proceeded to tell Katie everything, the trouble he got into at School, expulsion, prison, his desire to find employment and start again, and finally, with trepidation, he told her about everything that transpired with his mum.
He felt so much better after un-burdoning himself, and opening up to somebody, he had told certain things to Brian, but nowhere near as much as what he had told Katie.
He dared a look at Katie, she looked understandably shocked at his story.
"I'm not proud of any of it, in fact I am ashamed of myself"
"It's good that you show remorse for your actions, I'm glad you felt you could open up to me.
She glanced at her watch, I really need to be off, I'm on the late shift tonight"
"Perhaps I could come keep you company?"
"I'd like that" she gave him a hug and walked off, he watched her go, feeling a huge weight had been lifted off his shoulders, oh yeah she was the one for him.
Stewart spent that night talking to Katie, their conversations varied from their childhoods, families, holidays, music, films and sport. Stewart Couldn't help noticing the amount of 'me too's' throughout their conversations.
Towards the end of the night, Katie asked Stewart what books he liked.
"I haven't read a book for awhile now, I used to love reading, it helped make my days go by faster in prison".
"I love reading, I'm never without a book, perhaps I could lend you a couple".
Stewart and Katie were spending more and more time together. Stewart had re-discovered his love of reading thanks in no small part to Katie, they had discussions about books they had read or books they wanted to read.
It was after a long conversation about a book Stewart had just finished reading that they shared their first kiss.
"How would you like to stay with me for awhile?"
The question was a bolt from the blue, he was not expecting this at all.
"I'd love to, if it's okay with you"
"Of course it is, I wouldn't have offered otherwise silly"
"Sounds too good to be true"
"Well it is true, I was also thinking of helping you get a job too. One of my friends is assistant manager at the local library, they are looking for staff, if you like I could put a word in for you?"
"That would be incredible Katie, thank you so much" he felt tears welling up in his eyes.
"You're welcome, you deserve another chance, you clearly want one".
"I do, I truly do want to start again., I can't thank you enough"
"It's fine, don't mention it" she blushed
"Right, time to go shopping"
"Why? What for?"
"You don't think I'm going to let you go for an interview looking like this do you?" she ran her fingers through his bushy, messy beard.
"No, I suppose not".
They arrived back at Katie's small two bedroom flat just outside the city centre, after several hours of shopping for a smart, but cheap shirt and tie for the interview Katie had managed to arrange for him at the library.
Stewart felt bad at not being able to afford to pay for anything, Katie had bought him a suit, two pairs of jeans, a pack of three t-shirts, and a razor and shaving foam.
"Right you, get in the bathroom and have yourself a shower and a shave"
"Okay boss" he could not remember being this happy.
"Whoa, look at you" Katie said shocked at seeing him clean shaven and looking clean and healthy.
"What do you think?"
"Apart from the numerous cuts on your face, you look great."
"Ha ha, considering I haven't shaved for over a month I reckon I look fine."
"You certainly do" she kissed him, she never realised how much she actually liked him.
"Wow, I could get used to that"
"You're going to have to" she pulled him closer and kissed him harder, she could feel his desire for her, she led him into her bedroom.
Realisation struck Stewart like a kick in the gut, with all the time he had spent in young offenders homes and prison, he had never been this far with a girl.
Katie sensed this through his awkward fumbling, and the fact he was shaking from head to toe.
"It's okay, just relax"
With Katie's help Stewart eventually relaxed and in the end gave Katie the best sex she had ever had.
As they lay in bed, Katie cuddled into him and said three words that blew his mind. "I love you"
"I love you too, I'm going to make you proud of me"
"I already am".
The interview couldn't have went any better, Katie had made him feel like he could achieve anything. He was confident, sold himself at every opportunity, he and the manager, Neil, had even had a forty minute conversation about books films and the state of Scottish football.
He took a detour through the park before going back to Katie's, he stood staring at the corner of the park he had spent so many depressing days and nights. He afforded himself a smile.
He had hoped to meet Brian, he owed him so much, he had played a big part in changing his life.
The next couple of days were going to be big for him, he decided that tomorrow morning he would go to see his mum, give her the apology she deserved, and an explanation of what had happened to him for the last couple of months.
After that he was staring his new job, in fact more than that , he was starting his new life. A new job, a new home, and with the love of his life at his side this was only just the beginning of a new life, and the new start he had so desperately wanted.