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The Man Who Lost Everything

Updated on March 27, 2017

It was a beautiful sunny day in downtown Riverside. However, Tommy was anything but sunny. His girlfriend—his true love—ended their relationship. The main reason was financial. And this was the same reason his other relationships ended. Tommy felt depressed. Just as Tommy was about to turn his life around and improve his financial situation, his car broke down. How would he get to work and earn a living? It had been a rough year to say the least! Tommy’s wife no longer wanted to be married. She felt he wasn’t going anywhere in life. His wife compared him to a piece of driftwood that was just being tossed here and there by the ocean currents, never going anywhere or amounting to anything in life. This brought back a painful memory from his childhood. His parents said that Tommy wouldn’t amount to anything in his life. Put simply: He was a loser with a capital L. Sadly, Tommy thought about taking his own life. He would jump off a bridge and put an end to his pathetic life. However, he thought about his dog and cat and realized how much they needed him. The tears flowed like a river down Tommy’s face. God, give me the strength to get through this, thought Tommy! But as the year progressed, things did not go smoothly for Tommy. He lost his apartment. He experienced anxiety attacks from his job. One time while he was grocery shopping, Tommy almost had a full blown anxiety attack in which he thought he was going to lose his mind. He felt like he was completely trapped and was never going to get out of the parking lot. It took all his strength to not yell at the top of his lungs and totally lose it. After a few minutes of taking in some deep breaths and some calming thoughts, Tommy managed to drive home in one piece. But Tommy called off work the next day. His nerves were completely frazzled. In the summer Tommy decided not to return to his job. He knew the job was a danger to his health. Tommy decided that he would rather be homeless than return to that job. As he was thinking thoughts of being homeless, a man in his early 60s approached his table.

“May I talk to you for a second?” asked the older gentleman.

“Sure. Take a seat,” replied Tommy, gesturing at the chair.

“I don’t know if you are interested? But I am looking for a young man to help me with my orange groves and take care of my horses. You can stay in the garage. There is a bed, toilet, sink, and shower, and small fridge inside. I know it is not much, but I will pay you $500 per month. Rent is free. And so is lunch and dinner.”

Sure, I will do it. When do you want me to start?”

“As soon as you finish your coffee, you can start.”

That weekend when Tommy moved into Mr. Sumner’s garage, Jessica broke up with him. She informed Tommy that she could no longer be in a relationship with someone that was not financially stable. Tommy walked into the barn and began to brush one of the horses. Tears were falling down his face.


I decided to head downtown for a cup of coffee and cookie. Coffee Cat, not only had awesome coffee, but I loved the atmosphere. It was filled with the most interesting people on the planet. It was better than TV or the movies. This was real and true. It was living artwork at its finest. The owner was a real sweetheart. He displayed my artwork throughout the coffee house. I, of course, was grateful for Mike’s kind heart; and would send people Mike’s way to experience the magic of Coffee Cat. This was a favorite hangout for Ted, Melissa, and me. I decided to get the coffee of the day with my usual chocolate chip cookie. The cookies were to die for! Mike had them brought in from one of the local bakeries. They would usually go quickly, so I asked Mike to save me one. I winked at Mike and headed outside with my coffee and cookie from Heaven. As I walked outside, I spotted a man in his early40s playing the guitar and singing.

“Do you mind if I join you?” I inquired.

“No, not at all,” replied the man.

I put out my hand. “My name is Sara.” The man shook my hand.

“It is nice to meet you Sara. My name is Tommy.”

“Tommy, go ahead and play if you wish. I will eat my delicious cookie and drink my coffee.” Tommy nodded his head and began to play.

Oh, the song was awesome! It had a beautiful melody and rhythm. The words were beautiful as well. I also noticed the name Jessica repeated throughout the song. It made me very curious.

“Wow! Tommy that was awesome! So beautiful! You are very gifted. You should record that. My friend Melissa plays the violin and is in a band. She has recorded two albums. You have to meet her Tommy! I know she will love your song!”

“Thanks Sara! That would be awesome!”

“Tommy, I don’t mean to be nosy, but you mentioned the name Jessica throughout your song. Is she somebody special in your life?” As I said this, tears flowed down Tommy’s face. I put my hand on Tommy’s shoulder. “I’m so sorry Tommy.” I handed Tommy a couple tissues.

“It’s OK Sara. She was my girlfriend. She broke up with me when my financial situation collapsed.” Tommy wiped the tears from his eyes.

“Tommy, I know this is a painful time for you. Relationships are not easy. I had my heart broken by a man and was terrified of being hurt again. In college, I pushed away a very sweet man with a heart made of gold. It didn’t matter how many times he would try to ask me out. I would reject him and send him away. My best friend Melissa and a homeless man talked sense into me. Now, Ted and I have been married for 20 years!”

“That is so beautiful Sara! Congratulations on your beautiful marriage. I dreamed of being married to Jessica. She means the world to me! But I know that I have to let her go. There is a chance that we may never get back together.”

“Tommy, there is also a chance that she may come back to you. You never know!”

“I know Sara. But I can’t expect it to happen. She may find someone else. I have to take care of my animals and me. I have to get my life back.”

I nodded my head. Then my eyes spotted Tommy’s notebook.

“Tommy, do you write?”

“Oh yes! I am working on a children’s book.” I smiled.

“Wow! That is awesome Tommy! I would love to read it when you finish it.” Tommy smiled.

“Sure Sara. You will be the first to get a copy.”

“And don’t forget to sign it for me?” Tommy laughed. We both hugged and parted.


Ted and I joined Melissa for dinner. The dinner was absolutely delicious. Melissa made vegetarian enchiladas and a fresh garden salad that was a work of art in itself. It was so colorful and beautiful! After dinner, Ted and I helped with the dishes, while Melissa put away the food. For desert, we enjoyed fresh apple pie and coffee. We sat on the couch and shared our thoughts with one another. Ted massaged my shoulders. I was in Heaven.

“Melissa, you are not going to believe this?” I announced. Ted winked at Melissa. Melissa winked back at him.

“You met someone downtown!” replied Melissa, smiling.

“How’d you guess?”

“Just a lucky guess, my dear!” Ted kissed me on the head. I kissed him on the lips.

“His name is Tommy. He is a songwriter and is also working on a children’s book.” Melissa’s eyes lit up. “His song is very beautiful Melissa. You can feel his heart. I can tell he is sensitive like me.” My eyes got wet when I remembered what Tommy said to me earlier. Ted stroked my face and kissed my head. “Thank you baby.”

“I can’t wait to meet him Sara!”

“Melissa, he invited us all for lunch tomorrow!”

We all smiled. Life was amazing!

Tommy enjoyed his meals with Mr. and Ms. Sumner. His wife was an awesome cook. Although he wasn’t a vegetarian, he was becoming accustomed to it. Tonight, Ms. Sumner made vegetarian stir fry, egg rolls, and brown rice. It was so good! He complemented Ms. Sumner on the meal. She was grateful for the nice complement. Before Tommy sat down, Mr. Sumner noticed Tommy set a notebook on the side table next to the couch. He brought this up while they were eating dinner.

“Tommy, I don’t mean to pry,” said Mr. Sumner, “but I always see you with that notebook. Are you a writer?”

“Yes I am, sir,” replied Tommy. “I am currently writing a children’s book.”

“That is wonderful Tommy! What kind of story is it?”

“I am actually writing a spiritual adventure story.” Both Mr. and Ms. Sumner smiled. “It is a story about following your dreams, even if society doesn’t believe in you. I blend spirituality, psychology, and philosophy together.”

“Wow! Tommy, you are not going to believe this. My best friend is a publisher! He specializes on spiritual, inspirational, and self-help books. Let me know when you are finished with the book. I would love for Jacob to read it. I am sure he will love it.”

Tommy was so happy that tears of joy fell from his eyes. Mr. Sumner put a hand on Tommy’s shoulder.

After Tommy finished his work in the orange groves and brushed the horses, he took his guitar into the barn and began to play it. He no longer felt sad when he played all the songs he wrote for Jessica. The horses didn’t seem to mind his playing either. They loved it when Tommy spent time with them. They could feel Tommy’s beautiful heart.

Terry Fatland - Sweet, Sweet, My Angel

As Ted, Melissa, and I got close to the barn, we could hear Tommy playing his song, “Jessica.” Melissa smiled. I could tell she was enjoying it. Tommy’s eyes lit up when he saw me. Tommy set his guitar down and hugged me.

“Tommy, this is my husband, Ted, and my best friend, Melissa.” Tommy shook both their hands.

“Nice to meet you both.” Tommy smiled and gestured at Melissa’s violin that was in her hand. Melissa smiled back.

“Tommy, if you don’t mind. I thought we could jam after lunch.” Tommy smiled and nodded his head.

Lunch was amazing! Mr. Sumner barbequed veggie burgers, while Ms. Sumner prepared a delicious salad. Mr. Sumner also prepared a delicious citrus beverage that made your taste buds dazzle with delight. I asked Mr. Sumner for the recipe. He winked at me. He said the secret was to pick the perfect fruit, but most importantly, it had to be made with love. I smiled. After lunch, Tommy performed his songs. Melissa joined in with her violin. Her playing complemented Tommy’s songs beautifully. We all applauded when Tommy and Melissa finished their performance.

“Tommy and Melissa, that was so beautiful,” stated Ms. Sumner. “What a beautiful treat!” Mr. Sumner, Ted, and I nodded our head in agreement. Tommy and Melissa smiled.

“You two need to record those songs together,” added Mr. Sumner. “That should be on the radio!” Melissa had a big grin on her face. I winked at Ted. He winked back at me.

“Actually, I have a recording studio,” Melissa stated, smiling. Tommy kissed Melissa on the cheek and gave her a big bear hug.

Children's book by Leslie M. Wheeler

A year later, Mr. and Ms. Sumner, Ted, Melissa, and I were at Tommy’s book event in Los Angeles. It was a huge event. Hundreds of people showed up to get a signed copy of Tommy’s children’s book. Some even brought a copy of Tommy’s CD that he recorded with Melissa. They all hoped to have Tommy sign that as well. Tommy was on top of the world! With the help of his beautiful friends, he made his dreams a reality. His new friends sat at the table with him. They were so happy for Tommy. They knew he was gifted and had something very special to share with the world. His songs were getting a lot of radio play on the local stations, internet radio, and on YouTube as well. His book got rave reviews in the spiritual magazines. He also did a couple of interviews. The line to get a signed copy of Tommy’s book was wrapped around the building. There was a least 300 people that showed up. Some hurried home to read their book, while a few stuck around. They wanted to talk to Tommy. As the last person in line handed the book to Tommy, Tommy got the surprise of a lifetime. It was Jessica! Jessica smiled. Tommy smiled back at her.

“Wow! So happy to see you Jessica!” said Tommy, enthusiastically. “It has been a long time.”

“It has,” replied Jessica.

“You want me to sign your book?”

“Yes, please!” Jessica smiled.

Tommy opened up the book and turned the page. Inside, a message was written: “I love you. I want you in my life again.” Tommy set the book down and wrapped his arms around Jessica and kissed her on the lips.


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    • Terry27 profile imageAUTHOR

      Terry Fatland 

      13 months ago from Southern California

      Nusrat, thank you for the kind words. I'm glad you enjoyed the story.

    • profile image

      nusrat jahan chow 

      13 months ago

      thanks for this awesome story. I appreciate it.

    • Terry27 profile imageAUTHOR

      Terry Fatland 

      2 years ago from Southern California

      Thanks teaches12345, glad you enjoyed it. Have a wonderful New Year as well!

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 

      2 years ago

      I enjoyed reading about the veggie burgers and salads and the music being played by guitar. Very nice read. Have a wonderful New Years!

    • Terry27 profile imageAUTHOR

      Terry Fatland 

      2 years ago from Southern California

      Yes they do, Genna East! Glad you enjoyed my short story. :)

    • Genna East profile image

      Genna East 

      2 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      Dreams do come true, as this story relates so beautifully. This was such a pleasant read on this Sunday morning. :-)

    • Terry27 profile imageAUTHOR

      Terry Fatland 

      2 years ago from Southern California

      DDE, thank you very much. Yes, we can change our life.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 

      2 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      A well-told story and follow your dreams. A person's life can change at any time it is how one puts the pieces together again.

    • Terry27 profile imageAUTHOR

      Terry Fatland 

      2 years ago from Southern California

      AngelaThomasToure, I greatly appreciate your kind words. I am glad you enjoyed the story. I enjoyed writing it. It is my pleasure to share my work with others. Thanks for stopping by and have a great day too.

    • Terry27 profile imageAUTHOR

      Terry Fatland 

      2 years ago from Southern California

      Marie, thank you very much for sharing your thoughts. Yes, we should never give up on our dreams. Like Tommy, we sometimes lose our self, but we meet beautiful people that show us the light again.

    • AngelaThomasToure profile image

      Mrs Angela A ThomasToure 

      2 years ago from United States

      Excellent story! ... I really enjoyed it. Especially the part where Tommy decided to write in-spite of his gift in music. Looking forward to more of your work. Have a great day and thanks for your contribution.

    • VioletSun profile image


      2 years ago from Oregon/ Name: Marie

      This was touching, Terry. I like how Tommy's life went from despair to achievement at all levels. We can never give up on our dreams.


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