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August 16, 2016 / hbrowne4

THE CROWNED LION by John McFarland Campbell

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Tony hung around the station entrance all day, every day. With nowhere else to go, he hoped that he would catch the eye of one of the men who passed on their way to their jobs in the city.

His life had not always been this way. He had had many friends and many colleagues. He had been the life and soul of every party, but now, he was just another down-and-out hanging around the station.

Scanning every lapel, and every tie, of every man that passed him, was not an easy task, but he had scanned worse terrain. He was experienced in finding his man.

Throughout his life, he had enjoyed being outdoors. As a boy, he had camped with the other boys in his Scout Patrol after a day’s hike in the forests near his home.

Greenery and foliage gave way to sand and wasteland of the Middle Eastern deserts by the time he made it to his late teens. He was still a Patrol Leader but the patrol was of soldiers, not of Scouts.

Spotting the opportunities and taking them was always important. Today, the opportunity he was looking for arose.

From afar, he thought it was just an illusion, it was wishful thinking, but no, today it was real.

oo—oo—oo

Angus O’Keeffe jumped off his train and started towards his job in the financial district. He stopped at the newspaper stand and bought his usual paper, The Times. He saw the usuals at the station entrance, the beggars, the hangers-on, the people with nowhere to go.

He made a couple of decisions that day that influenced what happened. The first was that he decided against wearing the red poppy he had bought earlier in the week as it can still raise tensions in the Irish capital. Instead, he wore his badge with a crowned lion.

The second decision was realising that the change from his newspaper would allow him to buy two coffees not just his usual one.

The second coffee was given to the man standing outside the entrance. He looked like he could do with a something to warm him up, this cold November morning.

“Thanks for the coffee, Sir,” said the man.

“No problem, you looked like you could do with it,” replied Angus.

“Yes, Sir. It’s been a cold night.”

“Have you been outside all night?”

He nodded.

Angus decided he could be late for his job. No one would mind him being late. After all, he was the boss. This man needed to talk. Today, of all days, he could hardly not try to do his best for his fellow man.

oo—oo—oo

That day was the turning point for Tony. Angus had bought him a coffee, and took the time to speak to him, he didn’t look down on him, he simply listened.

Tony decided he could trust Angus. The whole of Tony’s story came tumbling out. How after he left his regiment he had nowhere to call home. He had no job to turn to, he only knew one thing: how to be a leader of men.

Without examination results and experience in civilian life, he had found it difficult to find a job. With no job, he had no money to bolster his army pension. He ended up living on the streets.

He was sure that there were people he could turn to, but here in Dublin , finding someone he could trust with his story. Someone who could understand his service in the Irish Guards was not so easy.

Today, it was easy. Today, on the lapel of the man who gave him a coffee he had seen the Crowned Lion. He knew that meant he could trust him. He knew that Angus could find help for him.

Together, Angus and Tony made their way to the office of the Royal British Legion, just off Capel Street.

By the end of the day, Tony had somewhere to stay that was indoors. And Angus was searching for opportunities in his company for a leader of men.

The Crowned Lion had worked its magic once more.

 

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