I hunched over my desk, putting on the last details on my little treasure. It was well past midnight, but I wanted every last one finished. I replaced the tiny broken axle with a new one made from the wire of a coat hanger. I opened a miniature door to scrape out the dirt. I brushed fresh paint over the chipped spots. Finished. This toy car was ready to be played with. As well as the robot who could walk again when you turned its key, the game of checkers that had a new set of chips, and the cat plushie who had clean fur, a new nose, and no more holes. All of the toys were added to my collection on my cart. They would be given to children who's parents would much rather spend their sparse money on food.
Speaking of sparse money... "I know you have more than that." His cold voice sent a shiver down my spine after I handed him the money he didn't deserve. "I know you do because somehow you're living off a 'business' that receives no pay. You would call this organization non-profit, wouldn't you?"
Even though the money I handed him each month should not have been his, he would've turned me in as soon as I didn't hand it over. The money was rent. Rent for an abandoned factory that he claimed as his own, supposedly. An empty building that I ate, slept, and worked in. The place that I left to sneak around in the morning, before the cops were out. The walks I took were with my cart that held repaired toys. Toys that were free to any child who asked for one.
"This is all the money I can give you. I need to eat too, you know." Standing up to this man was never an easy task, but it had to be done unless I wanted empty pockets.
"So you do have more." He was almost a head taller and I'd guess he weighed twice as much, too. This man scared me. "Listen, punk. You do what I say when I say it." My bills were crushed in his fists. "Next month, it better be twice this amount!" He stomped out and slammed the door. My door to my home. This is what happened with every payment. I have realized after two years of paying him, the amount didn't matter. No matter how much I handed him, it never made him happy.
I took a step back to appreciate my work on the miniature vehicle. The lamp light reflected off of the wet paint, making it shine. I'd say I deserved a pat on the back for doing such a good job. I carefully placed it on a shelf to dry. That next day, this car would find a new home.
I turned off my lamp and headed upstairs where I spent my time when I wasn't repairing or giving away toys. The second floor had only one room that didn't have gaping holes in the wall. It was the room that could actually heat up in winter when I plugged in my space heater, and never leaked when it rained. The door squeaked as it opened. The lights flickered on after I flipped the switch up. I opened one of my two cupboards to retrieve a can of baked beans. The can-opener did its job and I dumped the contents into my lonely pot. I turned on my portable range and plopped my pot on top. I was no chef.
But what I am is many things. A collector, a scavenger, a repairer, a painter, an inventor, and lastly, a good-doer. The government that ruled these slums would say differently about that. To them I was a criminal, a law breaker, a scum, a thief, a disgrace, but firstly, a nobody. A worthless piece of garbage. I was no different than these toys I found in the streets and garbage piles. But something good always came from them. No matter how beaten up they became, or scraped, or chipped, or even if pieces were missing, I could find a way to make them work. Each one found a home after I fixed them up. I gave them a chance.
Chance. It is my favorite word. I love it even more than the name I was given at birth. I enjoyed hearing it said so much that I replaced my own name with it. Chance was what the poor children and their parents called me. It was what my enemy, the rent collector, and my best friend, another "law breaker" called me. I went by Chance because sometimes that is all I want. A chance is what I need.