Story Time

Man Throws Trash down Garbage Chute, Hears a Kid’s ‘Ouch!’ from the Bottom

A man is dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder while caring for his elderly mother, and in an unusual turn of events, he’s about to have a chance encounter while disposing of trash that will change his life forever. Gustavo is a soldier in the U.S army who was stuck in the middle of the desert that fateful morning, battling between life and death. There wasn’t a single muscle in his body that didn’t ache for rest and screaming pain. Gustavo was wounded in combat, and his military uniform was drenched in blood.

He was only partially conscious but aware of the sharp pain that wouldn’t let him move. At that moment, he had closed his eyes and begged God for death. “All I want is for my mother to be fine when I’m gone,” he whispered in a weird agony and desperation. Then he’d fallen into a deep sleep with no intention of waking up. But Gustavo saw those greenish eyes and pearly smile when he regained consciousness and opened his eyes.

He was inside a small hot build with strong dried grass and was aware that he was lying on a floor on what seemed like a straw man. His chest and left arm were bandaged, and a female figure and a small child sat across from him. Their backs were facing him. “Where am I? Who are you?

Gustavo was grumbling in pain, and the woman and child turned around. “Oh, you’re awake. I hope you’re not a danger,” the woman said, clutching the boy close. “We saved you, saved your life.” “A threat?

No, no, I’m not,” he said, shaking his hand. “You had a gun in one of those uniforms,” the woman added fearfully. “All I ask is that you spare my son and me. You can show us some kindness in return.” “I’m not going to hurt you,” he said.

“I’m not who you think. I can’t trust you,” she said quietly, but Gustavo heard. “I can’t even move,” he cried, trying to get up and collapsing to the floor due to the pain. “Are you a soldier who saves people?” the boy asked.

“That I am,” he said, enclosed his eyes. “That’s exactly who I am. I’m not a threat, Jesus. A real fighter,” the boy asked again. “I worked for the U.

army,” Gustavo almost said, but then his voice succumbed to the pain. “Oh God, trust me. I’m not a threat. In fact, I want to thank you for saving my life. I mean it.

I need to find my comrades, friends, I mean, and return to base camp.” “They left you to die,” the boy said. “Mother and I found you. They’re not your friends,” Gustavo said. “You don’t get to decide that.

Help me get up so I can leave. My comrades need me.” “You must not,” the woman shook her head. “A day’s rest is a must for you. I don’t trust you, but in our culture, you don’t leave an injured man alone.

Gustavo didn’t know why the woman couldn’t seem to trust him, but he was grateful for her help. She introduced herself as Athena and said she was a single mother to the boy Kasim. They lived in a small hut, and she worked as a maid for a living. Gustavo told her he had been attacked by his enemies and had lost consciousness and needed to return to his base camp as soon as possible. The woman assured him he could leave the next day and made him some porridge.

The desert night was cold for Gustavo, and he regretted sleeping on the floor. The cold worsened the pain, and he kept twisting and turning until Kasim noticed him. “You need to ask for a blanket when you’re a cold soldier,” he said, wrapping him with his blanket. “Night night, Gustavo. Please call me by my name, Gustavo San, and thank you.

I’ll be gone tomorrow, but I’ll remember you and Athena. You both saved my life.” But Gustavo didn’t leave them the following day. It would be a week before he was able to walk, and Athena and Kasim were the ones who made it possible. They helped him, and when Gustavo’s military friends tracked him at her hut one morning, Gustavo was hesitant to leave them.

“I’ll remember you both forever,” he told Athena and Kasim. “If you ever need help, and I’m around, you, I will return your kindness. I promise that.” And like that, Gustavo had to leave, Kasim watching their reflection fade away in the rear-view mirror of his military vehicle. After recovering from the injury he suffered on the battlefield, Gustavo wanted to return to his usual life in the Army.

He didn’t have a wife or children but a sick elderly mother back home. Because her treatment was expensive, and his job in the military paid well, Gustavo didn’t even care about the dangers his job entailed. But the young soldier didn’t know how deep of a toll his injury had taken on his physical and mental health. The medical board decided he wasn’t fit for service, and he was sent home. Gustavo was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD.

He hadn’t realized the symptoms soon, but a few days after returning to base camp, he knew something wasn’t right. When he returned home, he knew why he wasn’t well. The battlefield flashbacks and nightmares made Gustavo restless and didn’t let him sleep. He often spent his night sitting beside his mother’s bed and admiring her face while she slept peacefully. “Mom,” he told her one night.

“I want you to get well soon. I miss spending time with you. Can you believe I’m crying right now? Jesus, I wonder if I’ll be able to return to a normal life.” Gustavo’s mother didn’t respond to him that night, and he dozed off on the armchair beside her bed.

The next morning, when he woke up, his mother was sleeping in the same position as the night before, and her right hand was oddly hanging from the bed. Gustavo carefully positioned her hand, and something in his heart made him smile. He knew why he was crying as he hugged his mother’s body and called her mom one last time. After losing his dear mother, nothing in Gustavo’s life was the same. He lost the only person he loved with all his heart, and it made him miserable.

He didn’t sleep, raid, or go out. All he did was watch TV all day and all night. Gustavo’s house, which was once filled with a lovely scent of his mother, now reeked of garbage, meat, and he stank. It seemed like the miseries didn’t want to stop knocking on his door. One morning, three months after losing his mother, Gustavo dared to step outside his house.

He wouldn’t have done it if it hadn’t been for the overflowing bottles and pizza boxes in the house bin or the trashy atmosphere that had begun to irk him. Gustavo collected all the trash in three big black trash bags and finally decided to get rid of them. He walked out the front door and stopped right outside the garbage chute. As he dropped the first bag, he heard an “ouch” from the bottom and almost thought he imagined it until he dropped the second bag and heard a child’s long “ouch” again. “Someone stuck in there?

Hello, can you hear me?” Gustavo peeked into the garbage chute but didn’t see anything inside. “Jesus, the trash can,” he suddenly remembered. Gustavo ran downstairs to the trash bin where the waste was gathered. He rummaged through all sorts of drying liquid waste and noticed a movement in the corner of the can.

Taking a step back, he gasped. “What the hell is that again?” Gustavo found himself staring at a pair of greenish eyes, which he recognized too well. And as the green-eyed figure raised its head, Gustavo recognized its pearly smile. “Kasim, what in the world?

How did you get here, and in the waste disposal machine?” Gustavo asked. “Soldier, the boy cried. Can you help me come out of this?” “Jesus, yeah, yeah, I should.

Gustavo scooped the little boy out of the garbage can and realized he had minor injuries on the arms and legs. “You need first aid. Come with me.” “First aid? I need bandages,” Kasim said.

“It’s part of first aid. I wonder what they teach you in school,” Gustavo replied, scooping the boy in his arms again. Kasim revealed he’d never been to school. “I helped my mother at home,” he said. “I didn’t know I’d meet you here, Soldier.