No one was quite sure what had happened to my uncle during his youth which made him turn out the way he did. At the beginning of his life, Alvin, appeared to be normal but then at about age of five he would drift the streets of the big city when his parents were asleep. He would simply crawl out of his family's apartment window and head down an alley which exited into the streets. Alvin always left about midnight and he would walk the streets in disguise. As he walked he would watch all of the street people. He didn't quite understand what he was seeing when he saw a man sleeping underneath a bus bench or a lady jamming a needle into her arm. And then there were the ladies that dressed with so little clothing. What were they doing? He wondered if they got cold.
Every warm night Alvin would go out and he would always return in a couple of hours. This went on for years and the whole time Alvin's parents had no clue what was going on. In his early teens he had made up his mind that he wanted to be a street person. There was something that he loved about it and as he got older he began to understand that many of the these people were drug addicts and had mental diseases. And that their only income was through collecting bottles or stealing anything they could find and try to convert it into cash by selling it to a pawn broker.
On his 13th birthday Alvin left home permanently without telling his parents. They put in a missing persons report but the police could not find him as he disappeared into the homeless crowd. The whole time that he was on the streets Alvin was smart enough to know the destructive capabilities of drugs and alcohol. He had committed himself to becoming a full time bottle collector. Every night he went out to the alleys and worked his way through the dumpsters block after block and rounded up all of the bottles that he could find. Once he filled a garbage bag he would hide it in the bush and come back for it later. Non stop, Alvin would collect bottles and cash them in.
Alvin loved his existence. He did things his way and that was what mattered to him the most. When he turned 18 he thought about going to see his parents but thought it would be too emotional for them. Several times he had crossed paths with his father on the streets but his father did not recognize him as Alvin now had a very different appearance from when he ran away at the age of 13. He was much older and bigger with a long beard and scraggly hair. He wanted to talk his father when he saw him but everytime he backed away for some unknown reason.
Alvin continued to collect bottles twenty four hours a day. He was proud of himself and he felt that this was his purpose in life. Then one night Alvin went back to his makeshift tent in an alley for a nap. He died in his sleep at the age of 35. The police came to investigate and then checked the missing persons report and identified Alvin as the deceased and notified his parents. The police brought his parents all of his possessions which were few. But there was one posession of interest and that was a heavy briefcase. Alvin's parents placed it on the kitchen table and popped it open.
It was full of cash; 200,000 dollars to be exact. It was the money that Alvin had saved from collecting bottles.