He hated the homeless. Why should he feel guilty about wearing a suit, and having a good job in the financial market? After all he worked hard for his money. Even when he wasn’t working he was working, at home on the computer, or on the phone. He was always trying to find out which way the market was leaning.
Yet every day there they were, with their signs, saying “Need Food, God bless”. Each one seemed to have a particular corner, like a salesman with a territory. He wondered if they ever fought over which corner to be on.
He noticed one of them in particular, on the corner of Independence and Main Street. He was an old man, and had to be at least 70 years old. What was he doing out here? He was much too old to be out in this weather. He always needed a shave and a bath, and wasn’t there some kind of government program to help the man? Even with these thoughts though, he never gave a dime. He rushed past the old man every day in a hurry, to get to his office around the corner.
On the day after Christmas though he thought he would do the kind thing, and talk to the man. He slowed down his walking pace, and stopped. The old man seemed to be in a daze, and didn’t notice him. He had a walking cane, and instead of holding his sign up, it hung by his side. “Hellooo!” he said sarcastically. The old man looked up slowly, and squarely into eyes.
He found out the man’s name was Gordon. When he asked the old man about his Christmas (which was stupid, and he regretted saying it) the old man said, “Christmas? What Christmas?” Did he know what day it was? This was worse than he thought, and he realized this man needed help! For the first time in his life he was able to pry his wallet from his back pocket, and gave the old man a ten dollar bill. The old man thanked him, but was mumbling something as he walked away. Did he hear him say something about the Viet Cong?
Over the next few days the old man’s mumbling and acting confused got worse. At one point he was yelling the name Beverly. “Beverly!”, with streams of tears rolling down his face, “Beverly!” What should he do for the old man? Should he call someone? Who? The police? That didn’t seem right. The old man dropped to his knees, and sobbed.
He was already late for an appointment, so walked he further down, near the door to his office, but he could not do it. He just didn’t care about the office right now. He turned to watch the man from a distance, still weeping, and calling the name Beverly.
Suddenly the old man stood up with terror in his eyes, leaning over his walking cane, and started yelling, “Enemy fire!” “Enemy fire, get down everyone!” “Help us God!” “Get down!” He was yelling at the top of his lungs now, “Enemy fiiiiire!”
He could stand it no longer and reached for his phone. He dialed 911 with tears in his own eyes.
The conclusion to the Old Man on the Corner next time!
Writing © Copyright 2014, nicodemasplusthree