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“Trick or treat! Trick or treat! Trick or treat,” dancing around her and taunting her in a wild melee of mean spirited activity, disguised in Halloween masks, the four teenage boys screamed their hatred at her.
I was stunned. I couldn’t believe my eyes. It took me a second to react to what they were doing and to what I was seeing, before I went into action. Only, it was too late. They had already pushed her to the pavement and taken her bag of cans.
“Hey! Stop that! Get away from her! Leave her alone.”
I ran to where the group of boys had knocked the old woman down. At first I thought she was just another kid dressed in costume trick or treating for Halloween. Only, her perceived bag of candy was a bag of collected cans for their deposit. Certainly, she had enough problems without having to be targeted for this shit.
As I neared, I realized she was a homeless woman. By her raggedy appearance and weathered, wrinkled skin, she was a witch of a woman. Dressed in dark colored torn and tattered rags, she looked really old. No doubt, living on the street made her look older than her age. Still, she looked as if those cans were all she had. Fearing the worst, I ran up to her expecting she had hit her head on the sidewalk or broken her arm or hip in the fall.
“Are you okay? Let me help you up. Careful. Are you injured? Is anything broken? Do you want me to call for an ambulance?”
“I’m okay, thank you,” she said squeezing my hand to raise herself from a lying position to a sitting one, while looking up at me to give me a sad, little smile. “I got the little bastards,” she said with a spiteful twinkle in her eye. “I got them. I took five from each of them and that’s twenty for you,” she said, as if she had been victorious in battle.
Clutching her left hand tightly, as if holding a trapped fly and not wanting whatever she held in it to escape, she raised her hand to my face for me to see and smiled. As I leaned in closer to see what she held, she inhaled and blew.
“From one to another, from bad boys to a good man, I give this gift to you for a good deed done,” she said.
In a puff of her foul breath, she blew whatever was in her hand in my eyes, but there was nothing but air and the stench of her bad breath. At least, at the time, I thought that there was nothing and that her hand was empty, but I was pleasantly surprised, shocked actually, to discover later that it wasn’t.
“Let me help you to stand,” I said gently helping her up from the sidewalk.
“Those cans were my supper tonight. Such a waste of time and energy. I spent my day collecting them and was just on my way to the store to cash them in and buy some food,” she said, as if talking to herself.
“I’m sorry,” I said. “I’m so sorry.”
“Don’t you worry,” she said. “Those little bastards thought they got the better of me, but I fixed them. They’ll never even know enough to be sorry for pushing me down and stealing my cans, until it’s too late,” she said looking at me and waving her finger to pontificate her words. “I took something they can never get back, they’re all short lived now,” she said giving me a nod, as if expecting my acknowledgment, when I had no idea what she was saying.
“Here,” I said pulling a twenty from my pocket, putting it in her hand, and wrapping her fingers around it.
“I can’t take this,” she said without even looking at the denomination of the bill.
“Please, I insist. I’ll sleep better tonight, knowing you’ve had something to eat.”
“Thank you,” she said opening her hand and realizing that I had given her a twenty, instead of what most people give the homeless, a dollar or some spare change. “Twenty dollars for twenty years. Many a man would pay a lot more for what I just gave you, but you’re kind, very kind, I can see that in your face. You’re a generous soul even, the type who’d give someone the shirt off your back without knowing the gift I gave you. Thank you,” she said again.
“You’re welcome,” I said giving her a smile.
“What comes around goes around and finally it comes around to you,” she said with a wicked laugh and waving her crooked finger in a circle in the air over her head, before jabbing her long, dirty fingernail in my chest. The static shock of her finger made me feel, as if I was being jabbed with an electric needle and a sudden rush of energy surge through my veins like adrenaline. Supercharged, instantly, I felt invigorated.
“If only it was that easy,” I said, then more people would step up and do the right thing, instead of sticking their heads in the sand, pretending they didn’t see, and not getting more involved for fear they’ll be inconvenienced.
“I bet you’re like that all the time, a good Samaritan, helping those in need and not expecting anything in return. Only, it’s about time that someone, who’s as good as you have been to others be rewarded, too. It’s your turn.” She looked at me and smiled. “This is your lucky day. You’ll thank your stars you met me.”
Figuring she had been escort bostancı drinking and/or hit her head on the sidewalk in her fall, I had no idea what she was going on about. Maybe she was senile, maybe she was crazy, but whatever she was, she was talking nonsense and I was eager to deposit her somewhere, once I was assured myself that she was feeling better and okay to be left alone.
“I can walk with you a way, until you’re more steady on your feet. Where do you live?”
Wishing I could take back the words, as soon as I said them, I felt dumb. Where do you live? Look at her. She’s in rags, carrying all she has in a little wooden bucket. She’s homeless. She lives on the street, no doubt, in some doorway or under a bridge with cardboard for a bed and mice and roaches for pets instead of a cat and a dog.
I should have a problem. Compared to her plight, compared to the misery that is her day, I’m lucky. Here I was feeling sorry for myself for being alone and lonely, after my wife left me for some home improvement contractor, and this poor woman doesn’t even have a roof over her head, a bed to sleep in, and food to eat. I’d be cranky and miserable if my cable went out for a few hours and this woman goes without everything, food, water, shelter, and a toilet every day. I can’t imagine how endures it all. I can’t imagine how she survives.
Feeling that we meet the people we do for a reason and sometimes don’t always discover why someone crosses our path when they do, until it’s too late, I wondered what the reason was I was meeting this bag lady. Maybe there was none. As simple as this, maybe the reason having her in my life was to make me feel grateful for what I have.
For two years, I’ve been focusing on what I don’t have, namely my wife, and compared to this old, homeless woman, I have so much. I have a good life. I have everything that I need. Maybe meeting this woman is just want I need to get over the breakup of my marriage and get my head back on straight enough to continue my life without her and to find someone else to love. Wouldn’t that be great to find a woman to talk to, laugh with, and to hold, hug, kiss, and to love?
“Whoa,” she said, suddenly looking, as if she was about to keel over. “Sorry, but I suddenly feel so dizzy.”
I reached out my hand and caught her by her arm, before she fell.
“Have you eaten anything?” She looked at me, as if she didn’t understand my words. “Have you had anything to eat?”
She looked the way my mother used to look, when she couldn’t remember if she had taken her medication. And I always wished people had paid my Mom the same courtesy then, that I was paying this woman now, when my Mom fell dead in the street and people walked by her and stepped over her, figuring she was drunk. Dead before even hitting the pavement, said the medical examiner after the autopsy, she died of a massive heart attack.
Someone even stole her purse on the pretense of stopping to help her. They had his image on video camera surveillance installed by the police high up on a building, but the black and white photo was so grainy that it was useless in trying to identify the man. Because my Mom had no identification, she spent days lying in the morgue with a Jane Doe toe tag, while I was crazy out of my mind trying to find her.
“Let’s go in here,” I said motioning to a little cafe where we were stopped in front of, while waiting for her to regain her sense of balance.
“Oh, no, I can’t go in there. It’s cursed,” she said pulling away from me, taking a step back, and closing and buttoning her sweater. She brushed off her sleeves, but they were so caked with hair, dirt, and city grime that it didn’t make any difference.
“Why can’t you go in here?”
“They won’t serve someone like me, not the way I look,” she said looking down at herself and then at me with an embarrassed smile. “I asked to use the bathroom here once, and the owner refused. I had to go so badly that I had an accident in my pants later, but I fixed him, too.”
It was more than a bit disconcerting, whenever she said she fixed people. In the way she said it made me wary of her and I assumed she was mentally ill. Nonetheless, I was anxious to help her, so that she wouldn’t feel the need to fix me, too. Perhaps, her blood sugar was low and that was making her say strange things. She’d feel better, no doubt, after a hot meal.
“Here,” I said taking off my jacket and putting it over her shoulders. “They’ll serve you, so long as you’re with me, a paying customer,” I said pulling her along. “C’mon, you’ll feel better with some hot food in your stomach.”
There was a metal box mounted to the wall with the photo of a man, the owner of the restaurant, who had suddenly taken ill. He was in the hospital in a coma and his family were asking for donations from customers to help defray his medical costs. Suddenly, after seeing his photo and being sensitive to his plight, feeling somewhat like there go I before God, I ümraniye escort put in all the spare change I had, about three dollars worth.
Then, I wondered if this bag lady had somehow caused him to take ill, maybe that was how she fixed him. Nah, it was just a terrible coincidence is all. She’s just talking ragtime. The fact that it was Halloween night was causing me to read more into her and into this than there was. Surely, she wasn’t a witch. Surely she was someone’s grandmother, mother, wife, sister and daughter.
We walked inside and I grabbed a table, a corner booth that was a distance away from the other patrons and that looked more comfortable than the little bistro chairs they had situated in front of the big, bay window that looked out over the busy city street and where most customers preferred to sit and people watch. Besides, I needed more room than those little bistro tables for the food I had planned on ordering to fatten her up and for her to take the leftovers with her to wherever it was she called home.
The waitress came over and looked at her, before looking at me and looking back at her again. I could tell she wanted to say something, but she didn’t. She looked at me again, smiled, and handed us the menus.
“The specials are on the insert,” she said opening the menu. “We have something different every day. Today is beef stew, where the chef takes the leftovers from the week and puts it all in a big pot, but it’s really good and it’s loaded with tender beef. Unlike the beef stews of other restaurants, there’s more beef in our beef stew than carrots and potatoes.”
I looked over at my dinner guest and smiled.
“Do you like beef stew?”
“I love beef stew,” she said.
“Let’s start off with two beef stews and can you bring us some bread, lots of bread and butter, extra butter and coffee?”
“Sure,” she said giving me a warm smile. “I’ll take care of you, as if you’re my relatives,” she said putting a hand on the old woman’s shoulder and patting her.
“What’s your name,” I asked my dinner guest?
“Ruth, but everyone calls me Bucket,” she said giving me a smile that showed her missing teeth. “Bucket is my street name. We all have street names.” She looked at me and smiled. “What’s your name?”
“And what’s your street name?”
“I don’t have a street name.”
“We all have street names,” she said again, this time in a way that evoked my imagination of the multitude of street names that must be out there on the street attached to some of the characters, who live on the street and who have a story to tell.
I admit, it was fun suddenly trying to think of a street name for myself, something that summed up my life in a word or phrase, much in the way of the American Indians of old, Sitting Bull or Running Bear or Crazy Legs. I felt like a kid again when we all used to pick a baseball player to emulate or the name of an Indian when matched against a cowboy, such as Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, or the Cisco Kid, in my day. None of us wanted to be the Indian. We all wanted to be the cowboy, just as none of us wanted to be the Japanese or the German soldier, we all wanted to be Audie Murphy, the Congressional Medal of Honor winner, and the war hero.
“Sorry, but I don’t have a street name, but I do have a last name.”
“Nah, last names don’t mean squat on the street,” she said waving a dirty hand at me and making me feel like she was going to spit. “You gotta have a street name, otherwise no one will know who you are and where you live,” she said looking amazed, shocked even, that I didn’t have a street name.
It was an interesting concept, instead of using last names and addresses on mail boxes of houses, these street urchins had a colorful street name that identified one homeless person from another.
“You make me wish I had a street name,” I said with a smile, “but I don’t. Sorry.”
“I’ll give you one,” she said with a wry smile. She looked at me, as if she knew all along what my street name would be. “Second chance.”
“Second chance? Why that?”
“You’ll see,” she said with a laugh. “You’ll see,” she said raising a finger to her forehead and giving me a yellowed smile full of missing teeth. “And won’t you be surprised when you do,” she said laughing out loud at her private joke. “Yes you will.”
There she goes talking ragtime again. I was wishing the waitress would at least appear with some bread and butter to regulate her blood sugar, so she’d stop talking in riddles. She just wasn’t making any sense.
“Bucket? Why that?”
“Oh, it’s a long story that has to do with a wishing well, where I once lived. Only, my house burned down and I had no insurance,” she said suddenly looking so sad. “They said it was an accident, but it was arson and I fixed the ones who burned down my house. I made them rue the day they ever crossed me. I fixed them,” she said wagging her finger, as if scolding the ones who she thought burned down her house.
“Fixed them, kartal escort bayan what do you mean, fixed them?”
“It’s best you don’t know,” she said slowly shaking her head from side to side. “I don’t like to disrespect the dead by talking about them,” she said.
Her words sent chills down my spine. Did she kill these people? Is that how she fixed them? Am I sitting across from a murderer, who has access to a knife sitting by her fork and spoon?
“How did you fix them,” I said taking her knife away and placing it closer to my knife.
“I just did. I did what I had to do after they burnt my house to the ground in a pile of ash and rubble. All that was left of my home is this bucket that I found at the bottom of my wishing well. I carry it around with me everywhere I go, as my reminder of what I used to have and what I now do without,” she said reaching down and holding up a little blue bucket. “That’s me, Bucket.”
“Okay,” I said figuring she was talking more ragtime and not knowing what else to say, I just nodded my head and listened.
Not being a psychologist or a psychiatrist, she made me wish I had never stopped to help her, but I was glad that I had, nonetheless. It made me feel more human and more importantly, it made me feel that I was helping her, as a way of making a silent statement to those who didn’t help my mother. Truly, in that way, I felt as if I was helping my mother by breaking the cycle of not being sensitive to the needs of others.
She was right, what comes around goes around and I could only hope that when it came back around to me, I’d receive some of the good karma that I gave in helping others. Only, I knew better. It doesn’t work that way. It never works that way. Wouldn’t it be nice if life was that easy and that evenly balanced, tit for tat, with good deeds added to a tally and rewarded and the good guys finally winning over the bad guys.
Not paying as much attention as I should have been paying to my guest, I was suddenly more taken with the waitress. She was a cutie, tall, blonde, and thin, but still very shapely. Moreover, she was nice. She had a nice face. Only, I was too old for her. Old enough to be her father, I was fifty-two and she was no more than thirty.
Ruth saw me watching the waitress. The more I watched the waitress, the more I wished I was younger. I wanted her or I wanted something that I saw in her. Youth perhaps. Certainly, I wasn’t looking for sex, but I’d take that to not be alone for another night. I wanted more than that. I wanted love. Maybe, I was trying to live up to my new street name and wished for a chance with this attractive waitress and after being dumped by my wife for another man, my second chance at love.
“You like her, don’t you,” Ruth asked me, just as the waitress delivered our beef stews.
“Careful, they’re very hot,” said the waitress setting down the stews, the extra bread and butter, and a pitcher of water.
“She’s very good looking,” I said, after the waitress walked away, with me watching her leave. “But she’s much too young for me.”
“She does have a sweet ass,” said Ruth with a laugh. “I used to have an ass like that, a lifetime ago, as ripe as a piece of fruit.”
Embarrassed that she saw me staring at the waitress’s ass, for some reason, I needed for her to believe that I wasn’t that kind of guy.
“It’s not so much her physical appearance, as there’s just something about her that I like.”
“You’re such a liar. The thing you like about her is her body. She’s got a rack and you’d love to bang her, if you could,” she said moving her hand back and forth, as if it was my cock ramming in the waitresses pussy.
As if she had thrown her glass of water in my face, her words shocked me. To hear this homeless, old woman speak so vulgar about this waitress, as I was talking with another guy in a barroom was disconcerting to say the least.
“No,” I said, while thinking, good God, yes, I’d love to make love to her, even to bang her, if I could. I would fuck her for hours, she’s so very beautiful in every way.
“Admit it, you’d love for her to suck your cock,” she said swiping her tongue across her lips and ruining whatever image I may have had a chance of receiving of the waitress blowing me, replaced with Ruth blowing me.
“Stop, please, stop. That’s so rude,” I said suddenly and desperately replacing the image of Ruth sucking my cock with the waitress sucking my cock. I’ll be masturbating over that image, when I return home tonight, no doubt.
“I can see you with her,” said Ruth. “Mark my words. It will happen, but it won’t happen on its own. It’s up to you to make it happen,” she said pointing her crooked finger at me. “She’ll open the door, but it’s up to you to walk in and take want you want. The opportunity may be presented to you, but it won’t be given to you, unless you take it,” she said opening and closing her hand, as quick as a clam closing its shell and grabbing its food.
There she goes again talking nonsense. I was hoping the food would work its magic and raise her blood sugar because her foolish conversation was more than tiresome. I was feeling annoyed, uncomfortable really, knowing full well that I’d have no chance in Hell winning the interest of this lovely waitress.
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