The Uncaring, the Callous, And the Goldseekers
A short story
“Go beg from someone else because you and your child don’t interest me, I’ve got my own problems to look after,” said the man to the homeless woman who had stopped him on the street to ask for a little money to feed her and her young child. And then after giving her a scornful look sauntered away with a tight-lipped smile as the sharp fall wind tugged on his tailored jacket.
“Yeah, yeah, I’ll give you some coins, but you need to get off your lazy ass and find some work to do ‘cause I ain’t gonna help you if you don’t want to help yourself,” growled the heavyset man at the frail old man who stood huddled against the corner of the building. He was wrapped in a heavy and dark dirty overcoat, trying to hide from the bitter New England winds that a surly November brought to the city of Boston. The old man held out a dirty baseball cap and with tired and pleading eyes, had looked at the man who was a warehouse manager and asked for two dollars so that he could buy a cup of coffee and maybe, just maybe, a hotdog. The man reached into his trousers and pulled out a roll of mixed bills and began to go through them as the old man watched. A twenty, a few fives, a lot of tens appeared, and then he found two one dollar bills, and he thrust them into the dirty cap and said. “I ain’t working just to give you my money! Now get outta here and find some work!” And with that he brushed by the old man, nearly knocking him off his feet and in his hurry he didn’t see the worn out crutches leaned against the wall of the building nor did he notice that the man’s feet were bare beneath the frayed sneakers that he wore. And he would never know that the old man had had his kneecap shot off in the first Iraqi war.
The executive took his lunch at the prestigious Denny and Hill Pub along with his female business partner as they discussed their next step on the road to success. In their world image was everything and no price was too high and the company they kept and the establishments they visited reflected that attitude. And as they dined they would occasionally glance out through the heavy paned 17th-century window and observe the life that was moving past. The people hurrying by with upturned collars as the flurries of an oncoming storm heralded its approach, the traffic starting and stopping, but the person across the street seemed to have annoyed the both of them. So spoke the woman to her companion; “It is a shame to see such beggars polluting the image of this district! We really need to do something that such deplorables are not to be found anywhere within our city!” The man, after tapping the corners of his mouth with the cloth napkin, nodded his head in the affirmative.
She continued; “These homeless beggars lost all they had because they’re just too stupid and lazy to lead normal lives, and then they come here, dirtying our fine city with their pitiful acts of groveling and begging.” The man replied, “I have already met with some very influential citizens of this city, and we are all in agreement that laws should be passed prohibiting such unwelcome individuals. A few suggestions were made that could very well put an end to this ‘invasion.’ ” “And what were they?” asked the woman.
He replied, “The suggestion was made to expand the definition of loitering to include begging which would make it illegal for them to stay in any spot for longer than few minutes.” “Sounds effective,” the woman replied as she placed the wine glass to her lips. The man continued, “ A few more were discussed such as closing down three of the five homeless shelters and placing curfews on the rest, let’s say from 10pm to 6am. But the most interesting one is to ban the distribution of free food because it acts like a flame which draws the moths, in this case, these worthless beggars!” “Excellent ideas!” exclaimed the woman as she glanced once again at the object of her indignation across the street barely to be seen as the flurries had now thickened to flakes. The man said, “We are planning to meet with the city council in private along with the Mayor this week, on Thursday, I believe, and from what I already know, they like our proposals.” The woman said, “It’s about time that this city lives and shows its reputation for having fine tastes in the arts, real estate, and other luxuries and we need to deport these stains which mar our city. After all, we are far above them in all areas, and the sooner they recognize that the easier it will be to place our wills upon them, to include the lower classes who reside here.” And with that, they raised their glasses in agreement.
Edward L Ordway