Looking for some thoughts and wisdom.
I'm looking for any kind of feedback on the structure and story. For those of you who read the story and give input thank you so very much. Please let me know if you like it or not. I appreciate you taking the time. 1200 words.
Greg Perez Sr.
Why am I slowing down?
I never stop.
Don’t stop, keep walking.
Listen to me, I’m such an$1***$2
I offered an awkward hello.
He was quiet, an elderly man sitting on a park bench not asking for anything. There was just a hint of need coming from his palsied hands; in them, he held a blue tin cup, flecked with white. Taking a hand off the cup, he combed back his hair with his thick fingers, looked up at me and smiled as if had been waiting an eternity to hear another’s voice. My eyes scanned the old man over; his aged, tattered sport coat was stained with spots of chalky white from sleeping on the bench I assumed he currently claimed as a home. The bench was randomly painted with the droppings of pigeons that shared the man’s space. I leaned forward to peek into the cup to see how his day had been going; coins just barely covered the bottom.
I don’t know why I looked around but I felt as if I was breaking the park’s code by helping the man out. I would do it anyway. I reached into my back pocket for my wallet. A twenty, folded in half was tucked tightly inside and would pay for my morning coffee and bagel. As the quiet man looked on, I gave a dumb smile and placed the wallet back into my rear pocket. Digging deep into the front pocket I swirled my hand around and captured thirty-five cents. Guilt flushed my soul. The man would hear the two small coins hit the bottom of the cup and think of me as cheap. I dropped the change into the cup thinking at least now he has more than he did had I not stopped. The man lifted his head to show me cloudy, defeated eyes. “Sorry, best I can do right now.” I said. The man smiled. I smiled back but felt the moment as awkward and decided to walk away. The man cleared his throat and spoke in a sincere gravelly voice that caught my leaving attention.
“Thank you for your generosity sir.”
I looked back. “You’re welcome. No worries, right?” I replied, a few steps away.
“Not for you sir, no worries.”
After daylight had expired to the dimness of evening, I sat alone at the restaurant table. My plate smothered in lasagna sauces, my stomach full and satisfied I sat back in my seat and observed the people trundle about through life. My mind could not get over what the old man had said to me. He was right, I had no worries. My rent was covered, my job paid well, and I had friends that would help me out in any situation. Yet alone I was, having dinner for one.
Thirty-five cents I thought, ‘generosity’ my$1***$2/i>, my mind began to race with what I could do for the man. I could buy him dinner and bring it to his bench. Sit with him while he ate and perhaps listen to some of his stories. In the end, I could give him a twenty for his time the twenty I should have given earlier and know that he would be without worries for one night at least. I smiled, I felt great.
It wasn’t long before the old man’s food came to the table, hot, packed in a foam container, and bagged neatly. As I wrote in the tip to the server, I again thought of how generous I could be giving slightly over the recommended tip of twenty percent. As I walked out the door I jogged across the street to the bank machine took out twenty dollars and began to light up with a feeling of worth. I was taking action. I was branching off from the norm and going out of my way for what I would call my good deed of the day.
The early autumn night set its darkness upon the city quickly. Fears unfamiliar came rushing in to my mind as I realized I had not walked the park at night alone in years. I had become so accustomed to staying in or riding in a cab. “No worries.” I said to myself aloud giving in to a nervous little chuckle. The park was dimly lit in shades of a dull orange. With the bench in sight, I could already imagine the smile on his face, the satisfaction of having a hot meal in his belly. I had a smile growing to no end; warmth was spreading over my skin and happiness enveloped me.
As I reached the bench, I noticed the same speckled coat pulled over his head as he laid there. “Excuse me…Sir?” I said softly. A slight movement came from within the coat covering him. I waited in anticipation of the deep welcoming voice of the gray haired man. He remained silent. “Sir…I brought you some food.” I blinked hard to recognize what I was seeing, the darkness was misleading to most of my senses.
The light was just far enough away to cast my faint shadow over the man as he sat up and the coat fell to the ground. My happiness was gone. I was standing there just feet away from the bench in shock and confusion. “Oh…I…I thought you were someone else, I’m sorry to disturb you. I was looking for an old man that was here earlier. I have some food for him, for you if you’d like. I…I was going to give it to the old man, but please why don’t you take it.”
The younger man before me was now propped on the edge of the bench. Though he remained a shadow, I observed his every move. When I saw his hands move into the front pocket of his dark hoodie I knew as much to step back. I had figured he was a damaged soul by the smirk on his face. I looked around hoping to see someone else. “Do I look hungry to you? Did I ask you to bring me food? I didn’t ask you to wake me up. Did I? You got money?”
“You can have it; all I have is a twenty. Again, I was going to give it to the old man. Here.” I pulled the bill from my front pocket and extended it out to the man. “Here.”
He jumped from the edge the bench and lashed out with a knife he was concealing in the hoodie. His swipe at my extended arm connected, opening my wrist with his steel. Heated life fell and speckled the dark, cold concrete below. I hissed in pain, dropped the food and money and began to step backwards with my arms surrendering in the air, blood now tickling my forearm. With a staggered haste I began running away back to the glowing lights of the city. I felt freedom for two or three paces before I was penetrated by the dull tip of the blade repeatedly. Falling to my knees as fast as the tears fell from my eyes I saw light, the light of day when I could have given the old man more. I felt a probing hand dig deep into my back pants pocket tugging out my empty wallet. My smile had long since faded and I felt warmth spreading over my skin like a wet blanket of sadness. Coughing and spitting, the warmth was leaving me. I heard an echoing of the old man’s words in my mind. Not for you sir. As my body faded, and my soul began to drift asleep, indeed, I had no worries.