(I wrote this for a Creative Writing assignment in college. It’s based on a true character I met in downtown Panama City. If it sounds vaguely familiar then you probably have met him…)
I dropped the Washington into his lap as he rose to his feet boldly.
His bony cold grip surprised me
almost more than the living, determined gaze of those beady blue pellets,
set against the cracked and weathered wallpaper.
I pretended to listen intently
Even in these blazing dog days.
I guess I can stretch out my good deed for the day.
“Son! There is hope for you,
Stop slouching towards Gomorrah with the rest of this nation!”
One stubborn solitary tooth
Stood as a lighthouse beacon in his barking mouth
As each word dripped with conviction no preacher had ever known
His dangling cattle prod of a finger
Punctuated every exhortation into my sternum
“Moral degenerates!” “The Second Coming is imminent!”
I began to see and almost believe
“It’s coming! Yes it’s coming!”
“Go, sell all you have and follow me!”
My senses immediately crashed back into the sidewalk below me
“You!” This poor and rejected Raggedy Anne of a man?
“You?” With those corduroys that barely reach your shins?
“Are we finished here yet?”
The first look of defeat resonated in his cerulean stones.
He set the dollar bill at my feet
and calmly descended into the shadows;
Remerging briefly to straddle his trademark
and pedal back off into obscurity.
Back in my hallow shell of security
I locked her doors from the outside
and wondered, “Am I the crazy one?”
Was this our last chance to heed the prophet’s final warnings?
He wanted no hand-out
just to be heard.
So I cranked up the only sure thing I knew, barely turning over;
And resolved in my mind
to never give a dollar to a homeless person again.