Lee of Tossing It Out issued the following call to arms:
YOUR CHALLENGE is to write max 500 word piece or a poem about any character who loses an item that when found by another results in their mutual happiness/relief/salvation.
The piece that follows played like a movie in my head as I read his challenge. Then I went on to read his short story. While mine bears a resemblance to his (both happen on a public street, involve lost money, a car and a homeless person), it was fully thought out (although not written down) before reading his.
I almost didn't bother, but figured, what the heck. This is actually the first piece of prose I've actually finished since the Reagan administration!
So here goes...
As I headed north on Market Street towards the parking garage, my throat felt dry in the August Philadelphia heat. My eyes fell on a street vendor, and I pulled my wallet out of my back pocket.
“Diet coke,” I grunted, not making eye contact. You never make eye contact in the city. That’s a sign of weakness.
As I pulled a dollar out of my wallet, I did not notice as my last twenty, the same twenty dollars that would get my car out of the garage, fluttered to the ground. A breeze caught the bill and blew it into the shadows next to the vendor’s cart, near where a bag lady was sleeping.
I cracked open the can and felt the caffeine rush as the ice cold beverage slid down towards my stomach.
I continued towards my car waiting to be paroled, pausing at the corner as a taxicab careened into a left turn, and then jogging across to avoid being pancaked by the cross-street traffic. You also do not want to dare the drivers in downtown Philly-they’d just as soon see you maimed rather than miss the light.
I made it to the garage without incident. A few minutes later, as I pulled down the ramp towards the cashier, I opened my wallet.
I cursed aloud. Either I gave my last twenty the vendor or it dropped on the ground when I paid him. I cursed again.
Oh well, the garage took credit cards-this was not the end of the world. And I sure as hell was not going to go back for twenty dollars that would not be there anyway.
Two blocks south, the bag lady stirred, waking the scrawny kitten that was curled up at her hip.
She saw the twenty dollar bill a few feet away, glanced furtively around her, and reached a gnarled hand out to grab it before anyone noticed.
Today, both she and the cat would eat well.
"Like a fly batters itself against the window
Time and again and again it senselessly blunders
Up and down the length of West Broadway
The bag lady wanders"