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Old 05-23-2012, 09:06 AM
mprice (Offline)
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The nameless man sat on the corner of 3rd and Park, shaking a tin can at people as they passed by. A cardboard sign was propped up on his shins, which read: Hungry – Money 4 Food Wanted!

Occasionally someone would drop a quarter into his coin bank, and continue walking as the smell of stale cigarettes, booze, and body odor assaulted the hollows of their nose.

A gray beard hung down to the man’s chest, and had taken on a hint of brown from all of the grime that had collected in its unwashed bristles. Dry skin flaked around the edges of the man’s nose, which looked irritated and red from years of exposure to the harsh temperament of nature.

“Get a job,” said a random man, as he walked past the withered hand that was shaking a few loose coins. “You can’t expect handouts!”

The homeless man raised his head, and focused his brilliant blue eyes on the man in the business suite. He shook his head in sorrow, and continued rattling the coins in his can.

“You’re new around here aren’t you?” asked a soft voice.

The homeless man looked up, and saw a woman dressed in rags standing next to him. Like him, she was clearly homeless. He could tell from her famished frame that she had spent many long years on the streets. Her unkempt hair was pulled back into a pony tail, and held in place by a brown rubber band that looked as if it could snap at any moment.

A little boy walking with his mom passed by, and dropped two dimes into the tin can.

“God bless you,” said the homeless man, before returning his attention to the woman next to him. “I just got here today.” He scooted over, giving the woman a place to sit next to him.

“You’re begging in a bad part of town,” said the woman, placing her hands on her thin hips. “Most of the people around here don’t give to charity cases like us.” She waved her hand outward, and nodded to people as they passed by. “Scum of the earth, we are… In their opinion any way.”

“You think differently?” asked the homeless man.

“Of course,” said the woman, sitting down next to the man. “We are just less fortunate than them. Had a harder life than them. Not everyone can be born into a good family, or be given the best shot at a future.”

“So you feel you are just unlucky?” asked the man. He shook his can at a woman, as she passed by the two people sitting on the corner. The woman didn’t even look at them, and pretended that they weren’t there. “It’s easier for them to ignore a problem than see it….”

“Unlucky?” asked the woman. “I would say more along the lines of cursed.”

“Do you truly believe God curses people?” asked the man, turning his head to look at the woman.

“I don’t know,” the woman admitted. “Sometimes I feel that way.”

“Have you ever prayed for help?” asked the man.

“I haven’t prayed in a very long time,” said the woman. The corners of her mouth drooped down, more clearly defining the age lines beside her lips. “The one time I prayed the hardest I was given only silence.”

The man watched the woman for a few moments. He tucked some of his gray hair behind his ear, and scratched at the dry skin around his face while he waited for her to continue.

“I don’t think God answers prayers,” she said, nodding her head to confirm her statement. “I think he has given up on us.”
The man patted the woman on the leg, and she recoiled at his touch.

“I’m not going to hurt you,” said the man, pulling his hand away. “I didn’t mean to frighten you.”

“It’s not you,” said the woman, smiling at the man. “Like I said earlier – not all of us have had such a lucky life. My father wasn’t the nicest man that has ever walked the earth. And the husband I married was a carbon copy of him.”

“Why did you marry him?” asked the man. He poured out the contents of his can, and counted the change he had collected.

“He was nice at first,” said the woman, as she fetched a half smoked cigarette that a person threw on the ground. She took a drag from the filter, and exhaled the white smoke slowly through her nose. She offered the paper tube to her new friend, who waved it away. “He became abusive after we got married.”

“I’m sorry to hear that,” said the man, dumping the coins back into his can. “How did you become homeless?”
The woman fidgeted with the edge of her shirt, gently tucking the edges of the fabric under her fingernails.

“I got pregnant,” she said, not looking up at the man. The woman’s breathing became labored as she fought back tears. The memory of her past was so strongly rooted in her mind, the emotional wounds still felt fresh. “One night Bernie, that was my husband, had been drinking. He pushed me down a flight of stairs when I told him I would be having his child….”

“I’m sorry,” said the man. “We don’t have to talk about this if you don’t want to.”

“It’s ok,” said the woman. “For some reason I feel compelled to talk. Maybe I’ve keept this bottled up too long.”

“Go ahead then,” said the man.

The woman took another long drag from her cigarette, and then thumped it away.

“I woke up in the hospital two days later,” said the woman, wiping away a tear from her eye. “I had a mild concussion, two broken ribs, and had lost the baby.

“My neighbors had seen Bernie leave the house in a hurry, and had come to check on me. They found me laying at the foot of the stairs. They called 9-1-1, and the cops arrested Bernie a few miles away from the house… He’s still in prison for attempted murder.

“I had been a stay at home wife for years. When Bernie went to prison I went to get a job, but wasn’t qualified for anything good. I lost the house, and moved into an apartment. Shortly after that I had a total nervous breakdown, and lost even that.

“Before I knew it, I was on the street.”

“I’m sorry all of that has happened to you,” said the man. “Maybe now would be a good time to pray for help.”

“I told you,” said the woman, pursing her lips. “I don’t pray. God doesn’t answer.”

A man walked by and dropped two dollars into the man’s can.

“God bless you,” said the homeless man, smiling up.

“If you think prayer helps so much,” said the woman, “why don’t you pray to get yourself off the streets?”

“That’s not needed,” said the man.

“What’s not needed?” asked the woman. “Prayer? You have been sitting here telling me to pray, and you say it isn’t needed…. That’s a laugh.”

“No,” said the man. “You don’t understand. I don’t need to because I can leave these streets anytime I like. I’m here to answer other people’s prayers.”

The woman widened her eyes and looked at the man. “What do you mean?”

“I am God,” said the man. He shook her can at her. “Each person who gives me money, I answer their prayers.

“For example: a stock trader passed earlier, and told me to ‘get a job.’ Today his portfolio will crash because of his lack of charity. A little boy gave me his daily allowance, and for that he will win a new bicycle that he has been wanting. The old man who gave me two dollars will receive a new kidney that he has needed. The woman that passed us without looking at us will not get the new job she has been hoping for.”

“Well,” said the woman. “I see why you are homeless now.”

“Laugh if you will,” said the man. “But what if I’m telling you the truth?”

“Then I’d ask why you have let all of these bad things happen to me,” said the woman. “Why you continued to let Bernie abuse me when I prayed to you for him to stop.”

“He isn’t hurting you anymore is he?” asked the man.

“No,” snapped the woman. “That’s because he tried to kill me, and ended up killing my baby instead – you insensitive old prick! When I found out I was pregnant, I prayed that my child would never know the pain that I have felt during my life!”

“And now she is in heaven,” said the old man. “She has been given a mansion of her own, and will never know of the hardships of this world. You will see her again. And please, don’t use such horrible language.”

“Fine,” said the woman. “You know what I pray for?”

“What is that?” asked the man.

The woman dipped her hands into her pockets, and removed a wad of one dollar bills. She stuffed them into the man’s can.

“That’s all the money I own,” she said. “So if you are God, and you answer prayers, I want to have enough money to buy a house and start my life over. Be happy, and have a family of my own. I’m only thirty five. I don’t deserve to live like this!”
The old man stood up, and removed the cash from his can, and stuffed it into his pockets. He smiled down at the woman.

“I’ll be happy to answer your prayers,” said the man. “Now that you have given all that you have in the chance that I am who I say I am – I will reward your faith.”

A bus came to a stop beside the curb, and let off a few passengers. The man stepped inside. He turned and fetched a nickel from his can, and tossed it to the woman who caught in her fist.

“I believe the lottery is up to five million right now, If I’m not mistaken,” he said. “And no one has claimed it yet.”

“Yeah,” said the woman. “So?”

“You’re sitting on the winning ticket,” said the man, winking at the woman.
The doors of the bus closed, the man sat down next to the window. He waved to the woman as the air brakes released and the bus darted off.

The woman reached under her bottom, and felt her fingers contact a leaf of paper. She pulled it out, and laughed as she realized it was a lottery ticket.

She stuffed the slip of paper into her pocket, and walked to the nearest quick-mart. She checked the numbers on her slip, and began crying when she realized her prayers had been answered.


Last edited by mprice; 05-23-2012 at 09:09 AM..
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  #2  
Old 05-23-2012, 09:37 AM
mprice (Offline)
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Sorry about some of the lack of spacing in the lower part. If I tried to edit them, I'd have to respace everything
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  #3  
Old 05-23-2012, 09:39 AM
Cityboy (Offline)
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Originally Posted by mprice View Post
The nameless man sat on the corner of 3rd and Park, shaking a tin can at people as they passed by. A cardboard sign was propped up on his shins, which read: Hungry – Money 4 Food Wanted!

Occasionally someone would drop a quarter into his coin bank, and continue walking as the smell of stale cigarettes, booze, and body odor assaulted the hollows of their nose.

A gray beard hung down to the man’s chest, and had taken on a hint of brown from all of the grime that had collected in its unwashed bristles. Dry skin flaked around the edges of the man’s nose, which looked irritated and red from years of exposure to the harsh temperament of nature.

“Get a job,” said a random man, as he walked past the withered hand that was shaking a few loose coins. “You can’t expect handouts!”

The homeless man raised his head, and focused his brilliant blue eyes on the man in the business suite. He shook his head in sorrow, and continued rattling the coins in his can.

“You’re new around here aren’t you?” asked a soft voice.

The homeless man looked up, and saw a woman dressed in rags standing next to him. Like him, she was clearly homeless. He could tell from her famished frame that she had spent many long years on the streets. Her unkempt hair was pulled back into a pony tail, and held in place by a brown rubber band that looked as if it could snap at any moment.

A little boy walking with his mom passed by, and dropped two dimes into the tin can.

“God bless you,” said the homeless man, before returning his attention to the woman next to him. “I just got here today.” He scooted over, giving the woman a place to sit next to him.

“You’re begging in a bad part of town,” said the woman, placing her hands on her thin hips. “Most of the people around here don’t give to charity cases like us.” She waved her hand outward, and nodded to people as they passed by. “Scum of the earth, we are… In their opinion any way.”

.
I didn't read the entire piece, but I will soon.

Just from the brief observation: Since the location has no significance in your story, you might consider omitting it: Sitting on the corner of the busy street, the nameless man (I would substitue "homeless" for "nameless") shook an empty coffee cup ("coffee cup" is more realistic than "tin can") .

And when you do use streets, write them out: Third Street and Park Street.

Also: try to squeeze the word "passersby" into your sentence; you could eliminate unnecessary words--"at people as they passed by."

"coin bank" sounds artificial: coffee cup or just cup--or "can" if you insist on using "tin can.".

"random man": funny, "random" again. "man" sounds better. Also: "You can't expect handouts" sounds unrealistic.


You write well, and you have a caring heart. Keep up the good work.

Last edited by Cityboy; 05-23-2012 at 09:44 AM..
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  #4  
Old 05-23-2012, 09:40 AM
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Thanks for the read. A truly beautiful story, that shows sometime you have to be careful what you wish for and that you reap what you sow.
It brought a smile to my lips. I didn't even look to see if there was something to nit about. I'd say that says it all.

Good work!
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Old 05-23-2012, 09:57 AM
mprice (Offline)
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Thank you for your comments.

I put the tin can in, because it reminded me of a movie I watched once. I know it's outdated - I just couldn't resist
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Old 05-23-2012, 10:26 AM
Phoenix Lazarus (Offline)
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A nice little story, but I think it may have been made better, if you had the man talking in a hypothetical way about how God might answer your wishes, or confound your hopes, depending on if you were generous or mean to him, in the man's position. You could then have the woman gave generously to him, without actually thinking he was God-only for him to suddenly call to her that she had the winning ticket, and her checking the results, finding it was true, and realising who he was, without being told. The element of surprise at the end would have made it more effective, I think.
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Old 05-23-2012, 10:34 AM
mprice (Offline)
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Thank you for your sugguestions.

The main motivation for him to be direct is because he wanted and desired to help her & not leave it up to chance.

But, because free will is still a factor they have to ask for it. He wanted her to ask & didn't want her to miss her chance.

That's why he was being so direct, instead of beating around the bush.
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Old 05-25-2012, 09:27 AM
Andy Mitchell (Offline)
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Hello Price, this is well written and the flow of the sentences was easy to follow and the nameless character was interesting. It was a strong piece in sense of dealing with the issue of homeless people.

But I struggled to understand the women at some parts, but I felt that I needed a bit more information about her, just so that I could care about that.

Apart from that I enjoyed it.
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Old 05-26-2012, 09:17 PM
mprice (Offline)
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Hey, Andy - thank you very much for your comments, compliments, and thoughts.

Honestly, I didn't really want you to bond with the woman very much. Nor did I want you to bond with the "God" character in the story.

My goal for this peice was to have it vague, obscure, and semi non-important. The reasoning for this is that I wanted it to feel like something that could happen in real life - something you wouln't even notice if it were happening right in front of you.

The moral is that there are things going on all around us, the time, without us even realizing it.

That was my motivation. I wanted it to be something that was hidden before your eyes.
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