256 Words

Changing Direction

M. Stanley Bubien

"No!" I stated without apology, "I'm not giving you one red cent."

The beggar flipped me off with a stream of profanity.

He could swear all he wanted---I'd heard it all and seen it all. Yeah. I'll never forget the guy who bummed ten bucks off me and walked straight into the liquor store to buy booze---didn't even wait till I left, just did it right in front of my face.

After that I figured I'd only give 'em food. But then I handed this out-of-sorts married couple my only bagel. I went hungry half the day, but chalked it up to a sacrifice we're sometimes called to make. Right. That evening, I saw them climb into their Ford Ranger and drive away.

And this guy---trying the same thing. And he was swearing at me! Well, that was about to stop!

I changed direction, spinning on him, but a gust of wind caught me and my hand swept to my nose involuntarily.

The bum went silent and stared, as if expecting my reply.

Without uncovering my nose, I pushed past him and headed for the McDonald's on the corner. I was in and out in what seemed like a second, and, trying to keep as much distance as possible, I dropped the food on his lap.

"No problem," I said, waving my hand as I walked away.

So, what changed my mind? I'll tell you. Like I said, I'd seen it all, and nobody---I mean nobody---ever faked a smell like that.

Copyright ©1997 M. Stanley Bubien. All Rights Reserved.

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July, 1997
Issue #15

256 Words