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The Homeless Man
When being naive is a positive
The veranda to the local coffee shop was semi-covered and shady. Underneath were large umbrellas to shield the customers from the direct sun. The music piped out from the shop was a progressive, bluesy type, but with noise-canceling headphones on, Colton barely heard a word of it. Engrossed in a novel, he’d look up to see cars pass by him. Occasionally he’d nod at one of them if he had eye contact, but for the most part, he was concentrating on a perplexing mystery.
When the homeless man showed up, Colton didn’t hear him at first. The man grabbed part of the umbrella and shook it, Colton looked up and lowered his headphones.
“Can ya spare a buck or two please for some food? I haven’t eaten in three days.”
Colton reached into his pocket and grabbed his wallet. He opened it and there was no cash there.
“Want to go inside here so I can buy you something?”
“No, I don’t think so. Too expensive here.”
Puzzled, Colton asked, “What does it matter?”
“I said what does it matter how much it is if I’m paying?”
The man started to walk away.
“Sir,” Colton said. “Did you want food or did you just want money?”
The man turned around. “What? What? Just leave me alone.”
“I thought you said you were hungry,” Colton said, surprised at his own assertive questions.
The man took two steps toward Colton and scrunched down to be at Colton’s level.
“Are you really that naïve, Son?” the homeless man asked.
“What do you mean?”
“Did you really think I wanted food?”
“You said you did,” said Colton.
“And you believed me?”
“Why wouldn’t I?”
“Word of advice, my friend,” the homeless man said, “And I don’t even know why I’m telling you this – but my advice to you is not to trust someone who comes up to you begging for money. If they beg for food, that’s different, but money? Booze, drugs. Chances are good he – or she – has an addiction problem, not always but many times.”
Colton nodded a few times. “Good word.”
The man rose and turned to walk away.
Colton asked, “So, do you want some food? My treat.”
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