Members of the message board were challenged to write a story or create a poem around the following sentence:
In a generous mood, I gave a $50. bill to a bedraggled looking woman and then followed her to see how she spent it.
You'll find their responses below.
By Phyllis Ann (Starbird55@comcast.net)
Mazie was walking down the street feeling hunger pangs as she passed a "meat and three" restaurant. All she had was a crumpled dollar bill in her sweater pocket. She had been living down by the river under a bridge with two other homeless people. She was an only child with no living relatives. She was doing pretty good until she got sick with Pneumonia and had to be in the hospital for three days. Then it was right back out on the street in the worst weather of the season. She didn't want to go to the homeless shelter because she had heard bad things happened there to people like her, meaning she was what they called "slow". She had worked at the Hosiery Factory until a couple of years back when they closed. She was sixty-three years old and had worked there since she was sixteen. It was the only factory in town, and no one would hire an old lady like her who didn't know how to do anything but one job she had done most of her life. The local mission and Salvation Army beds had been full for months, so she didn't even try to get in there. She was wondering if she could find anything to eat in one of the dumpsters behind the restaurant when this lady brushed passed her and put something in her pocket. The lady rushed on and dashed into a store. Mazie put her hand in her pocket and felt the crumpled dollar bill and pulled out a new $50.00 bill. She stood there in amazement and then quickly stuffed it in her pocket. What would she do, what would she do? The lady was gone, she couldn't thank her or ask her questions. She wanted to eat so bad, but she also wanted a bath and clean clothes. She would like a warm bed to sleep in for the night. She couldn't spend the money all in one place. What could she do, and she looked very worried and helpless.
Mazie hurried down the street thinking about what she would do. She thought someone was following her, but she was so preoccupied with worrying about what to do that she didn't even look back. It was starting to get dark, and it was very cold. She saw a sign that said, "rooms to rent by the day". She went in, and the man said they were $45.00 per 24 hours. She ask if she could stay four hours and take a bath, and how much would that be. The man said he could let her stay for four hours and take a shower in the public shower room for $20.00. She went in and saw the shabby room with a shower down the hall. At least there was a lock on the door. There were two stalls, one shower and two sinks. She took a quick hot shower, and then she went to her room. She laid down on the bed and immediately fell asleep. It was nice and warm, but not very clean, but then neither was she, so it was alright. She woke up with a start as someone was banging on the door. "Hey lady", she heard someone shout. "Your four hours are up". She got up, put her sweater on, and left her nice warm space. It was freezing outside, and she still had on dirty clothes in spite of her shower. She was so tired, and she was even colder than before. She saw a church ahead, and the door was unlocked. She ducked in and laid down on the last pew in the back. It was semi-dark, and no one was around. It was warm, and the pew wasn't cold like the box down at the river. She would just stay a little while, and then she would leave. She was so tired. Soon she woke with a start. A man was touching her shoulder. "Wake up lady", he said. She opened her eyes, and there staring down at her was a man in a long black robe. "Am I dead", she asked? "No", I don't think so said the man. "I am Father Paul, and this is St. Peter's Church". "Will you tell Mr. Peter, I am real sorry for sleeping in his church. I was just so tired and cold". "Have you had anything to eat today", the man in black asked. "No", said the lady. "I had a biscuit and a cup of coffee a couple of days ago", but now I have some money and I can pay." "Do you have any food here"? "I have thirty-one dollars, but I can't spend all of it. I want to get a coat and a change of clothes." Father Paul told her that she could eat for free, and that he would get her a change of clothing and a coat for free too. She looked scared. "Free is not good", said Mazie. "Nothing is free". "Well, said Father Paul, seeing that she was afraid. "Maybe you could dust the Church, and that would pay for the food, clothes and coat." "Could you do that?" "Yes", said Mazie. "I know how to dust". "My Mother taught me when I was a little girl." Father Paul said, "First things first, lets get you something to eat". Mazie didn't argue with that. He led her down a hall and into a kitchen where he sat her down at a table, and gave her a hot bowl of soup, some crackers, a glass of water and a cup of pudding. "Now, said Father Paul, how would you like to spend the rest of the night at a nice warm home where they will give you a coat, some clothes, a bath and a job"? "I just had a shower", Mazie told him. "I had to hurry though, so I guess another wouldn't hurt since I am getting clean clothes". Father Paul smiled and led her out to the church van. He drove her a little ways, and they stopped in front of a house. The sign on the front said, "St. Peter's Group Home". "Here we are", said Father Paul. "This is a home that belongs to St. Peter's Church". "It is for nice ladies just like you". "Really", said Mazie in unbelief. "Yes", replied Father Paul. "They will help you get back on your feet, and they will get you a job". "You can stay here as long as necessary". "It is free". "I don't do free", said Mazie. "Free is bad". "Well", said Father Paul. "You will be working, so you can make a donation if you like". "Also, you will be helping out at the home along with the other ladies". "You will be doing household chores to keep everything nice in your home." "Do you understand?" "Yes", said Mazie. "I used to keep my apartment clean." "My Mother taught me". "Well, it is just like that", he smiled.
The next day, Mazie saw a woman come in the front door. She had a button on her coat that said "Channel 2 News". She looked right at Mazie. "I'm the lady that gave you the $50.00", she said. "I already spent part of it", said Mazie. "Here is the rest of it". "I already had the dollar, so that is mine". "I don't do free so you can have my dollar and the money I didn't spend". "Mr. Peter is letting me stay here, but I am doing chores, and he is getting me a job. So, it isn't free." "Free isn't good". "I am going to go to work at Burger King tomorrow". "I am excited". "They are going to pay me just like the Hosiery Mill used to do". "I will have a warm place to live, clean clothes and everything". "I am so lucky I found Mr. Peter". "He must be rich because he owns a church". "Father Paul works for him". "He brought me here to this house owned by Mr. Peter". "Some day I will have my own apartment again, and then someone else can come and live in Mr. Peter's house, like I did".
The lady from Channel 2 wrote down Mazie's whole story, and it was on the News that night. Mazie couldn't get over it. Mr. Peter sure was a good guy, and she was going to tell him about the ladies under the bridge. She was sure he would help them too. She loved her job at Burger King. She got to clean the tables, sweep the floor, take out the trash, and eat a hot meal at noon. It was almost as good as the Hosiery Mill.
By Sharon (ByGolly25@aol.com)
Walking down the street
A bag lady did I meet
Gave her fifty bucks
She bought booze oh shucks
That's the last bum I would treat
By Norma (Twi1ite@sbcglobal.net)
Gee, I’m not feeling great this morning. Don’t think anyone will notice if I go to the store in jeans and the old shirt I cleaned house in yesterday. Company’s coming and I don’t want to create any more laundry. Don’t think I’ll shampoo either - it’s too cold. Guess I shouldn’t wear my nicest warm hat over unshampooed hair, but I’ve got that old wool scarf that would be better anyway. May stop by the gym so I’ll wear my tennis comfies and just hope I don’t see snooty Dee. She’ll notice how scuffed they are.
Wonder why there’s so much traffic this morning - it’s a weekday for heaven’s sake. Oh, yeah, it’s the season to be jolly! It’s warm here in the grocery store and I can move slow, lean on my cart, check out the prices. Well, I’ll say, these store-brand tomatoes are just 69 cents. I’ll look and see if I have the right change. One, penny, two, three, four, a nickel, a dime, two quarters, I count as I scoot them across my palm. Fine, they’re just as good as Del Monte, and that’s all I really have to have. Might as well walk in here and look around. Wonder who that prissy lady is that seems to stay in the same aisle with me every where I go. Every time I pick up something and look at it and put it back on the shelf, she looks pitiful and shakes her head. “Lady,” she says to me, I think you dropped this money.” I look at it and say “No, don’t believe it’s mine,” and she says “Oh, yes, it’s yours, I saw you drop it!” “Well,” I say, “I can’t remember having it,” and I’m thinking, “Maybe it’s from that stash I keep for emergencies in case the car breaks down or something.” “Okay,” I say, “Thanks for being so honest.” She has a satisfied look - you know the kind that says “Oh, I’m so righteous, what a good deed I did.”
Well, I pay for my can of tomatoes and walk up to the bakery. I guess that woman has finished her shopping, too--she’s right behind me! There’s a Santa ringing a bell, I have this money in my hand, I'm feeling generous, and I intended to contribute something anyway, so I drop in the money, and go on in the bakery. Is that woman still hanging around? When I come out I am followed by the baker’s son with the gorgeous Christmas sheet cake I ordered, two grand pies, specialty ham and cheese bread, and a few of those European bread sticks. Did put all that on my debit card. I bleep-bleeped my Lexus trunk, and Mrs. Honest Injun fainted into Santa’s kettle making a huge racket. I got out my cell - you know, the kind that takes pictures - and took pictures of it all for her insurance company, and called 911.
By Tom (tomWYO@aol.com)
As all know I always look like the old bum, old cords, flannel shirt, old beat up hat or a sock cap and clod hopper shoes and I am usually wearing the old GI khaki green wool glove inserts.
Went to Wallymart with the wife, it was the seventh store so I just sat down on the bench there past the entry. I like to sit and watch people. Of course being the old Lecherous Ba . . . . . I am, I eyeball all the ladies. I also check the baskets of the obese and those in carts just for the heck of it. I was sitting there half nodding off when I remembered something I needed, some sesame oil to use in my stir fry that I was fixing for supper. Of course I wandered back, walking tall and looking about. Found the oil and of course checked the label, ingredients, net weight against the cost. Two dollars and twelve cents. Now I have this habit of putting all my change in a jar and then I give the wife all the new quarters and the rest I then on occasions put in my gallon jugs of coins I have been trying to fill for a few, few heck, for twenty or more years. So I need twelve cents and I find I have two singles and begin to check each pocket hoping to find a dime and two pennies. Also you will have to remember that when I get change and have my hands full I just stick it in the first available pocket so here I was in this old multi-time sewn and patched old paint stained mountain parka six separate pockets.
I get back to the front and find an idle clerk so I quickly look for my money and find it in the fourth pocket that I look in; and then I have to locate the dang twelve cents. I pay the lady and go back to my seat, placing the sesame oil and the receipt in the same pocket. Well my wife doesn’t show up so I run out to the car and find my puzzle book and a stub of a pencil and come back and sit down putting my old sock cap on the toe of my shoes and quickly become oblivious to the world as I work the crossword.
“Pardon me sir, may I sit down,” a man in a dark three piece suit and a camel hair coat, wearing those black business man’s shoes with the long thin black socks. Yeah the ones I burnt when I retired. I put my hand down and motioned him to sit down. “How is it going, done all of your Christmas shopping,” he asked.
“Heck, haven’t bought a thing nor thought about it,” I nonchalantly replied, “Have no ideas and heck can’t afford to buy what I really want to give, so I will procrastinate until the 23rd or 24th then see what I can find with what I have available.” I went back to my crossword.
He sat there and I could see that he was studying me. I didn’t figure he was going to give me a sob story and ask for a loan, so I started wracking my brain to remember an answer that they used to ask but I had seen in many years and I just knew I knew it. He stood up, “Sir, I am Frederick J. Sullenberger and I would like to help you out with this,” he told me as he handed me a brand new 50 dollar bill.
My immediate reaction was to jump up, kick his butt but thought better as I just looked at him. “Sir I hope this helps you out in your time of need so you can give someone a present.”
I looked him up and down and spotted my wife coming with a cart full so I took the fifty, looked at him and said, “Thanks,” as I pulled out my own wad, straightened it out and inserted the fifty between the hundreds and fifties in my wad. I thought he was going to have a heart attack as he coughed, stuttered and stammered and I put on my old sock cap and took all the bags the wife had and we went to the car.
“Who was that man?” my wife asked.
“Some damn do gooder who gave this old bum a fifty to help me buy you a present,” I replied. I looked back and the man was slowly leaving the store. He looked pale to me.
By susi Taylor (Texaswishr@aol.com)
she was trying to get into the doorway
and out of the falling snow
the sidewalk was crowded with many
in their own hurry, to and fro
Her clothes were on the ragged side
and a hole in the back of her hat
she wore some dirty army boots
that looked like they'd seen combat
she seemed a likely candidate
for me to use for my "do good" project
I jostled her and slipped the money into
her pocket and she did not suspect
she reached the entrance, quivering
she put her cold hands in her pockets
and huddled there, just shivering.
she touched the piece of paper
brought it out and I heard her gasp
as her eyes filled up with vapor
she held the money in her grasp
tried to figure out what she would do
and why someone would be so kind
and to whom she could say, "thank you"
but no one came to her mind.
she looked around but she didn't see me
as across the street I stood and waited
from behind a Christmas tree
and what I saw left me elated
and I clasped my hands in glee
she left her doorway, went and ate
a good warm meal, then got her change
I followed her down to the church
staying well out of her range
the poor box there ended her search
she put in the money that she had
then went on down the aisle
and said, "Thank you" to God
A Child's Christmas Prayer
Candy Canes (several authors)
Santa is Coming (A Slideshow)
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