Reflection in an Alley - Word count 490 (Prompt: key)

“Now let all your images and thoughts dissolve like a cloud in the sky. Let your mind rest and when you’re ready, gently let your attention come back to the present.” The teacher breathes the words and a ripple of wakening energy rises over the crowded room.

Nick visualizes the sign on the wall: Yoga’s greatest gift is the vulnerability that fills your tender heart after a deep practice. When he opens his eyes he feels tenderness and vulnerability like no one had ever experienced it before. Good bye Mr. Corporate Raider. Hello Mr. Loves-his-Fellow-Man.

He tucks his silk scarf into the collar of his cashmere overcoat and shoulders his way out of the meditation studio. An icy wind whips his trouser cuffs around his ankles. Nick remembers to smile.

He marches straight to the bank machine a block away. With $400 in his pocket, Nick heads to the Artsee Java Joint. Sure enough, the homeless guy is still out front. The beggar rarely shows his face, just sits there, knees pulled to his chest, and head bowed. Between his feet sits a baseball cap with a few loose coins in it. A crudely-lettered sign beside it says Please help.

The guy has been there for as long as Nick can remember. Nick used to badger the owner of the coffee shop to get him moved but she said the guy was harmless. Nick almost stopped going to Artsee after that but no one else got his crema just right. Instead, he sometimes nudged the guy with his toe as he walked past. One Christmas, when the man seemed particularly unresponsive, Nick scooped a ten dollar bill out of the ratty cap.

Today Nick is making amends. He kneels beside the guy and touches his arm.

“Hey buddy. It’s going to be cold tonight. Here’s some dough. Get yourself a warm room.”

The man lifts his head and piercing blue eyes meet Nick’s.

“Wow, thanks, man!” The guy snatches the money from Nick. “I’m going to call it a day.” He struggles to his feet and hobbles away.

Nick has made a difference in the world and satisfaction rushes through him. Maybe he can do more. He might be able to find the guy a job. He runs after the man who has ducked down an alley. The beggar’s limp is gone now and he walks fast.

The guy pulls something shiny from his pocket and Nick halts. Is it a weapon? No. It’s a silver key chain. The guy points to a Mercedes Benz at the end of the alley and the trunk opens from a distance of twenty feet. Nick stops dead. As he watches, the beggar wipes the dirt from his face and hands. He changes to clean jeans and a leather jacket. He slides into the car and starts the engine. Before he drives away, he looks in the rear view mirror and waves to Nick.



Image from Wikimedia Commons: psyberartist—haunts of solitude—uploaded by russavia