Bella and the Bum
Edward lives life on his own terms and meets a woman who needs to learn what life is really all about. They make a deal to spend a day in each other's world. Someone will have to change if they want a relationship, but each one is certain their way is best. Stephenie Meyer owns the Twilight Characters.
This story will deal with some mature themes with regard to abuse. If this is a trigger for you, you may want to read THE CUBE instead.
I was sitting against the building playing my guitar. People naturally dropped money into my case, but I didn't need it. I usually took it by the homeless shelter and gave it to them. I knew I looked down and out, but I just lived a different life than most people.
I wasn't singing yet. I was warming up on my guitar as a woman approached. She was dressed in a suit, uptight and bitchy. I didn't actually know if she was bitchy or not, but I assumed she was by the look of her posture. She stood straight and stared at people right in the eyes until they looked away.
She was talking on her phone, another thing I swore to live without. Why did people feel the need to be in constant contact with other people that they hated? Most calls were business calls. We couldn't even eat without talking business nowadays.
I watched her as she stopped walking right in front of me. Her voice was loud and she was giving somebody some shit. She sounded like she was scolding a child, but with horrible language, so it must be a colleague.
I kept playing and she finally turned to glare at me. "Do you mind?" she said harshly.
"Nope," I replied, and played louder.
"I'm trying to talk on the phone," she replied.
I knew this was a power struggle. She could simply walk further down the sidewalk, but she chose to insist I stop playing. "I'm playing the guitar, not trying to play it, but actually playing it," I said with a smile.
"Get a real job," she said, as if I hadn't heard that line before. She wasn't original, she was predictable. I hated predictable people. I wanted a world where people were unique and relished their differences, not where we all looked, dressed, and acted the same.
"Get an office," I replied. Predictable women were so cute when they grew angry, in a very predictable way.
She ended her call and turned to face me full on. I could tell she wasn't used to being thwarted and it made me all the more anxious to thwart her.
"If I give you a hundred bucks will you stop playing? Maybe go buy some more liquor or get a tattoo or another piercing?"
She was not only predictable, but cliché too. I didn't have one tattoo or piercing. I found the human body beautiful without all that crap. I also didn't drink, I mean I did drink, but not to an excess. I wasn't a street bum; I was a musician sharing my talent with anyone who cared to listen.
"If I give you a hug, will you grow a personality?" I tossed back at her.
Oh I did it now. Little miss corporation was pissed, royally pissed. I must have hit a nerve, maybe some unrequited love criticized her personality and now it was a sore spot. She was actually a bit hot when she was mad. She should be mad all the time.
I couldn't help the smile that grew on my face as she called me and my mother horrible names. I wasn't actually listening to what she was ranting about, but I got the gist. I suddenly wondered why she was putting so much energy into yelling at me…didn't she have a phone call to make?
"What's your name?" I asked her when she finally took a breath.
"Why would I tell you my name?" she asked back.
I glanced at her legs, not just because they were long and shapely, but I wondered again why she wasn't using them to leave my corner.
"Because I am the only interesting person you've met all day, or all week, hell probably all year."
She folded her arms and looked me up and down. I didn't mind, I would strip if she asked me to. "What makes you so interesting?" she asked with a sarcastic laugh. "I just have to hear this."
Again I noticed how she stayed put and didn't walk away. There was something about that was holding her interest. "You tell me," I chuckled. "You're the one standing here when you can simply walk away."
"Go to hell," she said and stomped off.
"Tell me your name," I yelled after her. I was playing with her now and enjoying it immensely. "I'll just make one up if you don't."
She didn't turn around, but raised her hand high into the air and flipped me off. I laughed loudly and returned to my song. I needed a name for her, something that would fit her look and attitude. I had names for several people I didn't know. Like Sunshine, the elderly woman who smiled at me constantly, or Popeye, the man with huge forearms.
I got it, I'd call her Snapper. She snapped at everyone and everything. I could only imagine how miserable Snapper was to have a life that caused her to snap at people. She probably had a stressful job and no man to help her relax. She was the type of woman who would eat a man alive and suck the spirit right out of him. I felt a little sorry for her and her sad life.
I played for most of the afternoon and then made my trek to the shelter. I saw Trina at the desk and she smiled up at me. "How much are you bringing us today?" she asked.
"I was offered a hundred bucks to stop playing," I told her, and she shook her head. "I didn't take it."
"Of course not, that would have been noble," she teased.
"I added the hundred myself. Have a good day," I said, and left.
I walked over to my basement apartment under a dry cleaner's. I loved living below the sidewalk. People look up to envy, never down. I had one small window at the top of the wall where I could watch people's feet as they walked by. I loved feet. God created feet to move us. Cars and trains and all sorts of transportation only took away the purpose of our feet.
I rubbed my face and scratched my beard. It felt thick and I knew I needed to shave it before it got to be too much to handle. I got in the shower and then towel dried my hair without combing it. I heated some vegetable soup and noticed some of my bread was beginning to grow stale. I grabbed the bag and headed to the waterfront to feed the seagulls.
I watched the ships come in and out of the harbor and noticed a huge yacht covered in lights with loud music. I wandered over to see people dressed in ball gowns and tuxes boarding for a party. It was most likely a charity event. Where people dress in expensive clothes, eat expensive food, and donated to the less fortunate… who they would never actually associate with.
"Hi music man," I heard someone say.
I glanced over to see Greeter. He was a homeless man who spoke to everyone he saw. He was a few rolls short of a dozen, but he was gentle and kind. "How are you doing tonight?" I asked him.
"I feel a storm coming in my bones," he answered, and looked up at the sky.
"Do you have a place to ride it out?" I asked. I had offered Greeter my couch several times before, but he preferred to find places outside to ride out storms. He nodded and headed off as I went back to watching the rich play at being generous.
I was shocked when I saw Snapper arrive with a large man in a tux. She got out of a limo and waited for the man to offer his arm before walking to the yacht with her head high. I was sitting on a bench with my bag of bread and only her eyes moved to look at me.
She suddenly gasped and stopped walking. "What are you doing here?" she asked in a very condescending manner.
"I'm feeding the gulls. Is that why you're here too?" I asked, as if her gown meant nothing.
"This is a private party," she pointed out.
I was sitting on a public bench, how was that intruding on her private party? Maybe I should call her Clueless instead of Snapper. "Am I interrupting you philanthropic need to help the helpless?"
"Can you panhandle elsewhere?" she asked, but not nicely.
I laughed loudly this time. I hadn't asked anyone for anything. I was feeding seagulls and nothing more. It was her haughty attitude that assumed more. "Sure honey, just for you," I said, and stood to walk away.
She boarded the yacht with a sense of pride that she was able to shoo off the homeless man so the others could party with a free conscience. Snapper was a piece of work and I felt the need to teach her a lesson or two. I went back home and shaved before donning my obligatory tux and headed back to the party.
I was allowed right on board and saw a banner announcing the party was to help build a shelter for victims of domestic abuse. There were gift baskets lined along the deck where you could purchase expensive items to help the cause.
I ate some caviar and carried around a shrimp cocktail glass as I listened to various conversations. Nobody bothered to speak to me and I was perfectly fine with it. The program began and I saw Snapper walk over to a microphone and ask for everyone's attention. This was going to be good.
"Welcome to the launch party for the official creation of Home of Hope. It is our goal to raise enough money to secure a location for the shelter. Then we will work on funding to open the place. Everyone, open your wallets and be very generous to help those victims of domestic violence."
She handed the microphone to an auctioneer and he brought up the first item, a trip to France. I listened as people laughed and giggled, trying to outbid each other. I finally walked over and climbed onto the food table.
"I'll fund the entire project," I yelled out.
The room grew silent and everyone turned to look at me. I had ruined their fun, they could care less about the shelter, they wanted to impress each other as they bid.
"Yeah, we can all go home," I continued. "I'll let you use one of my buildings and give you enough cash to keep the place running for five years."
Nobody knew what to say. They all chuckled nervously at the seemingly deranged man. They were all dressed up with nothing to do. There was still the issue of all the wonderful auction items they wanted as their own.
"We're here to fund the House of Hope right?" I asked, and all the staring faces nodded at me. "Okay, it is funded, we can go home now."
Snapper walked toward me with her hot, mad face that I was really beginning to like. I smiled widely and she had no idea who I was. She had stared right at my face and into my eyes, but she only saw me now that I was one of them. "Is this a joke?" she asked.
"Yes, this is," I replied. "But my offer isn't."
"Who are you?" she asked with disbelief.
"Bruce Wayne," I teased and she narrowed her eyes in anger. "My money is good. Who do I talk to about picking a location and signing the lease?"
She glanced around ignorantly. They were prepared to party, not actually solve a social issue. She finally said, "Call the law firm of Newton and Black."
"I don't have a phone," I announced, and I saw her mouth twitch as if thinking I was a fraud and the party could continue. "But I can give you a number to call." I reached into my pocket and pulled out a pen. She grabbed a napkin, but I held her wrist tightly and wrote on her hand. I scribbled the number and then wrote; I have to feed the gulls now, bye. I walked out of the party and back to my place to change out of my clothes.
I had no idea what the fools did for the rest of the night, or if they would even call the number to my banker. I crawled onto my mattress lying on the floor and pulled my hole-filled quilt over my body and went right to sleep.
The greatest thing about a clear conscience is the ability to sleep soundly.