Another bum from the neighborhood. Not me, no way. The only peeps for me are the successful, the heroes, heroes in suits, in shades, in shiny new Mercedes, the ones who work hard and never live ordinary but fight, ache, bleed to be the best they can be and if any bum gets in their way it’s like pow they smack them across the jaws and their cheekbones pop and they’re left in a daze saying, “Damn, there goes a man with a plan.”
Today’s record deal was my plan, as long as I wasn’t late. “On time, on time,” the producer told me; anything less and I’d be out on my ass.
So, dressed up, I stepped out into a Brooklyn sunrise, walking beneath the shade of the leafy-green London planes, replying a friendly “Hi” and “Hello” to the passers-by.
I turned the corner and presto. A homeless man. A bum. A bum in my neighborhood. He slouched against a fence, held up a beer. “Time for a drink, buddy?”
I kept away from his holey pants, holey jacket.
A pretty brunette strode past carrying a tray of Starbucks lattes. She smiled and tucked her hair behind her ear. I adjusted my tortoiseshell Ray Bans and smiled back but didn’t stop. No time.
I took my Armani jacket off and flung it over my shoulder right as a punk kid sped past on his bicycle and stole it.
“Thief!” I called.
I chased him around a corner and smacked straight into the brunette carrying the lattes. The coffee flew up, and the coffee flew down, and coffee turned my white tee shirt all brown.
“So sorry,” I said to her. “Chasing my jacket. Chasing a dream, too.”
“It’s okay.” She touched my soaked tee shirt, tittered. “You want to grab another coffee?”
She’s still happy to talk to me despite my dirty shirt. Could be the one. “Name’s Ricky,” I said, and slipped her a business card. “Call me, we’ll share a coffee when I got time.”
I kept moving toward the studio. A man strolled toward me with his blonde Labrador and glanced at the coffee on my shirt.
He shook his head with an upturned nose. “Take a wash, pal.”
A little brusque.
I whirled around a corner and hooked my Roberto Cavalli jeans on a green-iron fence. A resounding rip followed as I fell onto a muddy patch on the footpath. My pants were torn right across the thigh, the blue thread flipping in the wind.
I staggered to my feet, my tee shirt coffee stained and my jeans torn and blotted with mud. This look won’t impress. I gazed back toward my apartment. A fresh batch of clothes was only blocks away, but the meeting was starting soon and I thought they’d prefer me looking tousled than being late.
I strode toward the business district, people spreading before me. I’d smile and wave but no smiles or waves were returned.
Hometown’s turning a little cold.
A young couple approached, hand in hand, laughing, the girl’s blonde hair swishing over her shoulders. I smiled and said, “Hello,” and she said, “Don’t hit on me, creep!” and her man shoved me hard and my Ray Bans flew to the footpath where they were trod on by a passing man’s boot.
I fell to my knees and gathered the broken frame. My poor Ray Bans.
My poor poor shades.
“Look out, fool!” a voice hollered and I looked up to a bicycle rattling toward me. I rolled to the curb and landed in a pile of muddy leaves, my left foot slipping down a drainage hole as the young man rode past ringing his bell.
At least he’s wearing a nice jacket… wait. “That’s my damned jacket!” I called.
I went to get out of the curb, but my Versace boot snagged in the gutter.
This day’s blooming insane.
Time was disappearing like the hooligan with my jacket. So I gripped my hands around my lower calf, tensed, braced, then heaved at my leg and out slipped my foot.
But I was staring at a white sock, while my boot dropped into drainage.
A dirty sock is not stopping me.
I stamped my white sock right into the pile of muddy leaves, then hobbled along the blocks and finally stood in front of Style Studios four minutes early.
You made it, Ricky, now go sign your deal.
I strode into the studio smiling; they booted me out, yelling, “You look like another bum from the neighborhood!”
I glanced in the big studio windows and saw my coffee-stained white tee shirt, torn and muddy Roberto Cavallis, one black boot and one former white sock stained into muddy brown. A homeless man leaned against the windows looking just like me, muddy pants, muddy jacket.
My hometown turned crueler as my clothes grew dirtier.
The homeless man held up a bottle of beer. “Drink, pal?”
I sat beside him, rubbing dirty shoulders. “I don’t touch alcohol, but I’ll sit a while.”
The brunette with the lattes turned the corner, heading into the studio with another tray of coffees. We caught eyes, smiled, and I said, “You still got time for that coffee?”
Clint Lowe is a writer from Melbourne, Australia. Published in EDF and Andomeda Spaceways. Subscribe to his writing YouTube Channel, Write Heroes.