The Beggar and the Businessman

He appears from the darkness in silence; He may have been there for hours.
Like the minute hand on my Omega; I failed to notice him arrive.


I speak; he glares.

The tattered apparition holds his gaze.

“May I pass please?” I attempt to move around him. “May I pass?”

He remains silent. His eyes hold mine. What are they telling me? He’s wearing a badly soiled, well tailored, senatorially pinstriped suit, crafted apparently for a taller man in a different time, most certainly a better defined neighborhood. His attire assumes a sadness; a life of poverty? Perhaps a recently downgraded lifestyle forced upon him by difficult times?

I step to my right – he steps to his left.

“Please” I implore, “My lunch hour is over. I need to get back to my desk.” neither a minute flick of lash nor hint of furrowed brow.

I breathe deeply and attempt to relax the imagined lines in my forehead. He remains implacable; an immovable stoic with an unknown plan. What does he have on his mind. His left hand is hidden in the left trouser pocket where gentlemen account for their coins. Is he holding a weapon? A switch-blade?
I move to the left – he to the right.

“Are you hungry? There is a warm dinner roll in my doggie bag. I had one of these for lunch; delicious. I think you’ll enjoy it.” I raised the offering; no response.

I deke to the right and quickly left. Had I been wearing a weathered, fifty year-old, hand tailored, poorly fitting suit I might have thought for a moment that I was dancing at a street corner, practicing moves before a mirror.

I muse momentarily: “How much to cross the street?”

“Fifty Cents”: I offer a dollar; his left hand withdraws from the left trouser pocket and places two quarters into my open palm.
The disheveled entrepreneur steps to his left.
The light turns green.

(Most who have read this describe when requested to do so, the businessman as the man with the expensive watch. In fact, the business man is the fellow in the tattered suit, the beggar being the one who wants to cross the street.)

comment by email:

Frank Sprague

But, Lee, the narrator TELLS us where the expensive watch resides: on the narrator’s wrist. And further, the other man is described as wearing a suit: “He’s wearing a badly soiled, well tailored, senatorially pinstriped suit,”

Small wonder we readers say it’s the business man with the expensive watch. The narrator has a job to which he’s trying to return.

I submit you are not dealing to us from a deck of 52. The table is tilted, and we don’t know it until there’s a quiz.

Missed you this week. See you next

comment by email:

Stanley Grosse

Very provocative Lee.  I’m afraid this is happening all over the country.  I have another friend living in Phoenix.  He’s a photographer, Giclee printer who has worked hard his whole life.  His business dried up and he is now selling real estate, foreclosures.  His boss avoided giving him his paycheck yesterday.  My friend had $6.41 in his pocket, and the boss never came back to the office to pay him.  Monday morning he is quitting and moving to another office.  Oh yes, his divorce just was completed last week.
So what’s a man to do?  Flat
The next thing, Flat. The next thing.
Comment by email
Pam Betz


Your creativity amazes me….keep it up.  You are brilliant.

All the best,




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