I’m sorry I can’t help you today.
That was Elenor’s standard response to the string of panhandlers she encountered on the walk from her home to subway.
Their typical response was god bless you have a nice day.
Elenor thought this exchange was better than the usual silence that went back and forth between those asking for change and those on their way with life.
Today she had one dollar left in her pocket as she went down to catch the train.
In addition to the many outstretched hands, now all around the city there were people sitting on sidewalks holding signs—handwritten on cardboard—the majority with some variation of homeless, veteran, anything helps, looking for a miracle, and hungry.
As the economic situation had gotten worse more and more people were out there with financial needs, some trying lighter approaches to the wording of their cardboard signs. Gotta stand out to be seen.
Too Ugly To Prostitute Too Honest to Steal. Let’s Do Lunch — You Buy. Supermodel Out Of Work. Need $$ for ED medications. Will Code HTML for Food.
Being unemployed she cut it back to ten, but when she was working she’d set aside twenty dollars monthly to give out in dollar bills as she traveled around the city. Never giving much thought as to who to give it to, just an at-the-moment decision from which she’d walk away never knowing if her small contribution really helped in any way.
Getting off at the Bedford stop in Brooklyn there was a young man sitting on the sidewalk, his back against the subway station.
Nicely lettered on cardboard, his sign read: Time is running out! Need paint for graffiti.
Amused, she reached in her pocket and threw in the dollar. “Hope you get what you need.”
“Thank you. I’m Tyrone.”
“Hi Tyrone. Elenor.”
“Turtles I guess.”
“Always loved the line You’re my pride and joy, et cetera. You should come see the piece I’m working on.”
“Short visit to my sister today. Running late. Sorry. Maybe another time. What’s with the Apocalyptic time running out part?”
“Well, one reason is I’m heading out to the West Coast next week for a few months and want to finish before I leave. When you get a chance it’s over on 11th Street, on the side of what used to be the auto-body shop.”
It turned out to be months before she was able to go visit her sister again— but she did remember Tyrone and his plea—and so made sure to go over to where the mural was.
The huge brick wall was covered with round painted bubbles of various sizes in which lived reproductions of famous artworks—from Bosch, Banksy, and Burchfield to Vermeer, VanGogh, and Warhol. The centerpiece was a bright yellow water stand pipe, out of which a stream of clocks were running out.
A buck well contributed, she thought, taking out her cellphone and snapping a photograph.
© AleXander Hirka 2020. All Rights Reserved.
Read RemingtonWrite’s version here:
In August 2020, I set myself the challenge of creating a daily digital collage based on an image and a concept. The image was that of the antique Omega watch that belonged to my Mom and the concept was Time.
In September 2020, the Anomalous Duo is challenging themselves to write a short piece of fiction for each collage — the Our Hours project.