Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Discern (08/12/10)
TITLE: The Panhandler
By Martha Granderson
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Jim turned to see a man on a bench next to him. He was young – probably in his teens – but prematurely aged. His face was thin and his cheek bones jutted out sharply. Dark strands of wet hair slicked down across his forehead and stood out starkly against his extremely pale face. His eyes were dark and menacing, gazing at Jim with a wild, hungry light. His clothes were dirty and ragged, hanging loosely on his bony frame.
Jim shook his head and hurried on. The teen stood up and stepped after him. “Come on, man. You can spare a little change for a hungry man.”
“No.” Jim said, speeding up.
The youth stepped in front of him, blocking his path. “Why not?” His voice was flat, hardly making a question.
Jim shrugged. “I don’t have to tell you.”
The teen stopped, “No. You don’t. But I know why not, and you’re wrong.”
Jim shrugged and pushed past him to continue on his way. Behind him, the boy’s shoulders sagged dejectedly and he collapsed back on the bench.
Jim reached the corner and got on a warm, dry bus. He rode the bus to a warm, dry house. The boy remained on the corner, staring with angry eyes at the stream of cars going past, each with its wipers sliding back and forth, back and forth. At last he got up and sauntered away into the damp darkness.
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