The Business Man

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The businessman, being late, glanced repeatedly at his watch. He stood nervously at the corner, beaten by the whip of an arctic blast, waiting, waiting for that stupid, incompetent bus driver, twelve minutes behind. A haggard, broken, old homeless man about ten paces away limped over, eyes fixed on the businessman at the corner, who by now was shivering, staring at and tapping on his watch. The old man, the bushy, dirty, old beggar, tapped the waiting passenger on the shoulder. The businessman, caught unaware, turned suddenly, and the two stood face-to-face. The beggar, surprised that he’d startled the man, stood there and looked at the other, speechless. The businessman stepped back and surveyed his face, taking in the cracks, the sullen eyes, the bits of something that were caught in the old man’s beard, and the snot around the nose. The old man lifted his hand, palms up, and started to say something, but he began to cough instead. Behind him, the businessman heard the roar of a big engine and the screech of brakes. He didn’t turn but remained in that position, just staring. A flake of snow dropped on the businessman’s face. It was cold. The door of the bus opened. The businessman turned and got on the step, but he stood there, looking back. The old man never moved. He whispered a half audible, “Please.” The businessman stepped down, walked over to the man, grabbed his filthy hand, and then threw an arm around his shoulder. They looked at each other, and a world of apathy and a world of bitterness dissolved in a matter of seconds. The younger said to the older, “Let’s go get something to eat.”
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