So today I am supposed to tease you with something from my Work In Progress. Something you cannot see anywhere else.
Except I have a confession…This is my Work In Progress…
I have six children. Last year I made everyone a Onsie…that is right. Oh, it is worse than it sounds…fuzzy, animal print with hoodies. I was the Texas Mama that sewed them matching outfits until they were teenagers…and MADE them take pics in them too. Nothing has changed. They had to post pics to Facebook in those Onsies last year. And this year…Quilts. Lap size for reading with special meanings for each. This is my son in China’s fav team. Sailor and red, white & blue for Mr. Stability. Cooking and dogs for my chef. And pixelated camouflage for my Minecraft gamers.
So no time for writing…but I thought I would share with you Part Two of that Christmas story from last week. It is now named An Angel’s Wish and is live at Literotica. It is doing well, but not quite winning the Winter Holidays Contest there. So if you like what you read, please follow the links and VOTE.
Travis Baker shook his head and questioned himself once more. ‘What the hell was he doing out here?’ Panhandling. Begging. It was something that he generally avoided. It was degrading. Humiliating.
The cardboard sign with the American flag drawn on it that he had tucked beneath his arm was not even his own. One of the old timers, G.I. Joe, as everyone had nicknamed the black man in his sixties who had done three tours of duty in Vietnam, had pleaded with him to do it…just this once. It was Christmas Eve and all kinds of ‘good people’ were just looking for someone to help. Especially a Vet with an American flag sign.
It had taken Joe all morning to convince him. What the old man did not know was that Trav had no intention of accepting charity from those ‘good people.’ He might be screwed in the head but he was not that pathetic. Not yet. And he never would be. He would take another option before it came to that.
No, he had survived for three years on the streets by foraging and living off the land. He would not have lowered himself to this, except for Joe. The man needed a new sleeping bag. Trav had even seen the one he wanted to get the old guy at a second hand store for only ten dollars.
Ten dollars? His throat got tight at the thought. What was ten fucking dollars? He used to throw that away on lunch at Milly’s Diner. A twelve pack cost about that unless it was on sale. Ten dollars would have barely moved the needle on the gas tank of his truck. But now…it might as well have been a million dollars.
Not that he minded usually. Unlike most of the guys out here, he had steadfastly avoided self-medicating his pain with alcohol and drugs. Everything else he could usually garner from trash cans. It was shocking all the stuff that people threw away. Shocking and shameful.
He could easily feed himself and usually a couple others from the dumpsters outside a fancy restaurant he knew. They ate for free what cost other people close to a hundred dollars. He sighed…why would anyone spend that kind of money on a meal? The shit was not even that good. Trav usually only went there if he could not garner a cold pizza or two from the take-out place a couple of blocks away.
Clothes and blankets of course were a bit harder to come by in central Atlanta. But once a week or so he made a habit to take a stroll out to one of the suburbs before the recycling truck did its rounds.
The coat he wore now had been one of his recent finds. The leather had been torn underneath the arm, but that was no big deal. He had borrowed a needle and thread from another guy and within ten minutes it was serviceable. Not that his sewing would win any quilting contests but it got the job done. Out here he was as glad for skills like that which he had learned in scouts and from his Mama, as he was for the hunting and recon ones his Daddy and the Marines had taught him.
Things were tough on the streets, but he supposed no tougher than life anywhere else. He might have to put in a few hours every night scourging for food and whatever else he or his couple of buddies needed, but that was a far sight more honest work than all those suits he passed on his way back to their encampment in the concrete jungle beneath the overpass.
Of course, being hassled by the police was no pleasure. But when that happened they just packed up their few possessions and headed out. With so many miles of freeway it was easy to find a new place to squat and set up his tent. He would have actually preferred more of a Rambo existence deep in the woods and he did sometimes go that route when the noise, smell and crowds of the city got too much…like now.
This time, he just could not. He felt responsible for Joe and his other friend Steve, a former Ranger, who like him had seen way too much shit over there to just go back to the life they had led before. Especially after what happened to Darren.
Breathe. Travis had to actually force himself to pull air into his lungs just when he thought about the man. It was still too painful. Another friend lost. Another of his fucking failures. There were so many. Too many.
If he kept thinking like this, he would let Old Joe down too. He would turn back and lose his one chance to get that sleeping bag for his friend for Christmas. He figured that with some luck there was an outside shot that he might ‘earn’ just enough in the next couple of hours to do the one thing he wanted most this year…save one friend at least.
Trav had just spotted the ideal place, any empty doorway near a big office building. People would soon be coming and going for their final lunch hour before the holiday, many of them even leaving work early to be with family.
He shook his head as he hoped like hell this was worth it. That the sleeping bag was still available and that ten dollars was not too much to ask for a Christmas miracle.
He was just about to cross the street and was in a hurry before someone else took such prime ‘begging’ real estate when he saw the woman. She could not even be thirty, but her face was scrunched in a deep frown that aged her as she struggled to pull a wheelchair from the back of an SUV that must have been at least a decade old.
Trav thought at first she was talking to herself until he noticed a slight movement in the back seat. Then he noticed the little angel. She was tiny, probably no more than five. Her dark skin glistened in the dull afternoon sunshine as she smiled and nodded her head at whatever the woman had said. Her braids bobbed and glittery pink ribbons glinted in the light.
He shook his head and turned in the other direction as he caught sight of one of the teenage girls from their encampment slipping into the spot he had coveted. Oh well, she would probably have more luck than someone like him. People just did not feel all that charitable towards grown men, whom they believed should ‘just get a job.’ Not that it was that easy. Not in this economy.
Not even for Vets like him. Especially for them…it seemed that the country he loved and had defended, that had taken so many of his friends’ lives, seemed it was quick to forget all of that.
He would find somewhere else later. Maybe just forget the whole fucking thing, he thought as he approached the woman, who was still struggling at the back of her car. “Here, let me help you with that,” he said with as close to a smile as he could muster. Those muscles in his face were tight and hurt a bit as he forced them into the unfamiliar movement.
That’s right, folks. Leave it to Tara Neale to make a homeless man the hero of her romantic/inspirational Christmas story. If you want to read more, check out An Angel’s Wish on Literotica…and please vote…honestly.