Meeting Lizbeth - Chapter Four
The Homeless Man
The man sitting near the bridge, homeless, with no money. Lizbeth talked to her best friend Suzie about her him. She had started thinking of him as her homeless man. She felt possessive because she found him, even though she hadn't met him yet. Suzie wasn't enthusiastic about this project.
“Lizbeth, he could be dangerous,” Suzie warned. “You don't know anything about him and going there alone isn't such a good idea.”
Lizbeth knew that, but now more than the money was involved. Seeing that poor, dirty man sitting there day after day got into her head and heart. She couldn't just ignore him and she couldn't let him sit there alone anymore.
She acted before she even made a decision. She went to the deli and bought a roast beef sub and a large, regular coffee. She drove to the homeless man and parked her car across the street. She sat watching him for a few minutes. Then, she got up her courage, took a deep breath before getting out of the car, and walked the food over to the homeless man. He looked up at her quizzically, but said nothing. She handed him the sub and coffee with a shaking hand, and walked away. When she got back in her car she held on to the steering wheel with both hands and looked over at him. He was sitting there holding the sandwich and drinking the coffee.
Food for the Homeless Man
Two days later she returned with a turkey sub and large coffee. She had decided not to come every day for fear of making herself look too anxious or like an intruder. Again she walked up to him, handed him the food and coffee and walked away. This time her hands didn't shake. Two days later she brought him two cheeseburgers and a coke and this time she didn't walk away. She stood there quietly.
"What do you want?” he asked without looking at her.
“Nothing really. I would just like to get to know you.” She was a little taken aback by the sound of his voice. Not altogether unpleasant.
He turned his head away. When he looked back he said,
“You are a wealthy young lady and I'm a homeless man. Do you see the incongruity here?”
She smiled and replied,
“I don't want to marry you, I just want to get to know you. Why don't you tell me what you would like me to bring you to eat?”
Smiling but not looking at her, he replied, “pizza”.
She smiled and left. Why hadn't she thought of pizza? What man doesn't like pizza?
He sat there wondering what this rich young lady was all about and why she had decided to befriend him. What ever made her decide to take on a homeless man?
Two days later she returned with a large pizza and liter bottle of Pepsi. She also had plates and cups and this time she not only stayed, she sat down and ate with him. After his second piece of pizza he looked directly at her and asked,
She replied, “why not?”
She could see her flippant answer wouldn't do by the look on his face.
“Well, when I was riding around town I noticed you sitting in the same spot every day. You didn't look any better or any worse, just sitting in the same spot.”
“That's what I do” was all he said.
Without any further explanations she smile and asked,
“Same time tomorrow?”
He smiled back and nodded yes. This time she noticed his smile was a warm one. She realized it was the first time she saw his teeth! Though they needed a good cleaning, they were all there. That was a good sign, but a better sign was the smile itself. Maybe he was beginning to like her and maybe he wasn't a hopeless case.
After several weeks of eating together every two days, she asked him if he would like Chinese food.
“Why yes little rich girl, I'd love that. You've awakened my long hidden tastes buds. I'm actually beginning to enjoy food again. What ever shall I do when you stop?”
“I won't,” she said, and left.
With the chow mein she brought tea, fortune cookies, a tablecloth and a small vase with one chrysanthemum. She thought it would be a nice little celebration after all their little meals together. She had to admit to herself that she was starting to enjoy their time together.
“Are you plying me with food to loosen my tongue?” Secretly he was enjoying his time with her and not just the food. She was a lovely little thing with those blonde curls and her inquiring mind.
“Whatever do you mean kind sir,” she replied with laughter in her voice.
She saw a little twinkle in his eye and for the first time noticed his eyes were blue. He had always remained sitting so she wasn't sure of his height, but thought he must be close to six foot tall. It was hard to judge his weight with all the clothes he wore. It must have been his entire wardrobe since there was nowhere else to keep it. It was also obvious none of it had seen a washing machine in a very long time. Yet, he didn't seem to fit in with the dirt and grime. What kind of man was he and why did he wind up on the street homeless? He wasn't old, she was sure of that. She was beginning to care about this man and it scared her a little, but she couldn't stop now, she had said she wouldn't. Besides, it was no longer about the money or her quest to answer questions about her grandmother's obsession with money, it was about this particular man.
While they were eating he said,
“My name's Doug. What's yours?”
“Lizbeth Sanders. Yes, Sanders and yes, I am rich.”
He smiled and nodded, showing he had known all along.
“It's no surprise Lizbeth. It's written all over you. This isn't a good place for you to be. I am alone most of the time, but not all of the time.”
“Do you want me to stay away?”
“That is not the issue. The issue is your safety and I must admit I've grown fond of you and your food.”
“So now the truth comes out. You've been after my food all along.”
They both laughed, but again he grew concerned and said,
“I worry about you here Lizbeth. This is no place for any lady, young or old. It is dangerous business being homeless. People do things they would never have dreamed of, just to stay alive. Some lose all sense of decency and think only of food or booze. Murder is not unheard of among the homeless or those who risk being with the homeless.”
“What if I could find you a place to live? Would you come?”
“Whoa, you're moving a little too fast little rich girl. You know nothing about me. I could be a serial killer luring you into my confidence or a rapist waiting for the right moment.”
“Your eyes say different Doug. Your eyes say you are a kind and generous man who fell into a hole he can't get out of on his own. They say you were once a very brave man who cared about the world”
“So you can tell all that from my eyes? You may or may not be right, but it is a big chance you are taking.”
Memories tried to seep back into his mind but he wouldn't let them, he had closed them out a long time ago.
“Let me see what I can do, I'm willing to take the chance.”
“Talk to Daddy?”
“Yes, but what's the harm? I promise there will be no strings attached. I'll even have my father put it in writing if that's what you want.”
“I don't know little rich girl. That's a lot to ask Daddy. What are you going to say, I found this homeless man on the street and I want you to support him? I'm not a puppy you know.”
She smiled at the thought of comparing him to a puppy with big warm eyes, and replied as she walked away,
“Let's wait and see what happens.”
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