|Four minutes to get to work. I stood at the red light, feeling the scowl on my face and thinking about the ten-dollar fine for being late. Ten dollars was a lot. This month, I was short for rent.
Suddenly a rasping voice beside me said, “You angry about something?”
I looked at the speaker, a guy in a frayed bowler hat. “What?” I said.
“Looks like you’re upset,” he replied. “But maybe you haven’t heard the last of me.”
I shook my head and said, “Whatever you’re talking about, I don’t have time for it.” The light changed, and I raced across the intersection. A block farther, I got lucky – green light, but a bent-over woman with a dusty wool shawl draped over her head blocked my way. She extended a cane and stepped carefully off the curb. I shouldered past her, looking at my watch.
This crosswalk was unforgiving – you had ten seconds. Halfway across, I stopped and looked back at the woman with the cane. She’d never make it. I looked at the cars lined up at the light, like a herd of rumbling bulls waiting to charge. I sprinted back to the woman, took her arm, and said, “Come on, let’s get you across without getting stampeded.”
On the other side, the woman straightened up and pulled off her shawl, revealing a flow of exquisitely groomed dark hair. Diamond earrings winked at me in the sunlight. She pressed something into my hand. “A little game my husband and I play,” she said. “We call it, Who Will Help?”
I gaped at the five $100 bills in my hand. In stunned silence, I looked up at the woman and then, over her shoulder and across the street, at a bowler-hatted man who smiled at me and bowed.
(Word count: 300)