Gaius helps out someone on the street.
|“Please. Could you spare some change?”
The weak voice pulled me from my thoughts. I didn’t normally notice the homeless that dotted the streets. Very few came near The Elements; not through my doing, but due to the type of clientele my bar attracted. And fewer still addressed me when I was out walking the streets. I still liked to walk during the off-hours of the bar, getting the feel for how the city had changed. I kept returning to this city, time after time. I traveled, but somehow I always ended up back here.
Now I paused, something about the voice drawing my attention.
The figure was huddled on a square of cardboard, draped in piles of cloth that might once have been clothing. Dirt covered the little bit of the features poking out of the bundle.
A lesser man, a lesser wizard, would have kept walking; but something about this situation tugged at my memories. Crouching down in front of it… him…, I made a small gesture to clean away some of the earth from his body. “I have no money I can give you,” I admitted. “I don’t carry coin on me. But if you will wait here, I will see about acquiring food for you.”
The bundle nodded after a moment and I hurried across the street to a deli I was well acquainted with. I had an account there for when I didn’t want to cook my own food and I was able to charge three sandwiches to it.
Moving hurriedly back to where I’d left the man, I knelt back down, holding the bag out. “If you’ll let me,” I offered. “I can help you clean up a little.”
The man looked up from the sandwiches he had been inspecting. “How? You have no water.”
“I can… persuade the dirt to leave you,” I explained. “And to stay away.”
The man shrugged, attempting to devour one of the sandwiches in one bite. “Makes no never mind to me.”
Taking that as tacit permission, I passed a hand over the man’s form. I couldn’t do anything about the state of the rags, but at least I could remove the grime and the bugs. “That should help,” I told him as I got to my feet.
He didn’t look up from the second sandwich, clearly intending to devour this one also. He muttered something I didn’t quite catch, but I hoped was a positive response.
“If you get hungry again,” I offered, “ask at the deli across the street. Tell them Gaius sent you. I’ll make sure there’s money for you to eat.”
“There’s a kindness in you, Mr. Gaius,” the man replied.
I didn’t respond to that, knowing if the man knew who and what I actually was, he probably wouldn’t feel the same way. “You just make sure you eat,” I told him.
Walking away, I realized what had drawn me to him. In the recesses of my memory, I could remember a time when my only substance came from the kindness of strangers.
Word Count: 510