Payday for a Bum

Grechen counted four fifties, four twenties, and ten ones out of her till, then counted them again, snapping them, quick fast, on the counter. She picked up the bundle, snapped it edge down on the counter to even the edges and put into an envelope and handed the envelope to me.

“Five hundred dollars,” she said. Grechen smiled sometimes. She smiled when Willie Feathers was around or when somebody who was somebody was making a deposit. She did not smile for once-a-month check cashers with no ID who only had a minimum balance. She had a look on her lips as if she had just walked past a ripe out house. I did not blame her. I was pretty ripe.

I picked up my haver and went out into the entrance. I filled a bag of popcorn from the machine they have there and went out. It was clearing. The rain would come again, but it was clearing now and it smelled fresh and clean. The pansies in the pots and the daisies in the planters along the walk danced in the breeze. I sat on the lawn and ate the popcorn and sipped from my canteen and fed the pigeons a little. Popcorn is not something I have very often. I guess I could grab some from the entrance any time. It’s always there. But I do not do that. When I have business there, then I have some popcorn and sit on the lawn and eat it slowly and drink water from my canteen and feed the pigeons.

I would have some again when I came for the rest of my monthly check.

Today was a pleasant day, cool with the clearing and the north breeze and the sun starting to warm the flower beds and the pigeons cooing and waddling around my feet. I ate the popcorn slowly. When I was done, I scattered the crumbs and the unpopped kernels for the pigeons. I wondered if the kernels were OK for them. They cooed and pecked at the crumbs. I folded the sack and carried it to the trash bin.

The clock on the tower behind the large church was on 2:47.

I crossed Second Street and turned past Delaratoes and walked around the block. I crossed First and went into the Land-Re-Mat. It took an hour and a half to wash and dry the load. I turned the haver inside out and wiped it down with a wet cloth. I let it air while I waited. When the load was dry, I folded and packed it in the haver.

I walked the four miles to the Tuck Me Inn. The young woman watching the lobby made a flat face when she came to the counter.

“May I help you.” I did not know her. She was new there. Her face smiled.

I had a fifty out. I put it on the counter. “A room,” I said. She blinked at me twice, then looked at the fifty.

“Certainly,” she said. I filled out the form, and she handed me a key and the change from the fifty.

I took a shower, then wiped down the tub. I filled the tub and lay in it for a long time. The smells were pleasant, water, the clean room, When I had finished I dressed in clean clothes and ordered a salad and steak and lemonade.

It was good to be clean. I never felt right about doing it. There were a lot of them who only got a shower at the Y or the park. Mother Mary and To Many did not have a monthly. There is only so much you can do. It was very selfish.

I saved some of the steak for breakfast and poured the lemonade into my canteen.

Prepared for the Ragtag Daily Prompt: indulgence

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