the bum, a once semi noted disc jockey by the name of bruce day, sat in the garage and just stared at the found money. over 8 grand he kept thinking. 8 grand in cash in small bills. an amazing sum of cash. even back when he was semi sober and still working he’d never seen that much cash in one place or at a time. vegas not counting. in his hungover state the sum was staggering.
he was more or less dumbfounded and unable to move. though the 7-11 up on ‘g’ st was calling to him. the jug wines seemed like sirens on some long ago greek shore beckoning him to come to them. he could see them. the jugs that is. why, he could buy them all if he wanted and just get totally pissed for days. sure why not? the poor man was in no shape for this. fortunately for him he fell asleep and stayed that way for the next 16 hours.
when the bum awoke he was sore and and his muscles ached from sleeping on the cold hard concrete. his bones felt as brittle as hard candy. he wasn’t even sure if he could stand. when he finally got to his feet he knew what he must do. he’d take the cash and get his life turned around for good. maybe even get back into radio. sure why not? everyone had probably forgotten his drunken on air tirade about crappy music and top 40 radio that had started the slippery slide to his hell on earth. drunken days and nights blurring into one. the mad free fall from respectability to the ignominy of a drunken bum on the streets of ontario. roaring madness screaming like banshees in the night.
but first he needed to clean up. or maybe more importantly he needed to make sure none of his drunken homeless buddies knew of his new found cash. if any of them found out he knew he’d probably not live through the day. his next few days needed to be carefully thought out until he was clean and sober enough to pass through town unnoticed by his street brethren. a decent lot but when a large amount of cash was involved or even a small amount it became a dog eat dog existence. every drunken crazy for himself. yeah, he’d try and help them but he needed to help himself first.
he waited in the garage until night fell. careful not to make any noise he left the garage and headed out of the alley. when he reached fern he noticed the house on the corner and it’s open backdoor. there were no lights on inside the home. the bum knew the home belonged to baldo somebody or another. a vaguely nice guy who on occasion had given him cigarettes and money. yeah, a nice guy. the bum wondered what was up. he moved closer to the home and decided he’d just go in. for sure something was up but the open backdoor was calling to him.
his mind made up he went inside the house and closed the door. he left the lights off and wandered through the house calling baldo’s name. of course, there was no answer. baldo was long gone. his bus ride to barstow then hopping hopping a train to points unknown. yeah, baldo was in the wind. only just beginning his long slide into the depths.
satisfied the house was empty the bum locked the backdoor but kept the lights off. he fumbled through the refrigerator and found some food to eat. thankfully, for some reason, he wasn’t thinking about getting drunk. no drinking. he needed to turn himself around. after he finished eating he figured he may as well stay the night. if baldo turned up he could probably talk his way out of jail. after all it was he who found the open backdoor. closed it then locked it. what’s a little food amount to when performing a good deed? bruce day former disk jockey ever the good samaritan.
having had enough to eat the bum retired to the living room and fell asleep on the couch. he slept through the night and when he awoke in the morning he was startled by his surroundings until he remembered what had happened the day before. he was actually feeling pretty good. he’d forage around for more food then perhaps he’d further impose upon baldo’s absent hospitality by cleaning up.
the bum made himself a spectacular breakfast of eggs, sausages, hash browns, biscuits with butter and honey. coffee too. he was amazed he could still remember how to cook. after his meal he fought off the urge to go back to sleep. instead he found the bathroom where he stayed in the shower washing his dirty body and shaving until he ran out of hot water. after his shower he looked through baldo’s clothes. he figured they were pretty close to the same size. he tried on a shirt and it fit. next came under ware and a pair of faded green khakis. some sneakers and an old dodger cap. no sense taking anything newer. he would buy better stuff later.
as he looked at himself in the bedroom mirror the bum thought he could almost see the old bruce day begin to emerge. it put a smile on the bum’s face. at any rate, he didn’t look anything like the bum anymore. he looked pretty like a much normal joe. not wanting to over stay his welcome he figured it was time to leave. plus, none of his old homeless cronies would recognize him now.
the bum locked up and left. as he was walking away from the house an old green gmc jimmy pulled up to the curb. two men were inside. one of them called to him.
‘hey. you must know baldo. do you know where he is?’
‘nope. i haven’t seen him in a few days. i figure he took off with one of his friends. i’ve been busy working. just got home myself.’
both guys were barely paying any attention to him. they were more intent on staring at the house. fine by the bum. he just wanted out of there. the two men slowly pulled away and left the bum alone. he walked to a mexican joint and bought an early dinner. after eating he went to a drug store and bought soap, shampoo, deodorant, a razor and shaving foam. then he went straight to the motel on the corner of ‘h’ and euclid. he rented a room and fell asleep soon after.
in the morning he cleaned up again before going out. he wanted breakfast and he needed some new clothes. breakfast was easy and quick. then it was off to find some new clothes. downtown ontario wasn’t anywhere near what it used to be so finding some especially nice clothing wasn’t that easy. afterwards, he dropped by the local salvation army office and gave them a several hundred dollars. they were more than willing to get the cash and very happy about it as well. it made the bum feel good too. day would give them more after he found a job.
he went back to his room showered again then put on some of the new clothes he’d just purchased. he wanted to go out and walk around in the new stuff. he didn’t know why but it’s what he wanted to do. maybe just to feel normal. while he was out and about trying to be normal once again the bum spotted a very gorgeous young lady walking out of a bakery trying to carry a number of large boxes full of pastries. ever the gentleman the bum rushed up to her and offered to help.
‘why sure. thank you. that’s very kind of you.’
‘not a problem miss.’
after all the boxes were in the car the bum introduced himself.
‘ah, my name is bruce. bruce day.’
‘nice to meet you, bruce. i’m jenny. jenny rider.’
‘nice to meet you too, jenny. um, i guess i’ll be on my way. maybe i’ll see you around.’
‘yes, maybe. have a great day. and thanks again.’
not thinking anymore about it the bum or bruce went back to his room and a nap. when he woke up he went outside to get some fresh air. as he stood outside on the sidewalk a car pulled up to the curb. it was a lexus a few years old though clean and shinny. day thought he recognized the car. the tinted passenger side window came down.
‘hi, bruce. how are you?’
‘jenny? oh, hi. i’m doing ok. just getting some air.’
‘i was driving by heading home and i saw you standing there and…um…i usually don’t do this…but i was wondering if you’d like to take me out to dinner later? i know it’s not…ah…you were so kind to help out me earlier.’
it startled him some but bruce day handled it well. plus jenny’s radiant smile had him hooked.
‘well, i don’t see why not. i don’t have anything else going on tonight. why sure, i’d be honored.’
‘cool. ah, are you staying here?’
‘yeah. i’m just sorta passing through.’
‘alright. i’ll pick you up right here in two hours. i know a great place for prime rib.’
bruce said fine and jenny smiled again then waved while pulling away into traffic. damn, the ex bum thought, things were really beginning to look up.