Chance encounter

wall-street-federal-hallAuthor’s Note: This is the second part of a three part short story. If you would like to read the first chapter, please visit Hot Dog.

Lloyd appeared homeless with his ratty brown hoodie, rickety bike, and unkempt facial hair. His actions were characteristic of someone short on luck – keeping to himself, and not making direct eye contact with any passersby. He may have even smelled a bit foul, or perhaps that was a piece of produce in his bike basket beginning to ripen beyond its consumable age.

The infamous proverb states that if it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, and looks like a duck, it must be a duck. With that rationale, it was evident that Lloyd was homeless. There is another proverb, however, that beckons us to not judge a book by its cover. The push and pull of conflicting proverbs can often lead the mind into murky waters, awash with doubts of what is right and what is wrong – what is illusory, and what is real.

While casually eavesdropping on Derek’s conversation with his girlfriend, Lloyd proceeded to scribble several notes furiously on a page of his pocket sized notebook. Whatever it was he was writing, Lloyd was hyper-focused on transcribing what was in his head on to the tiny page posthaste.

After the phone call ended, Lloyd used his peripheral vision to catch a glimpse of Derek taking a bite of his hot dog. The aging gentleman quickly snatched a red delicious apple from his basket and took a big juicy bite, loud enough to invite Derek’s attention. Peering over towards Lloyd somewhat involuntarily, Derek quickly returned focus to his own personal space. That was all Lloyd needed though – a crack in the door – and now he was poised to kick it wide open.

“First New York hot dog?” asked Lloyd in a gruffly voice.

Derek pretended not to hear, but glancing to his left, he couldn’t ignore the sapphire blue eyes staring back at him. Without any recourse, other than getting up to leave, Derek responded curtly, “Yeah.”

“You know, it’s funny,” continued Lloyd, “the great American hot dog was invented by some German guy and you used to be able to get one for three cents apiece back in the day.”

Derek wasn’t sure where this line of dialogue was going. The commentary sounded like the ramblings of some old man running short on his sanity. He was getting ever closer to simply rising and retreating to the safety of the building lobby just a few short steps away. He could catch the next bus. His flight wasn’t scheduled to depart for a few more hours.

Lloyd continued on, not waiting for a response from Derek, “Money ain’t everything you know. Don’t matter whether a hot dog cost three cents or three bucks, if you ain’t enjoyin’ it, what’s the point?”

Derek was now gathering up his belongings. It was becoming evident that he had reached his threshold of patience with this babbling lunatic. He knew that he would eventually have to build up a callousness to these type of shenanigans as a New Yorker, just not now. Lloyd pressed further, “Name is Lloyd, how about you?” He took another accentuated bite from his apple, awaiting a reply.

Rising from the bench, Derek turned to leave. “Might not want to leave yet – Derek.”

Derek stopped in his tracks and turned around to face Lloyd, now with a smile on his face. “How do you know my name?” He was quite certain that his name had not arisen in his conversation with Missy.

“That’s what your driver’s license says.”

Patting his pockets, Derek looked to be performing a cheap knock-off version of the Macarena. With a confused look of disbelief spreading across his face, he turned his head, and narrowed his eyes uttering, “You have my wallet.” It was part question, part statement.

Lloyd withdrew the black leather wallet from his jacket pocket and handed it to Derek who was taken aback. This elderly man who had obviously come across difficult times could have disappeared with his cash, credit cards, and identity. He wasn’t sure how to react. Derek presumed that Lloyd was waiting for some remuneration for his honest nature. Opening up his billfold, Lloyd stopped him, “Not necessary, just promise you’ll think about what I said.”

dont-judge-a-book-by-its-coverIt was just a bunch of random gibberish as far as Derek was concerned. What was there to think about? Genuinely grateful now for the honesty of this fellow New Yorker, Derek offered a sheepish thank you as he began to climb aboard the bus now parked at the curb. Lloyd simply provided a smile in return, one that Derek could tell conveyed much more than a message of you’re welcome.

Author’s Note: This is the second part of a three part short story. The final installment will be published next week. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment – best wishes for an inspired day!

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10 thoughts on “Chance encounter

  1. Writing to Freedom February 25, 2015 / 1:18 pm

    Like Derek, now I’m smiling and hooked, waiting to see where this NY tale takes me. 🙂

    • davecenker February 26, 2015 / 9:06 am

      Thanks Brad, I appreciate you taking the time to read and comment – best wishes, as always, for an inspired day! And, oh yeah, go grab yourself a hot dog too 🙂

      • Writing to Freedom February 26, 2015 / 10:32 am

        Sounds great, as long as I don’t have to be in NY or the NE right now! 🙂

  2. Marquita Herald (@marquitaherald) February 27, 2015 / 12:38 pm

    You do the “hook” thing so well Dave. 🙂 Derek’s initial thoughts about Lloyd reminded me so much of me when I was a kid. I didn’t spend a lot of time with my maternal grandmother in part because she had this habit of chatting up strangers everywhere we went, especially in parks and on bus benches – our usual mode of transportation. To my young mind that was horrifying – so undignified and embarrassing. Fast forward more years than I care to admit and I find myself a “Road Warrior” traveling the world selling Hawaii to the masses and freely chatting up taxi drivers, strangers on planes and trains, people in restaurants, you name it … no shame, and enjoying the heck out of myself. OMG I became my grandmother and I can hear her cackling from her grave! Looking forward to what happens next!

    • davecenker February 27, 2015 / 12:47 pm

      Your story adds so much more depth to the message I am trying to convey in this tale between Derek and Lloyd – I’ll just leave it at that for now 😉

      I appreciate you taking the time to read and provide such insightful comments. Thank you, as always, and best wishes for an inspired day!

  3. Dalo 2013 February 27, 2015 / 1:04 pm

    It seems that Derek is at that point between being real (and wanting to engage with Lloyd) and being a persona (feeling he has to fill a stereotype)…intriguing situation and you do it very well drawing the reader in. Both characters seem to have such a good story (and you are playing this well).

    • davecenker February 27, 2015 / 1:59 pm

      I am happy to hear that you are enjoying the story thus far – and that you are able to identify with the characters exactly as I had hoped 😉 Thanks for taking the time to read, as always, and for sharing your kind thoughts!

  4. roughwighting February 28, 2015 / 7:46 am

    Excellent writing – you keep us hooked with dialogue and description (and great characters). Keep it up!!!

    • davecenker February 28, 2015 / 12:08 pm

      Thank you Pamela, for taking the time to read and comment – and for your very kind words! Best wishes for an inspired day 🙂

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