By Adina Pelle
Many moons ago, I was a curious child walking around my hometown pursuing diversion and amusement. Endlessly, it seemed. Day-after-day.
One day in the town center, I noticed a vagabond sitting crossed-legged on the grass of the village green. He was lost in thought with his head supported by his dirty hands—staring at a point in space only of interest to him.
Until a policeman came into the scene.
He spoke in a croaky voice. “What are you up to, bum?”
“Nothing, officer,” the drifter replied respectfully. “I am sitting in the shade resting after a long day. God bless you and your handsome hat.”
“Cut the crap. Move on, you’re ruining the grass.”
The bum didn’t move.
“Did you hear what I said?” the cop said. “Move. You’re defacing the town’s greenery.”
Slowly, the bum stood and shuffled toward the sidewalk.
The cop rolled his eyes in exasperation.
“Not there, you’ll get in everyone’s way.”
“Well, officer, but nobody is on the sidewalk except this kid,” replied the hobo.
He pointed at me with a filthy index finger.
“There are lots of people walking. Everywhere. If you continue talking back—I’ll take you to the police station.”
“What did I do wrong, officer?”
“Something. You did something and we’ll find out at the station what, unless you walk away as I said.”
The drifter responded, unafraid, but unwilling to tolerate the headache.
“Very well, officer. I’m out of here.”
After the bum walked away, the cop winked at me and laughed. The laugh was a deep one emanating from the depths of his huge belly.
“Did you see how I scared him off?”
Impulsively, I spoke. “If you told him there was a snake in the grass, he would have fled immediately cuz’ everyone is afraid of snakes, and you could have avoided the aimless talk and wasted time. Blabbing goes hand in hand with stupidity and stupidity travels in the luggage of ignorant people, my dad says.”
“Are you calling me stupid?” The cop said.
“Not exactly,” I said.
The cop didn’t buy it. He started toward me with his hands raised.
I took off running as fast as my little legs would carry me.
I reached the edge of the town square. There, the vagabond—now seeing the policeman running behind me—began running too. A car thief, working at the window of a shiny Jaguar sedan, saw our scamper and thought the cop was coming after him too.
After fifty yards, huffing and puffing like a locomotive, the policeman stopped. He propped himself against the wall of a house with his face as white as a sheet of typing paper.
Eventually, an ambulance came and took him away.
After a few days of recovery—with rediscovered youthful vigor—he went home to his wife. As they had in her youth, her cheeks had reason to blush. She was happy.
A lost-in-thought bum bothering no one on the town’s green center made a hero out of me.