As the sun set, Danny felt his heart stiffen as he remembered the price he has to pay. Having to go home empty handed would usually end up in hot red hand marks on his skin before being sent to a stack of hay or a cardboard box starving. He was the oldest of his siblings, and his mother had sent him out to the parapet to steal from the blind man who begged on sixth street.
She was a dreamer in her glory days. Full of light, aspirations, hopes and dreams for the future. No one knew what ruined her, or shrank her down to the size of morality she possessed today. Speculation from the other men of the nights she spent with nearby said a broken heart had left her that way. Jilted and in pain. An easy target to help others pass the days by with ease, at a cost, of course.
“It’s not his territory anyway!” She hissed. “We’ve been here for six years. He? A measly three days and he dares stay on?The money he begs and gets are rightfully mine!” She cried mid sentence choking with anger on a joint she had just lit, playfully blowing circles in the air flicking grey ash on her makeshift separator. Danny knew what that tone meant. It meant business.
He stood by the road in silence, six feet away from the man who not only wore sunglasses, but also knelt begging to be fed as passerby’s walked. As Danny watched his metallic bowl clink with each coin, he thought to himself, “Mother will be pleased if I could get another coin. It could mean one more slice of bread for us.” He thought to himself. The man was blind and surely, it would be easy to get all those coins. Swiftly and quickly, he thought. But each time Danny reached out to snatch the bowl, a little voice inside him stopped him. “Was it right to deny someone of a livelihood?” He struggled to understand logically how the situation panned out as he sat down a few steps away from the blind man, his heart in knots and his stomach growling. For the next few hours he stood and reached, but could never get closer to touch the blind man’s bowl.
When the evening set, he got up in defeat, fear of the punishment that awaited, engulfed him wholly. “Maybe I should tell mother that the man had not been on sixth street today.” He thought to himself, as maybe that was the only way he could be saved. Danny was deep in thoughts and heaved a sigh of his impending doom. As he walked by, the blind man removed his glasses, leaving Danny shocked and bewildered.It couldn’t be!
He stared into Danny’s eyes as he thrust the bowl of coins into Danny’s arms and said,
“Integrity. Young man. That’s what’s lacking with the world nowadays.
I am not blind. I only beg for the sake of what is left of humanity.”