“Is this what makes you happy?”
He ignores her and holds up a piece of cardboard to one of the many passers-by.
“Amazing,” she says with mock disbelief. “What, are you too good to talk to me?”
He rolls his eyes in frustration and turns to look at her. “What do you want?”
“I just want you to answer my question. Is this what makes you happy? Are you glad that this is the life you lead?”
He takes a minute to look her over before he says anything. The clothes she’s wearing, he has only seen them in magazines and in newspapers. On celebrities. Everything about her is meticulously perfect.
“Yes, it is. Is that what makes you happy?”
“I’m a contributing member of society,” she snaps.
“Oh? And what do you contribute?”
She glares at him, and he wonders if she honestly feels that that constitutes an answer. He turns and holds his sign up to a passing car. The driver glances over, reads the sign, and then looks straight ahead.
“How can you live with yourself? Begging people for money! You should be ashamed.”
He flips the sign around at her. “Technically, I’m not begging.” The sign reads, What else are you going to do with your spare change? You can save a dolphin or save a human—your choice.
“You rely on others to support you. That’s begging, no matter how you word it.”
“Don’t you have better things to do?”
“Why don’t you get a job?”
“Why don’t you?”
She glares at him again. “You little bastard.”
“You’re a hypocrite and a leech. You chastise me for living off the support of others, yet you do the exact same thing. You rely on him to support you, and you have sex with him for spending money. So technically, you’re worse than I am.”
“I’m just a bum, mom. You’re a bum and a whore.”
She turns and runs away, not trying to hide the tears, but trying to hide the ruined makeup.
He turns back to the road—it’s a red light, which means it’s nose-to-the-grindstone time—and smiles. Life is good.