Singing Bum

Singing Bum

“Leremy rings the bell!”

He calls the dinner in! He calls… to all his kin!”

Ohh, Leremy riiings the bells… for we!”

The bum sang, off-tune and with a slur, and joyfully swung his bagged bottle to and fro as he did. He filled the chilly night air in front of him with a putrid white cloud that smelled of liquor and found food. His wide grin showed few teeth left, and his face was dirty and blemished by both age and the road he traveled on. He frequented this area, beneath an old gaslight, one of the few left in the entire city. It sat on a small, tight corner, which itself housed a quaint little bar with an apartment set above it. Few people passed through at the hour, but whomever had, would be accosted and politely, amusingly harassed by the always-singing-hobo. He would never lay hands upon anyone, nor threaten nor insult. He would simply pause in the midst of a song, blurt out an affectionate introductory nickname and begin asking for change. This would continue, regardless of the person’s answer, until they had left his corner.

“And you and I climb over the sea… to the valley,

And you and I reached out for reasons to… ” He stopped suddenly, spotting an older gentlemen with graying hair and a thick, layered jacket. He stepped forward and bent forward slightly, eyes downcast and shaggy bangs dangling in front of his eyes. He wrung his hands in front of his chest nervously.

“My good friend, my comrade… May you, or could you, and will you… Spare a few cents this way? For me? I… I’m very thirsty.” The bum admitted, not daring to make eye contact with the man. He fiddled with the fabric of his gloves, aggravating the already frayed bits of thread. The man approached and stopped just in front of the bum, looking down at him; his stern expression did not change when he spoke,

“We are not friends, nor do we share anything beyond this one moment, where you are soliciting me for change. As for your request, I must say that I believe you must earn your wages just like anyone else, don’t you think?” He asked, with strange sincerity in his voice. The bum looked up at him and said nothing, unsure of how to proceed. Most people either said yes or no, and then moved on quickly. He shrugged.

“Well, what are your capabilities? What you can do. Do you have any skills that you could utilize, right this very second, to earn this meager handful of coin that I have in my right pocket?” He continued. His curiosity seemed genuine, and he waited patiently for the bum to respond. The bum considered this, and squinted to himself. He came to realize that he only really knew how to do one thing besides begging, drinking and scavenging - so he started to sing.

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