Well, most of you have read those stories about people doin’ okay on the outside, but hurtin’ on the inside cuz they needed love. Then these folks would find love and they’d be happy as jaybirds. Well, this story takes a slightly different perspective.

30 January 2000 - revised 04 February 2000

Heartfelt thanks to my beta reader - Ann Dancer. I love you, Ann! J

Feeding the Jaybirds
by Bradley Sparks

What I do is, I bike around town. Now this town ain’t no big size city like in Californy, or anythin, but we got our share of traffic and, bein a business district, we got our holier-than-thou-biker pedestrians. Not particularly wantin bein cussed out as bein a hobby, I stay out of them areas with them old office buildins.

I like goin places, and watchin people. Not stalkin em, that just gets ‘em all paranoid and th’next thing ya know, ya got all these cops on your tail an’ you’re haulin be-hind like you was in some kinda Ironman competition or somethin. Naw, good ol’ wholesome people watchin.

Now you lissen here, you troublemaker! If’n I wanted to see breasts and legs, I coulda stayed home with Baywatch on the tely! Young people, I tell ya!

So how th’ story goes, is one day I’m at the park, right? Now, let me get this straight with y’all again, all right? There’s all kinds of parks here, there’s the Waterfront Park, there’s the Beach Park, all nice places, right? Well, this one here’s called A’ala Park. This is the park where everyone knows the homeless people all live ‘round. It’s not a pretty place, and it’s right next by Chinatown, where you hear about all those drug dealin and prostitution, and who knows what. But the kids do come around the park, bettin on their parents never findin out about where they are, no doubt. I’d give my kid a good piece of mah mind if’n they were to tell me they were meetin wit’ friends at the place. But the kids do come around here, some of ‘em. They make use of the half-pipe where they skateboard, or the basketball court that’s all banged up, with dark splotches around that’re sometimes blood, sometimes beer, and sometimes none of anybody’s business. They know enough to steer clear of them homeless folks. Guess they’d remembered that much from their parents anyway.

Me, I’ve never been one to lissen t’anyone. But I don’t give them folks a second glance neither. Jus’ one day I was plumb tuckered out, and was stopped at the light there. I figured I’d watch the kids some more or somethin. Not that I was gonna set down on one of them benches or drink any of that water from them fountains. Filthy.

So there ah am, just settin down on mah bike with the kickstand down, close by, but not too close to one of the unoccupied benches, most the other’ns bein slept on by the denizens. After a while of watchin the kids jumpin ‘round with all that energy that they got, I’m gettin depressed, so I shift a bit and cast my eyes ‘round the park. Just ‘round. Don’t never wanna be caught with those stares these people give ya. Creepy.

But then m’eyes glance ‘pon an open.. nah.. couldn’t be.. an open, happy face. She’s young, I give her that, an’ pretty in a homeless sorta way, but what’s someone with dirty gray clothes, no money, an’ no future to be smilin at? It’s a nice smile, though, and makes me feel jus’ a lil’ bit down that it ain’t me she’s smilin at. Maybe she’s got a nice young man t’bring her back some food from his momma’s shop. Girl like that could charm anyone, get into their hearts an’ stay. Even with them Salvation Army clothes. So why’s a nice girl like that still here, and not taken in by some gen’rous family with food and resources t’spare? Sh’aint that old, maybe sev’nteen there’bouts, an’ don’t look like she kin give no trouble.

Ah get m’answer when I see a -- good lord, she’s tall! An’ that’s not just comin from a land of short people, though I mus’ a’mit, I’d hardly ever seen the likes of her in all my years ‘ere. She looks to be bit more’n twenty, but though I’m not a good guesser of any number terms, I’d say she stood ‘bout at least a good six feet. She looks t’be tryin’ t’hurry, but not tryin’ t’be obvious ‘bout it. She’s still got the energy of youth, it seems, or maybe the energy of love, I re-consider as she returns the easy smile the lil’ blonde is beamin her way. This un’s not ugly either, ‘specially when she smiles.

Y’kin tell these two make each other happy, as th’ tall one sets down right next to the pretty blonde and they start teasin the heck outta each other. Ah’m too far away, mind you, t’hear what they’re sayin, and damned if’n I wanna be obvious ‘bout wantin to know more about these two homeless ladies, but I can tell enough ‘bout people through how they react t’one ‘nother. An’ these two are in love.

Now, far from’t for me to even begin t’understand ‘bout two ladies bein in love, or even how people that got nothin can do somethin as complicated as lovin another person, but ah guess that’s jus’ th’way love goes. Lookin ‘round, ah see th’other homeless folks ‘round th’ two ladies, and they’re smilin like the Lord himself was about to serve an all-you-can-eat-buffet. I guess seein their own happy makes themselves happy, and I’m happy for them. The two ladies, in th’ meantime, ain’t paying a mind to anyone but each other, an’ actin’ like they got the world in their hands, they’re laughin so much. Thought I’d never see the day when I’d see homeless folks smilin or laughin, but cuz of these two fine young ladies, who ain’t got nothin but each other, there’s been happiness at the park.

An’ there’s been happiness in mah own heart.


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