Seeing Past Me
by Kimberly McKenzie
"Miss, could you please spare a brother some change?" Noland begged shamelessly. Everyone seemed to have passed him by, as he grew weak from hunger. His cry out for help continued to go unanswered as people looked at him in disgust. His clothes were soiled, his hair was out-grown, but most of all his stomach ached for the basic nutrients that people often took for granted. Never in his wildest dreams did Noland believe he would sink this low. He had lost everything and was forced to live in the streets of hard life.
"Are you okay?" a lady called out to him as he lie hunched over on the ground.
"Just hungry," Noland answered looking into the lady's beautiful brown eyes.
"Well I'm on my way to the café for lunch, if you want to join me."
"Yes," the lady answered as Noland rose to his feet.
"I'm just a little surprised that you would ask me to join you."
"I don't have a problem with it," the lady replied as she introduced herself as Kassidy.
"Thank you Kassidy," Noland responded as he introduced himself.
Kassidy was very radiant as he walked along side her. The rich ivory suit she was wearing was elegant as it complimented her soft brown skin. Kassidy was perfect in form as her gorgeous legs glowed as the sunlight bounced off with each stride. She was absolutely breath taking and Noland felt ashamed to be in her presence as people stared in disbelief. He could only imagine what they were thinking as they continued to walk ahead.
"So Noland, would you like to eat in or outside?" Kassidy asked as they approached the café.
"I would feel more comfortable eating out," Noland replied as they entered the café.
"A table for two on the deck," Kassidy stated as the waitress showed them to a table.
Noland obviously felt uncomfortable by the whole situation as they placed their order. How in the world could he not embarrass her? Kassidy sat there as if they were old friends, ignoring the continuous glances people gave. Had he not been so hungry he would have saved her from the humiliation that he was certainly feeling. Noland found that people could be quite cruel to someone who was down on their luck, but Kassidy on the other hand was totally different. In his worse state of manhood, she did not look down on him as so many others had. She had a heart of gold as she sat here with a total stranger whom most would have labeled the "bums" of society. That was totally the opposite for Noland and it infuriated him to be classified as such.
"So Noland tell me about yourself?" Kassidy asked breaking the long silence.
"What do you want to know?" Noland replied surprised by her question.
"Anything you'd like to share," Kassidy responded as she sipped a little water.
"Well to be quite honest I'm still having a hard time believing I'm sitting here with you."
"Why is that?" Kassidy asked curiously.
"Just look at me," Noland pointed out. "I'm so humiliated by the whole situation."
"In that case maybe you should take your food and go," Kassidy suggested. "I've never been one to judge and certainly do not care what others think. If that was the case we would all be running around here crazy!" she laughed aloud.
Noland had to smile as he took comfort in her words.
"Thank you," Noland stated as the waitress came with their meal. He marveled at the hot corn beef sandwich that sat before his eyes. The Swiss cheese was melted just right as his plate was garnished with a fresh pickle and a side of coleslaw.
"Kassidy, a year ago I would never have imagined being homeless," Noland stated thinking back on his life. He had all the luxuries that life could afford and it all disappeared without a trace.
Kassidy listened on intently as Noland continued to speak on. From his gestures and speech, you would have never been able to tell that Noland was homeless with the exception of his soiled clothes. His table etiquette was quite remarkable, as she knew he had been brought up with a good raising.
"So what happened?" Kassidy asked intrigued.
"Bad investments," Noland replied still unsettled by everything that had happened this past year. "Never put all your eggs in one basket," Noland added wishing he had listened to that old famous saying. Things were going too perfect and that should have been a red flag for him.
"I certainly agree," Kassidy replied shaking her head.
"The hurting part is I knew that deep inside but I guess my love struck stupidity got the best of me."
"Wow. You must have been head over heels for her."
"Yes. Everything I had was Lucy's and she took it all. She left me in a world of debt and eventually the bank foreclosed on my condo and repossessed my car. The little savings I had on the side went quickly and I'm shamelessly begging a beautiful lady for food."
"What about your family?" Kassidy asked.
"To embarrassed to tell anyone of my bad dealings," Noland replied thinking of his parents. He could see his father now criticizing him as he did so many times in the past. He always resented the favoritism his father gave his older brother. Noland felt like he had to compete for his love and would never let them see him in this condition.
"What line of work were you in?" Kassidy asked hoping she might be able to help.
"A graphics designer," Noland replied. "I'm so angry at myself for leaving a job that was paying me over sixty thousand to be swindled by my ex-lover."
Noland blood boiled every time he thought about what Lucy had done to him. This time last year he had been so excited about starting his own business with Lucy. The bank had loaned him fifty thousand dollars for start up money. The only catch was Lucy had to co-sign for him to get the loan. Her commitment to helping him only strengthened his love for her. Never in his wildest dreams did Noland believe he would be taken for a fool. Lucy had drawn every last penny from their business account, leaving him, the major party, responsible for the bill. When the bank could not collect, Noland lost everything he'd ever owned. His self-esteem was shot to hell and soon he lapsed into a deep state of depression. His so-called friends quickly disappeared and he found himself literally combing the streets. He had been reduced as a man and could not believe the turn his life had taken.
"I'm shocked," Kassidy said in disbelief. "How could anyone be so cold," she stated feeling sorry for Noland.
"I've been asking myself the same question," Noland replied. "To make matters worse, she has disappeared without a trace."
"Well she certainly will get what she deserves," Kassidy stated. "A life full of sin certainly won't be rewarded forever," Kassidy pointed out as she gave encouragement to Noland.
"Thank you," Noland replied. "You've certainly been the light of my day." For the first time now, Noland could see things clearer. Her words had been inspirational and the key factors in his decision to pull his life back together. It was amazing how a complete stranger could lift him up when his ex-lover had brought him down. From this point forward Noland would take hold of his life and accepted Kassidy's offer in helping him put the pieces back together.