Stalking Vol 2: The Bridge of Reason
"You claim that nothing changes for anyone you might help, because nothing in you
changes from making contributions that aren't selflessly offered."
"Some people gushed with gratitude," I said lamely.
"If not a show for your benefit, they were gushing temporary relief from their fears, which is
the other side of you helping them to keep your own fears at arm's length. When you're willing to
explore this idea, as our friend back there did," she said, thumbing behind us, "you'll find your
heart and stop being a miser with it as well."
Counting off rebuttal points on my fingers, I said, "I give money to strangers. I spend the
bulk of what I have on us, I usually give most of the rest as a tip, and I’m a miser? What would I
be if I gave the last dollar away—Saint N ick?"
"You'd be desperate, as long you're paying off your self- image."
"What does the amount or my motivation have to do with anything? The guy got a freebie,"
I said, frustrated.
"Hardly," she chortled. "You made him pay with a strip search followed by a meager
offering, and now you’re trying to accuse him of a deception because I caught you in yours!" She
"What if there was another guy with him who obviously needed it more?" I said without
"It depends. I’d probably split it."
"So how much you’d give, and to who isn’t an easy choice?"
"It’s whom, and my quandary would be about giving it in such a way that it would do no
damage." She grimaced sympathetically; a thought struck her. "This is not a hypothetical is it?
You’ve been caught in these circumstances, or you wouldn’t be defending yourself so
adamantly." She drawled, "Ahaaaaww, I didn’t see that coming: it wasn’t a question of should
you help, or how much, it was that you couldn’t do anything. You had to walk away because you
understood the fourteen-year-old punk in Beirut might kill them for taking your money."
"Or let them starve," I said quietly.
"You did the right thing."
"Nothing?" I scoffed.
"In the grander view of behavioral evolution, that punk was safeguarding their lesson. I’ll
"You’ve got to be fucking kidding," I snarled.
"As you can clearly see," she said flatly, "I am doing neither. Circumstances dictated your
course of action, and you listened to them. You were not responsible, nor were you meant to
think you were; you were there as a witness. Besides," she punched me lightly on the arm, "need
isn't necessarily obvious. Our panhandler friend took better care of himself than you do. You’re
fighting me because you feel guilty. Let it go. None of this is personal."
"Uh huh," I said, rounding off the corner at the intersection.
I was two steps across before I noticed that Bonnie was still standing at the curb, looking at
unstable skies; a light drizzle began to fall. Though the sun was visible, so the shower would be
brief, I walked back to her and suggested that we stop at a local hotel lounge until the drizzle
"I can’t afford it," Bonnie said, smiling apologetically.
"I’ve got it covered," I said, waving her objection aside as though striking at a fly circling
Bonnie gave me a peculiar look, as though a foul smell had wafted her way.