[an error occurred while processing this directive] ZEPHYR Magazine

                              T H E
                           Z E P H Y R
                  __     M A G A Z I N E
                 Issue #28                10-1-86
            A weekly electronic magazine for users of 
                        THE ZEPHYR II BBS 
                    (Mesa, AZ - 602-894-6526)
                owned and operated by T. H. Smith
                    Editor - Gene B. Williams 
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                            (c) 1986
   We have another guest issue for you this time around - written 
by one of our users, John Arbon. Hope you all like it.
                      Rich Man - Poor Man

                          by John Arbon

   The city lay sprawled under the golden morning sun.  The
skyscrapers gradually materialized as sunlight caressed down
their length.  Down on the busy street people emerged from
buildings and hurried off to destinations know only to
themselves.  The effect was one of an anthill, orginzed
   The light fell upon the face of a bum that had fallen
asleep on a bench in the middle of a park.  As the rays of
sunlight warmed the old man, he woke, sat up, and rubbed the
sleep out of his eyes.  The newspapers he had placed around
himself for warmth, slid off his ill-clothed body with a
slight rustle.  A policeman walking by noticed him there.
   "Hey, this ain't no hotel, get out!  Go back to the streets
where you belong," he said as he watched the old man get up
and walk out of the park.
   At the corner people jostled him to one side or the other
as they passed, keeping their eyes averted.  Spying a coffee
shop down the block he turned toward it only to knock down a
lady carrying groceries.  "Oh, I'm terribly sorry.  Here let
me help you," he apologized as he bent to pick up a can that
had rolled into his foot.
   "No!  Thank you, I can do it myself.  Just go away," she
kept her eyes on the fallen good whe she spoke.
   "It's OK.  I've got nothing better to do."
   "No!  Just go away and let me do this myself!"  She still
kept her eyes on the food, as if he would go away if she did
not look at him.
   The passing people threw disgusted looks their way as they
walked by.  No one stopped to help.  He stood, and with a face
carved of stone he faced the people and started toward the
coffee shop again.  As he stepped inside he became acutely
aware of the torn and ragged overcoat, the wide holes in his
shoes and the dumpy hat that rested with a resigned sigh upon
his head.
   The man at the counter looked up from the magazine he was
reading and said, "The restroom's in the back."
   Surprised the bum answered, "I don't need the restroom, I
came to buy a cup of coffee and a sandwich."
   "We don't serve your kind here," the man said rather
   The bum retorted, "Look!  This is a free country.  I
deserve to be served anywhere I darn well please!  Just
because I don't have the means to dress as neatly as some of
your other customers doesn't mean that I can't demand the same
respect and service that you give someone else!"  Everyone in
the shop stopped eating and turned to look at the two.
   Undaunted, the man at the counter said, "You're evidently
new here, so let me tell you something.  You and your kind can
go to hell for all I care.  I used to serve your kind here.
Do you want to know what happened?!  I was nearly put under by
the health department!  And do you know why?!  Because you and
your kind violate nearly all the health codes ever written and
damn near all the ones that have been thought of!  Now, get
out!  Because I don't want to hear about the freedom of this
country when it damn near puts me out of business!"
   Taken back, and quite shaken, the old man stumbled out to
the sidewalk, and was quickly lost in the turbulent tide of
   Two hours later, after being ignored, hassled, and avoided,
he finally found himself at a shelter for the homeless.  His
stomach, twisting and squeezing its emptiness forced him to
enter the bleak building that he faced.
   The door squeaked on aged hinges as he push it open.  He
was greeted by colorless walls, a battered desk, and an
unsmiling face that belched out the words its mind force-fed
   "Huh?  Oh, Mike."
   Some scribbling, then, "How long have you been in this area?"
   "Two days."
   More scribbling.  "How many times have you been to this
shelter in that time?"
   "None.  This is my first."
   Scribble.  "Do you plan on spending the night?"
   "Why are you here?"
   "To eat."
   She made a check on the sheet in front of her, then pointed
to the hall on her right.  "Down that way."
   Mike turned and walked down the hall she'd indicated.  Near
the end of it he was met by another stone faced worker, who
directed him into a large room that had been converted into a
cafeteria.  He found his way to the end of the line and
   A small, shriveled old man in front of him turned around to
see who was behind him.  He stared for a while as if trying to
make a decision.  Then, squinting up into Mike's face he said,
"You're new to these parts.  Aren't cha'?"
   "Yes, two days to be exact."
   "I'm not talking exact.  I'm talk'n about over twenty years
of livin' on the streets.  You shouldn't look so shocked!
I've been here near thirty years now, and ya' know, it'll add
years to your life that you've never lived.  How old would you
guess me to be?"
   Mike pondered for a moment then said, "I'd say you're about
seventy years old."
   "Wrong!" the old man cried triumphantly, "I'm fifty-two
years old to be exact.  Now, can you tell me where I missed
twenty years of my life?  No, you can't and neither can
anybody else.
   "My body says to me, 'I'm seventy years old.  It's time for
me to quit and go on to another life.' And my spirit says,
'I'm only fifty-two.  I'm not ready to die.' I tell ya' it's a
constant battle between my body and my spirit and it's wearin'
me down.
   "One day my body will win and go back to the earth where it
came from.  And years from the day it returns to the ground it
will be living again by taking part in the construction of
thousands of living bodies.  In every one of those bodies will
be a part of mine and my body will go on living long after it
   "Now there's an interesting thought.  If my body is going
to be parts of future bodies, then how many bodies of the past
make up mine.  Just think of parts of me as George Washington
or Ulysses S.  Grant or Robert E.  Lee or Abraham Lincoln or
John Booth.  Now that would be some combination, Ulysses Grant
and Robert Lee.  Two parts of my body at war with each other.
Maybe that is why I have trouble with my kidneys.
   "And that streak of rebelion in me could be from John
Booth, my compassion from a piece of Clara Barton, my
toughness from Daniel Boone or Chief Sitting Bull.  Maybe my
concern for others comes from a piece of Harriet Tubman, and
the authoritarian part of me from Stalin of Attila the Hun.
   "And think of those pieces of others that made up their
bodies.  People back in Christ's time and beyond.  Now it
really gets complicated, so I'll stop before I blow a fuse.
   "And my spirit," he said back on track, "I don't know where
my spirit will go."  His face took on a wistful look as he
turned to catch up to the end of the line.
   "You said I was new here.  How did you know that?" Mike
asked, changing the subject.
   The old man turned around and said, "I know everyone here.
I know their age, I know where they live, and I know their story."
   "Their story?"
   "Their story about how they came to the streets.  Ya' know
most of us don't even want to be here, and most of us don't
even have a choice."
   They stopped talking and the cafeteria closed in around
them, smothering them with the sounds of banging trays,
clanking silverware, and murmuring voices.  Food was plopped,
smeared, and practically thrown on their trays as they made
their way through the line.
   "Doesn't look very appetizing, does it," Mike observed.
   "No, it doesn't.  But, after near thirty years of a two
star garbage can this is a seven course meal."
   They found an empty space on one of the tables and sat down
to eat.
   Mike was looking at the assortment of people around him,
when he saw a young man about nineteen, not far away.  "Who is
that?" he asked pointing.
   The old bum he sat with turned and said, "Oh, him.  He's
Jerry Farmer."  He turned back to his tray.
   "What's his story?"
   "You don't want to know."
   "Yes, I believe I would," Mike persisted
   "Very well then.  He was kicked out of the house by his
parents about a year ago.  They told him to go out into the
REAL world and be somebody.  Well, he's somebody now, only
nobody knows him."
   "Who's that older fellow at his side?"
   "That," he explained with a sigh, "is Lon Clayman.  He was
at one time president of Clayman Executive Travel.
   "His wife wanted a divorce, he didn't.  She went through
with it and along with half his company she was also given
custody of their kids.
   "He became an alcoholic, and in a drunken stupor he signed
the other half of the company to her.  She said something to
the affect of 'I'll remarry you and love you forever if you
just sign this paper.' and he did.
   "When he became sober enough to realize what he had done,
he tried to commit suicide.  He wasn't very successful as you
can see, but had permanently damaged his brain.  Not a lot,
mind you, but enough to need someone to watch over him.
   "Those two have basically adopted each other.  Lon for two
reasons:  one, he needs someone to take care of him.  And two,
he has no children anymore.  Jerry has one reason:  because he
needs to be wanted.  Those two belong to each other."
   They finished their meal in silence.
   As they walked across the cafeteria floor, Mike had a
sudden thought, "You know, I don't know your name.  Mine's
Mike," he put out his hand.
   The old bum took it, "I'm Jorimha Golle.  My friends call
me 'Joe', you can too if you'd like."
   "Thanks, I will.  Can I find you here most of the time?"
   "Yeah.  I'm usually around."
   "Thanks again, Joe."
   "No problem."
   They shook hands once more and went their separate ways.
   Mike spent the next hour and a half wandering around,
looking at the sights, smelling the scents, and hearing the
sounds of the city.  It all seemed to end too soon when he
found himself at the place that it had started.
   He rounded the corner and stopped to look at the limousines
waiting there.  "Sir, I believe it is over," said a gentle
voice behind him.
   Startled he turned around and said to the familiar face
looking at him, "Johnson, Johnson.  How good it is to see you
again."  He shrugged on the heavy coat his chauffeur handed
   As he turned again, Mr.  Huxlen saw the rest of his
friends.  They were already changed and waiting.  It seemed he
was the last to return.
   "You're late," said Joseph Biltoy.
   "I had quite a ways to walk," Michel Huxlen answered,
then with some alarm, "What happened to you?"
   "Some hoods decided I would make a good punching bag.
After a few rounds they changed their minds.  But, they did
get in a few lucky throws. However, when the odds are five to
one, I think I pulled out quite nicely."
   Gregory Jackson stood and said, "How was your vacation,
  "Vacation?  I'd call it more of an education than a
vacation.  How about you?"
   "Me?  All I want to do now is something easy, like playing
the stock market.  But, you're right it was quite an
   "Well, I'd dare say that right now I'm interested in a hot
bath and about twelve hours of sleep."
   Silent and weary they entered their limos.  The chauffeurs
closed their doors, started the engines and made themselves
scarce by mingling with the flooding traffic.
Until Next Time

   Keep in mind, *I* didn't write this story. If you wish to 
compliment the author, or have comments, leave them here on the 
magazine board. (John goes by a different name on the board, so 
you can't leave him mail.)
   Now - would anyone else care to contribute to the magazine?
If so, download ISH.27 (last time's issue) for all the details 
on how to do this. 
   Your contribution can be fiction or nonfiction. That's up to 
you. If I can help you develop the idea, or can answer any 
questions, feel free to leave me mail.

Zephyr Magazine is © Gene Williams. All rights reserved.