Martha hummed to herself as she pushed her shopping cart along Hollywood Boulevard. She had just found an entire cheese pizza in the trash behind Dominic’s Pizza Place and it was still hot! Must’ve been too well done for one of its snooty customers. Just because it was a little burnt around the edge, that didn’t hurt nothin’. She could hardly wait to get back to her place and eat it while reading yesterday’s sports page that she had found in the same trash bin. No one had discovered her little room at the abandoned car wash yet and if she was careful sneaking in and out, she could very well have her cozy hideaway for many more months to come. A hand on her shoulder broke her concentration.
“Hey, Martha, when you comin’ up again?”
It was that nice boy, Josh, who didn’t know how to care for his plants properly. With animals, he was a wonder. He could nurse any hurt animal back to health, but plants turned brown and died at the very sight of him. He was lucky she was willing to help him out.
“I’ve been very busy lately. You’re not my only customer, you know.”
“You’ve got to help me out, Martha. They can’t survive much longer without you.”
The poor boy was desperate. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a couple of bills. “Maybe tomorrow?”
She drummed her fingers on the handle of the shopping cart and considered his request.
“You’re the only thing that keeps them alive, Martha.”
She grabbed the bills and put them safely in her blouse pocket, underneath her coat and her sweater. She shoved off down the street and he yelled after her.
She waved without looking back. “I’ll be there!”
Josh watched the old lady make her way across the street to whatever hovel she was living in now. Her clothes were nothing but rags and her brain had to have been pickled in vodka long ago, but something kept her going—pride, stubbornness…he had no idea. He just knew he wanted to help the poor old broad stay alive since, for whatever reason, that’s what she wanted to do.
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