The Homeless Woman

John Greco
3 min readMar 24, 2023
Photo by Ilse Orsel on Unsplash

Michael Alden had taken two sips of the hot coffee he just purchased as he exited the Belmont Cafeteria and turned left to walk toward his office. It was a frosty February morning, and the remains of last week’s snowfall were still visible. Michael, as always, was running late and knew he would never make it in time for the 9:15 meeting.

As he hurried along, his eyes caught sight of a homeless woman. She wore an old wool hat and had a ratty worn blanket wrapped around her, trying to stay warm. Her face, covered in dirt. She sat on an old wooden crate, a tin cup in her hand, begging for a handout. Michael halted in his tracks.

The boy’s parents didn’t teach him much about life. But the one thing he never forgot was his mother’s generosity toward the less fortunate.

Michael’s father George Alden was a violent alcoholic who took out his failures in life on both Michael and his mother. Mostly on his mother. Ann Alden was also a drunk, unfortunately with a submissive personality that allowed George to beat her up, leaving her with bruises for all to see. One day, when she couldn’t take it anymore, she disappeared, leaving her husband and son behind, never to be seen or heard from again.

Michael’s father took his wife’s leaving out on the boy. But after a drunken rampage, when George got into a fight with the wrong guys, he wound up dead in an alleyway. Michael was seventeen.

With nowhere else for him to go, Michael finished his last months of high school and joined the Army. While in the service, he completed two years of college. He eventually returned to civilian life, got a job, and earned his bachelor’s degree. Soon after, he met Karen Anderson, a co-worker, and fell in love. They are now married with a child of their own.

Michael knew he was already late for his meeting, so what the hell, he said to himself. Returning to the cafe, he ordered a bacon and egg sandwich on a kaiser roll and a large coffee all to go. Outside, the homeless woman was still sitting on her crate asking, more like hoping, for a handout. He crossed the street and stopped in front of her.

“Hi, I brought you some breakfast. I hope you like bacon and eggs.”

She looked up at him.

“I always did.”

She took the bag, placed the coffee cup next to her on the sidewalk and opened the wrapped sandwich, wasting no time taking a big mouthful. After taking another bite, she said, “I see you almost every day when you come out of the cafeteria, drinking your coffee. You always seem to be in a rush.”

Michael laughed. “I’m always late for work.”

“Like now?” she smiled slyly.

“Yes, like now. But they can wait,” Michael smiled back.

He stood there for a time while the woman finished her sandwich.

“Thank you. That was good. I haven’t had a bacon and egg sandwich in a long time.”

“Well, if you’re here tomorrow, I’ll get you another one. Sound good?”

“I’ll be here. There is nothing on my schedule,” she laughed.

“Great! I am glad you liked it. So, I will see you tomorrow. I really need to get to work.”

“You better go then,” she said. “You don’t want to get fired.”

“By the way, my name is Michael.”

“That’s a nice name. My name is Annie.”

“Oh, that was my mother’s name.”

“Oh, I’m sorry. Did she pass away?”

“She left a long time ago.”

“I’m so sorry… really.”

Michael nodded. “Well, like I said, it happened a long time ago. I’m married now and have a child of my own.”

“That’s wonderful! What is your child’s name?”

“Angelina. That was my mother’s real name, though everyone called her Ann.”

Both were silent for a moment.

“Well,” Michael said, “I’ve really got to get going. I will see you tomorrow, Annie.”

She nodded slowly and watched him hurry away.

“Actually dear Michael,” she whispered to herself, “you mean Angelina.”

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John Greco

Author of various short story collections including, "Brooklyn Tales," "Harbor House," "Dark Secrets," and "The Late Show."