The woman pushed her shopping cart into the area where poor and homeless people of all ages spent their time. When people saw her, they surrounded her. “Lady, we’ve been waiting for you,” an old lady said. A chorus of greetings made the woman smile, and she reached into the only thing in her cart, a large paper bag, and took out a handful of ten dollar bills and made sure all her admirers got one. “Bless you, lady, bless you,” people called to her. Everybody who met her tried to figure out how old she was, but no one could guess. Her age remained a mystery.
The woman moved on to another area and stopped at a free clinic. She took her bag, and went to the nurse who sat at the reception desk, who looked up and smiled. “I’m so happy to see you,” the nurse said. The woman smiled, reached into her bag, took out two thousand dollars in twenties, and handed the money to the nurse. “God bless you. You’re a life-saver. The woman smiled, took her bag and left.
The woman moved on and hurried to an alley where she heard the sound of a scuffle. She went into the alley where two men were rolling on the ground, punching each other as they rolled around. She went to the men and put her hands on their shoulders. Immediately, they stopped fighting, lay on their backs and looked up at the woman. After a few moments, she turned away from the men and went to her cart. Next, she went to a nursing home, took her bag and went in. A nurse came out of a room and went to her. “I’m so happy to see you. The residents have been waiting for you,” she said and led her into a meeting room where three men and seven women sat. They looked up when they saw her and smiled. The woman went to the doorway, gestured, and the residents’ sons and daughters filed in. After watching warm greetings for a few moments, the woman left. The sun was going down, and the woman pushed her carriage along the sidewalk toward the setting sun. The bright sun created a glare that enveloped the woman and she disappeared.
The next day, the woman pushed her wagon to an area where the needy had set up camp by the railroad tracks. When people hurried to greet her, she smiled and took rolls of bills out of the bag and distributed money to everyone. As she was taking money out of the bag, she was being observed by two men who stood off to the side. “Charlie, do you see what I see?”
“I sure do, Harry. That woman must have a fortune in that bag. She keeps taking bills out like there’s no end to the money. We gotta get that bag. ”
“Okay. When she leaves the camp, we’ll follow her and grab the bag.”
The woman finished giving money away and left the camp. When she reached her wagon, she put the bag in it and walked away. The men followed her, and when she stopped at a homeless shelter, the men rushed her, knocked her down, grabbed the bag and ran away. The men into an alley and stopped. “Okay, Harry, let’s check out the haul,” Charlie said and looked in the bag. “It’s empty. Nothing. Not one dollar.”
As they complained, the woman appeared at the alley entrance and watched the men. They felt the woman’s presence and looked toward her. She pointed at them, they became wisps of smoke, and were drawn into the bag. The woman got her bag, put it in her wagon, and returned to the homeless shelter, took her bag, went in, and gave the director a large donation, after which, she returned to her wagon, put her bag in, walked away and disappeared.
Bio: While teaching speech and English at a community college, Mr. Greenblatt wrote short stories and plays, one of which won a reading at Smith College. After retiring, he wrote short stories and novellas. Several of his stories were published in on-line magazines, and others were published in print anthologies.