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The International Writers Magazine: Patience

Patrick Williams
There are many Bo’s in the world, and we’ve all walked or driven pass them; some of us ridicule, spread judgment on them while others feel sorry for them and their life. Bo’s are grimy; they beg; they fib; they dupe; they rob; they reek of yesterday’s stale beer, or they act like a little child’s kite, so lofty in the sky, yet their feet are firm on the ground.


           Life is similar!
However, the Bo at this specific 7-11 is unusual. For one hundred days, this Bo has sat outside the store and watched various people -- as you or I -- come and go as they pleased. All he owned was what he wore: that and a rusty, empty pork-n-bean can. In his can rested a single day’s worth of work, a penny. Bo didn’t demand much. In fact, if it took him an entire damn day to collect a single cent, well, he was content.
Bo was a little odd, but he wasn’t stupid. Indeed, he watched those type come and go daily. He would live off their half-eaten hotdogs or cakes and drink their flat sodas or two-day old coffee. Bo had to eat, right?
             So what?
He grinned when someone bought a row of scratch-offs and won nothing, not even a damn free ticket. He smirked, not at their frustration, but at the fact, he would be a penny richer. Bo would select his moment and target carefully; he would wittingly station his body near the putrid trashcan for his prize.

Naturally, the angry wanna-be millionaire would storm right over to ditch his or her ticket -- sometimes rolls at a time. It was then when the fuming Joe or Jane, feeling sorry for poor Bo’s lot in life, would drop what they considered, just seconds before, to be their lucky penny, to be another piece of hollow copper in his can.
             Bo always thanked the willing; they, conversely, said zilch.
             Moreover, Bo’s work of the day was effortless. He asked no man, woman, or child for a penny, and he rejected other kinds of currency, only pennies were allowed to cling at the bottom of his can.
             Strange huh? Yet only a few would understand!

And Bo would only collect one coin a day. He did this for nearly eighteen weeks or so, and when he received his one hundredth and one penny, he decided to go inside the store for the first time. He knew he couldn’t buy much with what he had, so he decided to wait behind a man who spent most, if not all, of his income on a roll of scratch-offs.

The man in front, decked out as if he was an important somebody, didn’t have enough cash to buy the whole roll; therefore, a single ticket was left friendless in its case.

Bo, who could sympathize with the lonely thing, decided to use his pennies to buy the ticket for himself. So he spilled the can full of pennies, keeping only one, on the clerk’s counter. The clerk, as anyone in his situation could see, was rather pissed at Bo’s action, for he now had the meticulous task of recounting the copper mess. Bo reassured the man there was a dollar somewhere in there, but the clerk gave a half-delightful sneer and said, “It’s company policy,” as if he didn’t believe Bo’s word.

As the clerk counted, sliding each from his filthy countertop into the clinging cash box below, Bo watched as the previous customer zealously scratched his tickets in the corner. He behaved like some rabbet beast or like some of the other Bo’s he knew of on that smack. The man would groan a little and then let out a “Shit” or “Damn-almost” while he tore those tickets down on the floor.

Finally, the clerk counted all one hundred pennies and asked Bo what ticket he would like again. Bo said nothing, only pointed to the sole ticket locked-in the plastic case. The clerk ripped it out and stared briefly at Bo while he handed him the ticket and uttered, “What makes you think you’ll win anything, huh? If the man before you bought all but one, don’t you think his chances of winning are greater than yours, hotshot? Come on man! If there’s a winner in that roll, that man over there got it, right? You’re chances are slim-to-none, no offense or anything!”

Bo chuckled, as he grabbed his ticket and stepped aside, and scratched his sole purchase. He retorted to the clerk’s remarks: “You might be right! Of course, for the last one hundred and one days my chances have been slim-to-none. So if I lose, have I lost anything?”

About the same time, the ghastly scratcher spit out a loud series of “Damnit’s” followed by a couple of “Shit’s” and other foul words, mainly those rhyming with “Yuck.” Clearly, the somebody spent everything he had and received nothing in return.
On the other hand, Bo remained mute, as he stepped back to the clerk’s counter. The clerk again smiled at the vagabond and said, “Oh, no winner huh! Would you like me to throw that away for you?”
Bo snickered and told the clerk to read the ticket before trashing it. The clerk didn’t feel like reading another losing ticket; he has seen every losing combination, yet something about Bo’s face and the water he was wiping from underneath his eyes made the clerk take a second look.
             “Oh, you’ve three stars in a row. Big deal. . . You’ve three stars in a row!”
             “Yes, now that’s established. Look at my reward!” Bo said.
             “$10,000. What? It can’t be.”
Bo grabbed the winning ticket and started for the exit. As he got to the door, he turned around, looked at the clerk and the ash on the previous man’s business shoes, and said, “Like you said. 'Slim-to-None!’ Ha! For a hundred and one days, I’ve been collecting pennies from dreamers like you. It’s funny how little these copper coated things don’t get the credit they deserve. Most in Life don’t. Slim-to-None, not bad!”

Bo left the store that afternoon never to be seen of again. Some claim to have seen him a couple blocks away, in front of another store, holding his can. Others claim he’s dead somewhere. Yet all can agree that we can learn something from Bo. In fact, an aspect of him lives in us all, just as that of the clerk and the wanna-be millionaires. The problem is finding which one are we?
  Slim-to-None, isn’t that all any of us have?

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