Harry and Amy - Cover

Harry and Amy

Copyright© 2022 by Lazlo Zalezac

Chapter 1

It was five o’clock on a Friday evening and people were leaving their jobs in droves. The doors of the skyscrapers were open more than closed as the occupants streamed out in what appeared to be a never ending flow. Traffic crowded the city streets. Horns honked and sirens wailed. The volume of noise was almost as good an indicator of the time of day as a clock.

Amy waited for her bus to arrive outside the Chicago Stock Exchange where she worked. The January weather was bitterly cold. Her breath showed as the warm air met the cold air. She shivered while looking down the street for the familiar outline of the bus. She couldn’t use just any bus, but had to wait for the one with the lift. Despite the thermal bag hanging on the front of her walker, the burgers inside it were getting cold and she wished the bus would arrive soon.

She relaxed when the hulking figure of the bus turned the corner and pulled up to her stop. Johnny, the driver, waved as he pulled the bus over and stopped where she could get on without having to move. He climbed out of his seat and made his way to the back of the bus to operate the lift. It wasn’t necessary, but he liked Amy and wanted to make sure that she was okay. When the door opened, he started the lift on its trip to the ground. With a smile, he asked, “How are you doing today, Amy?”

“I’m fine, Johnny. How are the wife and kids?” she answered.

“The wife is about to defend her thesis. She’ll be getting a raise when she gets her degree,” answered Johnny. His wife was a teacher and her pay was tied to the level of education and years in her position.

“I’ll bet she’s looking forward to being done,” replied Amy. The ramp hit the ground and she used the walker to step onto it. She could hear the other passengers complaining about the delay, but she was moving as fast as she could. The walker wasn’t her preferred form of support, but she couldn’t carry much when she used the crutches.

Johnny hit the button for the lift and stepped back. Having a spouse who for the past four years had been going to night school twice a week was hard on a marriage. This was particularly true for a marriage with two small kids. The imposition didn’t matter. He was proud of her.

He said, “Yeah, we both are. It’ll be nice to have her at home in the evenings again.”

Amy smiled, and as the lift settled into place within the bus she said, “I’m sure that you’ll enjoy having her around the house.”

Johnny closed the door and replied, “You bet.”

Returning to the front of the bus, one of the passengers complained about the delay. Irritated by the rude comment, Johnny stopped and turned to the man. Shaking his finger in the man’s face, Johnny said, “Amy’s special. She’s worth more than everyone else on this bus put together. I’ll take as long as necessary to help her onto this bus. So will every other driver.”

Amy frowned at the exchange. She didn’t like to be treated special, but the damned braces that held her knees together forced it upon her. She stared out the door of the bus thinking about how a simple game of volleyball had totally changed her life. One minute she was running around and diving for the ball. A minute later, she was on the ground screaming in pain as her knees gave out on her. An operation to fix the problem showed that it was congenital and she’d never walk without assistance again.

The bus lumbered along its route. Rush hour meant frequent stops with lots of passengers getting on and off. She didn’t need to signal her stop, Johnny would pick it for her just like he did every Friday night. She frowned as she looked through the glass panel of the bus door. The bus had left its normal route and was heading towards a very rough part of town.

One of the passengers complained to the driver. Johnny just smiled and explained that it was a necessary detour. His answer puzzled Amy. Usually, he dropped her off at one of three locations and this was far from any of them. They were heading into an area where people didn’t know her.

The bus stopped and Johnny walked to the back of the bus. Reaching her, he said, “A special stop for you tonight.”

“Thanks, I guess. It looks a little rougher than usual,” commented Amy as she gathered her stuff together.

“Normally, I would agree with you. Tonight’s different,” replied Johnny as he opened the door. Checking to make sure that she was ready, he started the lift on its downward journey.

Amy looked at the homeless men gathered near the stop. One of the men noticed her and started moving to the bus. Recognizing the man, she relaxed knowing that Cal would take care of her if any problems developed.

She smiled and called out, “Hello, Cal.”

The California Kid waved and called back, “Miss Amy, we’ve got someone for you to meet.”

The lift touched down on the ground and Amy struggled to step off it. From within the bus, Johnny said, “You won’t need a ride home tonight, Amy.”

After stepping off, she turned to look back at him and saw him smile at her as the lift started its upward journey. She didn’t understand why he was abandoning her there. She asked, “No one is coming to pick me up?”

“Not tonight,” said Johnny.

She couldn’t hear everything that Johnny said because Cal was talking to her at the same time. The next thing she knew, Johnny had waved and closed the door of the bus. She turned to the California Kid.

“Calm down, Cal. What’s got you so excited?” she asked.

“He’s here,” explained Cal pointing in the direction in which he had come. The young man was practically dancing in place.

“Who’s here?” asked Amy curious about what was going on. She’d never seen Cal this excited. The other homeless men would normally gather around her almost as soon as she got off the bus. Tonight, they were gathered around a lunch wagon.

“Harry!” exclaimed Cal wondering why she didn’t get it the first time he had told her.

As the cold wind whipped around her, Amy fiddled with the thermal bag. It took a minute to get it detached from her walker. She handed it to him and asked, “Would you hand these out?”

“I’ll give them to Harry to hand out,” said Cal as he rushed off with the bag of hamburgers.

Amy watched the homeless man run off to the lunch wagon. It seemed to her that he was acting like a kid rather than the beaten down twenty-something person that he normally was. She watched as he reached the back of the lunch wagon and handed the bag of burgers inside.

Looking around at the other homeless men gathered there, she noticed that there were more smiles than normal. Even more surprising, was that they were smiling at each other. Usually, the men and women were quiet and reserved. Some people even considered them sullen, but she knew they were reserved out of fear that they would lose what little they had, if they were too friendly.

The frigid air was chilling her to the bone, and she knew that she had to keep moving to stay warm. Summoning her energy, she started the long trek to the lunch wagon to find out what was going on inside. It was only forty yards, but that was a huge distance considering her physical condition. When she used the walker, she measured distance in terms of steps. In the rough terrain of the empty lot, it took her three steps to cover a yard and her average rate was five steps per minute. Forty yards was almost a ten-minute walk.

She paused just in time to see Cal disappear into the lunch wagon. A sense of surprise came over Amy when she saw the green robed figure step out the back door. She recognized him as a Druid. In these days and times, it was hard not to recognize a Druid. She had even worked with one who was investigating a stock manipulation scheme. That guy was intense. The only question that came to mind was what was a Druid doing in this neighborhood.

The Druid looked around for a moment, spotted her, smiled, and then headed in her direction. She paused, finding it difficult to move and watch him at the same time. Not for the first time that day, she cursed the leg braces that prevented her from moving with ease.

“Amy, it is such a pleasure to meet you. I’ve heard a lot about the Chicago Angel. When I arrived in town, I knew that I just had to meet the woman who takes the time and effort to feed my fellow homeless,” said Harry in greetings as he reached her. The crooked smile on his face was friendly and open.

His greeting stunned her. She’d never heard of herself referred to as the Chicago Angel. She wondered if that was what they called her on the streets or if it was some sort of nickname that he was giving her. Nicknames, once given, would be picked up and repeated until it became a real name. She didn’t know what to say and stood in place staring at him.

“Allow me introduce myself. I’m Happy Harry, last of the hoboes,” said the Druid. He gave a half bow to her as he performed the introduction. The bow was accompanied by a full arm gesture as though he were in a royal court.

“Pleased to met you,” replied Amy automatically. She continued to stare at the Druid wondering what he was doing there. Stories about a Druid who served the Goddess by taking care of the forgotten people were slowly returning to her. She wondered if this was that Druid and why he would be here in Chicago in the month of January when he could have been helping others in much warmer climates.

“The pleasure is mine. Not many people will take the time and effort to buy food for the homeless out of their own pocketbook,” he said while gesturing towards the lunch wagon. He added, “Would you please join me in my carriage? It is much warmer in there than out here.”

“Sure,” she answered. Rather than attempting to help, he stepped beside her and matched his pace to hers. After a couple of steps, she said, “You can go ahead and wait for me.”

“And miss a chance to talk further with you? Never,” replied Harry turning on the charm.

“Miss a chance to talk to me?” asked Amy wondering if he was for real.


Focusing on walking, she said, “You don’t know anything about me.”

“I’d say that I know a lot about you, Amy,” answered the Druid with a grin.

“Really?” she said in disbelief.

“Every Friday, you get on a bus carrying a bag of food. Johnny takes you to a place where a lot of homeless are gathered and you get off the bus to handout the food. With no more than a kind word to everyone, you give of your hard-earned money in a form that helps rather than tempts weak souls. From what I’ve been able to guess, you spend about seven thousand a year on food alone. You don’t preach, lecture, or judge,” answered Harry.

The wind was making her nose run. She stopped and blew her nose before she said, “Cal could have told you that.”

“The California Kid?”


“Sure, he could have, and he did. So did about fifty other people. Of course, none of them know that you work as a stock market analyst,” commented Harry looking over at her to see her reaction.

“That’s easy enough to find out. Johnny could have told you that,” she retorted. She stopped walking to confront him without the distraction of moving.

“Sure, but my source was a lot closer to you than that. You worked with a friend of mine last year. He said that you were an honest person.”

“You know Ed Biggers?” asked Amy realizing even as she asked the question that the Druids would all know each other.

“He’s the head of those who serve the Two-Sided One. In addition, he gave me a couple million dollars and the roach coach,” answered Harry with a smile. “Anyway, he told me all about you.”

It unnerved her to know that Druids were talking about her. She wasn’t important enough to be discussed within such circles. She was an analyst for an investing firm and was fairly successful. She made a good living and lived a simple life.

Off balance, she said, “Oh.”

“Ed was really sorry to learn that we could not fix your knees,” remarked Harry looking down at her braces.

His direct examination of her braces embarrassed her, but she was used to being stared at by people. His gaze was different, seeming to focus on the impact they had on her rather than the ugliness they presented to others.

Raising an eyebrow, she asked, “And why would Ed think he could do anything about them?”

“His wife is a healer and can heal all kinds of injuries. The problem is that the underlying cause of your injury is a congenital problem. She can’t fix that,” answered Harry.

The fact that he knew her problem was a result of a congenital condition suggested he knew far more about her than she had thought possible. She asked, “Are you trying to recruit me or something?”

“Good gracious, no!” replied Harry.

The idea of going out and recruiting people was contrary to everything the Druids believed. People came to serve the Gods and Goddesses by seeking them out, being called to them, or by accident. The college was only a mechanism by which people could seek out service. It was strange, but in the entire time that the college had been in operation, no more than eight students in any year had become Druids. However, his answer made her wonder if he thought she wasn’t good enough to become a Druid.

She asked, “Why not?”

“That’s not our way,” explained Harry.

He looked over at her and gestured towards his vehicle. It was very cold and the wind seemed to drive the chill into the bones. She started walking while thinking about what Harry had said. If he wasn’t here to recruit her, then why was he here? Lost in thought, it took her a minute to realize that she had arrived at the truck.

She looked over at Harry and asked, “Now what?”

Smiling, Harry answered, “If you will allow me to lift you into the truck, you can wait in relative warmth while I finish my work here. Then I’ll take you to dinner and home.”

Staring at him, she wondered how this elderly man could possibly lift her into the truck. She wasn’t a small woman, being close to six foot tall. Her braces added another thirty-five pounds to her weight.

She said, “I’m much to heavy for you to lift me into the truck.”

“I’m far stronger than I look,” replied Harry with a wink.

“You can try,” she replied believing that he would discover that he couldn’t budge her off the ground.

With ease, Harry lifted her off the ground and carried her over to the passenger door of the truck. Upon reaching it, he said, “You’re going to have to unlock your braces.”

Amazed that he had been able to lift her and carry her around, she had not thought to unlock her braces. It only took a couple of seconds for her to comply with his request. He then placed her gently in the seat of the truck. The warmth of the truck greeted her like an old friend and chased away the cold chill that had crept into her body.

It was only after she was in her seat for a full minute that she thought to wonder about how easy it was for him to place her there. She had not noticed that the doors were extra wide so it was easy to carry her through them. She commented, “That seemed easy.”

“I’ve had lots of practice. I tend to travel in areas that are dangerous. More than one unconscious person has been carried to that seat,” replied Harry with a wink and a salute.

It made sense to Amy. She’d made more than one 911 call on her cell phone to have an ambulance pick up some unconscious homeless person. What didn’t make sense to her, was how a guy his age could lift her so easily. She nodded understanding despite the fact that she didn’t understand and waited as he returned to the truck. He packed her walker in a storage area reminiscent of the luggage area on a bus.

The source of this story is SciFi-Stories

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