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A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Founder & Owner
Ray Rasmussen, General Editor

Volume 11, Number 4, December 2017

R J Sobel
Playa del Rey, California, USA

A Helping Hand

Five minutes to go and the seats are empty, the table set with copies of my book, along with a few bookmarks and coffee mugs imprinted with its title. On a book tour for my novel, A Helping Hand, about an altruistic socialite who secretly moonlights as a benefactor of the streets, lifting spirits one troubled soul at a time – given a scheduling change and the blustery weather, my reading is about to be a washout. One minute to go and I catch the icy glare from the bookstore manager, when my first arriver, a man looking as rumpled as a crumpled heap windswept against the roadside, grabs a mug and sits, head down, in the back row. I begin, reading a passage to my unwitting shill, full-throated, to perhaps pique the attention of the few browsing customers; but before long he mercifully gets up and leaves, and I take his cue.

Outside, my audience of one has settled back among his scant humble trappings near the storefront; on the ground before him, his new mug – my swag, bearing the imprint of his silent plea. Digging deep into my pockets, I come up with only a little loose change. Like words, I think, it won’t amount to much.

fallen leaves decorate
an empty begging cup



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