Fantasticoe 2006

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Brian Sokolow
Bumming Around

Many years ago there lived a street person named Grant.  Grant was a gentle sole that had fallen into some bad luck over the years; landing him on the street.  His real name was not actually Grant; he had been given this name because he used to hang around Grant High School.  Thus he became known as the Grant High Bum, but over the years this was shortened to just Grant.  His birth name was actually Jeff.  All of the students at the high school knew who he was and actually treated him quite fairly and even gave him money or food.  Because of this Grant tried to make sure the students never ran into trouble, if he could help it. 

          For the most part when he was not interacting with students Grant kept to himself and went about his own business.  He actually lived quite a distance from the school, but traveled there often.  He lived under a bridge, the Burnside Bridge, right next to a skate park frequented by the students of the high school.  He liked to watch the kids skate and sit and bullshit with them when he got a chance.  And he could always be depended on if anybody tried to cause a problem.

          One typical dreary night inPortland, Grant was settling into his cardboard box for the night. He sat listening to the traffic overhead and the sound of rain falling all around him.  His box was nestled nicely in the corner of a parking lot that sat right next to the skate park.  It is completely covered allowing him to sleep without getting wet during all types of weather.  Also since the skate park is underneath a bridge it allows for skaters to skate at all times of the night and in any weather.

          This particular night there was a lone skater taking advantage of the park.  Grant recognized the kid as a student from the high school, but had never talked to him before.  The boy wore a Hurley sweatshirt which hung down over his faded, baggy blue jeans.  He skated the well-crafted ramps without a care in the world.  He seemed to be completely unaware that Grant was there.

          As Grant watched the kid skate he felt an eerie breeze pass through the air.  But he just curled himself up more into his sleeping bag and tried to ignore the coldness; as he had done so many nights before. 

          Five minutes later, Grant was about to turn in for the night when he heard the distinct sound of a skateboard rolling by his box.  He looked up and all he could see was a fat rat standing on a skateboard, which was rolling towards the park.  Grant just laughed his ass off.  He figured somebody had left their board next to a sewer and the rat just happened to climb on.  This was one of those times Grant wished he was not poor and had a camera to take a picture.

          Just as Grant was about to turn back over the rat started shaking violently.  After about thirty seconds of shaking the rat's long tail began to suck up into its body.  As this happened the rat's fur turned into long blonde hair, its front legs turned into arms and its hind legs grew to the size of a normal human.  The rat had morphed into a beautiful young woman who was well dressed in all the latest skater gear.

          Grant about had a heart attack when he saw this.  He could not figure out what was going on.  He had not eaten that day and wondered if he was hallucinating.  He slapped himself a few times but the woman  did not disappear.  Despite what most people think about bums Grant is not an alcoholic, so he knew it could not be from drinking too much that he was seeing this woman.  He continued to stare in disbelief.  But instead of saying something to the woman Grant decided to just keep his mouth shut and see what she was up to.

          The woman made her way toward the young man skating.  She moved almost as if she was floating, so gently and fluidly.

          As she approached the skate park the man skateboarding stopped abruptly and stared at the gorgeous woman.

          "Hi," the woman said in a timid little voice.

          "Um, hi," replied the man a little stunned by the girls presence and beauty.  "I'm John, what is your name?"

          "I'm Samantha but my friends call me Sam," the woman replied. 

"What is a pretty girl like yourself doing out here at such an hour? "  Asked John.

          "I am skating, duh" she replied with a little giggle.

          "I know that, but why so late?"

          "I am too shy to skate when others are around, so  I skate late at night when no one is here ," she replied.  "Why are you here so late?"  Sam asked. 

          "I had to escape my family for awhile so I decided to just come here and skate," replied John.

          "Sounds reasonable."

"Yeah, I guess.  So are you good?"

          "Not really," she said.

          "Oh, come on let me see something," John pleaded.

          "No.  I work hard but I lack good coaching .  I get too embarrassed," Sam said sheepishly. 

          "Well, I am no professional," said John, "but I would be willing to help you out." 

          "That would be awesome," she exclaimed

          The man got on his board and went up the ramp and performed a relatively simple trick and came down in perfect form.

          "Now your turn," he said to Sam.

          With flushed cheeks the girl jumped on her board and went up the ramp.  As she approached the peak of the ramp, she slipped and fell into John's arms. 

          "Nice catch," she said laughingly.

          "Thanks," replied John.  "Now lets try it one more time but make sure your weight is over your dominate foot."

          Once again Sam went up the ramp but this time she was able to perform the trick and come down smoothly.  She hoped off the skateboard and leaped into the man's arms.

          "That was amazing," John exclaimed

          "Well I could not do it without you," Sam replied.  " Thank you so much."

          The two looked into each others' eyes and their lips gradually came closer to each other.  Just as their lips were about to touch Grant jumped out of his box.

          "Nooooo!" Grant yelled. "Don't kiss her!  S he is not human; she is just trying to trick you."

          "Shut up you crazy drunk," yelled John.  "Mind your own business."  He yelled, not realizing who the bum was.  If he had known it was Grant he would have known that he was being sincere.

          Without thinking Grant picked up a brick that he kept near his box just in case someone decided to mess with him while he was sleeping.  He heaved the brick at the woman, not knowing what would happen but he thought maybe it would distract her from hurting the young man.  The brick struck the woman square in the back of the head.  She fell to the ground in a heap.  As her body hit the ground she instantly morphed back into her true self.  The rat then scurried across the cement and dove into the sewer before it could be injured anymore.

          John stood in utter disbelief.  The fact that he just saw a woman turn i nto a rat was almost unfathomable.  He stood there for a good minute before turning to Grant and thanking him for saving his life, he kept his head down because he felt so ashamed he had not listened to the man.  He then apologized for not taking him seriously and then continued to thank him some more.  John told Grant that if he ever needed anything to just ask and he would be glad to help him.

          "All I really want is a nice hot meal and maybe a cup of coffee," Grant said.  "It has been a long night.  I think we both need to just go somewhere and sit for awhile."


Acknowledgments:

          I would like to thank Terry for helping me work out the kinks in my story and to also improve the overall quality of it.  I would also like to thank the entire Fantasy Writing class for reviewing my story many times as well as giving helpful insight on how I could improve it.