the boy who collected the coins
December 25, 2013 § 4 Comments
“There he go,” Bruno said under his breath.
Still chewing gum, he watched from behind the cash desk as Kean walked down the aisle. The boy was in his usual red hooded sweatshirt, lingering near the shelves of dairy products. Kean looked a bit different—it must be because of his messy haircut. It seemed like a barber had left him before finishing the job.
Kean looked up, reading a price label on the shelf. Bruno could see the boy squeezing a rag pouch in his right hand. The coin pouch. Kean always brought that when he went shopping here. Every time the boy got coins in returns, he would put them into the pouch. That was why Bruno began to associate Kean with jingling coins.
He once asked Kean about his legendary pouch.
“It’s Mom’s idea,” the boy answered diffidently. “She let me keep every return coins when I go shopping.”
People who lived in this part of town knew Leslie, Kean’s mom, who had beaten by her ex husband last year and now had been struggling with her life and the only son.
“Is your mother okay, Kean?” Bruno asked as Kean finally approached to him. Usually Leslie asked Kean to go shopping when she was ill or too tired after her hard-working-days at the dispensary.
“She’s fine. She said I can spend my savings once in awhile.” Kean smiled a little and put a box of milk on the table. After that the boy started picking out the coins from his pouch, one by one, counting without a sound and piling them beside the milk box. “Is this enough, Bruno?”
It was the first time Bruno saw Kean using his saving coins. “I guess so. I will count it again to make it sure, all right?”
Kean nodded and waited.
“So, is there anything else you need to buy?” Bruno glanced over Kean while counting. Kean shook his head, “I don’t think I have extra coins for that.” Both of them smiled.
Finally Bruno finished counting. “Done. You are gonna be a good accountant. Thank you, Kean. Good new choice, by the way. This one tastes so good with cereal.”
“Oh, really?” Kean looked a little gloomy as he accepted the milk box. “I hope next time I can buy that too. My friend will be happier.”
Bruno raised his eyebrows. “So you spend your first savings for your friend? Well, what a lucky one. Do I know your friend?”
“He’s living under the bridge over there. Not too far behind your father’s shop,” Kean replied and tucked the almost-empty-pouch back into his pocket.
Bruno stopped chewing and looked at Kean. He knew that some homeless people stayed under the bridge. Before he could speak Kean continued, “I think he has been dreaming about drinking milk since long time. He always talks about it every time we meet.”
Kean was ready to leave when Bruno suddenly said, “Hey, wait here for a second.”
Bruno moved out from behind the counter and came back with a box of cereal in his hand. He shoved the box into Kean’s hand. “I hope this can complete your friend’s meal,” he said.“Just take it.”
Kean looked at it for a moment. A smile lit up his face, bigger than Bruno’s smile. “It’s more than complete, Bruno. Thank you.”