The Billionaire Bum

By: Samantha Blair



I balled up my jacket and slipped it under my head as a makeshift pillow. It wouldn’t be the best night’s sleep I’d ever had, but I probably would get some sleep, and that was good enough for now.





Chapter 3: Morning Dawns on a Man for Hire


Jackson

“Wake up, sir.”

“What?” I mumbled, shielding my eyes from the blinding fluorescent light. Where the hell am I?

“I need to see your boarding pass and driver’s license.” A police officer? No, he was a security guard. Airport security. I wondered how long I’d been asleep.

“Oh, I’m sorry,” I mumbled, trying to shake off the sleep. “I um…” I didn’t have a boarding pass. I wasn’t flying anywhere. I was camping out in the airport because of some stupid-ass bet I’d made with my brother. How many beers did I have before agreeing to this?

“I haven’t checked-in for my flight yet,” I said, stupidly. “Could you tell me what time it is?”

“It’s almost four a.m.,” he said. “You can’t stay here without a boarding pass. Check-in for your flight and go through security. You can sleep at the gates but not out here.”

“Oh,” I said. “Yeah, my flight leaves in about two hours anyway, I guess. So I’ll go do that now.” He looked at my doubtfully but didn’t press any further.

Barely three hours of sleep.

I ducked into the bathroom to wash my face. Getting a toothbrush was definitely on the agenda for today. My hair was a disheveled mess, even more so than usual, and I had developed a kink in my neck from the uncomfortable sleeping position. It would be dark for at least two more hours. What on earth was I going to do until morning? I clearly couldn’t stay here, as I’d just lied to the security guard.

Leaving the bathroom, I walked down to the subway platform. The cold night air crept in here, and the cement tunnel felt eerily deserted. I sat on one of the cold wooden benches and waited for the train.

I wanted a cigarette.

I hadn’t smoked since college, and even then, I only smoked when I drank. Funny how being awake at four in the morning gave me that craving.

Eight minutes later the subway screeched to a stop, and I climbed aboard the empty car. I chose a seat in the back corner and laid my head against the window. This train was on a loop from the airport to downtown. I’d taken it occasionally when I was traveling without a lot of luggage. I preferred to leave my cars in the garage at home where I knew that they’d be safe.

Who knows what could happen to a car left unattended in the airport parking lot?

Supposedly, the train would just continue to make the loop every forty minutes or so, twenty-four hours a day. There wasn’t a lot of traffic going to and from the airport right now, so I thought my seat would remain mostly unoccupied with the possible exception of the four downtown stops. I knew it wouldn’t be great, but my body was not ready to give up on sleep yet, and I didn’t want to wander the streets until daylight. If I made the loop three times, it should get me through until morning.

Knowing that I would need to make better arrangements for tonight, I began to put a list together in my head. First things first, I would find a job. I was not a lazy homeless bum. I would work my way into a better sleeping place for tonight.

I knew that I’d have to find someone who would pay me a daily. If I had to wait a week for my first paycheck, the whole thing would be a moot point. Surely, someone would need day labor.

I slept fitfully. The first loop was all right, but as it grew closer to morning the subway became more and more crowded and sleep became less possible. It was difficult to keep track of time in an underground world, but I finally decided to make my exit when I could see the daylight filtering down the stairwell at one of the stops.

Wearily, I left my seat and climbed out into the heart of downtown. It was raining... of course. I reminded myself that it could have been worse; it could have been snow. I hoped that I wouldn’t get too soaked.

Stopping at a newsstand, I picked up a paper. I needed the help wanted section, and I was hoping that I might be able to find a charitable organization that would let me sleep in temporary housing for a few days.

I stepped out of the rain and into a small breakfast café that was just opening for business.

Despite the burger last night, I was hungry. My body seemed to be burning more calories from the lack of sleep. I ordered coffee and a short stack of pancakes. $6.50. I wasn’t accustomed to eating on a budget. After leaving a tip, I would be down to almost $50. An income was becoming a priority in a hurry.

Help wanted. Administrative Assistant… Sales… Real Estate…

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