Mick was ushering her down a path quicker than she would have thought him capable of moving. She wanted to see if Brad was following, but every time she started to turn, Mick would place a hand on her back and say, “Come on!” It occurred to her that she could be getting herself into more trouble by blindly following this random homeless guy. Scary Witch Hat Guy popped into her head. Mick seemed alright, but then, she had thought the same thing about Brad. She decided to keep following him. They were headed in the direction of her car, and the park was filled with people. A lot of them turned and stared as Mick and Liza power walked past. She had on heels and a skirt from her date. Mick was wearing stained jeans, over-sized black boots, and a pea coat that looked like it had caught fire on the one side.
They exited the park and walked up to her car. Mick motioned for her to get in. She fished the keys out of her purse.
“You ok to get home from here?” he asked, puffing away on his little cigar. He turned and looked behind him.
“Don’t worry about it. Get in.” Liza got in the car, started it up, and lowered the window. “You be careful,” he said. He leaned down and patted the back of her hand that was resting on the steering wheel.
She had a thought. “Hang on.” Liza dug around in her purse and pulled out a bag of breakfast cookies and a ten-dollar bill. She passed them through the window to Mick.
“No, no.” He took a step back and waved his hands in front of him.
“Take it!” Liza hated feeling like she owed people. She also liked this guy and genuinely wanted to help, even if it was in a small way. She thought of the two extra bedrooms in her house, but didn’t mention them. He wouldn’t come and it probably wasn’t a good idea anyway. “Please. Just take it.”
He glanced behind him, then turned back to Liza. “Ok. Thank you.” He took the cookies and the money, patting the back of her hand again.
“It was nice meeting you. Thank you again for helping me,” said Liza. “Do you mind if I ask your name?”
“Michael.” Liza laughed. “No way!”
He regarded her, mid-puff, from under raised yellowy white eyebrows. “That funny?”
“No. It’s just…it reminded me of something. Sorry.” Nice. Be rude to the guy who just saved your ass. “Really. Thank you again.” She handed him one of the business cards that she used when she did freelance work. It had only her name, email address, and cell number. “If you ever need anything…I don’t know if you have access to…”
“Thank you.” He stuck it in a pocket without looking at it, and took a step back.
Liza put the car in gear. “It was nice meeting you, Michael.”
“Nice meeting you too, Liza.”