Fiction — November 26, 2014 16:25 — 1 Comment

Leftovers – Joseph Giordano

It was a rowdy night at the steakhouse, Groppa del Manzo. Teddy “Sawbuck” Foster invited a dozen colleagues to celebrate his closing the merger of two Fortune 500 companies. Teddy was the firm’s chief investment banker and arbitrage trader; his pores oozed money. He earned his nickname for the daily tip he gave the white-haired grandmother who pushed the coffee cart at the office and buttered his bialy. It was after eleven when I walked outside with a chunk of Dolores Castillo’s New York strip in a doggy bag. I raised a goodbye palm to her and Teddy. We’d lingered over limoncellos as our crowd thinned down and were the last three to leave. Dolores had dark eyes that skewered my heart like a kebob. I’d made a play for her all evening. Teddy and Dolores slid into the back seat of a hired Mercedes and Teddy whispered something to the driver before they motored away. Dolores was giggling. I pushed out of my head what they would do next.

Before limoncellos, the Amarone had flowed freely, and I was unsteady on my feet. I was about to hike to Broadway for the subway, when my gauzy field of view caught sight of a wiry man stooped over a garbage container. His head turned, and he met my gaze. His eyes were rheumy, and I could smell him twenty feet away. He wore a faded army field jacket with frayed sleeves. This was precisely the individual I would normally walk apace to avoid, but a childhood memory flashed into my brain. My father was an immigrant and struggled financially all his life. He would often slip a couple of dollars into a derelict’s hand and say to me, “He’s somebody’s baby.” Dad was street smart, without formal education, and he pushed me to finish university. Up until then, I’d not followed my father’s example with homeless people. I couldn’t pin down when I’d stopped learning from him and decided that I knew it all on my own.

My portfolio cratered in the 2008 market crash. I was downsized and spent six months looking for work. While these days Wall Street was heaven with French fries, if the bottom fell out again, I could be elbowing alongside this motley gentleman at the free lunch counter.

The ragged man had gone back to foraging in the trash.

Maybe it was because of the alcohol, but I walked up to the guy. “Pardon me.”

The man must not have heard me.

I raised my voice. “Excuse me, sir.”

The man stopped digging. He tilted his head at me.

I said, “Would you like this?”

The man’s yellow rimmed eyes had blue centers. He didn’t speak.

“We just ate at the restaurant; it’s good stuff.”

The man’s eyes went to the doggy bag, then rose to lock with mine.

“I’m serious. It’s strip steak. There’s half a baked potato as well.”

The man’s voice sounded like he gargled glass. “Fuck you.”


“You high-hatted prick. You think you can lord over me that you eat steak while I rummage through other people’s shit?”

“I didn’t mean …”

“I know what you meant. Kiss my ass.” The man put hands on hips and thrust his chin at me.

I stood with my leftovers like a relay runner who’d failed to pass the baton. My face got hot. It’d been decades since my last street fight, but I clenched my fists and imagined a right cross to this ungrateful bastard’s rotten-tooth mouth. I played a movie in my head where I kicked his bum-ass to Central Park.

In the recess of my consciousness, a little voice cautioned that I’d gotten too upset over a minor insult. I opened my hands and focused on my breathing to calm myself. Two minutes ago my biggest problem was that I failed to get laid. I didn’t want to find myself facing a judge in Manhattan Central Booking over an assault charge. Plus, street people carry blades for defense. The guy likely carried a knife crusted with enough bacterial toxin to rival an Amazonian poison dart.

The man’s eyes cleared. He looked like a scorpion ready to pounce.

The night chill sent a shiver through me. I worried the man would see my tremor and sense fear. I took a step back.

The man shouted. “Hey.”

I quickened my backward retreat, keeping sight of him.

He matched my steps.

“Stay away from me.” I turned to run.

His voice was loud. “Stop.” He took off after me.

I said over my shoulder. “What do you want?”

“Where are you going with my goddamn steak?”


Joe Giordano was born in Brooklyn. He and his wife, Jane, have lived in Greece, Brazil, Belgium and Netherlands. They now live in Texas with their little shih tzu, Sophia. Joe's stories have appeared in more than fifty magazines including Bartleby Snopes, Newfound Journal, and The Summerset Review.

One Comment

  1. leonardo says:

    This story reminds me how many timesI tried to help “people” and ….they did not understand our deep good will…..nevertheless I believe that who can help should continue to help… is a human duty

    many times in my life I helped people that misunderstood the intent of my initiative, only in desperate sistuations I was openly accepted…..probably I have to do it in a very dicrete way and we should not be surprised IF our will to help is not accepted… is part of human nature, ciao

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