The Billionaire Bum

By: Samantha Blair

Prologue


Jackson Hayes, brilliant real estate tycoon, entrepreneur, and financial genius, was walking home from work. Admittedly, this was a rare event prompted by the early springtime weather coupled with an extremely irritating late-afternoon meeting.

He was in the process of purchasing a company owned by none other than Mr. Nicholas Carver, a shrewd businessman who had repeatedly made appearances in Jackson’s life, much to Jackson’s dismay. Nick seemed untrustworthy and never failed to set Jackson’s teeth on edge, but his company did appear to be a good investment. The board of Hayes Enterprises was pushing for this acquisition despite their young CEO’s doubts. The due diligence checked out, and pending any further information, the deal was scheduled to close in less than thirty days.

Jackson loosened his tie and threw his perfectly tailored jacket over his arm for the hike across town. He was looking down at his over-priced PDA and absentmindedly running his fingers through his disheveled hair.

Half a block ahead a retired Vietnam war veteran, who had come across some rather hard times lately, was sitting on the sidewalk stretching the tight muscles in his right leg, and holding a cup for change. Some aches, it seemed, never went away.

Perhaps if Jackson had looked up, he might have noticed the man sitting on the sidewalk with his legs outstretched, but as it was, he literally stumbled right over him. A startled, “What the…?” escaped his lips before he scraped one palm against the sidewalk and managed to right himself. The man that he had tripped over tumbled sideways, spilling loose change from his cup.

“Watch where the hell you’re going,” he growled, frantically collecting the spilled coins.

“Don’t sit in the middle of the fucking sidewalk,” Jackson spat in return.

“Fucking self-absorbed asshole…” The man’s mumbled sentence faded off as he righted himself and went back to shaking his cup.

Jackson could have simply ignored the man and went on his way with no further thought, but this day had been frustrating enough, without adding insult to injury from a filthy street bum, and Jackson had never been one to back down from a fight. Before he knew it, the argument was falling from his lips.

“What did you call me? Self-absorbed? Fucking self-absorbed? That’s rich coming from a man with no work ethic who doesn’t even pay taxes. You’re a fucking drain on the system, and you think I’m selfish? At least I take care of myself. What the fuck have you ever done?” The homeless man stood slowly, ignoring the pain that the action caused, and looked Jackson dead in the eye. Our dear Mr. Hayes couldn’t have known it, but this man had seen far worse in his sixty-odd-years than the likes of an uptight businessman. Where Jackson expected to see shame he instead saw perseverance. These were the eyes of one who never gives up, no matter how broken.

“You’ve been handed everything your whole life, pretty boy. You wouldn’t survive one week living like me.” With that closing remark, the man turned and limped away down the street, leaving a speechless Jackson alone on the sidewalk.



Jackson’s phone vibrated in his hand, pulling him out of his stunned silence.

“Hello,” he answered coldly.

“What’s up my brother?” Jason’s boisterous voice echoed through the phone.

“Nothing.”

“Good, we’re having a night out. Shelby is off at some fashion show thing, and you know I can’t cook for shit. I’ll meet you at the Phyrst in half an hour.” The line went dead.

Jackson looked up at the street sign. He was still ten blocks from home, and it was a ten-minute drive from home to the bar. It looked like he’d need that cab after all.





Chapter 1: The Bet


Jackson

I felt decidedly better after a change of clothes and draught lager. My brother Jason had a natural ability to cure me of whatever funk I might be in, and I found myself very glad that he had called me out for burgers and beer. We’d been comparing our days back and forth for the last few minutes.

“..so then the guy has the audacity to call me a self-absorbed asshole,” I said. “Can you believe that? When he’s the one practically lying in the middle of the street?” Jason chuckled and shook his head, taking a long swig of his beer.

“And then,” I continued. “And then, when I called him on it, he tells me that I wouldn’t survive one week in his shoes! It’s like he thinks being a bum is hard work or something.” I paused while the waitress set our burgers in front of us. “This looks so good. I was freaking starving.”

Jason was still shaking his head and laughing across the table. “He’s right though.”

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