The trip downtown was meant to satiate his curiosity. Clement was supposed to learn the simple truth behind this enigmatic local character. Instead, Clement was confused and even more curious.
When he reached his bus stop, Clement stared off into nowhere. He didn’t even notice the man approach. The putrid body odor first alerted Clement to his presence.
“What do you get when you cross a steer with a puppy?” asked the man.
“I asked what you’d get if you cross a steer with a puppy,” repeated the man.
“I don’t know,” said Clement.
“What do you get when you cross a lamb with a puppy?” asked the man.
Clement shook his head. “What?”
“What do you get if you cross a lamp with a puppy?” asked the man.
A frown formed across Clement’s face. “Did you say lamp?”
“Uh huh,” said the man with a toothless smile.
“I have no idea.”
The man shrugged. “Me neither, but I betcha it’s bright.”
“Do you like my jokes?” asked the man.
Clement smiled. “I do.”
“Do you think they’re worth a dollar?”
“Aha,” said Clement. “I get it. I guess so. Here.” He pulled our a five dollar bill. “Three jokes for a five.”
“Thanks,” said the man as he grabbed the money from Clement.
“Where did you get the jokes?” asked Clement.
“Sometimes I get ‘em from the library. Sometimes I write ‘em myself.”
“What about the ones you told me?”
The man beamed. “I wrote those myself.”
“So you’re a writer.”
The man held up the five dollar bill. “Better than that. I’m a paid writer.”
Clement laughed. “What’s your name?”
“Ed. Most folks call me Special Ed.”
Clement shook his hand. “Clement. I’m curious. Why do they call you ‘special’, Ed?”
“Actually, it was Emperor Don who first said it. Saw somethin’ special in me, he said. He saw me beggin’ on the streets and suggested I start tellin’ jokes t’folks. Said people felt better ‘bout givin’ if ya try to earn it. He was right. I’ve been Special Ed ever since.”
Clement raised an eyebrow. “Emperor Don did that?”
“Yep. He’s king in my books. Thanks for the help,” said Special Ed, and he turned to leave.
“Thanks for the jokes,” said Clement. He watched in amazement as Special Ed shuffled down the street.