We didn’t want to go to the homeless non-profit fundraiser, mostly because we were tired, because we already donated money and needed items, and had volunteered to work the shelter, but we were invited and had free tickets. It had been a while since we’d been out in the community even though we were vaccinated, boosted, and still wore masks. Before we committed, however, we pulled a suit and dress that hadn’t been worn in two years and decided they both still fit well enough and likely no one had seen us in them before, or if they had, they wouldn’t remember.

The same caterer who supplied all chicken dinner fundraisers served fried chicken, and by the time we got to the steaming pan, the breasts were gone, and we had to choose between thighs, drumsticks, or wings, not enough protein to keep anyone alive. We spooned some instant mashed potatoes, some green beans from a can, and a store-bought role and shuffled like cattle back to our table to hear a speaker who thought a lot of himself and droned on about motivation from his stint in professional sports. If anyone had checked, he would have discovered plagiarism from a psychology textbook.

The venue was at the city owned Civic Center, a place each non-profit rented because instead of twelve hundred dollars, they got a discounted rate to one thousand dollars. What none of them knew was that the mayor used to charge eight hundred dollars and raised the price to twelve hundred dollars with the idea he could give discounts to a thousand and still make two hundred dollars for each chicken dinner fundraiser. His capitalistic move had worked, and the Civic Center went from a fifty percent occupancy to ninety percent and could have been one hundred, except for the religious college who simply wouldn’t move their events even after twenty percent of their alumni and donors got COVID, since the college hadn’t social distanced them and because they refused to wear masks.

After dinner, a handful of couples danced around their tables to the live music coming from the corner by a three-string band who made a decent living from their fee plus tips even though they didn’t have health care or any other benefit and were one gig away from homelessness. I heard the nonprofit cleared five hundred dollars profit after the rent, the band, and the caterer were paid, and they set a goal for one-thousand-dollar profit for the next chicken dinner fundraiser. We decided we’d give even more, but we weren’t interested in any more chicken dinners.


Niles Reddick

Niles Reddick is author of a novel, two collections, and a novella. His work has been featured in over 500 publications including The Saturday Evening Post, PIF, New Reader, Forth, Citron Review, Right Hand Pointing, Nunum, and Vestal Review. He is a three-time Pushcart, a two time Best Micro nominee, and a two time Best of the Net nominee. His newest flash collection “If Not for You” has recently been released by Big Table Publishing.

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