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New York, New York, United States
"Life isn't divided into genres. It's a horrifying, romantic, tragic, comical, science-fiction cowboy detective novel."

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Homeless - excerpt

Just a little bit from the "book" I've been trying to write..

Chapter 2

It’s really pretty remarkable the stuff people throw away in Manhattan. Toward, the end of any given month, it becomes a veritable free-for-all for people like me. I remember one afternoon, I watched as a young couple wrestled a queen-sized mattress out the door of their walk-up and on to the street. Arguing, they disappeared inside and momentarily, the girl came out, stuffing the bedding into a trash bag and leaving it on top of the bed. I sat on the stoop across the street until they finished packing up their things. As the moving truck roared off, I ventured across the street. Tentatively, I sat on the bed. My bony ass hadn’t felt such cushiony heaven in months. Not able to resist, I lay fully down on the bed. In moments, I was asleep.
I don’t quite remember what I dreamt of, but I know it was of home.
Fresh fruit in a yellow bowl, birds of paradise bordering a shaded path, the hushed sound of my feet ascending carpeted steps, the medicinal smell of the bedroom. Home..

I was jerked rudely awake. A female police officer stared down at me.
“Yo, girlie, you can’t sleep there.”
I was flustered. Still partly in the dream.
“I’m…I’m sorry. I was tired.”
“Well that’s pretty obvious. You need a place to go?”
“What? No, no. I’m fine.”
I reached for my bag and the trash bag of bedding and sidled away. I could feel the officer staring after me.
That trash bag of bedding lasted me two weeks. I came back one day to the construction site I was holed up in and discovered blood all over the sheets and blanket. I never did figure out whose blood it was. It wasn’t mine. At least I don’t think it was.


I’m walking down 7th with Amy and I can’t help but stop every few feet to examine the stuff people have left on the street. Most of it is furniture which is pretty useless to me; empty bureaus, a nightstand, several lamps, some picture frames. But up ahead, I spy my jackpot. Some fool had left out a stack of books in perfect condition. Lovingly I pick up the top book and sniff its pages. Forgetting I had company, I look over, embarrassed, at Amy, but she has a wry smile on her face.
“I knew I had you pegged for a book-lover. I thought I was the only one who smelled books.”
I smile nervously and look back down at the stack. Most of it consists of pulp reads; some Lehanes, a Janet Evanovich. However, at the bottom, I find what looks like a brand new copy of Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray.
“Oh, that’s a good one,” Amy remarks. “Have you read it before?”
I shake my head.
“You should take it. You actually kind of remind me of Becky Sharp.”
“She’s the main character. You’ll see.”

We continue down the street when something stops me cold. There’s a mirror - grimy but intact - left out on the street. I don’t think I’ve looked at myself in a mirror in months. The shelters certainly don’t have any and store window reflections don’t really do the trick. I step closer. Amy, who is chattering away about her roommate suddenly falls silent.
That just can’t be me. Small, peaked face, blonde hair shorn to neck-length in crazy tufts. I was afraid I had lice last year and finding a pair of blunt scissors, I had cut all of my hair off. It’s now grown out but dirty and matted. I look thin. Painfully thin…ludicrous in my down jacket and baggy jeans. There are smudges of dirt and grime all over my face and neck. The blood on my lip and hands has caked in patches.
But, oh god, it’s my eyes. There’s desperation flickering in the corners, paranoia and insanity lurking just around the bend. I open them wider, bring my hands to my face. Edvard Munch, I think.
I start to cry. Harsh, rasping sobs burst from me and I bend over in horror and nausea.
I feel Amy’s hand tentatively on my back.
I can’t stop crying. My head hurts, my heart hurts. I’m terrified, sick…so incredibly exhausted. I’m mumbling words, I don’t even know what. An endless litany. I feel as if I’m losing my mind. I’m so scared. I want to go home. Please, God, somebody help me. I want to go home. I hate this. I hate me. I just want to go home.

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