F   I   C   T   I   O   N 

​Please Give

I was coming to… The dirty flattened candy wrapper appeared just in front of my nose. And the rest of the street like a sideways wall next to my head. The city’s din returned. The buildings, hell, even the curb, loomed up from my vantage point here on the concrete. With an ache-filled twist, I struggled to a sitting position holding my garbage head in my two grimy arthritic hands. I couldn’t say things were at all that good. I concentrated on the patch of dirty alleyway between my knees. Wet paper and unknown shit reflected the city lights.

Now it came back to me: we’d hit a bottle of cheap stuff with Old Jake. Me and Dago and Crazy Johnny. Oh yeah, and Vicky. Passing it around to see who conked out first. Last thing I remember is Vicky getting up to leave and Dago grabbing her ass as she left. She was too drunk to mind, and I was too drunk to get up and beat the shit out of Dago for touching her. Nobody messes with my gal if I can help it.

Crazy Johnny’s in my face, whispering.

“Took my Charlie, took my Charlie! When the witch comes, witch comes. Which witch? Come see! Come see!”

Johnny’s been around here forever. Always wanting people to come with him but no one ever has. He’s always on the move walking up and down the street talking to himself. Great conversations about nothing.

I park my trash bag duffle and settle down in my corner of the sidewalk. My cardboard sign says “VETERAN OF DRINKING WARS. PLEASE GIVE.” I figure everyone’s tired of Vietnam and Iraq vets. I’m just a casualty of booze. Some people find my sign funny and put change in my cup. Even if I had a shit to give, I wouldn’t.

So what are my dreams, my aspirations in this life that I’ve fashioned for myself? Maybe it’s a hundred dollar bill in my cup, maybe it’s Vicky knowing I exist, maybe it’s Jesus and the seven dwarves letting me into their hearts, or maybe rehab and a goddamn shower.

Doesn’t matter. Here's the big guy in the charcoal suit again – Ramon. He’s lifting me up and carrying me back to the limo.

“Glad we found you tonight, sir. Mrs. Wells was very worried.”