A brief span of mockery
thus defined their outlaw ways
tempted by love and lust drained
through the hole at the bottom of their fading hearts.
They held hands together every moment; clasping
fingers sensitive to learn
that the body is hopeful,
but only the soul perseveres. - "Unwanted" Carrie Clevenger
It'd snowballed, this gigantic mass of chaos. A subtle hint as to their futures as human beings. Bones lengthened, strengthened, and became brittle. Sherry was an aborted mother, lost and hungry, and hobbling on crutches.
They started on the corners. They had to fight for one, because the really good corners were someone else's. Someone bigger and meaner. Benji'd take off his hat at every red light and make his solemn march down the middle strip of median that served as their personal island and hell. An oasis in a shivering mechanical tundra inhabited by grumbling motorists in shiny Cadillacs and Hondas. Sherry watched as the last person in her life to care gave up his dignity for a few wadded up bills, presumably out of an estranged dusty corner in some attorney's pocketbook.
Her hair was silky. Some guy in a Lexus stopped Benji, asked him how long his wife's hair was. She'd grown it since she was in High School. Pretty long, he said. An offer was made. Certificate passed from soft manicured hand to Benji's trembling fingers. Benji went back and relayed the message.
The 'earnings' for that day equaled less than thirteen dollars. If he skipped a drink, she could eat a decent dinner.
The man offered two thousand dollars. Enough to live on for two months, if they stayed outdoors. One if they found a place to stay. Maybe he could get a job then. Maybe she could get better then.
Cold hurt unmended bone.
The man was supposed to come back for them after the day was through, before the night dropped the temperature to freezing and vagrants were systematically shoved off their precious corners at dusk by the police.
Gales of unchecked wind swirled up around them, and snowflakes cut on diagonal pathways. Benji held Sherry close and thought of hot cocoa and peanut butter sandwiches. He thought of the warmth that enveloped him when he walked inside his old place.
“He's not coming back,” He said and stood. Sherry looked up at him and took his hand. Her crutches in one hand, Benji supported Sherry's weight as they walked into the path of the waiting headlights.