10/01/2013

Outside The Fancy Steakhouse (Short Story)

Outside The Fancy Steakhouse

You wake up on a park bench. It's mid-afternoon and you've been asleep all morning. The sunlight beats on your dry eyes and you can barely see. Your parched mouth tells you to find some water. Your stomach screams for food, but hates you for what you constantly feed it. The playground is rather empty for this time of day. Maybe because you've been sleeping there on the bench.

You slowly stand up. The world spins around you violently, until you finally gain hold of it, burping. Your last forty from the night before lies empty in the dirt next to an anthill and your vomit. You leave it there on the ground and make your best attempt at stumbling away. Another day in the life, you think to yourself.

Reaching into your pocket, you find a few things. Luckily, your empty wallet is still there in the back left. Your ragged old jeans aren't looking too bad you think, walking past the laundromat. The sidewalk warps and waves as you drudge onward. Your front pockets muster the caps to three forties and your last five dollar bill. Ten minutes later you have two dollars and a receipt from McDonalds. A large water brings you back to a functioning level. The corner store gives you another forty in a brown paper bag.

Now you're out of money, so it's time to make the two mile walk downtown. The sun hangs low in the sky as the tourists sit down to eat their dinners. You sip the forty the whole way there, drinking half by the time you reach the fancy steakhouse. You went over your scheme in your head. The trick is to be charismatic and to pick the right people. If it all goes according to plan, you'll be set on fast food and forties for another week.

You can only stand outside the fancy steakhouse once a week, or the owner gets mad. He's alright with it once as week, as long as nobody complains. When the people leave the restaurant, you talk to them. It's always best to get them right after the meal. Early on, when you are still somewhat coherent, you make the most money. Some of the regulars get to know you, and they give you a weekly allowance. You pick the tourist with the nicest suit and ask him about his dinner. He gives you a few bucks to leave him alone and walks away as the lights turn off at the fancy steakhouse.

It's time to head down the street towards the bars. The same bars that you partied at in your younger days, before all this. Cracking your third forty, you notice that the people there are just as drunk as you are. It's a saturday night, there are people everywhere. The young people at the bar buy you drinks and give you money. When the bars close, they leave chanting your name, laughing. You're a local celebrity, for what it's worth.

You try to find a bed to sleep in, but never succeed anymore. You end up making the two mile walk back towards the park. The stroll back consists of counting the week's money and drunkenly budgeting your purchases. You know you'll have to repeat yourself in the morning, but it makes you happy, so you do it anyway. You wonder how things even got like this. You think how at least you've got money for some extra booze, and keep walking towards the playground that's become your home.

(4/14/2014): This story was selected to be published in the 2014 edition of Miscellany, the student-run arts journal at the College of Charleston. That marks the first time something I've written has been selected and printed. Check out page 69 of Miscellany to read it in print. 

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