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Look at these people.

Just...look at these people.

These people are starving themselves stupid; or so they say, anyway. I can hardly tell if they're really hungry or if it's the Go-Go Juice. I mean, that would explain the mad amount of vomit the good ol' soup kitchen staff has had to mop up during the two hours we've been here “volunteering”. “Oh calm down,” Heidi told me as she poured her two-hundredth bowl of chicken soup for the day, “d'ese people are hungry, cold, and sick. They don't got anythin' else. Homelessness is an epidemic.”

No, homelessness ain't the epidemic.

Complacency is the real epidemic.

And honey, you're only feeding the virus more bacteria.

Think about it for a hot minute, will you? These people are living on the streets. They either got canned from their top dollar banking gig or they got caught with their pants around their kneecaps, coaching their wife's sister on her bi-weekly arm workouts. Either way, both scenarios lead to stress, which materializes into alcoholism. Suddenly their constant state of drunken euphoria ends and they realize their wife has left them, taking half of what her ex owns. Sometimes she'll just take the whole goddamn house too, but some are lucky enough to at least keep the house until they can no longer afford to make monthly payments on it. Bring on the foreclosure and constant bickering with tax collectors. Next thing this bastard knows, they're waking up to the foul stench of yet another piss stain bled into their cardboard heaven. Whether this came from somebody's dog or some typical New York asshole, there's no way to tell. All that this person knows is that they'll be needing their fourth box this week alone.

Now, I want you to imagine yourself as this unfortunate bozo. Ask yourself a very important question now as you toss out your soiled box and begin your search for another, cleaner cardboard shelter. At this moment in time, would you rather have a house with central heating, a roof, and a fully operational shower system? Or would you be completely fine with eating reheated soup for breakfast, lunch, and dinner every remaining day of your meaningless existence?

You hopefully chose the house.

If you chose the reheated soup, then I really gotta wonder if maybe your old man hit you a little too hard in the head when you were a kid.

These people don't need to be fed; they need the means to stop being poor and get their shit together. They need a way to overcome their drug addictions, stop jerking off to unfinished suicide notes, rekindle their lost relationships or at least create new ones—give them some kind of fucking light at the end of the tunnel, you know? But by all means, Heidi, keep stuffing their faces full of that expired soup. I'm sure they really appreciate all your hard work and generosity.

Now, would you believe me if I said that I told her all of this? That's right, everything you just read came straight outta my mouth. Needless to say, she didn't appreciate my honesty in the very slightest. Then again, nobody truly appreciates honesty in its purest form. If you ever hear somebody preach about honesty being a virtue, snuff 'em right in the jaw. I do it all the time; don't make me many friends, truth be told.

“I don't got time to argue this with you. Go be useful and tawlk to some of our guests.” I rolled my eyes and turned around to do as she asked, but make no mistake; I could feel her grilling me big time. I don't really care, though. If she knew half the shit I did in my spare time, she'd do more than just give me mean looks.

I found a mostly empty table and occupied it. Not two minutes after taking a seat did some old timer sit his ass down right next to me. “Hey, son.” His Jack Daniels breath came right for me like a raging bull and, before I knew it, was beating the ever loving shit out of my nostrils. I grimaced, not even giving him the satisfaction of offering up a smile. Not that he could call me out on this or anything; he quickly lost his lunch all over the table top and had to be escorted to the bathroom. The frizzy-haired volunteer who was stuck doing this gave me a sour look for not helping him myself. I gave the old bird a wink and cheeky grin in response.

I don't care if you're homeless.

I don't care if you're old.

I ain't gonna feel sorry for you when you got yourself into this mess in the first place.

Let some flat-assed middle aged lady take care of you, instead.

Once they were gone, I got away from the puke-covered table and went on the lookout for another place to sit. I, of course, didn't have a whole lot of luck in this endeavor. Every table either was full, or had the overly enthusiastic elders motioning for me to sit with them. You know the type: always smiling, constantly referring to you as “friend” even though they don't even know you, holding their hands out at you. You typically find these creeps at churches or some other religious gatherings.

I decided to pass.

Forgive me if I'd rather stick my dick in a toaster than have a bunch of zealots cramming Jesus down my throat.

After six unsuccessful minutes of seat-hunting, I finally just said “screw it” and opted to lean against a wall for the remainder of my time in this cesspool. Despite the general filth and grime of the establishment, the walls at least looked somewhat clean. Plus, standing up would help ensure that it's harder for me to doze off in the midst of people watching. Of course, this decision proved to not be without consequence.

For starters, the building was pretty chilly. Then again, that's what you get for living up north. You either felt mad brick outdoors, or you felt only a little brick indoors. But brick was still brick, no matter how you measured its intensity. I stuffed my hands into the pockets of my black jean jacket, shivering quietly. But you know something? I could've lived with the cold if it weren't for all the eyes.

Looks.

Whispers.

Pointing.

It didn't take a rocket scientist to tell me that I was being observed by these assholes.

So what about me fascinated them so much? Was it the moderately sized hole just above my right knee on my blue jeans? Were they appalled by my Mötley Crüe shirt underneath my jacket? I know how these old timers are. Anything that ain't 1920's jazz is considered “devil's music”, right? Or maybe, just maybe, they weren't offended by my style at all. Perhaps they were just jealous of how good looking I am! I mean, I got a little pudge around the gut, but that ain't stopped girls from wanting my phone number before. I scratched the growing scruff along my jaw, flashing the old people my best, sleaziest smirk that I could muster up.

Oh boy, the looks that gave me.

Widened nostrils.

Row of scowls long enough that you could make a belt or scarf out of them.

A couple of women putting hands over their hearts, gaping like idiots.

Goodness gracious!” you say?

I think you mean, “Be still my beatin’ heart!”

But then, another possibility occurred to me. Truth be told, I wouldn't of even considered this one if it weren't for the look a select few of the vagrants were giving me. They gave me looks of disgust like everyone else, sure. But these particular looks had another layer coating their initial revulsion. I could see it in their eyes. They might've been scowling, but those pupils of theirs were fully dilated.

Either these cats were high as balls, or they were afraid of me.

Oh, the look I got when this thought came to my head.

You see, fear is often related to submission. You see it in animals all the time. Bigger animals prey on smaller animals. Smaller animals fear these bigger animals because they know they are not strong enough to take them on. The only option for them is to either run or submit, accepting their grisly fate. These old timers weren't running or begging for another volunteer to protect them, so they clearly were reluctantly submitting to my might. Now more elders were beginning to look frightened. Like how I read their minds by looking at their faces, they could do the same with me.

They knew I had them figured out.

They knew I wasn't bothered.

And they knew that I was up to no good.

Goddammit, how I wished Heidi was at home! Without her here to stop me, I could lose myself. I could unfasten these restraints and let loose on every motherfucker in this building. The lovely lady hiding in the inner pocket of my jacket was dying to meet these people.

Shake their hands and kiss 'em goodbye.

Now my hands were shaking. I needed a cigarette. I wanted to leave this place. I was no longer against the wall, but rather pacing back and forth while trapped in my own rambling thoughts.

Don't act like this ain't natural. Think on it! These old timers are scared shitless of me; not because I said anything to them or because they witnessed me sock a bastard in the face or something. All I did was look at them. That was it! How many of you can say that you invoked enough control over someone where all you had to do to get your way was LOOK at them?

People were still staring at me, I was sure of it. But I didn't care. Fuck 'em! Fuck 'em all! Let them all watch me stew in my own brilliant thoughts. If one of them so happens to utter a single word to me about my “bizarre behavior”, I'll spaz so hard on their asses that the shock will rupture their frail hearts. For Christ's sake, Heidi—let me hurt somebody!

My pacing sped up. I'm was in a cold sweat. My breathing also got louder, though I assumed nobody could hear me over the loud chatter of the soup kitchen. My heart was pounding hard in my chest.

I was excited.

Too fucking excited.

Now I was grabbing my short, black hair. The urge was making me crazy! Now I knew people heard my breathing; I heard quite a bit of gasping. Though, to be fair, I wasn't sure if the gasping was coming from them or me. Surely not me, right? I ain't that whack, am I?

Finally, after what seemed to be an eternity of me tripping, Heidi came running out from the kitchen. I heard somebody from afar shout something along the lines of, “I don't know what's happening, Heidi!” Who it was, I wasn't able to identify. I didn't care nearly enough. She grabbed me by my shoulders and shook me pretty good. “Genghis. Genghis! What the hell you doin'?”

Oh yeah.

I forgot to mention that.

My name is fucking Genghis.

Like the Mongolian warlord.

Thank my asshole dad for that one.

“Genghis, tawlk to me!” No can do, Heidi. If I were to talk to you, I'd never shut up. You'd have me raving in your ear for the rest of the night. I wouldn't sleep. You wouldn't sleep. You'd hate me for doing that to you. You'd hate me for saying incredibly vile things to you. You'd hate me for me being me.

I didn't talk to her.

I did, however, scream the word “FUCK!” as loudly as I could.

Yep.

Right in the middle of the soup kitchen in which ninety percent of the guests were senior citizens.

Likely humiliated by my actions, Heidi spit out about six “I'm sorry”s to the guests and volunteers before grabbing my arm and dragging me outside. Once we were outside, I immediately yanked my arm away from her and whipped out my lighter and box of cigarettes. I could hear her voice, but wasn't listening to the words coming out of her mouth. Once my smoke was lit, I paced back and forth in front of Heidi, happy to be able to breath a little easier outdoors.

You wanna know the funny thing?

The cold wasn't bothering me much anymore.

The breeze seemed to just bounce right off my flesh!

“Genghis,” I finally heard Heidi say quietly. I looked at her, but didn't stop my pacing. Like the homeless people, she too had a tinge of fear in her eyes. However, her fear wasn't mixed with repulse. Her eyes were wide, but her eyebrows were not elevated. And the corners of her mouth were straight, but threatening to curve downwards.

Sadness.

Mixed with fear.

Concern.

She held her hand out. “Let's go for a walk, Genghis.” Ah, so that's what she was planning. She was hoping to calm me down from my episode. “Thaaintgunwork,” I spat out too quickly. I was never able to properly enunciate words when I was like this. It was a pain in the ass not being able to communicate.

She only kept holding her hand out. “C'mon, let's go for a walk. We can go to the park. You said the park always made you feel at peace. Remember?” Yeah, I did say that. About four years ago, but I still said that.

“N-Nuhhh,” I mumbled through my cigarette. She offered me a timid smile. “We can get somethin' to eat afterwords. Anywhere you want.” At this point, I knew I wasn't going to be able to convince her out of this. She thought she had me mostly figured out. And honestly, she did. Though maybe it was safer to hide some things from her. You understand. “Notfuckinsoup.”

She giggled.

Somehow she understood my jumbled mess of words.

“Okay, no soup. We'll figure it out after a nice trip to the park.” Hesitantly, I grabbed her hand while my other hand held my smokestick. She gave me a reassuring smile before we set off towards Fulton Park. She attempted to make small talk along the way, but I said nothing.

These thoughts inside my head? She don't need to know a single one of 'em.

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About the author

HR-Kain

  • Just Your Everyday Maniac

Bio: Writer, Teacher, Reader, Traveler, Film/Music/Video Game Enthusiast, Professional Cat Petter

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zeel steel @zeel steel ago

Interesting style. Not many authors i've read incorporate slang in their writing.

    HR-Kain
    Author

    HR-Kain @HR-Kain ago

    Thank you for the comment!

    It’s more so for characterization. Since the story is in first person, I like trying to keep the narrative in character. (keyword being “trying”, lol). Makes writing a little more fun as well. Tongue