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Jack.Be.Quick

Summary

          Years after her older sister's death, Alexis is granted a swimming scholarship to the University of Texas in Austin. Her first day in a new city is fine until she is attacked and nearly raped by a drunken homeless man. She is saved by a boy about her age, who she then spends the next few days following around, eventually falling for the homeless boy named Jack. But, Jack has his own battles to deal with, including homelessness, a meth-addicted mother, and a nasty heroin addiction. Alexis figures out a way to help him, but she has no idea what it really means to be a drug addict.

Alexis

            This isn't how I thought my life would be. Growing up, I was promised I could be anything I wanted to be. I believed Prince Charming would eventually come and sweep me off my feet. I believed in the power of love and thought divorce was something that happened solely in books snd television. I even thought I was going to have my older sister beside me throughout my life, but along with Prince Charming and Santa Clause, she was also taken away. 

           All of these childish beliefs were nonsense. Why would you tell your kid all these nice things when really you're setting them up for failure? Maybe it was just me. Other people seemed to have this 'life' thing down. These kids would laugh and smile everyday, while I felt robbed. 

             Or maybe, I grew up too fast. 

       Perhaps, I should have been born decades earlier. Where there was hardly any violence, divorce was treated like a curse word, and the world didn't seem like it could end any moment now. Or, in a long shot, born in a fairy-tale, where there is always a happy ending. 

            I'm the only one I know who thinks this way. I wish I didn't because everyone else thinks I'm a headcase. However I do have one friend who accepts me for being mentally strange. And she's not my therapist, either. 

           In class, on our first day in college, I was joking with Jess, my only friend, but I think it came out way too loud—

          "I'd like to thank Google, Wikipedia, Red Bull, Vodka, and whoever invented copy and paste, for if it weren't for them, I'd never have passed high school and wouldn't be where I am now," I exclaimed to the four people left in class. 

              They all looked at me like I was a nut-job. I think one person laughed. Oh yes, of course it was Jessica. We were the only students who came to the Creative Writing 101 class. Apparently, we didn't get the memo that all the freshmen were meeting somewhere off campus at 1:00pm. Already starting off as a loser this year, but that was merely the cherry on my cake today. 

               "I don't get it. Everyone says college is the best time of your life. So far it's been the most stressful thing ever. And it's only the first day!" I said in a mild yell to not disrupt the other students who looked like they had this whole college thing down. Looking at their futures with a big smile. I wanted to slap them. 

        "Oh don't be so dramatic Alexis. If you just do what I do you'll be fine," Jessica said in her narcissistic way. Then came the inevitable, "Are you going to that thing tonight?"

    I knew what she was talking about and there was no way in hell I was going. I can't stand any kind of social situation. My anxiety always gets the best of me and I start to lose my shit. 

        "That lame excuse for a party for freshmen? I don't think so," I replied. She was referring to the freshman meet & greet party the school held so some freshmen don't feel alone. 

       I was content with being alone. 

               I've felt alone most of my life.

               Ever since... 

    "—Oh come on Alexis, you realize nobody is going to talk to you this year, let alone, know who you are if you don't participate in these things."

       She was right. She was always right—according to her. Plus I had told myself I was going to try to do things differently this year. I wasn't going to be the huge nerd I was back in high school. No way was I going back to that. So if that meant going to nerdy meet 'n' greets, so be it. I gave Jess a "maybe," so she left my desk with a snarl that unknowingly had shown her snaggletooth she was insecure about. I sunk in my chair and laughed in silence behind the frustrated frown I'd had all day. She then gave me the 'you better go' look once class was over. 

     I mimicked her voice like a child without a well-developed enough brain to come up with a witty comeback. That was fine with me. I planned on making friends one way or another way this year—with or without a lame school-run party. How? I wasn't quite sure yet. Get back to me on that. 

     Jessica had been my best friend since our freshman year of high school, even though we were sort of in a rough patch right now. We had both gotten full-rides to the school of our dreams. Back in high school, we were both new to the school of Lake Travis, which on the outside looked more like a 4-Star hotel. We had both joined the swim team and became friends after a tiny mishap between us. 

     The high school was swarming with rich kids with nothing better to do than drive their brand-new Range Rovers or Cadillac SUV's. All of them complete with massive, shiny rims and unnecessarily loud sound systems—courtesy of their loving parents. 

      I'm not saying my family and I weren't rich or dirt poor. Far from it. I mean, we did have a nice house and lived in a gorgeous neighborhood. Plus I was enrolled at a mansion they had called a high school. I guess you could say, I had fit right in with these kids, except I didn't get a nice, expensive car on my sweet sixteen. 

     On my eighteenth birthday I had received a used pick-up truck. It was a tad-bit beaten up but I believed it had given it personality. Still, it had a maroon paint job and everything had worked fine. After the eight weeks it had taken me to learn to drive a stick, I loved it. 

     I know eight weeks is a long time to learn how to drive a stick. I just wasn't able to figure it out. I mean, I could drive it once it was in gear, but getting it there from idle was like battling a dragon solely with a stick. However, the day had come when I had done it: It shifted into first and I got so excited I forgot to keep shifting, so I had to pull the truck over for the thousandth time. It was dumb, I know, but my dad and I were super excited I had done it finally after so many tries. I'm a great driver now. 

      Now that I had a truck I drove it everywhere, including a few miles to downtown Austin, TX from my hometown of Lakeway. Austin is home to the University of Texas, my dream school, where I had received a scholarship for a two-year ride from swimming. I am an excellent swimmer. I always have been ever since I was four and first stepped foot in a pool. 

     Well, my uncle, Todd, had accidentally knocked me in when my sister and I stayed at him and my auntie's house. That was also the year everything had changed...

Serena

           I remember visiting my uncle Todd and Auntie Elle with my older sister, Serena, when she first taught me how to swim. It was the best time I ever had with Serena, but it was also the worst.

           My sister was eight so that made me four years old the last time I saw her, when she had disappeared from my life forever. 

           It happened right after we were done swimming that same day. My auntie and uncle were inside cooking dinner while Serena pushed me gently on a swing. The wind brushed against my face making my smile even bigger than it already had been. I loved it when she played with me. Especially now since she started talking about boys at school. I had thought, what stupid boy could be more fun than me, her own sister. I hated boys back then—they were always dirty and smelled awful. 

           A silver car had pulled up with the window down. The man inside, I remember, had dark features, but not black. Serena walked over to him with no problem. I heard him ask about directions. I had thought he was out of luck because my sister didn't know where anything was, or maybe I just hadn't. 

           She raised a finger pointing down the street. That's when the strange man had grabbed her arm and yanked her hair. She started screaming. I wanted to do something but my swing was still going. It was going too fast and high for me to jump. Heights had always been a fear of mine. Then he struck the back of her head, which instantly quieted her screams. He then pulled her supple body through the window and drove off. That was the last of what I had remembered. 

           The next thing I knew, I was in a different bed. It wasn't mine because mine wasn't this hard and this high off the ground. Plus there were bars around it and really bright lights shining. I had looked around and saw almost my whole family there. All of them crying. 

           They had told me I had been asleep for three days. In the hospital, I remember dreaming of Serena, but not her being kidnapped. She had came to me in a green meadow with a huge waterfall cascading down into a bright, reflecting river. She had whispered something I couldn't remember then gave me a hug. After that she wiped a tear from my eye, but I hadn't known why I was upset. After that, she disappeared and I woke up. 

           My mom and Dad took me back home with the rest of the family, where I found out my sister had been found. I was ecstatic. I asked, "Where is she? Where's Sissy?" Thinking she was going to appear around the corner at any second. 

           That's when the weird and worried faces appeared. They were all staring at me. Was it something I had said? Did I say one of those naughty words that Sissy told me not to say? I retraced my words and didn't find any. Then Mom started to cry. 

           She and Dad would be like this for a long time. But after a few days of my third degree, bugging them to death about where my sister was, they had finally sat me down. 

           "Sweetie, Sissy isn't here anymore. She is," my mom sniffled, "in Heaven... with the angels."

           "But I thought you only go there when you," I paused, "you know," then whispered, "die."

           I don't know why I had whispered the word. I guess, because it was so unknown to me. All I had known was when you die, you get flushed down the toilet that goes to Heaven, like Serena's pet goldfish, Sam, when he died. 

           They had both stared at me with scared faces. Tears were now running down dad's red cheeks. They didn't say anything then my mom put her head down into her hands and started crying louder than before. She reached out and grabbed me, lifting me up into her lap where she hugged me tight. It was while in my mom's embrace I realized, they didn't have to say anything. It had clicked inside of me. I suddenly knew I wasn't ever going to see my big sister again. 

   And so I joined them in tears.

Swimming in the Past

           My best, but crazy, dramatic friend, Jessica had also gotten into the school of our dreams. Our parents went there, too, as well as a few cousins so we were proud to call ourselves Longhorns and keep up with a family tradition. 

           We both received swimming scholarships, for we had beaten our high school's records in backstroke and freestyle. We went back and forth beating each other's times. It was all fun and games for us. But together, we dominated. I was the faster one though. However, she will try to tell you different. That's sort of what we had a fight over, but we settled our beef when we both had watched Michael Phelps take gold in almost everything during the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. 

           I couldn't tell you why Jess loved swimming so much, but I can tell you why I do. It's all I feel I have left of my sister, who was a great swimmer. I liked to pretend in that dream I had of her fourteen years ago, when she had whispered into my ear, she had given me her talent. But she had only been eight, not a state champion swimmer; well, maybe she would have been. She was a champion to me. 

           She is gone, though. 

           I believe she is with me in spirit every time I swim. Pushing me and guiding me towards each side. She will always be with me. 

           Always. 

 

          After class I went to swim some laps in the campus pool. While I swim for fun, it's my time of no worries. Under the water, it is a different world. A world where nothing matters. It's how I got over my parents' divorce and my ex-boyfriend, Nick. 

           Nick who used to love watching me swim. He wouldn't ever jump in with me for some reason, though. He'd sit in the stands and watch me glide my body through the cool blue water like a jet sailing through liquid sky. 

           "Why won't you come in? The water's fine," I'd ask. 

           "Nah, I just love watching you, babe."

         I believed him the entire year-and-a-half we dated, until he stopped coming to watch. That was when I had an inkling of suspicion something was wrong. And for those last months, if he did watch me swim, he would always be on his phone. 

           "I'm just playing a game babe,"he would say. Until I looked on his phone while he was busy and saw he had no games. It wasn't but a month after that day, I caught him cheating on me with a girl Jessica had known, at a house party. I saw his pale, bare-ass hovering over some blonde skank who saw me open the door but didn't stop. I saw the side of his face, eyes closed, mouth open in a silent moan, his dark brown hair that brought out the freckles on his chiseled shoulders. I thought, how did I manage to get a guy like that? And then, how did I manage to lose a guy like that? I blamed myself. I couldn't stand to look at him though. Every time I did, I saw her face, staring back at me with a slight smirk. Each time I thought about it, her smirk would grow bigger and bigger until she was smiling at me, whispering I know who you are and I know what I'm doing. He's inside me right now! 

          After that, it was over. 

          I had adored him, so when those ugly thoughts came around, my heart would implode like a dying star. People always talk about their hearts being broken. I now believe them because it did. It physically hurt. I could feel it right in my chest. It had really shaken me up, so I told myself I'd never date ever again. 

          That had been a year ago though but I still stick by my hatred of dating. What's the point when I'm eventually just going to be hurt. However, I do miss the beginning, when he was nice and would lay down on my bed holding me in his muscular embrace. I loved when his soft voice would whisper, I love you, in my ear. I could feel the warm waft of air dancing around the inside of my ear which would tickle. I missed when he'd barely touch me, slowly moving his fingers up and down my shoulders and arms. And his soft, teasing kisses on my neck which came with an occasional, pleasant bite. I loved the bite.  Loved the kisses. Loved the sweetness. 

           But then, it all went to shit. 

          In the pool, I swam for not even twenty minutes and it was already dark out. I had gone underwater in the light, and came up in darkness. Everyone in the pool was gone, too. I hated being in the water by myself. Alone. Vulnerable. And out of the pool, shaking, but it was from the cold air against my heated body. 

           In the huge, ladies locker room, I didn't bother taking off my one-piece bathing suit —it dried quickly. I combed my hair just enough so it wasn't a tangled mess and threw on a pair of dark blue jeans and a black Led Zeppelin shirt I used to wear daily in high school. It was a tour shirt my dad got when he saw them live way back when. 

            Growing up, that's all my dad would play in the car. The classics—Rolling Stones, Zeppelin, The Who, Clapton, you know. I loved the days when he'd take me into town to run errands. We would jam out and then he would always stop at my favorite store so I could buy a record. 

           Records are so much better than the cheap CDs where they cut off the sounds that the human ear can't hear. But records don't have anything cut so you have all sounds and can actually 'feel' the parts of the song you can't actually hear, when you listen. I have a beautiful, antique record player my dad had given me. It was his when he was a kid and we both still love it. It was the first thing I had packed for college. But then I had to unpack it because I needed some music to listen to while I packed. 

           Walking home, it was dark out and I was trying to find my apartment. Since I had technically lived in Austin already, they allowed Jess and I to have an apartment instead of a dorm. It did also help that my entire family were alumni and maybe had some strings pulled.

           I knew it was west from the pool past "the drag," a strip with a bunch of cool, retro stores and restaurants. I had been walking for a while now, though I wasn't sure if it was the right direction. 

            The clouds dominated the night sky obscuring every star that would give me just a hint of light. The only light I had were the dying street lamps glowing an eerie orange. 

            I walked past all the shops and found myself overwhelmed by the smell of urine and garbage. It was strong as if someone had just peed before I had gotten there. So I turned around. 

           There, in the distance I saw San Antonio street hidden behind some buildings. A strange street to be behind shops. But I knew I had to take San Antonio to get there, so off I went. 

           Graffiti of all kinds covered the walls. I even passed by a few taggers painting the back of a wall, who freaked out when they first saw me but then realized I was just a young woman and not a cop, so they went back at it. I could hear the chicka -chicka the cans made when they shook them off in the distance then shpoooooosh when they sprayed. I liked to smell the fumes of the paint. It reminded me of when my mom had repainted my room as a birthday present when I turned twelve. I thought to myself, that's something I would love to get into. Though not the illegal painting. Maybe a personal work of art or a mural of some kind—

           WHAM!

            Just then, what felt like a bus or truck smashed into me. 

            I was tackled to the ground, landing on a bunch of used trash bags. 

            "What the—?!" I exclaimed. 

            Then I was forced around on my back while a dirty, sweaty hand covered my mouth. It smelled like cigarettes, liquor, and urine. I tried to bite but I couldn't bite his palm. I gagged twice then looked into the eyes of who it was, with a tiny glint of hope that maybe this was just a joke. 

           "Shhhhhhh..." the voice said. "Stop your moving." 

           I wiggled more fiercely. 

           "This will only take a minute," he said, breathing hard. 

           I could hear my shirt being ripped. 

           I was trying to move every body part I had to get free of this fat mass on top of me. It was like being covered by a heavy blanket dipped in alcohol, piss, and sweat. 

          It was a man. An old man. 

          I could see his black eyes staring at me like I was his dinner. 

          This is not happening! This is not happening!

          "Mmmmmmph!" I tried screaming, but to no avail. 

          After using all my might, I finally got my left arm free and started hitting his face and head. 

          He let out a yelp when I hit his ear. 

          "You. Little. Bitch." He snarled. 

          I started to feel what felt like rocks hitting my head—one after another. 

           Until,.... 

 

           Blackness. 

 

           I couldn't see anything. Just blackness. A silhouette walked towards me. I couldn't make out any features. Where was I? Then a voice...

           "Wake up. Wake up. He's here. You're safe." The voice belonged to a child. Nah, it couldn't be my—

           I came to and opened my eyes. 

           I was staring up at the glittering blackness. The stars had come out. Was I dreaming? Was I dead?

           I heard manic shuffling around me as well as grunts that sounded of an old man. I tilted my head up so I could see. There was indeed an old man but there was someone else who was punching and beating the old guy. I saw drops of blood splatter in the air. I hated blood. It made me feel sick. Even sicker than when the guy had tackled me. 

          "Stopppp!" I yelled with eyes closed. 

          Then silence. I gently opened my eyes. It was a young man dressed in all-black baggy clothes holding the old man by his collar and holding a fist in the air with his other. 

          When I yelled, he stopped, turned and looked at me. We both locked eyes. He then let go of the guy, giving a thud when the body hit the ground. 

           "Are you okay?"

           His voice was raspy. He looked about the same age as me, but manly—hardened and experienced. His voice sounded too old to be of a guy his age. He was covered in dirt and sweat. I could smell b.o., too. 

           "Umm... yeah I think so." I replied in a mousy voice. 

           God, I sounded so pathetic. 

         "Good. Get home. Now." He instructed but with some sincerity I could hear, in his Kurt Cobain voice. Then he turned and started to walk away. 

         "But Hey! Wait!" My voice almost cracked. 

         He sped up his pace then disappeared around a corner. I got up off the sticky ground and raced over to the corner he went around. 

          He was gone. 

          I sat down for a minute to process what had just happened. Should I go to the hospital? Should I call the police? And there, just a few apartments down,

          I could see my place.

Security

           "OK, OK, let me get you some water, do you want me to call 911? Who was he? What did he look like?" Jessica was frantic, running around, terrified for me. 

           She was more shaken up than I was. Sure, an old bum who was probably homeless had almost tried to rape me. It's horrifying I know. But all I could think about was that other guy. 

           "It's okay, I'm okay Jess. Settle down. Nothing happened really." I was sitting on the couch padding the cushion like you would for a dog to come sit down. 

           "Nothing happened! Are you crazy? You were almost raped and killed! On campus, too!" She started to panic, talking a million miles an hour. "Oh my god, I can't be here. I don't feel safe anymore. What if somebody tries to rape me? I'm sure they will since they got you—"

           "Hey!" Still a bitch after I was the one who was attacked. She's is more deluded than I am. 

           "I'm sorry, I'm just totally, like, freakin' out right now."

            There it is. Yes, she was freaking out and it was starting to freak me out to be honest. But she needed the hospital more than I did. 

           She sat down after she had been pacing back and forth for twenty minutes. Calming down with each breath. She wasn't at all concerned about the guy that saved me. But he's all I wanted to talk about. 

           Who was he? Was he one of those taggers? Or just some pedestrian? Whoever he was, I was going to find him. I needed to at least thank him for practically saving my life. 

 

           I had woken up the next morning, threw some pants and a shirt on then left for the campus security office. I was on a mission. 

           While in the office they were surprised I had come in with all the answers to their big campus mystery. 

           They had found the old man later that night. He was homeless and was in the ICU as I spoke to them. Apparently, he claimed that some punk kid in black had jumped him and he was just asking me for change. Such bullshit I told them. 

           Most of the eight officers in the room were shocked but two of them were red-faced and angry. Angry for being duped by this old, disgusting man and embarrassed for actually feeling sorry for him. I told them they should leave the mystery man who saved my life alone. But they told me they had to and would take care of it. They then asked if I was okay and if I needed to see a nurse or doctor. 

           I was fine except for a few bumps on my head from where he punched me. I'm lucky he was a bit frail, otherwise I'd probably have to see a doctor in case I had a concussion. But I felt fine.

            The officers also had called over a counselor for me to talk to. I told her I didn't need any help, and after a long pause, she offered to give me the day off, giving me a three-day weekend since it was Friday. 

            Of course, I accepted. I now had all day to find this mystery person. I remember the baggy black clothes and long dark hair. I had barely seen his face in the dying, orange street lamp, but I remember his facial structure. His face was sculpted to where there was no fat. He kinda resembled Kurt Cobain from the 90s band Nirvana. I remember he sounded like him. But he had dark hair instead of dirty blonde. 

           I was going to find him.

Quickie

           I can't believe that asshole did what he did. What sick bastard does that? He's lucky that little chick said something, otherwise, I would've killed that mother fucker. That fat, old fuck had a thick head, too. God damn, my hand hurts!

           I'm holding my bloody hand while also dope sick as shit right now headed to big Tommy's place. He's a friend, but moreover, my dealer. He's got a place just on the other side of the highway. It's about a twenty minute walk from our squat, depending on how shitty traffic is. 

           I've been awake since dawn trying to make some money for my morning shot of dope. That's one of my many problems: I'm a junky. A homeless junky. My dad left me and my mom when she got hooked on ice. That shit will fuck your life up. I've seen it. It takes out your face and body from picking. Then it'll screw up your teeth cuz you be running around everywhere clenching them. Then you're nothing but skin and bone. And if you bring the needle into the mix, all that shit will come quicker than you could say, Damn, I really fucked up.           

           My mom, thankfully, hadn't reached that part yet. She's missing some teeth and all but she's alright I guess. She has good enough willpower to tell herself not to pick at her skin. Just not enough power to quit. Speaking about my mother like this damn-well makes me a hypocrite. But I believe everyone is a hypocrite. I'm hooked on the damn needle, too. 

           When I turned eighteen, she didn't have enough money to take care of her habit and feed me, so she, after we had a huge fight, told me to hit the streets. So here I am. Been doing this for over a year now. Living in the bittersweet streets of Austin, Texas.          

            I see my homie Vinny headed my way. Vinnie's a cool cat. He's probably the only hood rat I can trust. I mean, we've been buds ever since I became homeless. He, too, had a bad upbringing. He's like two years older than me and has been on the streets for three. So he kinda took me in, getting my back, and watching out for me when I first came out here. 

           He already had some money this morning before we started spanging. He would 'spare for change' while I did the same, but would also read fortunes with tarot cards. I'd usually charge three to five to sometimes ten bucks depending on how advanced a reading they wanted. I had learned to read tarot from my mom years ago. But needless to say, nobody wanted a reading in the morning while they were late for work, so Vinnie had a big head-start on me. 

           "Hey! So how is it?" I yell at him. 

           He walks a little closer so he doesn't have to yell. Vinnie's always real chill like that. 

           "Same shit as last night," he said. 

           Vinnie had a shaved head, brown eyes and a funny, round nose like a teddy bear almost. All the drag hags wanted him and every guy respected him. He was just an all-'round nice guy. He was my best friend, I can say with confidence        

           "Shit, that's fine with me. I just gotta get something. I nearly puked walking here," I admitted. 

           "I know what you mean, Quickie. I hate this walk. How's your hand?"

           I held it up so he could get a good look at it. I unwrapped the bloody bandage I had wrapped around it last night to stop the bleeding and gave him a quick peak like it was a big secret. Which it kinda was. If anyone said it was me who busted up that old man, cops would be on me like hookers on a loaded John. They love me down at the precinct, let me tell ya. 

           "It's nothing a shot of dope won't fix. So that's what ima gon' to do." He and everybody call me Quick or Quickie. Not cuz I'm a I'm a quick one in the sack neither. It's just a street name I picked up. 

           "What you got going on?" I asked. 

           " I'm gonna get Jill then, I dunno..."

           "You dog, man. Well, alright I'll catch you around Vinster."

           "Alright, Quick. Peace."

           Jill was this new chick to the streets. She had come up to me a few months ago asking for a place to crash. She was cute with real blonde hair and blue eyes. And short like a pixie girl. She looked like she used to be hot until her parents had beat the shit outta her. She still is cute with those scars across her face. Apparently, her dad used to whip her with his belt buckle, and not on her ass either.     

           Her and Vinnie clicked instantly. She actually convinced him to beat the shit outta her dad, which he did. Now, they were in love. 

            I used to be in love. Heather was her name. But she had overdosed on some laced shit. It happened about two months after I joined up with the homeless kids—the drag rats and hags. I don't like to talk about it, though. But I do think about her daily. 

           That's just how this life is, man.

Scorching Search

           The sun beamed down as if it was targeting me. Sweat came out of every pore it seemed like. Why did I wear jeans? Because it was a little chilly this morning. And now it's a scorcher. That's Texas for you. 

           The only thing protecting me from the sun's incessant rays was my hat that read Telluride Snowboarding. I loved snowboarding. My parents used to take me at least once a year to Telluride, Colorado, until they split up. I missed those days. Waking up early to get the fresh powder, making first tracks. I would kill to be there right now. 

           I walked around for hours until my feet were killing me. I even tried asking some of the other kids down on the drag if they knew who he was, but all of them had given me the same crap, "I don't know who you talkin' bout. Got a dollar, beautiful." 

            I had felt a lot of tension from those kids, like I had insulted them by asking a simple question. All I wanted to do was say 'thank you' to this guy who they probably knew. I figured they were blatant liars. They were lying to me on purpose to protect one of their own. They had all dressed the same and were dirty and smelled like they had never heard of bathing. Assholes. 

             My feet needed a break, plus I was on the verge of giving up. I sat down on one of the green benches that lined the drag. It was right outside the Dolby Mall, which was a quaint little shopping center with the cutest stores. I thought about going inside once my feet rested up until I saw someone on the other side of the street walking closer.

Was it him?

           I couldn't tell. 

           He had long, dirty brown hair. A chiseled face. Black pants but an army green shirt on. I remember him having the most alluring blue eyes. They were striking. But I couldn't tell from this distance and his looked barely open. He was walking funny, too. Sort of slow and running into people on accident. He looked like he was sleep walking with a cup spilling in his hand. 

            I'm sure that's him. If it wasn't I'd bet he knew who I was talking about. I waited to see what he was going to do. 

            He took a seat on the church steps right in front of me, the street being the only thing separating us. 

            It was him. 

            I had found him. 

But what should I say? I owed him my life, plus he did not look bad, at all. He just needed a bath and a major haircut. Maybe I could let him shower at my place then we could get something to eat. I don't know why he would say no—

Oh shit. 

          He saw me. We had made eye contact. I made a quick motion to hide myself, but there wasn't anything around to shield myself with, so I jetted my hands out blocking our sight. I must've looked like the biggest idiot. Or, at least like some schizophrenic with Tourette's syndrome. 

           I put my arms down and lifted my head up. 

           He was... asleep? Dead?

           A wash of worry set over me because he didn't look good. All these people were walking by, just ignoring him. What was their problem? He could be dead!

            That's when I found myself getting up off the bench. I've been waiting all day for this, I need to go. Plus, I just might save his life. 

           I waited for the few cars to go by, then I took off across the street, making my way towards him.

           Watch out for that pothole!

Caught Dead

             Oh my god. That shit is so good.

        Damn, my hands hurt like shit though!

           I can barely walk down the drag to the church steps, where most of us drag rats congregate. The church took up half the block and had an ancient look to it. Its stone bricks gave it the look of a medieval castle right out of King Arthur or Game of Thrones. It gets creepy at night when you're the only one at night. I swear I've heard voices during those lonely hours—or it could easily be the drugs. I hear it's beautiful inside though, but I've only seen the outside front steps. 

           I can't even keep my eyes open to make out where I was heading. My face feels blank with two tiny slits for eyes, and a gaping hole for a mouth. Though there are no words coming out, just drool dribbling out of the corners. When I do speak it just comes out in slurs and moans.         

            

           I somehow made it to the church. I don't remember how. I could recall being in the Taco Bell bathroom, fixing up, then running into a few jerks on the sidewalk. College faggots talking shit at me. If I weren't high, I'd have throw down without question. And now, I somehow made it to the church steps. I vaguely remember someone else yelling, other than those college pussies, but I couldn't figure out from who or where. 

            I float in and out of consciousness. 

           Wake up! Wake up! You look too conspicuous, I keep telling myself. 

           I opened my eyes as best as I could and realized I had a drink in my right hand. 

           Fuck yeah!

           It was a Mountain Dew Blast from Taco Bell. I always use the Taco Bell bathroom. It's got a single stall for men and another for women. It's good because I can lock the door and take my time to fix up. If someone knocks, you yell, "¡Ocupado!" and you're good. So, that explains where the drink came from. Ahh, it was that damn cashier who hates me that was doing all the yelling. He knows what I do in the bathroom so he's always mouthing off in Spanish. I don't take any offense because I can't speak a lick of it. Shit, I can barely speak my native tongue. 

           I took a huge gulp, swished it's berry flavor around then swallowed. I felt a slight pressure pushing into my forehead. I put my cold hand over it until it went away. Brain freezes feel funny on dope. 

           That had woken me up. I could actually see in front of me now. There was this really cute chick on a bench across the street. We caught eyes, but that meant nothing. The drag was always full of gorgeous girls. And just like the rest of them, she was way too good for the likes of me so I looked away. I took a smaller sip of soda and I could feel someone's eyes burning into my head.  It could be the damn sun that won't seem to give us homeless a break. I looked back up at the girl. She wasn't just staring this time, she was walking this way. 

           Holy Shit. 

           The closer she got, the more I recognized who she was. Her foot caught tiny pothole in the street so she stumbled then corrected herself. I smiled but kept my eyes focused on something else like I didn't know she was heading towards me. 

           Jesus, was I gonna have to save her again by not getting hit by a car? This girl, I swear—

           "Umm, hello," she said. 

           I still pretended like she was talking to someone else. I couldn't believe it. I was actually nervous to talk to this chick. 

            "Hello," she repeated. "I'm sorry to bug you, but—"

            "Huh? What?" I turned around towards her and mumbled whatever came out. To me, it was something clever and funny. To her it was nonsense. Gibberish. Gobbledigook. I had to try again. "Uh, hey. Sorry."

            She smiled showing the brightest teeth I'd ever seen. She needed to come with a pair of sunglasses if you wanted to talk to her. My teeth were yellow and on the verge of falling out. I suddenly felt ashamed of them, so I kept them hidden. 

            "What are you sorry for?" She asked. "Do you know who I am?" She looked at me with a goofy, nervous grin. 

            I guess the first question was hypothetical. Of course I remembered who she was, but should I say so, or try to play it cool? 

           "Hmmm. Remind me." Cool it was. 

           Yet, I sounded like an idiot to myself. Why was I so tripped up by this college-looking chick? Normally, I couldn't stand these people and would never be caught dead talking to one of them. Thank Christ no one else was around. 

            "You saved me. Do you remember? Last night?"

            I made it look like I was thinking hard. Digging deep into my damaged memory. I had done so many drugs and destroyed so many brain cells through the years, I couldn't even remember how I got dope this morning, unless I thought really hard about it. 

            Before I could answer, I saw she was staring at me, my clothes, my skinny body. 

           "You know what?" She said. "Let me get you something to eat."

            I never thought about it, but immediately when I turned my attention to my stomach, it gave a beastly growl. 

            She giggled. "I guess that's a yes?"

           I looked up at her face, now in darkness from her head blocking the sun. Not seeing her face made it easier to speak to her. 

           "Yeah, sure. I'm broke though."

           She smiled again, "I got it."