Sunday April 3rd, 2016

The exercise:

Write about: the wino.

Took Max to the park this morning while Kat was at her book club. They've added some new equipment, all of it aimed at toddlers. Which is great, because most of the stuff that was already there was more for five years and up.

The most popular item was a firetruck, which had two steering wheels, about a dozen moving parts, and (most importantly) a space to crawl underneath it. Where, of course, Max kept wanting me to go.

Anyway, it's a much easier place for him to play now and it's nice to see the park get upgraded like that.

Tomorrow is Max's little brother's due date. I guess we shall see if he's right on time like his mom, or prefers to be a little late like his dad.


The alley is cluttered and cramped, leaving little room to move without brushing against... something. A soft breeze does little to alleviate the afternoon heat, but does a fine job of circulating the stench without actually getting rid of any of it.

I hate this place. I don't know why I keep coming back here.

Well, I suppose that's a lie. I know the exact reason. The exact person, at any rate. Though it takes me a little longer to search him out every time I hear that he's returned to this human landfill. But I show up eventually, one way or another. I think he counts on it.

And that just makes me want to stop doing this even more.

"Hey brother," a voice calls from a lump of clothing to my right. "Spare some change for a good cause?"

"Always," I say as I walk past him. "Too bad I don't see one of those around here."

"That's just mean brother," he calls after me. "Stone cold, brother. Stone cold."

I make my way between two dumpsters that could not have been emptied in weeks, holding my breath and making a mental note to burn everything I'm wearing before reentering my house. Especially my shoes. I narrowly avoid stepping on a used needle before the sight of him stops me short.

"Spare sum coins, pretty boy?" he asks before bringing whatever terrible poison is in the paper bag in his hands to his lips and drinking deep. "Ima rill good inves'ment!"

"Get up, Eric." It's difficult to keep the hatred out of my voice. I don't think I did a good job.

"How you know mah name?" he asks, blinking in confusion.

"Let's go, brother," I say, reluctantly grabbing him under the arm and lifting him to his feet. "Mom wants me to bring you home before dark."


Greg said...

With your first two sentences I thougth at first that the book club had added new equipment aimed at toddlers, and I was contemplating miniature printing presses and boxes of lead-free, child-safe metal type :) I'm still disappointed that that isn't what you meant. The firetruck still sounds cool-ish though :-P
I've definitely read enough of your work now to guess where your story was going from the first paragraph, and I'm rather pleased with myself for that. Your descriptions are rather nice – I particularly like "human landfill" and the "Stone cold" response – and though I'm not sure I completely feel like this is a terrible place, I can picture it well. Thank-you (I think).

The wino
The windows of the art gallery glittered in the moonlight: a combination of ice on the glass, a full moon in a clear sky, and lasers inside bouncing steadily off the glass 120 times a second as part of a complex burglar alarm. The manicured lawns in front of it – no trees to obscure the lines of sight of the guards, no shrubs where things might be concealed until darkness – were still and empty. An owl hooted, somewhere safe beyond the walls, and a faint smell of crushed magnolia blossoms filled the air.
At the side of the art gallery the lowest window was four storeys from the ground and was supposed to be kept locked at all times. At the moment it was wide open, which meant that a narrow vase or anaemic child-waif might be squeezed through it with a bit of concentration and swearing, and the bronze head of the Idol of Odile was poking through it above the alleyway that ran alongside. There was some gentle – and genteel – swearing from inside the art gallery and then a cracking sound, which might be expected if a wooden window frame were giving way under pressure. The head of the Idol inched forwards, then there was a SNAP from inside, a loud curse, a cry of pain, and the Idol slipped through the window like art thieves through a gallery guard's fingers and fell into the alley below.
Several seconds passed and then a human head poked out of the window, squinted downwards, and cursed. It sounded like it had had practice.
The head disappeared. "The Idol," said Bill, gentleman thief. "It landed on something in the alley. A wino, I think."
"Poot," said Ben, his partner.
"I've given up swearing for Lent," said Ben. "It's part of a bet. Anyway, poot."
"Why poot? We know the Idol's only going to be melted down anyway, I don't think it matters much if it's more or less damaged."
"Well," said Ben. He adopted a stance he thought of as professorly but actually just made him look like he had a bad case of haemmerhoids. "Odile is an alcohol deity, and she was traditionally worshipped by human sacrifice. If her Idol just landed on a wino from four floors up you can bet it killed him. That might be enough to wake her up."
Bill stared at him. "You have to be kidding," he said eventually. "That counts as sacrifice?"
"The gods make the rules," said Ben. "Largely to suit themselves."
A head poked out of the window and was pulled back in quickly.
"Ok," said Bill. "The Idol's walking around with a brown bag in its hand. I think it's drinking meths."
"Double poot," said Ben.

morganna said...

Desperate for a drink
Rapidly shaking
Under the hallucinations
Never going to
Kick the habit.

Marc said...

Greg - hah, that sounds like a job for Miss Snippet and her class :)

Thanks for the kind words on mine. I figure it may not actually be terrible, but it's terrible to my narrator. Maybe I could have found a way to have that come across stronger though.

Haha, a burglary gone somewhat awry. Not sure what Ben and Bill's next steps are at this point, but I'd love to find out :D

Morganna - very effective acrostic, as usual. Though this one packs more of a punch than we typically see from you. Great stuff!