Chapter one of my latest book

Chapter One





Two quarters, a few pennies and a dime sat beneath three inches of urine in the bus station urinal. Afraid to flush and risk losing them, Nigel leaned over and stared into the grin of the broken porcelain grate and despised himself for wanting to cry. Anger seemed a more reasonable emotion. It kept you strong when feeling weak. It kept you warm when shitty nights like this threatened to freeze you to death. It gave you the ability to overpower a bad day. It’s not like reaching through urine in a public toilet for sixty three cents was a bad thing!
Walking down Main Street in this city was unlike the many other cities Nigel had spent time in. You could walk from the Veteran’s Statue to the end of Main Street in eleven minutes. The city was like a pimple on an otherwise unblemished face. It just sprung up out of nowhere. There were multi storied buildings with businesses and law offices, clothing, food, and tobacco shops with a City Hall wedged in. Looked like downtown Manhattan had shrunk and transported itself through the Star Trek "Beam me up, Scotty," portal. There were the usual kids driving up and down the street preening and showing off their cars or new clothes or the girls waving their big boobs at the boys and to one another. There were the usual assortment of cultural clashes wandering down the street as well. Cambodians or Vietnamese. Indians or Pakistanis, with many unidentifiable people as well. "We’re all Americans with a capitol A, eh?" he thought to himself.
"Twelve minutes, twenty seconds!" Nigel observed. "I must be getting tired". He had found the perfect place to sleep. The overpass near the railway was warm due to its close proximity to the row of loading docks and warehouses. It was noisy with the constant stream of traffic overhead and the loading and unloading of railroad cars and trucks. Nigel had perfected closing his mind to the constant drone of everyday life. It was his own little paradise of noise, exhaust and privacy.
The bridge overpass was less than twenty or twenty five years old. In other cities Nigel had been able to tuck himself neatly under the end spans and between the steel girders that ran to the support columns. Here there was no such luxury and a little ingenuity was required to turn this space into a home. He had three working tie downs he rescued from a dumpster behind the furniture warehouse. He pulled a canvas painter’s cover- all from the dumpster at Marvin’s Paint & More store. With the canvas running from the five foot girders that ran every six feet between the end of the bridge to the support columns Nigel managed to make a six foot hammock. The length of the tie downs were used to their maximum so the hammock showed no sign of a dip or a sag. Unless you were standing directly the hammock, you would not notice it being there. For it was a perfect blend into the concrete and steel. With a few packing blankets that Nigel had managed to borrow when some workers went for a smoke, he could sleep through the night undisturbed.
Sleep was the one place that he could not control his thoughts, regrets and memories of the past that has led him to his current state of homelessness. The night’s dreams were his haunting and it was a wonder that Nigel sought sleep at all. Although his dreams caused his mind distress every night, he seemed to forget them when the day came to a close and it was time once again time to enter the realm of sleep and brings its uninvited guests.
She would always wake him when he was in the deepest stages of sleep.
"Push over, God dammit", she snapped.
He could feel the anger well up and tighten his jaw and chest as he obediently pushed over. "Sometimes," he thought to himself, "I could just kill her!"
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The morning came with the rising sun hanging low and shining in and under his private space. It signaled the time to get up as the sun would only warm his spot for a few minutes. It was September 10th. The days were getting shorter and the trees gave evidence that not all change is bad. There were the bright reds of the swamp Maples and the yellows and orange of Autumn were already beginning to appear on the trees that outlined the city suburbs. Some dogs could be heard barking over the constant drone of the traffic running overhead. The granite blocks that once lined the upgrade on the underside of the highway had long been picked clean, except for a few near the top. With the strategic placement of a few blocks he had easy access to his home.
"Making plans for Nigel," he snickered as he began to formulate his plans for the day. On this morning, it took eleven minutes and three seconds to walk the length of Main Street to the Veteran’s Statue. Here he turned up the side street to Joseph’s House where the well meaning Christians passed out breakfast to the many, the downtrodden, the unfed. With a plate of scrambled eggs and oatmeal and government peanut butter on toast, Nigel felt ready to seize the day. Considering that he had started every day like this since arriving here in early April, seizing the day perhaps only meant getting through the day and arriving at Joseph’s for another round of boxed eggs with their side car of oatmeal one more morning.
The city had an estimated 3,000 homeless. It was difficult to tell how many found themselves living on the streets or in shelters because of mental illness or because of alcohol and drug addictions. Some cities were a draw to the abused and drug addicted kids while some seemed to attract the older group of State Hospital releases and alcoholics. But one thing was certain, those that held jobs and had homes sought to avoid the homeless whenever possible.. There were those brave souls who made a living out of panhandling and those that forced themselves upon the windshields of drivers trapped by the cities many intersections. A few greasy smears across the windshield and the drivers shelled out a buck just to be rid of them. Some areas attracted those that were willing to sell themselves just to buy their drug of choice and make it on to the next day.
It wasn’t that way with Nigel. He didn’t see himself as having anything in common with the homeless and vagrants that wandered the streets. He walked the outskirts of the city and explored little patches of woods where he could enjoy the sounds of birds. He would nestle himself up under a tree off the beaten path and read what ever he could find. Nigel explored with the curiosity of Darwin and sought his own origin in every rock and interesting find of nature that he could fit into the deep pockets of his woolen coat.
"Thirteen minutes," he breathed aloud. "I must be getting old. Seems like it takes longer to get home every day." He turned up the pathway and slid through the fence to the overpass. He emptied his coat pockets and placed the day’s find into his cubby. A pretty rock, a magazine and some day olds from the dumpster behind the donut shop. He settled in to sleep knowing that breakfast was only eleven hours away. With his mind focused on tomorrow’s breakfast he ignored that his dreams were only a short distance in time away.
He heard her come in and rustle about the kitchen. He glanced at the clock and saw it was thirty three minutes past one and rolled over onto his stomach. She wouldn’t allow him to sleep with pajamas on. He slid a little closer to his side of the bed. She entered the bedroom and Nigel breathed as if he was in very deep state of slumber.
"Nigel, my baby." she whispered into his ear. "You’re my little love! You know that don’t you?"
She ran her hand through his hair and continued down his back.
Nigel swallowed hard.
"Wake up baby. Turn over."
She grabbed his shoulder and turned him towards her. She brushed his hair from off his forehead and began to slowly kiss him. First the forehead, then the cheek. Her hand slid down under the sheets and began to rub against him. She was kissing him hard, full on the lips and when she deemed him ready, she climbed on top. Nigel tried not to look up into her face and looked at the clock. He closed his eyes and sought release in the hopes that, she would be satisfied. She rode him hard and threw her head back with a moan and he felt himself arch his back into her, giving his own muffled moan.
"There, baby. Don’t we both feel better?"
With the smell of cigarettes and alcohol in her hair and on her breath, she kissed him one last time and rolled over to fall fast asleep.
Nigel watched the reflection of car lights cast upon the ceiling and then glanced at the clock. "One fifty five." She was right. He did feel better. But Nigel knew that somehow this had to stop. How could sleeping with your sister ever be right. Anywhere.
The morning came and Nigel threw back his covers and his dreams and prepared for the walk to Joseph’s House. His one guaranteed meal of the day. He looked with disgust at the wet spot on his trousers between his legs.
"Making plans for Nigel," he said aloud.
He then sat and cried.

Comments

justrose said…
great description, intriguing story. i want to read more!