tagRomanceFaith, Hope and Pure Pigheadedness

Faith, Hope and Pure Pigheadedness


"What's your name?" Simon asks kneeling down in the wet muck. He lets his knee hover just off the ground. Looking into the lean-to of shipping pallets and scrap plastic sheeting he see a pair of eyes looking back at him from a face lost mostly in shadow.

The smell of the place is horrific but he's known worse.

He receives no answer.

Taking his backpack off, Simon, places the large Ziploc bag next to the opening.

"This is a care package. There are a few things in it for you. There is also twenty dollars in food coupons, to fast-food places around here. They will give you free food in exchange for them." Simon pauses then as her eyes leave his face and go to the plastic baggy. "Will you tell me your name?"

There is a cough and a sick chuckle from with the shelter.

"Stupid Cum Whore," says the shadow, the eyes coming back to his face.

Taking a deep breath Simon sits back on his heels.

"That's not a name."

Again the laughter.

"Yes it is. It's my name. I'm the Stupid Cum Whore." The shiny eyes in the mass of tangled hair drop back to the plastic bag. "Guess I'm suppose to say thank you... make you feel all good inside that you have done your good little effort to help the less... fortunate? Well I wont! I don't need your free food! If I get hungry I go down to the back door of the pizza parlor on Laconica and the dish boy lets me suck his cock for all the burnt scraps I can eat. Sounds like a good deal huh? I even got to taste pepperoni the other day. It almost made the cum taste good."

"I'm sorry. I'll leave you be. I didn't mean to bother you I'm just trying to help people." Simon says placating the woman's growing hysterical words.

"Help? You want to help? Tell you what...Mr. Helper! Come on in! I can still get a man off. Sure there are a few fleas and I stink but I'm sure I'm a good ride. The drunks seem to think so. They come by a couple of times a week! Give me a shot or two of what ever they have to drink and then they fuck me for a bit. How about you? You got anything to drink? No I forgot you're Mr. Helper! You wouldn't drink alcohol. You've got money though right? How about I give you a ride in the old cum wagon for...how about ten bucks? You got that much? Would be the most I've been paid in a long time."

Simon stands up with a soft sigh.

"I'm sorry Miss. I can see I've upset you. I'll go away. I'm just trying to lend a helping hand."

She comes to the edge of her shelter in a rush. Her face, dirty beyond description and her hair a mess of tangled mats frames her face. Her eyes wild and intensive lock on his.

"A helping hand? You're so far above me in the world even if you reached down and I jumped up I wouldn't be able to touch your hand! So fuck you...and thanks for all your help."

Simon watches her crawl back into the shanty with the little bag clutches to her chest.

As he walks away he hears her cackling. Something hit him in the back. Tuning he see the packs of condoms lying on the ground.

"Bit late for those!" she screams out at him.

Her laughter chases him down the alley.

** ** ** ** ** ** **

"That's Lorena. Yea I know her, hell so do you."

Sitting in the little donut shop, slowly sipping at my too hot coffee I watch the man across the table from me wiping bits of donut off his uniform. He takes a sip of his coffee. The coffee is as dark as his skin.

"I do?" I ask.

Roy nods his head.

"You sure do. You just can't place a face to her name. Think back about eight years. Remember Tee Jay? That little harem of hotness he was peddling? Now think about the tall girl with jet back hair. Body make playboy bunny cry in envy! Yea you remember."

My breath caught in my throat I try to place the girl from memory with the ragged dirt smeared image from earlier today.

"Your sure?" I ask

"Yep. She started a down slide when Tee Jay shot that fellow and went to the house for twenty to life. You remember when that went down?"he says.

"Yea. I though the cops got those girls off the street. Weren't some of them in the country illegally?"I say.

Roy just looks at me for a second.

"You know for someone that's been trying to help people on these streets for as long as you have been you are a bit naive still. Simon those girls were sold to Tee Jay! He bought then from guys across the border. Kept them working with the threat of turning them over to immigrations."

I sit looking at Roy with a kicked in the gut feeling settling in.

"I've heard about that before. I didn't know there was any of it going on around here. Was Lorena..." I ask.

"No, she's a US citizen... hell born not to far from here. I think she moved from down near the coast."

"So given what I told you can you think of anyway I can help her?" I ask after a moment.

"Simon, I wont say there is no way to help her, but damned if I know of a good one. When you get to the point she is... you have to help pull yourself back from the bottom. She doesn't want to. It's almost the way it was with me. Your Dad helped me up but I wanted to be helped. Lorena...she doesn't. I arrested her about a year back for soliciting. If she's as bad now as she was then?" he shrugs.

"Probably worse." I say with a sigh.

"Then no. She's going to have to want to help herself before anyone can be of any use to her," he says definitively.

"So I need to find her a reason to want to help herself," I say more than ask.

"Good luck on that one." He says without much confidence.

"Thanks." I answer with sincerity.

** ** ** ** ** ** ** **

Holding the lease renewal in my hand I stop the pen just inches from the paper as the idea comes to me. In the last four months I've tried everything I can. I have hunted down family...they are either dead, or in the case of her sister glad that she's living homeless.

I tried finding people on the same level in life that she is. None of them wanted to help her. They all think she's either getting what she's got coming to her or that she's past helping and that there are other on the street that need help more and want it.

I've tried talking to her...but that was worse than useless.

I brought her a clean set of clothes and some money to get a hotel room for the night so she could get cleaned up. She sold the clothes for cash and used all the money to get high. Least that's what she told me when I found her still in her box the next morning.

Putting down my pen I pick up the phone and call the number at the top of the paper.

" I'm not going to be renewing. I'm moving out when the lease runs out on Friday," I tell him when he answers.

"You're sure about that? I won't be able to hold the apartment for long if you change your mind." I can hear the greed in his voice. I'm leasing at a lower rate than anyone else is because I've been here so long.

"I won't be changing my mind."

Looking around my apartment after the phone clicks I start to take in what I really need. What I would carry out with me in case of a fire.

A few photos. Some little things, like my dad's old badge, mom's locket.

Calling the moving company, then the storage place I get the ball in motion. In the end I decide to send more of my stuff to Goodwill than I would have thought.

Come Thursday night the apartment is empty.I sleep on the carpeted floor in my old bedroom. I lay awake long into the night with fear and uncertainty my best friends.

The rental of the storage place will eat up my funds in about a year. After that I will have to stop what I'm doing or lose everything to auction. Looking over in the dark I see the bag sitting next to me on the floor. It contains all that I think I will need for the rest of my life if that happens.

Because I know then that I will let it all go, I will let everything be sold for pennies if I can not pull her back up.

She said I couldn't reach her hand I was so far above her.


** ** ** ** ** ** **

I spend my first week on the street just moving from place to place. I talk to people I've helped over the years. Some are understanding about what I'm doing. Most think I'm crazy.

All welcome me into their homes. Be it a warm grate where a building's heating system dumps it's excess. A bench in the park, a hole in the wall near the bus station.

Quickly I find that there is a world that I never even knew about. I come to also quickly see that all that I have tried to do over the years, while not useless, was never even close to enough to what was needed.

As this shift in perspective comes around I start to wander into the area where I know she is. I see her but she pays me little mind. I watch her on her knees in a back alleyway getting food from the pizza place.

Watching her I soon learn that's by far the better way that she finds it.

After two weeks I notice that I'm more and more the object of foul looks from people. There are mutters of 'get a job ya bum' 'God he stinks. Take a bath you filthy bastard'

Hunting the back alleyway I find out first hand that life on the street is far worse than I thought. When three young men descend on me. I run till I can't then get one of the first beatings in my life.

I'm saved from being robbed by the strangest of things.When they open my bag to take my stuff my father's old badge is on the very top.

They run away thinking I'm an undercover cop.

That night, sleeping in a doorway, I hurt in places I didn't know I had. Every cough a pain that nearly keels me over.

"What are you doing?" I ask myself then. I think back to the reason I came out here. Lorena a woman so lost I couldn't help her. So far down from me I could reach her.

Well I'm a lot closer now than I was then.

My clothing covered in the first frost of the season I wake to a policeman's boot kicking my foot.

"Move on." he says then stops and looks down at me. "Simon?"

Shivering I look up at Roy. Sniffling I smile. I take his hand when he holds it out to me.

"What are you doing out here? People are worried about you all over the place! You just dropped off the face of the earth," Roy asks his face a study of concern.

"I figured out a way to help Lorena," I tell him after a fit of coughing chokes me. I notice the blood on my hand when I wipe my lips.

So does Roy.

"What the hell happen?" he asks.

"The street," I shrug.

He understands from those two words. He's been there. He's seen it.

"Why?" he ask me then. "For that girl? A drugged out, pimps cast off, giving sex for whatever shit she can hit to burn away some more brain cells! For her! Why in gods green earth?" he asks me with some heat. "Don't you realize how many other people you have been helping? That are having to do without that help while you try to drag her ass out the gutter...that she want to be in!"

I look down at his shiny badge.

"Something Dad told me. He said if you can help those that want to be helped that great. But if you an help those that don't then you did something worth being alive for."

I see Roy's face then. Old memories of his life where I'm trying to survive. The things he did.He understands. He may not like it but he understands.

He buys me the best meal I've eaten in weeks. It may have cost him five bucks but to me it's like manna from heaven.

I scrap together enough to buy the same meal latter in the week.

I take it to Lorena's alleyway.

She's playing with a set of child's jacks. She doesn't have the little ball though. Rolling them to the ground, over and over almost like their dice. I walk up, place the bag next to her, and sit down with my back to the wall opposite her. She looks up from the mindless game to the food bag then to me.

"What do you want for this?" she asks. I can see that she's willing to do just about anything and doesn't care what it might be.

"Nothing. It's a getting to know the neighborhood gift from your new neighbor."

She looks at my face then.

"I know you. I know, I know you."

"Mr. Helper," I say to remind her of the nick name she gave me.

I can't quite place the look she gives me then.

"What the hell is this?" she ask then.

"A burger, fries and a pie." I nod towards the bag. "Been finding lost change and checking vending machines to get that for you. I hope it's still warm," I say.

"What the fuck kind of play acting shit is this? You think I'm going to buy this sorry act, Mr. Helper?" she says.

"Up to you," I get to my feet. "I saw a large box about two block away. I think It will fit back there a bit snug." point to the back of the alley.

Blinking she watches me walk out the alley to go get my box.

The crumpled bag is sitting beside her when I come dragging the thing back. I manage to wedge it into the little cubbyhole after a bit of work and go back to where she's watching me.

"Saw some carpet scraps over near Sullivan. Want me to bring you a bit for you place? It was in good shape from what I saw."I ask.

When she doesn't answer I take it for a yes.

She's in her box and only her eyes are gleaming out at me when I lay the square near the opening.

"I'm not buying it Mr. helper!"

"Well that fine since I'm not selling, Lorena."

She's out the box and in my face in a rush that startles the hell out of me. Up close I can see the face of the woman I once thought was so very goddess like. Time and drugs have taken a lot of that away but I can still make out the features of her past.

"It's Stupid Cum Whore! That's my name you piece of shit!" she spits in my face.

Wiping my face I look her in the eyes. Red rimed with months of grime around them I notice then the faded bruise around one. The split lip that nearly healed.

"I won't call you that. It's not a name," I say.

"It's my name...Mr. helper. It's the one I earned on my knees!" she laughs. "And other positions. Oh get the fuck out of my way."

I move and watch her walk out the alley.

When she doesn't come back I track her down. When I find her in a new alley I drag her lean-to and my box the seven blocks and set them back up in about the same position.

"I must say this place is a bit nicer. Good choice, The view of the park is wonderful." I place my carpet scrap inside and toss in my much lighter bag of 'can't live withouts' inside.

She laughs softly, then really laughs.

"I'm glad you like my winter palace, you fuck."

She is still laughing when I go out and down to the park to walk and watch the birds. I don't ask for it but people give me about six dollars in change.

That I have gotten to look that pathetic is as much a surprise as the way I look when I stare into my reflection in the lake.

The fast food manager makes me order my food through the drive through window. I don't really care since he seems willing to take the money I offer.

She eyes the bag of food I sit by her box. When she looks up at me I see hate, then something else cross her face.

"Why?" She asks after a second.

I sit down just outside her box and start to eat my food. The chicken sandwich is cold, the bun stale. He must have given me one that's been sitting under the heat lamp since lunch. Don't care. It's still food. Better than dinner last night.

"Why?" she demands. "What the fuck do you want from me, you prick?"

I look over at her, smile after a second.

"For you to reach up your hand. I don't know how much further down I can go but... I'm reaching out to you will everything I've got," I say.

After a moment she laughs her not nice cackle laugh.

"You ain't even close yet Mr. Helper,"she says.

I take the last bite of my sandwich and put the rest of the fries in her bag.

"Okay. I'll try harder."

** ** ** ** ** ** **

The wine is pure sugar and cheep alcohol. It's probably more food coloring than grape juice. I got the bottle for a buck so what the hell.

The alcohol is a bitter burn but I feel some of the pains from life slip a bit.

I hold the bottle out to her.

She eyes it, then smirks.

"This is your trying harder? If it was crack or meth you might be trying but this is just entertainment,"she says with contempt.

Shaking my head I continue to hold out the bottle.

"Sorry can't help you there. I went down that road when I was a teen. Not going back. Not even for you. If I walk down it again I'll never get back from it. The person that helped me back last time is dead so...no." I shrug an apology.

She stare at me then takes the bottle. I watch her drink half of it like it's water. She tosses it back to me spilling some of it on my chest.

I ponder for a half second wiping the top before I drink the rest ...but then don't

She sees the hesitation.

"So not for me? You might as well go back to your condo, Mr. Helper."

I watch her disappear off into the night to go sell herself for whatever she can get. Not for food but for drugs to get higher than the wine can get her.

The last of the wine drips into my mouth bringing with it a numbness that I hate but need so badly right now.With it comes a memory that I hate far more than the numbness. Memories of the six months of hell that I put my family through. My dad crying his eyes out as he held me tight again his blue uniform, in a holding cell while I convulsed my way out of an addiction that had robed me of... me.

I had promised him. Promised him I would never touch the stuff again.

Do promises to a dead man count more than trying to help someone that's alive?

When I see the blood crusted at her nose and the deep black bruise around her eye later that night I decide they don't.

** ** ** ** ** ** **

He didn't want to sell it to me. You know that a bad sign. When a drug dealer doesn't want you to have something because it so fucking bad for you. He tried to talk me into a half dozen other things. Even offered me a hit for free if I would do something else.

Really bad sign...but then I know this old demon well. I wrestled it for half a year once.

In the end he knew a guy that would sell it. He said he didn't want to handle the shit. The fucker was selling every flavor of street grade shit but didn't want to sell this?

Very bad sign.

The guy he knew had some...all but gave it to me. Hell the cigarettes cost me more.

Sitting in my box, listening to the rain hitting the scrap of blue tarp, I open the little bottle. The ether smell of it is a memory that gives me a shiver. One by one I dip the cigarettes into it, holding it for a few seconds then bringing them out. I lay them down to dry out. Memory tells me it won't take long. I wish I would take forever.

The wet work done I take out the lighter and look at my trembling hand.

A sound comes to me then. A whimper of pain from the nearby box. I can see only a few of the bruises on her but I can tell by the way she's holding her ribs that there are a lot more under those dirty clothes. Whoever she was with wanted more than sex. He wanted a punching bag after the blowjob.

I light the first one.

The taste is all I remember. The numbing feeling that comes on so very quickly I remember as well.

As I start to drift in the haze of scented smoke I wonder what I was thinking to ever give this up.

One by one I smoke away the three cigarettes I prepared. As I puff in the filter on the last I wish I had made a few more. I try to get the little bottle back out but I can't get my hands to work. Blinking I watch the rain slow to a stop! It twinkles in the light from the street lamp, like suspended diamonds they hang there. I try to reach out to them, To take the diamonds from the air but they burst and flow down my hand in a tiny river of light.

I watch them hang there for the next hour then just listen to the sound they make when they finally fall.

** ** ** ** ** ** **

"What the Fuck did you take?"

Blinking I look up into the face in front of me. Why is she screaming at me? I try to speak but find my mouth filled with the most horrible taste. I realize what it is when I look down and realize I threw up the hot dog I got from the trash can by the park.

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