The 40 – by Jessica Komarony

I approached the group of kids hanging out at the dinosaurs, the place where all the street folks would hang, drinking booze in Starbucks coffee cups, trading drugs, the girlfriends in the crowds spare-changing  with hungry eyes and fast hands.

“Spare your leftovers?”

Of course you would, fucking yuppie.

All these stores, shiny windows and plastic stock girls selling nothing we could afford, the groomed and rich strolled along the warm night, clinking glasses and cashmere sweaters. we sat for the most unnoticed, not because the space which we occupied smelled of piss and street, and parking garage elevators in which we slept, we mostly went unnoticed because of the hunger in our eyes, knowing we will never have what they have – the ability to go out to eat, see a movie and buy the kids clothes they will wear a week before declaring it out of style.  We washed our clothes in the sea if at all, and ate the food they would throw away, and smoke the smokes that got tossed out with only a puff or two gone, SCORE. LIfe on the street can be quite decadent, amongst the most elite.  

New people show up daily on the promenade; mostly suburban kids heading to the city to get high on drugs, and fuck, and be without the upper class stigma, “Oh dear, white guilt. My parents are the WORST!” Other times it’s just some wingnuts, normal homeless folks making the rounds, gathering the sweet honey nectar southern california could provide. “But dear, he looks so terrible.” Looking shitty was almost really funny, it set the tone, that you, yuppie, should give me everything in your pocket because I am so much worse off than you… it worked a lot. Pity and guilt really do pay off, it seems, even if i’m going to take the 20 you so graciously gave me in front of your girlfriend, and turn it into the most speed and beer in 20 seconds flat, you were still a good dude to give me your cash, and I’m a lot happier for it.

Some had been around for awhile and knew me. The couple i met that day were new, and down and out, as we can see and transpired to be as such. I sat down next to a guy I didn’t know and offered him a swig off my 40, seconds later a woman comes into my view and sits on the other side of me. When dude finishes I take the bottle and offer it to her.

So you’re her, the woman slurs.

I’m who? I respond.

The girl that gave me aids, the girl that fucked my boyfriend, who fucked me and gave me AIDS!

Naw man, i say, I’ve never seen this guy till right now, and I certainly haven’t fucked him and lastly I don’t have aids. The woman retorts angrily. YOU GAVE ME AIDS!

By that time I had taken the 40 back and began to get up, because i don’t to be in the middle of some damn ‘you gave me AIDS’ bullshit. She grabs me by the shirt and pulls me real close to her face, rancid mouth spitting rotting food and 40 year-old tequila smell. I am starting to get pissed. She yells, you gave me AIDS! People in the street stop and look. I am in the hold of this crazy person, her dude looking on, unattached, the other kids nervously looking at the yuppies.

She spits in my face, i drop the 40. It crashes on the ground, glass flying. Shit is getting real.

I grab her head and by her hair, to get her face away from so close to mine. I yell, I don’t have AIDS! I never fucked your boyfriend! She swings and misses. I use my bag and hit her; flailing, she goes down.  I jump on top, grabbing her hair. Smacking her head into the concrete again and again i make my mark. I hit her with my hands, i shove my fingers in her nose, I try to calm her the fuck down. She resists.

You gave me AIDS, she yells. i disregard her blood and wrap my fingers in her hair and smash her head again into the concrete until i feel hands on me, pulling me…

…And I come to on the 4th story parking garage of the place I like to sleep. My friend beside me with a bottle of beer. Handing it to me, he asks if I remember. I take the 40 with shaking hands and blood and blonde hair coming out of my nails and say no, I don’t remember a thing.

We should stay here tonight he says, and I’m glad, I’m home.

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