My brother looked at me. Looked right through me, in fact. An empty Klonopin bottle sat at his feet. Drugs—no big deal. I’d been here before . . .
Psychics are fake. They are lying bullshitters who make a buck conning the stupid and the naïve. I’m no psychic. He thinks I’m intuitive. I’m not; he’s just a drunk . . .
Megan—she was a stunner, the first woman I ever asked out on a date after my painful history of being the awkward nerd in high school.
I gave her my time and friendship. I even let her cry on my shoulder when she had no one else to turn to. She didn’t know I was in the next room listening to her talk to a girlfriend over the phone . . .
Nancy took the job at the new liquor store to supplement her shitty government salary. The liquor store allowed her to work weekends and in the evenings after leaving her regular job—only a two-minute walk from one to the other. Every morning when she walked from her car to her office, she would see the same cast of characters posted up in front of the gray-and-beige county government building, which was situated only a few blocks from the homeless mission . . .
A hole at the base of a crumbling T-wall was the only point of entry to the group’s hideaway. Inside they were like kids in a clubhouse. They felt safe there, the wash of incandescent lighting creating shadows from every angle. They could drink, smoke, play cards, and talk shit about everybody they worked with without fear of outsiders or superiors intruding . . .
“That’s Datura—Queen of the Night.” Raphael was pointing at a large tree filled with big, cream-colored, bell-shaped flowers . . .
This Sunday morning seems different for some reason . . .
You tiptoe through the dark labyrinth of the Hive until you reach the tiny room where you’ve spent every Thursday night for the last couple of months toiling away to no avail. The stench of Gouda, Kathleen’s patchouli, and the tang of potentially unfulfilled dreams waft through the air. A metal chair screeches against the gray linoleum when you pull it out, causing everyone to gawk at you. Kathleen rolls her eyes but does not relent. The weak smile spreading across your face fades as you remind yourself that this is the last time you’re going to see these people—your people. You promise yourself that you won’t sip wine or munch crackers or make small talk when this is all over. Saying goodbye is hard enough without all the empty calories and tedious chatter. You swear to yourself this is going to be the last time you pay to play. Your pocketbook and soul can’t take it anymore.
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