The town fidgets on a rock outcrop spouting with springs. Only a few decades ago its salient features were a few old-time stringband musicians busking on the pavement, a minor moviehouse, a tractor showroom, the teaching college and the big Baptist church that owned the majority. Some of those old boys and girls are Grammy winners since, but the theater awaits refurbishment and the tractor palace is a coffee shop, the university is open to everyone and the Baptist Church is at most number two on the scene. The university has become the largest landholder in town. It owns almost everything. Another two thousand students and it can advance to a higher football division. Football has cleaned up the town.
“And then she invited him over for lunch! Her man’s not dead a year and she’s already at that bowls club on the prowl.” The old woman’s bonnet bounced up and down as she spoke. The rain continued to pound the pavement as she and her friend passed. Sam listened to her story, smiling a little. If they hadn’t been walking right in front of him he might have thought that they were speaking to each other from across the road, their voices were that loud. He wondered if they realised how loud they were, if they were both hard of hearing or just assumed the other was because of their age.
It’s sort of hard to put into words.
Well, it happened a long time ago. You’ll think I’m wasting your time. But I’ve been thinking about it, going over and over it. And it means something.
Sleep in any odd alley came piecemeal to Chris Banntry (and never luck, he would add, if anything else.) He called it bonesleep or curbsleep, or a number of other things, just as long as minutes of it were sometimes accompanied by a kind darkness. He liked the minutes where his bones could soften for the merest of moments and his mind go blank and his stomach cease its horrible arguments, and the insects, the ants and other crawling enemies, might take a night off from arduous labors. The darkness, inevitably, could bring enemies of all sorts with it, or the strangest of friends.
He was a black man.
“Yo Nigga! to his friends but these days he didn’t have any.
I was woken by weak fragments of sunlight seeping through the cracks of the plastic tube slide, at the center of the park where I had spent the night. I lay for a while, listening to mute sounds of dripping water and distant traffic. I thought about squirrels, what they do when it rains, if the trees provided enough cover. Then, I pushed myself down and out of the slide, my jeans wetted by the small puddle that had accumulated at its base, and headed towards the distant sound of cars. I kept walking until I reached an intersection. I stood there for a while, watching the cars go by. The sounds of tires ripping across asphalt like wet Velcro. I thought about what it would sound like if someone got hit. I thought about a wet sponge being thrown at a brick wall. Then I turned and continued down the sidewalk.
The small Hyundai coupe crept around the church parking lot. Obviously anxious, Jason Halpnuscht peered about as he drove, his head swiveling back and forth. He surveyed the area around the dumpster and the large hot air outlets on the rear of the building with care.
Pastor Penn Benner hated to see homeless people on the property.