Dying for it. But it won’t go down. You stick the fork in…the meat is juicy. Lift it to your lips and take a bite. Savor the tender morsel for a moment, then begin to chew, slowly, joyously, getting it ready. But before you can swallow…
Hell is cold compared to Tomkins Square in August. The people stink. Everything stinks and sweats. In the nighttime ooze on a Saturday night I walked among the masses. Looming in the distance was the great Pyramid. I approached, seeking to cool darkness within.
At the entrance a fight was on. Nobody broke it up. One of the fighters fell backwards, cracked his head on the street. Might have been unconscious, probably worse.
I entered the Pyramid. Pushed and shoved and had a few drinks. At the end of the bar I met a girl. She said her name was Spike. Said she was a dancer and liked to do drugs. I had the means to oblige so we went back to my place and did the obligatory. Had a great time. After that she kind of moved in. Stayed over off and on for the next six months. We were using each other but she had a great body.
I saw her around. At the park, café Mogador, dancing at the Pussycat Lounge. Sometimes we talked. Other times she didn’t notice me. At the Pussycat she never noticed. Pissed me off but what could I do?
You spit the masticated meat back into the pot and pull out a fresh piece. Maybe you can swallow this one. Chew and gulp. It’s down! No, it’s back up. You cough it into the pot and try again. Same result. Again and again, same result. Eventually, stomach sore, you give up…
When I didn’t see Spike at all for six weeks, I said the hell with it, got laid without her. The evening went limp though, and I realized I was hung up. A couple days later I spotted her in the park, talking to some guy. For some reason this enraged me. I went up to them, started cursing her out. The guy didn’t mind his own business and started a fight. Beat the crap out of me, had me on the ground kicking and stomping. Then they just walked away.
A few days later Spike showed up at my door saying she wanted to pick up some clothes she’d left. I let her in, asked her if we could have sex. Not interested, she said. I don’t remember what happened next, only that she died.
You’re used to the smell. You like it. You stir the pot, watching as the meat boils and falls from the bone. So much meat. Enough to feed an army. A knock at the door. Another volunteer coming for more stew. You hand over a big pot-full. Careful, you tell him, it’s hot. On his way out he smiles and says: Being homeless doesn’t have to mean being hungry. Right on, you say, and return to the stove where more stew is simmering. You taste a little. It makes you gag. Dejected, but glad at least that somebody is enjoying your cooking, you sit down to a dinner of warm peaches and try to cheer yourself up by pretending that each juicy mouthful is meat.
Originally published in Blue Murder Magazine. Reprinted in Out of the Gutter Online