The wind is colder today. It’s making me wish I had something warmer than the thin hoody I nipped off some kid two years ago. I shiver in the small space between the bins, hearing the raucous coming from the building I’m leaning on.
From today it’s officially known as a club called, Lazer’s.
The people scream and cheer. Their loud laughs echo in my soul.
I’ve never known a day of being normal or having a hot plate of food to eat. I don’t even know what it feels like to have a bath. The streets of Washington has been my home since the day I was born.
I think I stayed in the hospital a few times, I’m not sure, I was too young to remember.
It’s safe to say my mother loved me a little too much, because she wouldn’t give me up. She rather I be born without a blanket to keep me warm than abort me. Many times she explained it to me, she’d say that I was a love child, and my daddy would one day find us and take us to his home. But he never came, and my mother didn’t seem too beat up about it either. As the years went on by, I learnt to survive on these streets, I even learnt to smile.
Somehow, by sheer luck my mother managed to get me in a school when I turned seven.
I was the dirty kid.
The one with lice in her hair.
The pity child who was always taking the lunch or scraps other kids left on the back wall during break.
By the end of the first year they called me Street girl. No one played with me, but I never let their words bother me.
I kept my eyes on my school work. My mother told me that if I focused on my grades and finished school I’d be able to get a job when I got older. We wouldn’t have to stay on these streets.
Shelters weren’t an option, they were the worst place we could go. We once ended up in the one on 16th Street.
We had nothing to eat for two days, we were starving and I was getting weak. There was no other choice.
My mother tried everything to get a buck but no one was feeling generous, not even some scraps to eat.
It was during my summer break.
She never let me beg though. She always stashed me in some corner behind a bin, or in an alley. Sometimes on weekends I’d sit on the pavement watching the cars go by.
But the day we went to the shelter was a bad day. My mothers grip on my hand was so tight, it pained. She rushed us straight to the queue for the free sandwiches. I think I was around eight.
They tried taking me away from my mother that day, by locking me in some storage room. I was screaming and crying.
I bit the lady that pulled me away.
Somehow my mother managed to get me out of there and we kicked down, and didn’t stop until we were at the river.
It was the first and last time we ever sort out a shelter.
That was also the first time she warned me about the system. I remember her words, “You listen to me kid. Those houses they’ll put you in are far worse than living on the street. You can never get caught, you hear me.”
I stared at her crazy green eyes, and knotted black hair, then I nodded. My mother’s face was hollow, and her wrist so fragile, sometimes I feared she might just break and shatter into thousands of pieces. But she was tough and kept me safe.
She said bad things happened to the kids in the system. Many people thought she was crazy. Mad. But I believed her.
My mother always spoke to me about her life when she was younger, and the dangers she faced after entering a foster home.
At the ripe age of ten, I knew the horrors I’d face if I was taken away from her.
The rape and the abuse was what I dreaded the most.
But I was born unlucky, because my mother got sick.
She was diagnosed with stage three of lung cancer and didn’t last two months after we found out.
I was just twelve when she died.
There was no parting touchy words she passed on to me.
She just looked at me from the hospital bed.
And carried on looking at me even after the monitors blared through the room, even after the nurse lifted me up off the ground and carried a struggling me out of the room.
I could’ve maybe told myself that she smiled a little but I couldn’t bring it to the forefront of my mind to have such foolish thoughts.
It was the same day, November 8th, that the system swallowed me in. I had no choice. Forced into it, and for two weeks like any other twelve year old faced with shit luck I stuck it out for a peanut butter sandwich in the morning and stale crackers at night.
But when your foster dad rapes you, you get the fuck out of dodge.
I did. But only after I took a tin opener to his throat.
I left the other kids there and took my chances alone on the streets. I was bleeding and violated. My private places ached, but I didn’t seek a hospital or anyone’s help.
Instead I made my way to the train station that night and cleaned myself up in the public bathroom that smelled like shit and puke. But to me, it was just another day of surviving, just another day in this fucked up-ness we called life.
The tissue paper I used to wipe the evidence away as the tear leaked silently down my cheek, was the one thing I made sure of to never let happen again.
Nine years have past since then. Not much has changed in my life. No magical happenings, or great jobs.
I didn’t even finish school.
I’m still living on Washington streets. Still begging for scraps, because no one wants to hire a homeless twenty one year old with no I.D. I tried, many, many times.
I even tried stripping, apparently you need a ‘G E D’ to do that too.
Only now the cold is making it fucking hard to even breathe. But nothing is making me come out of my spot in-between the dumpsters. This is like a fucking luxury hotel in my world. I could get a good three or four hours sleep here.
The owner of Lazer’s saw me around a few times, he said he wanted to talk to me tonight when the place closed. I only agreed because he offered me a hot meal, something I’ve never had before. And I’m sure I can take him, if he tries anything. I haven’t lived this long being nice.
To survive years on the streets, one needs rules. The first one, never trust anyone, you do that you’d have no one to identify your body. You’d be lucky it even made it to the morgue. Or worse, you could end up sold as a fucking prostitute for small pocket change, there’s no way out of that one. Those pimps get you hooked on any crap they feel like sticking up your veins and it isn’t always drugs.
Second, if you’re a female, always stink, even if u manage to get to the river or a tap, you never clean up too nicely. Smelling bad, keeps fuckers away.
Three, don’t think someone is your friend, there’s no fucking friends in this place, everybody wants something. I made that mistake a few times and almost got shot by a street gang last year, cos this girl Tally told them I stole her drugs, the same drugs she shot up her veins.
And the fourth, and this is an important one, never steal. Many of us do, well most. I did it one time, just once, to a kid two years ago. I was fucking cold and hadn’t eaten for days. I saw him stash a ten in the front pocket of his hoody and thought fuck it. I got the hoody, but only after he beat the fuck out of me. It turned out he was only short and was actually seventeen.
After he beat me, he took pity on me and gave me a hundred, it was sick, but I took the cash and it kept me fed for months. Since then, I hadn’t had any problems. No run ins with trouble, well at least not anything worth adding to my nightmares.
You’d think I went through hell to survive on the street. Truth is, us homeless folks are all trying to survive. We spend more time fighting against nature and saving our strength until our next meal than we do fighting each other.
The back door next to the dumpster’s I’m resting between bangs open, “I’m fine Zero,” a sweet female voice says, “Den and Spade is with us.” The heels click so close to me. I still.
“I didn’t want you to worry, I wanted to come.” There’s a pause, no footsteps, “you know I will,” Her voice softens.
I roll my eyes, because it’s obviously a guy. I liked a boy once, blue eyes, red Curly hair. He worked by the supermarket down town, he was cute, around my age now. I think I was fourteen or fifteen.
I use to beg three blocks away from the supermarket and instead of saving for a loaf of bread, the moment I had enough cash I went to the store to buy a lollipop. This happened on average, twice a day. I’d wash my face and tidy myself up before I got there and I’d smile, I hated smiling, but he was cute.
The first few times I went, he scowled, looking at me like I’m gonna steal, as if. About a week later, a sign was posted on the display window, ‘no homeless folks allowed’.
I didn’t think it meant me, I made sure to clean up before I entered the place. I even broke my always stink rule for that time. A few steps into the supermarket later, he came storming up to me with a security guy trailing behind him screaming, “Didn’t you see the sign. No beggars, get your dirty ass outa here.” People stopped and watched but nobody said a thing. I never liked a boy again, in fact when I see them I look the other way except one time. One other time I liked a man.
This girl is obviously lucky, I bet she’s dating some guy in one of those fancy suits. I can’t see her face, but just hearing her voice, I can tell she’s a softy that wouldn’t survive in my world.
She’s still talking to the person on the phone, but I can’t hear much anymore because she’s moved further away from me. I shift into my corner, my body still covered by a cardboard box I found in the dumpster. It’s a few minutes later that I hear her heels drumming closer to the club, closer to me. She’s going really fast now by the way her heels are clicking on the tar. Maybe she’s upset. I listen quietly, I ain’t got nothing better to do, it’s not like I have a tv or radio.
What’s that sound. It’s other people’s feet, heavy footsteps. My heart begins to race as I recognize those heavy footfalls, it’s a man, shit, not man, men.
Scream bitch, scream for help,but she doesn’t.
She’s going to get herself in some deep trouble now. There’s a struggle, I can hear a muttered curse and the sound of her shoe dropping, “I’m a Satan Sniper you fuckwad, let me go.” Her screech sounds like she’s struggling. They must have her against a wall, or in a strong hold, shit.
I don’t see anything, only hear one of the men reply, “I don’t give a fuck. After I’m done with you bitch my friend here is gonna fuck you until you bleed and then I’m gonna slit your fucking throat.”
I listen to the swearing, and her weak wails, shit, is she going to get raped, should I help. I wanna scream for her but what if they have friends around the alley just keeping watch, damn it to hell.
With a pounding heart I remove the cardboard box off my body. Once I’m sure they can’t hear me, I crawl slowly out of my nest. They don’t notice me, but I ain’t surprised by this. I peep around the dumpster.
The one guy is African American, bald, meaty looking. He’s holding her neck in a chokehold with a gun pointed to her head. The blonde guy is trying to get her jeans down, and struggling. Her make up is running down her cheeks, red locks sticking up in all directions, God, she looks so tiny. I creep closer, sure not to draw attention to myself.
Blondy finally gets pissed when her jeans don’t come down and slits it open with a knife, wrong move. Her spiked heel of her right boot gets him first in the nuts, then in the face, at the same time she does some twisty move and gets out of the other guys neck hold. They make a quick recover and both start hitting her.
Blondy slaps her across the face as the other guy upper cuts her. She screams and bends down, weaving.
Fuck, I know that if I don’t help they gonna kill her. I go closer, still keeping to the dark. Her elbow makes contact with the throat of the man holding the gun, cutting off his oxygen. The girl got moves. His hands instinctively go for his neck causing him to drop the weapon a few feet away from me.
I don’t think, just act. Running out of the shadows I sprint to the gun, pick it up, click the safety off, and pull the trigger. First bullet to the African Americans head, then to the blonde fuckers heart, both kill shots, both drop dead. How I managed to do that, is another story I don’t wanna remember, my nightmare, the reason why I still beg on the streets for scraps, why I never finished school, why I can’t even get a fucking ID. And why the world would always just know me as Beggar.