I realize I have been inconsistent with my Friday Nite Poetry. I shall endeavor to correct that. I also need to stop pigeonholing myself into only featuring my creative writing on Fridays. So with that in mind I give you a piece of flash fiction I did a while back:
No One In Particular
The stolen grocery cart catches on every third crack in the sidewalk, giving Carl four seconds of aggravation each time. His dark grey hair is greasy and tangled beneath the Oakland Raiders cap. His beard is a long, dark mass of dry straw twitching beneath lips he is constantly biting. A beat up, tan Carhart jacket hangs from his shoulders over the new, blue hoodie he got from Goodwill. His legs are well padded with three pairs of torn jeans and there aren’t many holes in his boots just yet.
The people sitting on the patios of the trendy restaurants try to ignore him as the goes by. So long as he does not stop management never bugs him. They called the cops a few times, but they never get there before he is gone. They all look away, pretending not to smell the piss, preferring not to think about why there are so many flies buzzing around the cart. None of them bothers to wonder what his story is.
He does have a story, just like the rest of us, but he could never tell it. He is too ashamed to tell you how he used to be a husband and a father. He could never tell you how sometimes he felt nothing at all, how Carl Junior would stomp away when he would not look at his drawings. He will never mention to you how other times the tiniest set back would set him into a tailspin of despair so strong he felt it would pull his heart right out of his chest.
He has passed the restaurant now and stops at the corner trash can. He reaches in as casually as you or I might reach into the fridge. He hears the nasty comment the well-to-do woman who passes him makes, a cruel smile on her face, but he does not register it. He has heard it all before, she tells him nothing new. No one knows better than Carl how far he has sunk. The bottle of Coke he pulls out still has a few good swallows in it.
What could she know, this rich woman? She does not know how after a while it just gets easier to not try. The therapists, the meds, Julie just ignoring him for her TV, and finally Junior never visiting once he left for school all just got to be too much. When he went out for that walk, the last night he saw Julie, the bench just beckoned to him. It was safe. It made no demands, no prying questions why he could not just be better. None of the benches do.
Carl gets five more bottles from the can. Just four more and he can buy himself a treat, a brownie, from Wilson Farms. It is a good day: no rain, not too cold and he will have chocolate in his belly by nightfall. He will find another bench, someplace quiet and out-of-the-way, where he can sleep without worrying about tomorrow. When he wakes the kids will be playing frisbee, none of them wondering about his story and that is alright with him.