NEW YORK STREET BUM

Short Novel

 

Chapter One

“For a long time I couldn’t get used to sleeping on a bench and, squeezed between two drinking buddies, I also couldn’t get used to sleeping on a damp mattress. One day I complained about it to one of my friends. He said, “A street isn’t a five-star hotel. But everyone’s gotten used to it and you will too.” He had been tested by years of life on the street and like myself now, belonged to the very same enormous army of New York street bums. And he predicted the next five years of my life: I got used to sleeping not only on benches, but on boxes, on the wet grass, on the naked concrete, in abandoned houses, in precincts cells…”

“Well, that’s something,” said David, when Martin had finished reading and put the written pages back into his backpack.

Squinting so that there were deep wrinkles in the corners of his eyes, Martin brought a half-smoked cigarette to his lips. It got dark and he read the last pages more quickly, often stopping to bring the paper closer to his eyes.

The last beach-goers were leaving the beach. Three shouting Latinos carried their friend who was filled to the gills; his feet were dragging in the sand. You could still make out the trash cans full of garbage, the tall chairs for the lifeguards, the playground. The waves threw algae and muddy foam on the sand.

David and Martin sat on the huge rocks of the breakwater, which extended about a hundred meters into the water.

“Then I lived with two Latinos. At first in a tent, then we snuck into an empty garage and finished the winter up there,” Martin pulled so heavily on his cigarette that it burnt down to the filter. Pursing his lips he let out a puff of smoke and flicked it away. He rose.

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