Doug walked past more fake grass patches and blinded windows and long green doors. After the block of new apartment buildings he took a left and down the street past a coffee shop with a bronze sculpture of a pig outside near the door. Even though it was cloudy overhead it was still warm and smelled like ozone, but there was still one person sitting in an outside chair with their dog’s leash tied around the handle bar. The man sat with his legs propped up on the other chair at the table, his legs crossed. His nose was buried in a book.

It had been a long time since Doug had ready anything. He’d picked up some novels back when he was in school, but that was a long time ago. Before he got all fucked up. He enjoyed reading all about families and how they’re all dysfunctional. Those were his favorite novels because reminded him of him. He was the one that brought dysfunction to the family. Last time he’d seen his Sister–Mom–Dad, it was like everything fell apart once he stepped in the door.

The hardware store was closed. The only day it closed was Sunday, so now Doug knew it was Sunday. Sometimes he went in there for a razor blade once his got so dull he couldn’t cut cardboard very easily. When he did that the lady behind the counter watched him the whole time. It reminded him of going to his parents house. Everyone was afraid he would steal something. But it’d been a long time since he’d done something like that.

He took a right on Hodges St and crossed the road over to where the onramp to the freeway was. Brooks was already staked out though.

Doug stopped across the street from him. The taillights of cars in the morning were downcast on his face as they came to the stoplight.

“Hey Doggy,” said Brooks.

Doug nodded. All the others called him Doggy. He didn’t know why. He’d never had a dog, unlike so many other bums like him.

“Brooks,” said Doug. The walk sign came on the he walked across the street to where Brooks was.

“I tell you I don’t want you coming around my spot,” said Brooks.

“I’m not.”

“I say it last week. This my spot,” said Brooks.

“Not when you’re not here,” said Doug.

“Doggy, Doggy. It’s always my spot.”

“Yeah? Since when?” asked Doug.

“Since I tell you that,” said Brooks.

Brooks was homeless for all the wrong reasons. Not because he fucked everything up if he was around, but because he couldn’t stop the drink. Probably not the drugs either, but Doug didn’t know about any of that.

“I need money for laundry.”

“I h’aint got none,” said Brooks.

“No laundry?” asked Doug.

“You know what the fuck I mean.”

“Fine. But last time you needed something, remember what I did?”

“Sure I remember,” said Brooks. “But if I h’aint got any doe I h’aint got no doe.”

The light turned green and the cars pulled forward and away, speeding onto the freeway, speeding faster away from Doug.


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