© Diana C. Quaintance, 2015.
He’d been walking all morning. A bag of bones with yellowish hair, green eyes and a cocky yet graceful, spring in his step. How could such a haggard creature be graceful was beyond anybody’s imagination, but he pulled it off like a pro.
Slowly, he made his way through the street maze, among the never-ending murmur of life; it was close to noon, and he hadn’t eaten for days. His stomach was so empty that its insides were sticking together and deciding that the other side looked appetizing. One more day without food and he was going to eat himself up for sure.
Vendors along the street looked at him, unsure. Some yelled at him, some even attempted to kick him out of their way, but he was too quick for their feet. One of the advantages of being so thin, was that it made him fast.
He’s called names; he’s an outcast, a paria, something to be shuffled out of everybody’s lives.
The butcher caught him sniffing at his table and had thrown a bucketful of water at him. He’d shaken it off with ease and moved on, used to such treatment. All the food vendors had seen him before, prowling the sidewalks in search of something to quench his maddening hunger. Some of them had fallen prey to his stealth and cunning in the past, but today they were being careful. They knew him already, knew at what times he went out to hunt.
He gave up on the little market place for that day and decided to try his luck on the other side of the street.
A car almost ran him over as he crossed. It honked at him and he got out of the way as fast as he could manage. He stood by the gutter, breathing heavily, staring at the car speed away with wild, untamed eyes. He would die someday, he knew and it didn’t worry him. He lived alone, with no one or nothing to care about. He lived for the day, for the moment, for himself.
He breathed in and out, recovering, and then started walking through the busy sidewalk. There were no food vendors here, only shops and shoe shiners and…….
The man at the newspaper stand looked at him for a second and chuckled at the sight of him…….seemingly frail, wet and distrustful. What a pitiful thing he was.
He shook his head and went back to his work. One of his stockers had arrived late and delivered a few tabloids and magazines for the day. He had finished putting the tabloids on the racks and was now sorting out the magazines. One of them caught his attention and he browsed through it carefully, paying special attention to an advertisement for fishing poles. He had enough money to buy one. His brother was in town and he could use a vacation. A fishing trip to the mountains, how wonderful. Get away from the noisy streets, fish some mosquitoes and drink a few beers.
So lost was he in his planning, that he didn’t notice that his golden-haired observer was still there. His eyes were locked on the counter, where the man had left his lunch: a half-eaten sandwich.
The thin creature looked at the man and then the food and his stomach growled. He would go for it. He took his time, taking few steps with practiced and well-honed skill. He waited for the right moment, grabbed the morsel and ran to the alley. He didn’t know if the man had noticed, nor did he care. He was finally going to eat.
Turkey on rye with a lot of mayonnaise and pickles. He wasn’t too fond of the last, but he was in no position to be picky. He licked his lips and ate the whole thing with almost religious care. Afterwards, with a full stomach, he laid down among the trash cans for a nap.
The golden cat stretched out and licked its paws contentedly. He would survive another day.