Broke

Nelson keeps his deformed left hand in his jeans pocket, rolling a two dollar coin between his three fingers. No matter what happens, with this coin in his pocket, he’s never broke. With two bucks, a person just can’t be broke.

He zips his sleeping bag closed with his right hand, then leans back against the boarded storefront, underneath a gray awning that sheltered him from most of last night’s rain.  Waiting for Old Man Russell to move spots paid off, and Nelson is determined to keep this space for himself, even if it means a few more bloody fights.    

He squints his eyes, blurring his vision and softening the surrounding scene of cement, garbage cans and rusty cars. When Nelson squints, he sees only the centre of the picture: maple trees bursting autumn within the confines of the tiny city park across the street.

Crimson. Pink. Gold. Brightest red. The same colours that painted the horizons of his childhood. His family’s home, nothing more than a rundown shack if he’s honest, had the best view on the reserve. Aunt Gladys said they never had to decorate inside because nature provided decoration enough for anyone. Nelson closes his eyes, carrying his aunt’s words and the fantastic colour, a phantom of comfort, into his sleep.

In his dreams, his family are happy. They sit at picnic tables, waiting for the day’s salmon catch to cook on an open fire. Children play and run around. The adults are telling stories and laughing. But Nelson strains to hear their laughter. It’s blocked out by a loud crackling – the sound of brittle leaves as a strong breeze passes through the tree branches.

And now Nelson can smell smoke, can actually taste smoke from the air. Light wafts have grown into thick billows, raging out of the untamed fire. Salty resin catches in his lungs and takes hold of him.

Bystanders are too distracted by the flames to see a two dollar coin roll into the street.

Rain

We huddle cuddle close in the peeling-paint-framed-storefront,
Sheltered briefly, only briefly, from the sideways stares of passersby.
Safe from showers, drip drip rain that stains the sidewalk,
And washes away the pastel chalky hopscotch
We drew to decorate our unfeathered nest.

44 words for this week’s d’Verse prompt: rain.

Photo taken by Reza Shayestehpour.

 

Back Alley Apple Jacks

Harold lives contentedly, his neighbors not included.
He sees their dreams of grandeur, grandly self-deluded.

Locals squirm and shiver, don’t know how to dress amid the general squalor.
Harold Haberdasher goes to work, grabs stumbling apple jacks by the collar,

Turns them into genuine gentlemen
Even gentle Benjamin
With his quirky regimen

Of gritty diner coffee and high voltage special Ks,
His lucky charms of power for surviving lightless days.

Crack sidewalk traffic staggers, this street life ain’t for kids
It’s iron-taste-in-the-mouth nonexistence on these back alley skids.

Lillian at dVerse Poets Pub asked for some brand name noodling.  My inspiration was Special K which as most of you will know is street language for the horrible drug Ketamine. I mixed up the rhyme scheme to match the mixed up world of the setting.