A short story in sadness.
As the sun slowly rose into the clear blue sky its rays fell upon the shadows and banished them for another day. The air immediately started to warm and by now the city was in full swing, offices opening as the people made their way from the breakfast diners, the car parks and the bus stops to their work. it seemed like everyone in the entire city was on the move.
Chete just sat back in his box and watched people passing his alley. He had woken late and had, therefore, missed breakfast. All the best pickings would be gone by now. Chete ran his eyes around the walls and the dumpsters making sure everything was as he left it last night. It was. Hardly anyone came here anymore. after the murder of that cop where some punk took his head of with a machete, just a few feet from where Chete now sat. That's how Quinton L Barton had come to be called Chete by the rest of the street community as he was the only one who would ever go there now. This never worried Chete, well how many other bums had their own alley and one with a view too. Straight across the street was the impressive front to one of the largest hotels in New York.
Chete liked to just sit and watch the people that came and went marvelling at their finery and admiring the, way they walked and talked if he was lucky he would catch a whiff of a sweet perfume or the odour of a rich cigar, but best of all these people ate well and wasted lots so after the main meals he was usually assured a good feed himself if he could beat the other vagrants in the area to the bins and then not get caught by one of the hotel employees.
Today seemed like it was going to be a good day, it was the first day of summer and that meant it wouldn't be so cold at night and that the days would be sun filled from now on. Chete liked to feel the warm sun. He slowly rubbed a small patch on his cheek that the sun had warmed and he felt a great relief to know that he was alive on this new day. His thoughts turned back to when he was young and he had gone on picnics with his family on days such as this. They'd pack lunch, load the car and drive out of the city to the country where they would stay all day playing in the fields. running in the woods and splashing in the streams. Then as the night swept across the fields and the shadows in the forest lengthened and the stream became a dark, swirling current they would climb wearily back into the trusty old Buick and fall quietly asleep as their father drove them all safely back to their home, their place, their apartment in the city the city, the cold unfeeling mass of cement walls and steel constructions.
Chete's mind stopped wandering just in time for him to spot the patrol car and duck quickly and quietly back into his home, his place, his box and hide from the penetrating gaze of the officers of the law who only harassed him for what seemed to be a cruel sort of pleasure for some of them. After they had driven past he thought that he had probably get a move on if he wanted to get the morning papers for his bed. Chete always amazed even himself at how many papers he got, he told himself it was luck, others said it was experience. You can't live thirty years on the streets and not learn something. Anyway he got them that was all that mattered, but either way he'd still better get a move on. With the old leg giving him the usual trouble Chete heaved himself up from his used newspaper bed and hobbled slowly out into the full light of the day. He didn't even have to think about it any more the path was so familiar that his feet just automatically followed it while he waved and smiled to friends, and watched the world go by, but something seemed different today, he could see everything clearly and the colours seemed to be so full and real to him, a little spring came into his step as he moved along towards the office blocks. Then Chete put a proud look on his face and held his head high, something he'd not done for as long as he could remember.
There weren't so many papers today, and despite his hurry Chete was late for the second time that day, but strangely he didn't seem worried in the least. Chete leaned against the bin and looked across at the park, soon he could spend evenings in the park, playing chess with the Baron and Dutch or even just watching the young people play, that really warmed his heart he loved the way youngsters played and laughed and even when they fought he smiled to himself. It reminded him so much of himself and the friends he had when he was younger. Then he had a thought that was not new to his tired old mind but was one that he liked to keep having, he thought of returning to the fields and the woods and the streams where he had gone as a child all those years ago, this time he thought I'll do it. Chete started off towards the bus station, he'd been saving a little money in case of emergency, but this seemed a good enough reason to use it, so he would.
The bus station was a building not to unfamiliar to Chete as he had used it to sleep in some of the early winters of '63 and the blizzards of '18 and on a few other occasions when he felt the need for a roof over
his head. Today it was as busy as he had ever seen, thronging masses of people pushing to get on busses and a mob over by the takeaway bar, there was also a long line at the ticket windows, so reluctantly he
joined the nearest queue and shuffled forwards with the rest of the automatic travellers moving like robots. He could smell the strong coffee and the thick donuts, and the saliva started to fill his mouth so he had to keep swallowing, which only made it worse. Finally it was his turn and he moved up to the counter. "Ah, one to Hadens Hollow please."
That's where they found him, lying by the signpost, the police took him as another John Doe, deceased. They filled out the usual report and submitted it to the coroner for addition to his report. No grave marker, no congregation of mourners to recognise his passing. Just gone.