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Monday, 31 July 2017

The World Would Be So Much Better Without Their Kind

I told a guy I was sharing a smoke with that I turned fourteen yesterday and he said I should go home. I kinda chuckled a little but didn't say anything. I guess I could explain why I can't do that but really, what does it matter?

It’s November -- dusk. There’s a light drizzle falling. Temp is just a hair above freezing. I can tell by the darkening clouds that this is only the start. Again. My ripped sneakers are already soaked through due to the unavoidable puddles from the earlier storm. I can still feel some of my toes but not all.

The smallest ones are always the first to go.

I keep walking, because standing still isn’t an option. Yet I know there’s nowhere at all to go because the cops know all the dry and slightly warmer places that kids like me like to hang out at for a little relief from the elements, and so they ensure no congregating occurs there. They say these groups are not only an eyesore on the urban landscape that offend society, but they serve to foster mischief among miscreants and little deviants like me.

They’re probably right. They know I’m bad. Everybody knows I’m bad. They can’t all be wrong, I reason, so I’ve come to believe them.

And so I keep walking. Aimlessly. It’s dinnertime in Southern Ontario. I haven’t eaten since the day before yesterday so I try not to think of that. Sometimes I get lucky and get away with a Joe Louis or a pack of luncheon meat from Becker’s, but usually the only thing easy enough to steal is cigarettes from the handy counter displays. So I smoke. In a weird way, they’re my only comfort – all that I can rely on. They're pretty much my only true friend -- my only real family -- as they never desert me or push me away, and they’re a bit of an appetite suppressant, too. There’s nothing cigarettes can’t do.

They're something to hold on to.

I’m coming to depend on them a great deal, and nicotine is about the least of the reasons why. I’ve heard they can make you die sooner, like that’s supposed to be some sort of deterrent. And I like the smokescreen as a barrier so no one ever gets too close.

I walk on. This street has a lot of large trees. The branches are bare now but there's lots of them, and if they help get just five percent less rain on me then that’s something anyway. The windows in the houses -- many are lit up like movie screens to me as I pass them -- show moving pictures of happy families, warm and dry, laughing, sitting down for dinner, oblivious at this moment that people like me even exist.

I’m a ghost, or at least I might as well be.

I dare to stop in front of one them a few hours later when it’s full dark, and colder. As I'd figured, the cold rain is coming down harder now. My thin jacket, two months behind the season, is now soaked through. I know it’s dangerous to stop walking but my legs need a break and there’s nowhere dry to sit. So I stand and watch the movie for a little while.

There’s a house party going on. Everyone looks so happy; their animated hands and bodies express their obvious pleasure of just being with each other. Socializing, near the fireplace with drinks in hand and randomly grabbing whatever they are off the platters as they talk and flirt, and eating them practically without even realizing it. I can feel my legs start to stiffen too much, so I force them into moving again. On to the next movie and the next.

By the time I end up in a more commercial area, I don’t even know what kind of store it was or why I threw a rock through its window, but running away after the loud smash helped warm my toes up some.

*

And the decent upstanding citizens say:

Why do these pathetic, thieving lowlifes insist on inflicting vandalism and violence on decent society? It's absolutely senseless. What the hell is wrong with them? Why can’t they just act like normal kids? Why can’t they understand the simple rules of proper conduct? Why aren’t there more police patrols to ensure these vermin all get locked up and can’t bother good people anymore?

And if the kids grow up, they then say:

Why don’t they quit smoking? Why do they have to be such a blight on society instead of embracing it? Would that be so damn hard? I smoked for a while in university and I was able stop so there’s no reason why they can’t, too. They just don't care how despicable they are. God, the world would be so much better without their kind.

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