"What are you doing, you don't belong here, this here is my corner" a wrinkled vulture of a woman snapped at me. As the crowd passed by us in the street they paid no mind- we were nothing but piles of empty bags and sagging skin.
(more) "Excuse me -" She started again.
"I heard you the first time," I groaned as I lifted a crate I had scavenged from a nearby dumpster. "I didn't know this was YOUR corner. I just needed some cash."
"Hun," She leaned in, her finger pressing into my chest, "I've been on this here corner for 10 years, and you want to know why?"
I shook my head no, desperately trying to escape to my own panhandle corner. She quickly stepped in the way, blocking me in.
"It's cause this is the best damn spot in the city. College kids come by after the bars close, and boom," She shook her paper cup at me, jingling the change, "20 or 30 bucks in just a few minutes."
"No, just you listen. I better not see you here, there's only one bum on this block and it's gonna be me. I don't want your sorry ass cutting in on my profit."
"Fine, fine," I pulled my ripped coat tight around me and shuffled off to a nearby alleyway.
That night, I hid in my parka, boxes and blankets to fend against the frightening cold as college kids stumbled home.
And she? She shook her cup and sung low slow songs, collecting her pay until her targets dispersed. With only a few stragglers roaming the sidewalks, she packed her chair and jumped in a car. With a roar of the engine, she drove off beyond the horizon with that night's charity lining her pockets.(less)
A few years ago, I found a dead hawk in my backyard. I took a feather and brought it to the university to have it reduced to bones. In a week it was done, and I had the skeleton.
Its wing bones and legs were broken, snapped in half(more) by a cat or a car or a window.
But the rest of it, was amazing. The claws and beak were still razor sharp. The bones were fine and slim, hollow like any other birds. I could see how easily the joints still moved, connected with the thinnest strands of muscle.
I was in awe, but it still made me sad.(less)