Diesel fumes fill his lungs as the noise of the rush hour traffic mercilessly forces him to wake
He rises to a sitting position on the cement slab he calls his bed, coughing and gasping for air.
The sun is sitting like a ball between the distant horizon and the bottom of the bridge he calls home.
He looks towards Charlie still asleep under the blanket that he gave him last night.
She was young and pretty as she woke him up with the early morning sun.
He was glad to be alive as he awoke to eat the breakfast that she always had ready.
He would jump into his car very much looking forward to when his day would be done.
Life was good, life was grand, all of the good things were coming slow but coming steady.
Reality closes in as he perceives that it's time to hit the streets to see how much he can beg or how much he can take.
He climbs up the embankment to the street in dirty ragged clothes and he doesn't seem to care.
With dreaded anticipation he heads for the crowds of the business district to panhandle and grow to feel even more alone.
He glances back at the bridge while on his way hoping that poor old Charlie will be alright.
Assembly line work wasn't bad and the money was good.
Building cars for a living seemed like a worthwhile thing to do.
When he got home every night his pretty young wife was always there just like he knew she would.
She made him glad to be alive and more than happy when his day was through.
The never ending line of people was rushing by on their way to work as if everyone was late.
He found that his favorite spot on his favorite corner was not yet occupied so he quickly settled in.
Most would simply ignore him while some would give him change and
some would be rude and call him names to show their disgust.
Charlie once had found a wallet and shared with him the contents so they went to buy some clothes
but they wound up eating good and getting drunk instead.
Once upon a time he thought his future was as bright as the noon day sun.
He had great plans of buying a home and raising a family just like his father before.
But the word came down about the closing of the plant and the hard times had begun.
He looked and looked for work only to find there wasn't anymore.
He had almost twenty dollars at the end of his day and it had him feeling great.
He went to a greasy spoon had a burger and some fries than ordered the same to go and walked out with a grin.
He quickly headed for the bridge to give the food to Charlie for he knew that he must.
Charlie was still lying under the blanket so he gently shook him to awake but alas he cold not
for poor old Charlie was dead.
Sinking deep into depression is as easy as sinking deep into your favorite chair.
Booze soon replaced his wife as his favorite thing to have around.
She left him in his drunken stupor crying that it's just not fair.
It didn't take too long for the bottom to fall out and when he finally sobered up,
he was sleeping on the ground.
Michael R. Roth