Prompt for September 12: The Detour


[prompt from ]

He kept the brown paper bag close to his side, just so he could feel the fine wrinkles against his skin. The weight there was reassuring. Gary knew the bottle of port, and all that it promised, was with him. It would make for a nice night thinking about her.

He came to the intersection of Bend and Tabbish only to find that in the time it took him to leisurely walk three more blocks to the Wine Emporium, a pipe had burst on Bend, causing the road to be blocked while workers attempted to fix it before it got dark.

He sighed and turned on Tabbish. He’ll just take the long way back to his apartment. Gary squeezed the bottle closer to his thigh.

Tabbish was a street unlike any other. For some reason, many of the towns’ homeless made the street their unofficial residence. One such resident gave Gary the stink eye as he passed by.

“Off to a party, are we?” The homeless man snickered. He was wearing a thinning grey long-sleeved shirt, wool gloves, and a knit hat. A couple of garbage bags were strewn over his lap as a makeshift blanket.

Gary tried not to respond. He continued down the street.

“Hey, I’m talking to you!”

A step farther away, then another.

“Fine. Don’t help a brother out. See if I care.”

Gary was almost at the end of the street, so close to turning down Harrison.

“It’s not like you just found out your best friend died yesterday.”

Fuck. Gary stopped and turned slightly. He could see the homeless man out of the corner of his eye. He half expected another smirk; a sign he was being played. Instead, the homeless man was looking at the trash bags on his lap. His shoulders were trembling.

“How did he die?” Gary asked, more out of morbid curiosity than actual concern.

The homeless man looked up, his eyes wide. Very slowly he said, “Tommy was diabetic. He couldn’t get his insulin. That shit costs money, you know?”

Gary found himself walking towards the man. “Why didn’t he just go to a clinic? I’m sure they would have given him some.”

He laughed. “Naw, man. Those clinics aren’t as good as they’re cracked up to be.”

The brown paper bag was still against his thigh. Gary tightened his grip on the bag. Maybe he didn’t need the port after all. He sat down next to the man, fighting the revulsion of that homeless smell, and slid the bag down the bottle.

“How about we celebrate Tommy’s life, then?”

The homeless man shook his head. “Naw, man. Tommy’s life was shit. Same as mine. Let’s celebrate that he’s finally out of this hell. Hopefully he hasn’t found himself in a new one.”


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