Art by Paul Rios
Tom C. Mangé, III sat on his favorite stool in his favorite alley dive, 2 Dumpsters & A Homeless Man. With paw on head, familiar glass poured life down his throat awaiting to be pissed away later, he contemplated his nightly contemplation of how to score more BlueNip and some strange furry.
The good ol’ fashioned way of paying for goods with money was out of the question. Tom had none. He grabbed and quickly finished his neighboring stools drink while they were in the box, then stood up and meandered out into the alley for some sobering air.
Tom gave out a purring yawn, licked his paws and scratched his whiskers. He looked up and down the alley, then proceeded to walk in the direction to his left, not for any particular reason other than it was as good a direction as any.
He walked and stumbled, shivering from the brisk air and withdrawals. Not paying attention to his path, he kept his head down, involuntarily kicking a can along his way. The can stopped and Tom’s face was abruptly getting closer to the ground. Unable to catch himself, as was typical, his face met the can with a dull thudding crunch. Tom didn’t make a sound. He just lay there smelling the coppery scent of blood start to pool up in his nose and the taste of metallic bitterness seep from his tongue where his teeth sunk deep.
A gruff irritated voice came from above, “Are you ok? You might want to watch where you’re going there tough guy.”
Tom slowly turned over to see a fat unkempt ginger staring down at him disapprovingly with his paw outstretched to help him up. Tom sucked up any pride he still possibly had hanging from his lip and took the ginger’s rough paw.
Tom stared at G, wiping away blood from his nose and whiskers, not knowing what to say.
“What’s the matter? Cat got your tongue?” G sneered and chuckled to himself. “Ok, ok. So a bad joke, but what does a junky like you care about what’s funny or not anyway?”
Tom managed to give a weak smirk beneath his twitching whiskers.
G continued on as if he didn’t see Tom’s amusement, “I believe I’ve found something in this dumpster that you may like.” G pulled a small burlap sac out from his pocket and dangled it in Tom’s face.
Tom’s pupils dilated, unable to hide his craving’s excitement. It’d been almost 24 hours since his last fix of BlueNip and his body was letting him know it was time to pay up. He could usually cut down the cravings with copious amounts of alcohol, but tonight’s alcohol consumption came up short. He had drunk enough to seriously impair his senses, but not enough to completely kill them.
Tom, unconsciously, but instinctively swiped at the small burlap sac. “Not so fast there big guy,” G said as he easily pulled the sac out of Tom’s reach. “I’m not sure this will do you any good. Now that I think about it, looks like you’ve had enough of everything for quite some time. Excess of anything will kill you and your curious nature for disregard seems to have you heading in that direction.”
Tom let out a low hissing growl. G sneered and chuckled to himself again, nonchalantly tossing the sac at Tom, “Ok suite yourself man, but don’t say nobody warned you. Take it from this fat cat. Excess is a bitch.”
G turned back to his dumpster diner perusing and left Tom standing in the alley, burlap sac in paw. Tom felt the sac weigh heavier than it ever had before, but after a few seconds hesitation he opened it up and sniffed in its tremendous placation. The aromatic pungency of the BlueNip hit instantaneously. Tom could feel his blood quicken through every single vein in his body as a hazy calmness engulfed him completely.
Tom stood in that exact spot, for what seemed to him to be hours. The world whizzed by in brilliant hues of confusion mixed with blotched hints of eroticism and wavy grains of paranoia. He could smell sex, taste fear and feel the world’s heartbeat. The seemingly endless hours were actual mere seconds and then Tom was on his way. On his way to wherever his detached feet were now taking him.
His feet led him across a magical paved ocean with roaring sea serpents flashing their eyes in dodged paths around his body. The swooshing splash of wind rippled dangerously close through his hair as he made his way into the dark alley on the other side and brought him face to face with innocent black caressing eyes. These eyes were attached to a dainty light colored feline dressed in an erogenously skimpy schoolgirl outfit with a red bow placed gingerly over her left ear.
“Hi,” was all Tom could produce through his salivation.
“Hi,” the young feline replied back. “My name is HK, looking for a good time handsome?”
“HK? Is that short for something?”
“My name not important handsome, I can be anyone you want. What can I do for you? Can I make you happy? Love you long time?”
“Why yes, yes you can,” Tom said without hesitation, staring at her chest. HK grabbed Tom by the paw and led him behind the closest dumpster. She dropped to her knees and began tugging at Tom’s belt. Tom blankly looked down at the top of her head until she looked up smiling and their eyes met again. They were young eyes, innocent eyes, eyes that should not have been where they were, eyes Tom wish he had not seen. Tom reached down and grabbed his pants before HK could pull them down, sitting down in front of her as he buckled his belt back up. He stared into her eyes, searching for answers that he couldn’t find himself.
“How old are you?” Tom asked.
“However old you’d like me to be. Now can we please get this on so I get paid?”
Paid? Tom was filled with throbbing incoherency prior to his sobering realization that he didn’t think about payment. “I don’t have any money,” he let creep out.
“No money?! Now you tell me. Just great…”
Tom could see the dejection on HK’s face and it crushed the last of his high. He pulled out the only form of payment he had, fumbling around with the burlap sac in his paw, contemplating if he should be giving such a thing to this young kit. HK caught sight of the sac and immediately perked up. There was no going back now, Tom would feel even worse if he just kept teasing her.
“Oh we could continue if you give me what in that sac you have. Please let me. I need it bad. Me make you feel good, love you real good.”
Tom gently pushed HK off and let the sac slip from his paw to the ground. She looked down at the sac and back up at him, not knowing if she should take it. Tom got up, turned around and made his way in the opposite direction, hearing a faint gleeful cry for joy that made him sick to his stomach.
Tom staggered down the alley nearing the entrance to a junkyard, feeling his body sluggishly trying to keep up with his natural inclination for walking. The sudden urge of life deep in his bladder, let him know it was time to let it go. Tom leaned with his forearm against the brink wall with his head resting on his forearm. He pissed on what looked to be yesterday’s newspaper, shook and zipped up. When he turned around his face met with a wooden bat, dropping Tom into his own piss.
Dazedly, Tom looked up to see 5 thuggish looking kits standing over the top of him.
“Looks like you killed him Cliff,” said one of the five.
“No I didn’t you idiot,” said the one who must have been Cliff. “He’s still breathing. Hey you, old man. Give us all your money and maybe we’ll let you walk away with a couple of your lives.”
“Old man?” Tom thought to himself. Tom was in his mid-thirties, but supposed his downward spiral way of living over the past couple years had worn him thin. “I don’t have any money,” Tom slurringly spit out and tossed his wallet in the direction of the one named Cliff. Cliff picked up the wallet, sifted through the contents and pulled out Tom’s ID.
“Well, Tom. Looks like this isn’t your lucky day. Unfortunately we are going to have to hurt you now.”
The 5 thuggish kits descended upon Tom, bats battering his body as he tried to curl up into a fetal position covering his head with his paws. Body too weak to fight back or flee and his voice unwilling to cry out for help. He just took it. The bats doing damage to his outside equaling that which Tom had already done to his insides with years of excessive need for drugs, alcohol and unabashed debauchery. Tom laid still, body involuntarily twitching from suppressed pain. His mind racing through his life of missed opportunities and self-sabotage. His contemplation leaving him seemingly lifeless, the beating stopped.
The faint pitter-patter of paws running away with triumphant exuberance and a distant voice exclaiming, “Looks like he’s had enough, let’s go boys.”
Tom basked in a pool of his blood and piss, as it began to pour down ice piercing rain. The cool repetitive shock allowed him to slowly get just enough strength to rise up. Clawing his way into the junkyard toward an abandoned car, Tom needed to get out of the rain. The initial piercing cool shock jolted enough into him to rise, but was calmly taking back the strength it had given.
Tom reached the car, pulled himself into the back seat and curled up into a ball of hopeful self-warmth. Tom’s body was slipping away from strength, but his mind was still running away. Coming to a final conclusion he couldn’t release…He deserved this. His mind ran back through the events that had led him to where he was today. He stopped to think about what G’s seemingly meaningless wisdom truly meant to him, about HK the innocent and how he wished he could have helped her smile without giving into dark pleasures. When he came to the 5 thuggish kits, he did not ponder them with resentment, he wished he could have had the strength to lead them away from the downward spiral they were finding themselves on, he wished he had done something more, something at all. HK and Cliff deserved more than he did. They were young and stupid, but could still do something with their lives. Tom’s mind started to slow and wander after his body, leading him to his final thought…“If only those kits stayed in school.”