He sat on the edge of the bed holding his face in his hands. The filthy mattress rested on cement blocks - spaced around the base; and where sheets once protected the surface, now only a torn Army blanket graced the yellow stained surface. His feet were covered with the remnants of once white socks and dirty red toes protruded through the strings and out from the worn openings.
“Oh, God.” His moaning plea verified his pain. A lone cockroach looked up at the sound, then scurried to a darker corner. Sheets of plastic flapped in a missing window and somewhere a distant train whistle added to the music of the room. “Oh, dear Jesus.” His voice was more prayer than expletive, but completed the concert.
He brushed the mop of hair off of his eyes and tried to focus on the brown paper sack resting on a folding chair in the middle of the room. The chair back was stenciled “property of Golden Haven Hotel.” He rose and attempted to move but the vitamin E deficiency made it difficult to stand and focus his gaze. He took one step and waited for the world to catch up. The doctor at the clinic gave him a shot and a piece of paper. The shot wasn’t bad, and he felt better immediately, but he lost the paper. He didn’t need literature to tell him that he was destroying his body, and if he could reach the sack, the end would be sooner than later. Thank God for small favors.
Somewhere a siren echoed through the streets, he cocked his head then remembered where he was, he had crawled into the old hotel sometime in the night or perhaps some other time, dates and time were unclear. He managed another step. Maybe crawling is better. He sunk to his knees and tried to put a hand down on the floor, but missed, and his palm slipped out beneath him causing him to fall on his chest and bump his chin on the cracked linoleum . He rolled over on his side, the searing pain in his stomach made him double up in a fetal position. “Auggggg.” A tear ran down his face and dropped onto the floor, a curious red swirl snaked through the liquid.
He thought he saw something move across the room and reached a hand to grab it, but only air was in his grasp. With his hand out reached he managed to stretch the length of his body toward the chair and touched the leg with his fingertip. Somewhere outside his door voices were shouting, or fighting, it didn’t really matter.
They don’t care.
He worked his other hand free and pushed his body toward the chair, his arm rocked the chair and the sack tipped over and a strange shaped plastic bottle fell out and bounced on the floor. An ounce of liquid splashed on the linoleum. He thrust his hand through the liquid and licked his fingers. A flash of the doctor’s warning blinked in his memory. “Who cares?” His shout bounced off of the vacant wall.
The voice startled him. He rolled from where he lay and searched for the source. An image silhouetted in the window opening was standing with open hands.
“I care.” The voice repeated.
Somewhere in his the recesses of his mind he remembered a God of old. Something he thought he believed in during his youth. He remembered his belief, and being told of faith. “What happened?” he heard himself say as he heart answered and called out, help me Lord, is it you Lord?
“I care.” The voice again repeated.
The article in the next day’s paper only read “Local man found dead in closed hotel. The former Golden Haven is frequented by the cities’ homeless, the victim apparently died of natural causes. Police are searching for relatives.”
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