There was something sexy about his desperation as he stood beneath that cold, hard street light with his thick lips drawn down in a clownish smile which he obviously didn’t feel; something intriguing in the way he threw himself at complete strangers, not for money as he claimed, but for the hope that one day one of them might actually fill that void in the pit of his stomach which was slowly eating him alive.
Most of all, though, there was something wise, tough, and ferocious about him. He was a survivor in the darkest jungle of them all, staving off those predatory fears and eluding the evils which dogged his every move.
I watched him for a long time, like an anthropologist studying apes, taking in all that I could about him. In the end one thing puzzled me most; how did he have the strength to keep going on? Where did he find that persistence?
I knew I wasn’t going to get the answer any other way than asking him, so I walked over to where he was posted up, a cigarette hanging limp in his lips.
“What can I do for ya, homie?” He asked as I drew closer. “You wanna have some fun tonight?” I could taste the booze on his breath from six feet away but he hid his slur well. I wasn’t surprised; I would have wanted to be drunk, too.
“Well what’s the going rate?”
“For a cutie like you, daddy, I’ll do it for 40 bucks. Do you have somewhere for us to go?”
“Um, no, actually. But how about this, I’ll give you 40 bucks if you answer one question for me.” I pulled two 20 dollar bills from my pocket so he knew I wasn’t joking.
“What kind of question?” He asked with a voice laced with suspicion and eyes glued to the bill in my right hand.
“What keeps you going? How can you keep doing this to yourself?”
He thought about it for a minute, letting the question marinade, then he looked me square in the eye, his face glistened in alcohol induced flop sweat, and said, “Baby, even in the darkest night, hope is shining down on us sure as this street lamp above our heads. You just have to look for it and it’ll guide you through the hardest of times.” Then he snatched the bills from my hand and walked off into the dark; leaving me to stand alone beneath that cold, hard street light.