Authors: Allison Hobbs
“That’s your daddy?” the man asked in a voice that was coarse from liquor, or perhaps his scratchy tone was a result of an illness brought on by years of living out in the elements.
Anya nodded briskly. “Yes, that’s my father. His name is Herbert. Do you recognize him?”
“Never set eyes on ’em,” the man said gruffly. “Pretty thing like you shouldn’t have to search for a deadbeat dad. Forget about him; I’ll be your daddy.” His tongue slipped out, suggestively licking lips that were cracked and dry. In an obscene gesture, he gripped his crotch and winked.
Disgusted, Anya moved on, continuing her search in alleyways, parking lots, subway concourses—all of the known haunts of the homeless. At a gas station, she encountered a young couple carrying all their worldly goods, strapped to their bodies in backpacks.
The nation was in a sorry state. The young homeless were a demographic that was becoming alarmingly prevalent. People had little sympathy for the young and able-bodied homeless, believing that their predicament was the result of laziness or drug use.
But Anya knew from her own harrowing experience that the loss of shelter could happen to anyone. The homeless couple was pumping gas, trying to earn a few bucks toward their daily survival. She showed them her father’s picture. A bad odor emitted from the pair. It was the smell of gasoline and tuna fish—an odd and unpleasant mixture of scents. Anya had to hold her breath while they scrutinized the photo. The young couple shook their heads. “Never saw him before,” the young man said.
“There’s an organization that travels around the city offering shelter to people living on the streets. They try to gather names and other information from people that are willing to cooperate,” said the woman.
“Do you know the name of the organization?” Anya asked.
“Beats me. Something with the word ‘Homeless’ in the title. I bet you can find them on the Internet. I hear they have a database of information on street people, including photos.”
Her search had not been an entire waste. Feeling more hopeful than ever, Anya thanked the couple. She wondered why they hadn’t accepted help from the organization. Maybe they didn’t want to disclose their identities. There were a million reasons why some people were without food and shelter.
She concluded her day’s journey at the public library on the Parkway, where she’d hoped to be able to use one of the computers and find out more about the organization that identified street people.
Anya left the library in disappointment when she was told that their computers were down.
Outside the library, she was immediately accosted by sad-faced, gaunt, forgotten people who were begging for loose change. This was the reality of the homeless.
On second thought, the notion that there was a database of information about street people seemed rather farfetched. Tomorrow, she’d backtrack to some of the places she’d already visited when she’d first arrived in Philly. Places like Needle Park in the Kensington section of the city, where many of the homeless congregated. She was likely to get more information from personally combing the streets than she’d get on the Internet.
Survival on the mean streets was like living in a jungle. There were an astonishing number of crimes against the homeless. People moved around when areas became too dangerous or when weather conditions destroyed or caused their makeshift shelter to become uninhabitable.
Anya was afraid that if and when she ever found her father, he’d be crazy as hell; unable to recognize her. It was so scary to
think that her father may have forgotten he’d ever had a daughter. But her worst fear was that she was too late—that her father was dead.
Brick had paid for two days when he checked in. More money down the drain. He shook his head, thinking about all the money he’d been wasting on hotel rooms. And this time, he’d checked in using his real name. Stupid!
I should’ve used an alias when I checked into that joint. I gotta bounce; it’s too easy for the cops to find me if I stay there.
I’ma shoot through the spot real quick; get my shit and tell shawty, deuces. She seems like a nice girl, and I feel bad for having to run out on her. But I ain’t got no choice. It’s time for us to part ways.
Speeding to the hotel, Brick zoomed through yellow lights, only tapping lightly on the brakes whenever he approached a stop sign.
I can’t keep my mind off the strippers that I wanna get with.
It’s not the way I planned it. I’m not having a big welcome home party at a strip club with all my homies drinking and getting lap dances.
Being stuck in this house with Evette is getting on my nerves. Don’t get me wrong; I like that she goes along with all my freakish ideas. She cooks, cleans. I believe she’d even give me a tongue bath, if I let her.
I shouldn’t complain because I’m treated like a king in this piece. But Evette’s money situation isn’t up-to-par. After she bought me some clothes and gave me pocket money, she’s pretty much tapped out until her next payday.
In the meantime, a nigga needs to buy weed on a daily basis. I like to chill at the corner bar, and hang out with my new friends—Blake and Munch—a couple of West Philly dudes I met at the barbershop a few days ago.
Munch is a bulky nigga. He’s built solid—not chiseled like me. Blake is a light-skinned, curly-headed, pretty boy. Lean frame. Blake ain’t nothing but a featherweight, but he thinks he’s God’s gift to women.
So far, both Blake and Munch have been cool with me, sharing their weed and liquor. But how long can I keep freeloading off these dudes? If Evette wants to keep me interested, she should be
figuring out a way to get her money right. She’s gon’ have to step it up, and do better by her man.
I didn’t tell Blake and Munch too much about my past, but they do know I just got out of the pen. I didn’t tell them I did a long stretch. If I give out that kind of information, they’re liable to start snooping into my past.
When I admitted I’ve never been to a strip club, they both fell out laughing, thinking it was hilarious.
It’s not my style to deliberately make myself a laughing stock. There’s a method to my madness. If I confessed about never seeing or touching a stripper, they’d volunteer to take me to a strip club and even treat me to some lap dances.
So here I am, wearing the new sneakers and new clothes Evette bought me, waiting for Blake to roll up in his Chevy. The whole time I was locked up, I always envisioned myself riding around in a Benz, a Beemer, or an Escalade…something fly and luxurious. But what the fuck. Riding in a Chevy is better than riding the bus.
Everybody from my old ’hood is frontin’ on me. It’s all good, though. I’ma be up one of these days.
The car horn honks and I run out of the crib. I lock the door with the set of keys Evette gave me. Shit, I’m liable to put her ass out now that I got my own house keys.
“Get in the back, Munch,” Blake says when I approach the car. Munch doesn’t hesitate. He gets right out and hops in the back.
I’m riding shotgun while my man, Blake, is steering with his knees while he rolls up a blunt. Hanging with these niggas, I’ma have to develop a taste for tobacco leaves; they don’t fuck with rolling paper at all.
Blake passes me the blunt. Power 99 is blasting from the speakers and I’m smoking, enjoying the city sights…feeling nice.
“Yo, that ain’t your personal; pass that blunt back here,” Munch says from the back.
“My bad.” I turn to pass the blunt to Munch.
“Hell, no. Don’t let that nigga put his mouth on my weed,” Blake intervenes.
Now I’m in a quandary. I’m holding the blunt in mid-air, not knowing what to do.
“Man, why you always drawlin’?” Munch asks.
“Hmph! We both know where your mouth been.”
“The same place your mouth been.”
I shrug my shoulders and help myself to another puff, figuring I’ll keep on smoking until these niggas come to some kind of conclusion.
“That’s bullshit. Nigga, I told you last week, I’m not smoking behind you no more.”
“You smoked behind me last night, so why you frontin’?” Munch argues.
“I must have been so high that I forgot about my new rules,” Blake suggested.
“You frontin’ for Kaymar.”
“I’m not frontin’ for nobody. I’m keeping it one hunnit.”
Now, I’m high as a kite and curious about what they’re talking about. “What’s wrong with his mouth? Why can’t he smoke some of this shit?”
“Because this nigga’s nasty.”
“No, I’m not,” Munch grumbles half-heartedly.
Blake reaches for the blunt, so I have to give it up. He puffs and turns around and blows a cloud of smoke in Munch’s direction. “Get high off that,” Blake says, laughing.
“That ain’t even funny,” Munch complains.
“I’ma tell you what’s not funny,” Blake says in a serious tone. “It’s not funny when people all over Philly know all about your bad habit.”
I’m wondering if Munch is a heroin addict. And did he get
something off a dirty needle? “Yo, somebody needs to tell me something,” I blurt out. “No disrespect, Munch, but I don’t wanna smoke behind you either, if you got that monster!”
“I ain’t got no HIV.”
“Oh, okay,” I mutter, feeling relieved.
“Tell him whatchu got,” Blake prods.
“I ain’t got nothing!”
“Yeah, aye. Tell him what you had.”
“It ain’t his business.”
“What did he have?” I ask, urgently. These two niggas is crazy. Both of ’em are starting to remind me of the backwoods lunatics you see in horror films.
“Munch got his name from munching on a whole lot of different pussies—”
“Say whaaat?” I turn all the way around and gawk at Munch.
of different ones,” Munch says to his defense.
“Eating three or four strange pussies a day is a
“You don’t think it’s nasty when I’m doing it for you.”
I look from Munch to Blake, thinking these weirdo niggas are really on that shit! I’m seriously considering bailing out of this car. Fuck the strippers. I’ll check them out on my own dime. I can go to the strip club by myself as soon as Evette gets paid.
Blake passes me the blunt, but now I’m leery about his and Munch’s homo activities, and I refuse to take it. “Nah, I don’t want no more. I’m good,” I tell him.
“Man, don’t listen to Munch. He don’t do nothing he don’t wanna do.”
I lift an eyebrow. “Y’all homos?”
“Hell, no!” Blake explodes into laughter. “I bring Munch along whenever I need him to handle the foreplay on the bitches I be fucking. That’s how we get down.”
I’m still confused, but extremely intrigued. “What does Munch do?” I crane my neck and give Munch another questioning look. His expression is rather sheepish, but I also see a trace of pride. Now, I’m finally getting the full picture. Munch is a little slow. Mentally delayed. And I don’t know why Blake is even fucking with the bull, but I don’t roll with niggas that used to ride the little school bus.
“Munch has a bad pussy-eating habit. He’s addicted. You know what I’m saying?”
“Nah, whatchu mean?” I respond.
“I mean, Munch gotta eat pussy all the time. He craves it.”
I peep Munch again, and that twisted son of a bitch is in the backseat smiling and nodding his head about his nasty addiction.
“Munch is my man from ever since we were kids. So I look out for him. Every now and then, I run across an extra freaky bitch, and I convince her to let Munch give her some oral before I fuck her. By the time he’s done slurping on that pussy, my dick gon’ slide right in!”