The Loiterer

By Eric Alt

The man pressed his back against the warm stucco wall and dripped to the ground. Cool concrete rested underneath the store letters. From his bag he pulled out a dog bowl with coins in it. Kids came out of the store, each with a different style of pubescent facial hair. The second boy walked by and kicked the man’s bowl. Change clanged on the ground until the metal circles flared on top of the gutter grime. The dogs of doom laughed past him and left no quarters. His stained fingernails tried salvaging any coins that were left.

The storeowner walked out. “You can’t be here,” he said. He stood over the loiterer, but stepped back because of the dark patch of fluid that had formed underneath the man. The storeowner looked away and wiped his nose.

The loiterer looked up and cleaned a nickel on his tired shirt. “I’m not doing anything.”

“Yeah, I know.”

The loiterer got up and left the store. Wind made air pockets swivel underneath his shirt. Dirty tangled hair, like bruised banana phloem bundles, scattered across his eyes. Each step he made down the public sidewalk was his own.

Banjo Elizabeth Macklin
Elizabeth Macklin