“She ain’t here.”
“I know. Might be inside. I just wonder why she bolted, that’s all.”
Trish shook her head and shuffled forward. Marcie didn’t want to get in to it with her so she let it go. When they got inside she tried not to do too much looking around. Trish pretended not to notice.
They headed back outside and traced their usual route scavenging for anything usable and panhandling along the way. Marcie found herself thinking about how her life had come to such a sorry pass, something she had learned to not do a long time ago but now it was calling to her. An abusive husband who had spiralled down into heroin, an unwanted pregnancy that ended in a miscarriage and she had found herself so deep in a pit of depression that she just didn’t care anymore.
The final straw had been when her worthless husband had hidden some drugs in her bag in an attempt to keep from being arrested. Six months in prison and she had come out worse than when she went in. That had been four years ago. The street had been her home ever since.
She stole a sidelong glance at Trish. Her story was similar. Weren’t they all? They had met one day three years ago. She had saved Trish from a beating by a local pimp hell-bent on doing damage after smoking too much crack cocaine by swinging a piece of wood at his head with everything she had. They had been surviving together ever since.
Trish veered toward a well-dressed couple that seemed to be lost. Marcie stood aside and watched her work them. A minute later she came over waving a ten-dollar bill.
“Sometimes you can sell directions, you know?”
Marcie smiled and told her to put the money away before someone saw. They continued on to their usual panhandling station. Trish was picking up vibes and decided to talk.
“Look, I know you’re still thinking about that girl. You can’t save her, Marcie.”
Marcie said nothing but Trish was agitated.
“We don’t need any baggage, girl. You know it’s true.”
“Just drop it Trish. She’s gone anyway.” She scowled. “Doesn’t mean I won’t talk to her if we see her again.”
Trish just shook her head and sat down in their usual place and got out their begging bowl. Marcie wandered around for a bit and managed to bum a couple of cigarettes. She sat down and lit one and handed it to Trish.
“At least we can afford some more of these, eh?”
Trish smiled and nodded. The unspoken truce held into the afternoon. With the sun out and the air warming up people were in a more generous mood. They called it quits as the light began to fade and Marcie seemed in better spirits as they walked back towards their encampment.
They decided to save the money and hit the soup kitchen again and as they waited in line they talked to the regulars they knew. Marcie eavesdropped on a conversation she heard a bit of and Trish pricked up her ears too when she realized what the topic was.
“…yeah, I don’t know who she is, she’s been around for a few months now, but she just don’t belong, ya know?”
“Damn straight. Real up herself too. I just don’t get that. Who does she think she is? She’s down here with us. She needs to learn how things go.”
Trish turned to Marcie and cocked her head.
“She’s got herself a rep.”
Marcie nodded and listened to a little more of the conversation but soon they were inside. After they got their food they looked for a place to sit and there at a table in the corner by herself sat Sophie.
Trish rolled her eyes and resigned herself to the inevitable.
Part 4 Tomorrow