I stand in an alleyway, between scene edits, a cigarette, and the homeless shelter. A crowd gathers around a stairway carrying sleeping bags or shopping bags or duffel bags or nothing. A woman opens an industrial door on the top step. She reads, "Number 19, Number 36, Number 6." She repeats the numbers.
I realize the numbers are people who will get a bed tonight.
Another woman, in a newsies cap, runs past me to listen. The woman in the doorway says, "I'll be back at 9pm." It's a raffle for a roof. Good for numbers 19, 36, and 6, I guess. But tomorrow 19, 36, and 6 means nothing except sleep in a doorway wrapped in a plastic bag and piss and ask for a cigarette.
I wonder if any of the devout alleyway congregation members remember the last dream they had. Maybe their dreams now are something like: If someone would just give me a chance, I'll stop sticking this needle in my arm. But who am I kidding? Why not stop? Does it make things beautiful again? Or bearable? Or less boring or bearing a hole in all the parts of you that are supposed to matter?
A siren will come screaming down the road because they died face down on the concrete on top of gum and oil and shit what is their name? Do they have ID on their person? Or did holes wear into their pockets preventing the carrying of anything at all? Who buries them now? Does anybody know?
Maybe once, this corpse too screamed down the street, straight up to the sky. Maybe just right before they died. That's how you find rest in this world. You just stop breathing.
You stop waiting in the alleyway with your fucking number crumpled up, burning a hole in your dirty, torn up hand. Stop waiting for a woman to say "19. 36. 6." The waiting makes something inside of you turn. Not like hunger. You know what that feels like. It's something else. Something like being surrounded by people looking at your face as you walk away because your number didn't get called.
Even once you leave the alleyway, there are faces that look at you. And that, that, leads you tearing into the night, screaming, smiling, dying.
Who can live in this world? And I mean really live. Besides survival, we have one thing in common.