I was dirty; she was dirtier.
We crawled into her cardboard box.
I had our bottle of Night Train.
Albert had the biggest tent. His friend told me he’d saved his SSI checks for two months, quit smoking and drinking, so he could pay for it.
All the parties, big and small, were in Albert’s tent. And, he got all the girls downtown.
I would find her there sometimes.
Inside her tent, we lit some candles.
When I rubbed the back of her neck, I could feel the grease and the sweat—weeks’ worth of accumulation roiling under my fingertips.
Some of her nails were long and some were short. The cuticles were rimmed in black on the short ones; the long ones had grime caked under the length of them like dirt stuck on a shovel. She took my shirt off and her long nails scratched me. I could feel them part the rivulets of my sweat as she darted them along and around my shoulders, my back and my chest. I was very hard.
I took her hands in mine and I sucked her filthy fingers one by one, varying the pressure of my lips and tongue. She began to moan softly. I unbuttoned the top of her jeans and unzipped her.
I’d only been out on the streets about a month. All’s I had was a bedroll—no tent, no box, nothing to sleep in. I found doorways and alleys.
Then Albert started letting me sleep in his tent from time to time.
Sometimes she was there.
They were remodeling a storefront at 4th and Main. I asked a construction worker what it would be, and he said they were opening a bar. That’s cool, I thought.
When they were finished, I wandered over there. It was full of rich people. I strolled back to the King Eddie.
She was very dirty and she smelled very strong and when I slipped her pants off she smelled even stronger. I pulled off her shoes; she wasn’t wearing any socks. Her feet were filthy, too, of course, and the smell of her feet mingled with the smell of her pussy and her ass in the candlelit box we were fucking in. I began sucking on her toes, then licked up her calves, and back down to her feet. By the time I let my tongue linger along her thighs, then went down on her for good, she was dripping wet.
Putting up a tent is faster than taking it down. That’s what Albert told me. Joey agreed.
On Los Angeles Street, the person who pitches their tent next to you is your neighbor. Sometimes they choose you day after day, always getting the space beside you. Albert and Joey were always next to each other.
“He’s got my back,” Albert said.
People sometime got jealous of Albert because he had such a nice tent.
Joey always defended him.
“He saved up for that tent.”
Nobody got jealous of Joey, but they listened to him.
Joey had the smaller tent.
Our box was on 2nd Street by the shuttered and empty St. Vibiana’s Cathedral, the new Catholic temple under construction just a few miles away.
Back then 2nd Street was boxes; Los Angeles Street was tents.
I licked her fast and then slow, hard and soft and she came and she screamed when she came.
We could hear the laughter and the catcalls coming form the boxes alongside hers.
I drank in her odors and I was about to come just from eating her out.
After a bit, she held my head at bay, taking a break, and I licked her soiled stomach, which was surprisingly taut.
She rolled me over and climbed on top of me. I was so excited I had to slow down her thrusts.
She bounced gently on me for a time, then she let go.
The Night Train finally kicked in, calming me down. I breathed slowly and I followed her rhythm and I held onto my orgasm.
The box was big—I don’t know what came in it, something larger than a refrigerator—and she was springing up and down so violently on my cock that she kept hitting her head on the top of the box.
We didn’t laugh then; we laughed later.
We fucked and fucked and then I shot up hard inside her. I was quiet as I came because I was used to that and I held her and she looked in my eyes for assurance and I assured her with my eyes and she stuck her fingers back in my mouth and once again I sucked them one by one.
I found a newspaper in the trash and I read it.
The downtown businesses were telling the City Council that Skid Row was bad for the city, that they should clean up the neighborhood, that we were detrimental to the future of Los Angeles.
I threw the paper back in the garbage.
She told me her name was Andi and we finished the bottle of Night Train and we smoked the last of our cigarettes and we held our dirty bodies close all day and all night.
Around dawn the police came and along with them they had trucks from Public Works and they rousted us and they smashed our tents and our boxes and they rounded us up and shoved us against walls and they patted us down, looking for drugs or weapons or whatever else, and they loaded our belongings into the trucks and they carted our stuff away to a dump, to some location, to wherever, never to be seen again.
By noon we’d re-gathered, come together again, those of us remaining, and we tried to reorganize, but we had nothing much left.
Albert’s tent was gone and so was Joey’s, and all the boxes were gone, including Andi’s, and I couldn’t see her anywhere, and I looked around, but she wasn’t there, so I asked—I asked Albert and Joey and I asked the people without tents on 2nd Street, and no one seemed to know, until one old woman, dirty and dishevelled—yes, of course—came over to me as I was calling Andi’s name and she said the police had arrested her, had taken her away— they’d found drugs or something on her person, that’s how she put it—but, anyway, they’d put her in a patrol car and driven off—they drove away with Andi in the back seat in handcuffs—and I never saw her again.
Written by Larry Fondation