Friday, January 26, 2024

Danny's Last Supper

This is an excerpt from my novel All About Homeless
. It is available at Amazon in paperback or Kindle version. 

Danny's Last Supper

Hannah stood on the corner wearing a green and red plaid scarf stuffed into a discarded blue snowmobile suit that she had to fight for at the shelter. She held a cardboard sign to passing motorists that read 'Homeless. Need money for food.' Hannah smiled at each passing car, but she did so with her lips clamped tight. She lost an incisor in a squabble over the rights to a dumpster three years earlier. 

A friend, Danny, dressed in a tattered Army field jacket and oversized wrinkled jeans called to her from across the street, "Look here Hannah I got some food. Anytime you're ready to eat." He held high two plastic shopping bags. 

Hannah liked Danny's smile. It was broad and friendly. He still had all his teeth. She followed him down an alley for three blocks. They walked across an open field and followed two sets of train tracks for a quarter-mile. Finally, they came to an empty warehouse. They squeezed inside a boarded-up side door and climbed four flights of stairs to the roof. 

"It's a pretty day isn't it Hannah." Danny smiled broadly beneath his scraggly stubble. 

"It sure is. Whatcha got to eat," Hannah said trying to look in the bags. 

"I got a whole mess of stuff." 

"You didn't steal it did you?" As if she was about to shame him. 

"No. I was standing in the parking lot of Wal-Mart with my lucky sign. That sign always works. This lady drives up, stops, gets out, opens her trunk, and reaches in, and hands me these two bags. I tell her 'thank you' and she says 'you should get a job.' I said to her, 'Would you hire somebody dressed like this?' She got really snooty and drove away." 

"Are you sure you want to share this with me?" 

"Sure," He said. "After all the times you shared with me." 

Danny pawed through the bag. "Look here Vienna Sausages. I ain't had them since I was a boy. They're good. I hope we got some crackers. I love Vienna Sausages with crackers. That's the only way to have them." 

Hannah pulled back the sack with her soiled hand. "There's your crackers and lookie there peanut butter and jelly! It's almost like being a kid." 

Danny dropped the sausages back into the sack and let it fall. He fell against the parapet of the building. He held his hands to his chest." 

Hannah looked at him frightfully. "Danny what is it." 

Danny smiled through gritted teeth and a pained face. "It's back again." 

"I'll go get help." 

"No, not this time Hannah." 

"What do you want me to do?" 

"Hannah, can you get Jose and Freddy? I want to share this with them." 

"But you may be dying!" 

"I am dying and I want you and Jose and Freddy with me." 

"I can't do that. I got to get help." 

"When this happened before they wouldn't let any of my friends in to see me. I could have died alone in a hospital. That ain't right. Don't let me die alone. Please get Jose and Freddy." 

Hannah removed her scarf and tucked it around Danny's neck. He smiled. 

"Danny I never told you, but your smile is good. I think about it all the time. I love you." 

"Get my friends Hannah. Get my friends." 

Hannah kissed Danny on the forehead and scurried down the steps and retraced the route that had brought them to the warehouse. She scurried the streets looking for Jose and Freddy. She asked everyone who was homeless. At length, she saw them together sharing a coffee huddled beside a dumpster. "Jose, Freddy," she said. 

"Hey Hannah, it looks like we got some good stuff in here," Jose said in a Latin accent motioning to the inside of the dumpster with his head. 

"I ain't seen no dumpster like this one since the fourth of July two years ago. I just wish we had a way to keep it from going bad." 

"You got to hurry. It's Danny. His heart again." 

"You call 911!" Freddy said. 

"Danny don't want that. He told me to get you two." 

"Then let's go!" Jose said. 

"But we got to call 911," Freddy insisted. 

"Danny was firm. We make him mad and he may die for sure on us. He did not want to die in the hospital, only with his friends." 

"Lead the way Hannah," Freddy said. 

They hurried along the streets at times nearly at a run speculating whether they would find him dead or alive. 

They reached the warehouse and climbed the steps to the roof. 

Danny was still leaning against the parapet. The groceries were arranged on his blanket before him. He smiled and slowly beckoned them with his weak arm. "Let's eat friends. I don't want to die a hungry man." He smiled and forced a chuckle. 

Slowly they sat. Danny passed the crackers and sausages. "I hope you don't mind. I was really hungry. I thought I was going to die for a moment so I ate a couple of sausages before you came. There you go Hannah, peanut butter and jelly on crackers. Sorry, but there was no bread." 

"That's okay Danny, you did good. You didn't have to do this." 

"Danny let me call 911," Freddy said. 

"It will be no good this time. I don't want to go on." 

"You can not give up my friend," Jose said. 

"Oh yes I can," Danny said resolutely. "I wish I had some wine. Take some apple juice," Danny said and passed a jug of apple juice. 

Danny leaned against the wall. His breathing was deeper and more rapid. "Hannah," he said just above a whisper. "There is an envelope in here." He pointed to his chest. "Take it to that address and don't leave until it is read. It's good to die among friends." 

Danny smiled and died. 

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