Night Harvest

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Predators need to feed. Preferably a meal that wasn’t a stale doughnut or a bowl of meatless vegetable soup. Something to fill the gut, make sleep come a little quicker.

He sat behind a decaying tree and watched. It was past midnight on a frigid and empty Wednesday night. Headlights splashed off the oil-stained, charcoal pavement as the employees steered their way home to their waiting loved ones. Hugs. A soft bed. Comfort.

He made his move. He walked with a deliberate pace straight for the dumpster, opened the heavy plastic lid and peered inside. Reached in and gripped one of the boxes. Gave it a shake. He felt the heft of something inside, he couldn’t help but smile. Grabbed two of the white boxes and jogged back into the woods.

He unzipped the camouflaged tent he had stolen from his parents garage six months ago. Lit a vanilla scented candle with a strike of a match. Poured himself a Styrofoam cup of water from a plastic jug and sat down on a rolled up winter coat.

He could hear animals foraging all around him, mysterious feet crunching on dead leaves and twigs. He wasn’t frightened by the sounds of the night like he was months ago. He knew it was probably an opossum or a deer. Maybe a feral cat. Fear was a wasted emotion, he tended not to feel anything these days. It was easier that way.

He began to devour the free pizza, cramming it down his narrow throat. Red sauce staining his neglected teeth and dripping into his wispy goatee. A lazy sleeve to the face did the work of a napkin. He inhaled seven pieces and took the rest and put it in a garbage bag and tied a simple knot.

He stepped out of the tent and lit a cigarette stub he had found in the parking lot earlier. He could smell the dried urine imbedded in his grimy jeans. He took a hard drag and blew smoke through his nose.

He made plans for tomorrow. Gathering aluminum cans was one possibility. Stealing a kids bike was another. The ache was building. He needed a drink. A toke. A pain pill. Something to ease the burden of being invisible. Anything to silence the thoughts and memories that invaded his mind constantly. He sought oblivion.

He crawled back into his nylon home and covered up. He thought about the breakfast he’d have in the morning at the small church on Lafayette street, a two-mile walk. The preacher man would bore him to death with tales of salvation but the scrambled eggs and sausage links were worth the torture.

Before he started to drift of to sleep, he could still hear his animal friends scampering after a meal. Or looking for a way out. He extinguished the candle with a hard breath and rolled onto his side and drew his knees into his abdomen.

A new sun would emerge in a couple of hours. He closed his eyes and counted mistakes in his head instead of sheep. He slept.


3 thoughts on “Night Harvest

  1. “Hugs. A soft bed. Comfort.” Great bit there.

    There’s an interesting intimacy imbued in this story, like I just peered through a peephole at something I’m not supposed to see. Nice.

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