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The Humming Bird and the Squirrel Cage

"Pregnant and homeless, Ivy naigates the backalleys of Skid Row, Los Angeles."

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Author's Notes

"An excerpt of the first pages of the story. A deep philosophical dive into absurdity. Inspired by the Myth of Sisyphus by Camus. A modern take on what is means to survive in a meaningless existence and be happy with it. Looking forward to some feedback!"

Morning stiff air flowing through a heap of dense trash, segregating the bygone needles with broken glass pipes. Coiling and cycling by the strong gusts, a garbage and substance whirlwind, revolving the matter of excesses rubbish. Consuming in the wake, a life forgone from civility, inhibited from our perceptions, senses and dialogues. Exiled in plain sight, an afterthought, useless as a fax machine in the 21st century. No streams of cache, glamor, nor the high noses of bourgeois socialite’s layover. Only the putterings of the outcasts and strays. The tumbling junkies lair, the initiated, antiquated boxcar jug o’ wine that spends the hours fingering the felt of his Velcro shoes.       

A smell of rotting food and sewage runoff flairs the nostrils of any unexpected traveler. But for those who are initiated in pauper, the smell is a homestead, like a warm apple pie resting on your grandma’s window sill. Enticing and seducing for exploration. An America that has forgone the rules of civility, lost and hungry, left like the Ouroboros, to eat itself. Like a mushroom growing in filth, life seems to find a way to thrive in the midst of shit. To those who stick their nose high up in the air, gaze down upon your feet to see the needle-infested, bottle-rolling, human fecal matter welcome mat that reads: Skid Row.             

The amber morning sun, backlighting the droplets of dew layer congregating on the side of a green Los Angeles city dumpster. Precipitating into concrete slabs of mixed, rusted, garbage wash and earthly atmospheric condensation. Infusing to a murky brown puddle base. A hallowing resonance from a rolling empty bottle of malt bounces from wall to foot indicated the only signs of tangible life. Dragging a black Hefty trash bag, Ivy Simmone puddles her way through a Skid Row parchment. Her dry and cracked skin patina her once beautiful dark melanin.

Her purple wig bobbing with the strong Santa Ana winds, readjusting and feathering it. Her tight pink leopard spandex, stretching and tearing with every pull of her luggage. A yellow flower emblem rising from her white plastic sandals as she stomps the ground, making an uneasy annoying rhythm. Scavenging, foraging for any sweet nectar, like a hummingbird, rummaging through the leftovers of the neighborhood's waste. Legs in the air, flopping like an Olympic swimmer, head first and waste deep into a dumpster. Scurrying and digging like a meerkat.

Ivy jumps out of the dumpster with a fresh pair of jeans, what a score!  The sun gently kissing her excited forehead, a giant smile exposing her gaped teeth, a childish glee from a satisfactory rummage. As she gallops from the alleyway, a hodgepodge of Alpaca fabric catches the corner of her eye. Resting against the dumpster, the fabric takes the shape of a humanoid. Ivy reluctantly approaches the strange formation, poking the pile with the end of a broom handle. She can feel a stiffness bouncing back, not much give. Ivy gently removes the first layer of fabric, she jumps back as a nose protrudes from a lifeless young man.    

His head resting on his chin, she nudges it with the handle to see his withdrawn blue eyes. She notices a leather strap wound tightly around his left arm like an opioid serpent. Squeezing and constricting his past-due flesh. Forgone the past, a distant whisper of existence, no tears would be shed for this man, for he was no longer man, he was trash. To be tossed and forgotten.   

His face lacerated with scars, some old, some fresh with coagulated black blood. His cheekbones shriveled and his skin dry like birdshit on a fractured tarmac. His long blonde hair thinning and faded, youth was not kind. His fingernails honed to the fingertips, eyes with a yellowish-brown film, like the rustic dumpster water he rested upon. The body fresh but cold, ammonia not present yet. Must have died in the early hours of last night. The exit of reality, one imagines a triumphed bang. A grand ceremony for the life that resided in the flesh. Fortunate if a half-hearted speech is given at the wake. Most perish like trash, swept in anonymity, dumped back to the earth. No masses for this man, only a slow decomposition, to be consumed by the streets and alleyways he called home. 

Such a tranquil state of being, an enteral sleep. Like an infant taking a nap, no fussiness or crying, just peace. To rid of the mundane cycles of this absurd reality. A tempting proposition for Ivy, to find the emergency exit from this existence with a brash act of defiance, a suicidal preposition. A thought that has been buoyant for some time, resurfacing from moment to moment. Years, decades of wondering, like the lost Israelites, trying to find temporary meaning. Living is expansive, fleeting from the moment of conception. Always trying to undermine the pledge of death. A contract that all must fulfill, constantly looming like a storm cloud, ready to wash and rid the earth of waste.

Like looking at a dirty, murky mirror. Reflecting upon Ivy, the grossing future of the transient junkie. To end as a hungry stray dog, salivating for the next handout, whimpering and decaying. Such existential inquiry, overwhelming for a simple brain like Ivy’s. Only breaking momentarily by the metal clanking of the Amtrack barreling in the distance. So simple to gently rest her head on the tracks, like a cold steel pillow to tuck her away for the abyss. Debating the less painful steel, the needle or the train.

A pain stirs in her abdomen, not the usual hunger pains, nor the comedown pains of a night of intervenes junk ingestion. A different internal pain, a dizzying efflux of confusion and regurgitation. Like an alley cat with a fur ball lodged in her throat, Ivy leans forward and hurls yesterday’s chicken cutlets. Her dark skin turning a puke color pale. She rubs her eyes with tiredness and concern, for the source of her pain becomes evidently obvious. The absent menstruation period and bloated feet, Ivy is pregnant.      

Written by dcdan2
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