I Used To Be You
Val Griffiths

Watching the woman work through the trash can was kinda like watching a train wreck - disturbing on so many levels and yet you couldn't tear your eyes from it. She was homeless, I guess. Or maybe not. It was hard to tell really. She was a big girl and I don't mean your run-of-the-mill overweight, I'm talking orca big. It takes sustenance to maintain that kind of frame, doesn't it? Probably she'd been eating schizo' sandwiches I figured– bucket loads of 'em . Yeah, that was probably it.     

At first she approached my table, unseen, from downwind, making me think for a split second that something very bad had just happened to the vanilla latte` I was sipping on. Our eyes met–mine from over the rim of the mug and hers from under the greasy, salt-and-pepper bird's nest that used to be her hair. Our eyes met yet she saw nothing, so engrossed was she with the heated soliloquy she was having with one of the voices in her head. “That's fucking bull-shit and you know it!” she profaned, haloed by a rainbow of spittle. She then cackled like some insane Michelin witch, her tiny, black cake hole the poster child for periodontal disease the world over.     

She hefted onto the sidewalk before me and went to work on the garbage bin, inching around it's circumference, mumbling incoherently as her short, fat arms picked through civilized society's leftovers. The filthy black tent of a skirt she wore vacuumed into the vast crack of her ass as she came off of her tiptoes with something clutched in her hand. I had to squint to make out what appeared to be the moldy remains of an at least three day old, half-eaten burger. She stuffed the entire thing in her mouth and vigorously licked the greasy gray wrapper spotless, tossing it onto the pavement beside her. She smacked on the burger once or twice and then resumed her mumbling showering meat and breadcrumbs down her unrestrained, pendulous cleavage before lurching off down the sidewalk past me like some ridiculously obese penguin. I held my breath as the stench of her became unbearable in such close proximity and she must have caught the unabashed look of disgust on my face because her expression melted into sad embarrassment and with absolute clarity of mind, she said to me “You know something, Mister, I used to be you.”

First published: May, 2010
comments to the writer: doorknobsandbodypaint@gmail.com