“‘Cheap knit crap from the dollar store’,” I mimic Tiresa’s self-righteous tone. “‘I’m even willing to buy you a decent dress’.” I scowl as I examine the black dress which had been purchased for the date with Wesley. It was more than decentâ€”in fact, it had cost a bit more than I could reasonably affordâ€”and would fit in with Tiresa’s and Mika’s engagement party, which was certain to be on par with a black tie affair. Now I just needed a new pair of shoes since the heel broke off my sandal.
I park my car just off Trafalgar Street and make my way down the crowded sidewalk toward Hannah’s Shoes, where I hoped to purchase the same sandals I bought for the date with Wesley. There weren’t many styles in my size, let alone could accommodate my fat feet, so I often bought a couple pair of the same shoes.
At a corner I run into Cat. “Cat! How are you?” I ask.
I was the first to befriend Cat, who has lived on the street for a decade. Initially, I felt sorry for her and gave her an old winter coat of mine, which progressed to spare change here and there, then invitations to have coffee. Feeling sorry for Cat didn’t do any good, however. Her mind half gone from alcohol and a successful career lost, Cat survives quite well on the streets, her brutal honesty put to good use and her “It could be worse” attitude keeping her afloat
She looks at me up and down. “I see you’re finally off your face,” she comments.
“Uh, yeah,” I stammer. “Thanks for checking in on me the other night. It was a pretty horrible night.”
“Try living on the streets,” Cat retorts unsympathetically.
I sigh. Typical Cat: unsympathetic at best, uncouth at worst. “Where are you headed?”
She shrugs. “Nowhere, last I checked.”
“I’m going shoe shopping. Want to come along?” I invite. She falls into step next to me, both of us shuffling along, me from my weight and her from having nowhere to go in particular and being older. “So are you going to give me back my sleeping pills?”
“Nope. Sold those to a drug dealer.”
“It’s a living,” she shrugs and glances down. “What do you need new shoes for? Not going on another date, are you?”
“Tiresa and Mika’s engagement party.”
“Well, well, aren’t we the glutton for punishment,” she cackles.
I stop and stand aside to let another pedestrian pass by, the sidewalk is so packed. Most people avoid contact with Cat because of her smell and looks, but my size makes me little harder to circumnavigate in a crowd. “I’m just trying to keep the peace in the family for Mama Rose’s sake. Otherwise I wouldn’t go near the place, not for a million dollars.”
“The poor can’t afford to be choosey,” she intones.
I accidentally jostle her when another pedestrian rushes by. “Oops, sorry. It’s not about poverty. It’s about pride. I can live with being poor, but I at least like to hold up my head with some dignity. Having my ex and sister publicly rub their affair in my face isn’t worth winning the lottery.”