Squatters’ Rights

From above me I heard a sound like somebody killing a dog. After a minute I realized it was singing. I walked up the shattered stairs to investigate.

In the corner of the rubble-filled room, an old man lay on a grimy sleeping bag surrounded by empty bean cans.  He was bony and filthy with long greasy hair, his grizzled beard a tangle, hairs nearest his mouth stained with food and wine and tobacco. He fixed me with his blue eyes, bright beneath bushy brows.

“You ain’t staying here,” he snarled. “But I’d take a cigarette if you got one.”


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