By Ronald Ayers


Eddie Wilson sat on the curb outside of Penny's Grocery Store at sixty-third and Steward. His stomach turned over with nausea. He hadn't eaten in three days, and he was determined to ease the grueling pain that tore at his stomach.

He glanced over his shoulder at the Penny's front window. Row upon row of bright shinny red Washington State apples was stacked into pyramids eight apples high.'Damn’ he thought to himself. 'I'd give my right nut to have one of those apples.'

Eddie pulled himself to his feet. His feet ached. On unsteady legs he limped from the curb to the storefront window. The sight of the beautiful red apples made him dizzy. His mouth began to water. Eddie glanced up and down Sixty-third Street to see if there was anyone near by at this early morning hour who might see what he was doing.

The street was empty.

Eddie stuck out his tongue and began to lick the glass that protected the apples from his ravishing hunger. As he licked the glass, it seemed as though he could taste the succulent juice from the apple streaming down his throat.

"Hey goddam it! Get away from my window you drunken bum!"

Startled.Eddie jumped back.

"I...I'm sorry Phil. I was hungry. I just needed something to eat."

"You fuckin bum!" yelled Phil. "If you ain't eaten anything, it's all your fault! You can eat anytime you want! Mama's been crying for you to come home!She'd feed you. She'd clothe you! But no, what do you wanna do? You wanna live on the street like a common bum and snort coke up your nose the hell away with you!"

Eddie eased away from the store window. He limped back to his spot on the curb in front of the store and sat down. Yeah, it was his store. He owned it with his brother Phil. Two years ago, he'd began to, steal money from the store so he could buy cocaine. Within six months, he was spending five hundered bucks a week on coke. His nose began to bleed. He couldn't perform his job as butcher, slicing up choice cuts of meat for customers in the store's meat department.

One morning Phil, his older brother, caught him snorting cocaine in the storage room. He’d had a big fist fight with Phil right there in the store in front of all the customers. Phil had put him out, called the police, filed charges against him, and barred him from ever coming into the store again.

He was still a fifty percent owner of the store. He stayed away as much as possible because he didn't want to upset his mother. Now, he spent his days walking up and down Sixty-third Street begging for money, begging for something to eat, turning a trick every now and then for some crack cocaine to snort.

Eddie turned up his nose. He could smell the rancid musk of his unwashed body. He pulled his tattered flannel shirt up around his body shielding himself from the cold October wind.

'Youdon't have to live like this Eddie. All you have to do is ask.' the voice said in his head.

Once again, Eddie pulled himself to his feet.

He made his way to the store's entrance and went inside. Past the cashiers, past the horde of gawking customers he made his way to the store's management office. Eddie knocked on the door. When Phil opened the door he expected his brother to curse him, to tell him to get out. Why not? He deserved it. He was a bum just like his brother said he was.

Phil stood in the office doorway with his arms out stretched. Eddie began to cry when he saw the tears in Phil's eyes.

Eddie fell into his brother's outstretched arms and cried.

"Momma will be glad to see you.” said Phil.




Copyright c 2012 by Ronald Ayers and Aegis Publishing House, 

Blue Island, Illinois 60406. Read short stories, and columns of

Ronald Ayers at Aegis Publishing House:



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It's hard to love a brother who is strung out on Cocaine.
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11/10/2010 12:00:00 AM
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