Sitting on the cold and damp concrete beneath a tattered umbrella, Timothy watched the hordes of pedestrians pass by him.
Most turned up their noses at him or shook their heads. Only a select few smiled, reached deep into their pockets and withdrew a few nickels and dimes to throw at his feet.
He did not beg. That was not his way. He had no cup before him with a weathered note on it pleading for change so he could eat.
Even though his life was not as affluent as most, he could not complain. At least he ate three square meals a day - unlike most of his street colleagues.
The other homeless wondered how he never seemed to be hungry. His belly was as bloated as a rich man who spoils himself with fried chicken and cold beer. Yet, Timothy had none of these luxuries.
“Why is dat Timody?” asked an older man known only as DJ.
DJ had been on the streets longer than anyone Timothy knew. DJ's clothes were torn and muddy, his hair dirty and falling out in chunks.
With no teeth left in his mouth, he slurred his words till they were barely audible. DJ was exactly what Timothy expected a homeless person to look and sound like.
Timothy didn’t know how to respond to the old man’s inquiry. He didn’t want his secret revealed. That would be foolish.
Like a rich man throwing his money out a second story bedroom window just for fun.
Timothy was homeless, not stupid.
“I guess I just luck out on finding the decent stuff?” Timothy shrugged.
DJ shook his head.
“Dat not right, Timody. I been here so long. I look in dis hole and dat barrel and never find nothin good. I go sleep hungry more than not.
You been here one month and you seem fuller denn when you come.”
Timothy tried to hide his smile, but he knew the old man saw it.
Disgusted with Timothy’s frequent strokes of luck, DJ turned and stumbled off.
Not a day went by since their conversation where Timothy did not meet the curious eyes of DJ. DJ kept him close now. He hoped to discover the big secret.
Timothy knew what the old man was doing and refused to allow DJ even one hint that would lead him to his stash.
Watching DJ stare at him from 20 feet down the rain drenched street, Timothy could not help but glare. After months of being stalked, Timothy was losing his cool and his mind.
He was afraid to nod off for fear DJ would kill him. Timothy knew how dangerous the streets had become, especially when food was involved.
He once watched two homeless men exchange punches in the middle of an alley over a partially eaten chocolate bar.
The fight ended with one man dead while the other, blood gushing down his face, shoved the prize in his mouth.
Timothy would do the same if provoked to protect his food, in all honesty. He worked hard to accumulate what he did. He rarely slept anymore.
His need to fill his hunger and protect his treasure controlled his mind and body.
Timothy eyed DJ keenly. The sun had long set and the old man would no longer be able to fight his drooping lids. Then Timothy
would rise from the cold concrete and get to work. He had lots to do in very little time.
Minutes passed. Heavy rain soaked the two homeless men. DJ succumbed to exhaustion. Timothy lifted quietly to his feet, one hand hidden behind his back.
He inched his way closer to DJ’s snoring body. It would not be long before Timothy added more food to his secret stockpile.
Closing in on DJ, Timothy began his transformation. His mind darkened. His eyes took on a devilish glint.
Pulling his hand from behind his back, Timothy held out the large shard of bloodstained glass. Pieces of his last victim's dried flesh still clung to the jagged edges.
“I’m doing nothing wrong,” he said in a voice that even he did not recognize. It was then that Timothy knew the transformation was complete. He was stronger, bolder and unstoppable.
His mind was free of guilt and reasoning, leaving him with only the raw power of his survival instincts. “All I am doing is dwindling down the homeless population.”
Timothy lunged towards the old man, shoved the sharp glass deep into his chest. DJ’s eyes sprung open as his hands reached towards the glass.
His mouth gaped but no sound escaped other than a gasp.
Timothy held tightly to his weapon, as the old man struggled to pull away. Timothy leaned towards his victim, his lips mere inches from the man’s dirt-stained ear.
“You wanted to know how I always seemed to find food, didn’t you old man?” he said.
“Didn't you notice the streets getting emptier and emptier? Didn’t you wonder what happened to all your old friends?”
Timothy paused and chuckled. Memories of all his prior victims flooded through his mind. “The streets are a bit cleaner now and food
is much easier to come by,” he said, pushing the glass deeper into the man’s chest.
Timothy listened as DJ gulped his last breath. The old man's body went limp, and his hands fell to the ground by his side.
Timothy wiped the sweat from his forehead. After hours of chopping, bagging and hauling, the last bag was finally lifted into place.
Climbing back down the broken rungs of the abandoned treehouse, Timothy found, he smiled to himself.
He had done what many other homeless people had not, he secured food for years as well as a perfect hiding place.
And when the weather was harsh, he had a place that would keep him reasonably dry and warm.
However, he knew not to become arrogant about his scheme. It was not foolproof. Nothing was.
Walking back from his tree house hidden in the city’s surrounding forest, he could not help but laugh. Some might find him insane. Timothy told himself he was just smart.
His belly let out a grumble that startled him. He must’ve worked up quite an appetite from his hard day's work.
He stopped in his tracks, reached into his pocket, and fished around for the treasure he stashed for later.
Grasping it, he pulled his hand from his pocket and smiled. The index finger looked delicious. His mouth began to water and drool escaped the corner of his mouth.
His eyes danced at the temptation. Without wasting another moment, he popped the finger into his mouth and continued down the road.
The only sounds Timothy heard were his own content humming and the bones crunching between his teeth.