It’s a fact in life that if you move around you’re going to bump into things, bump into people, stumble upon things you might never encounter otherwise, and it’s no less so in the alternate universe. The biggest struggle in the alternate universe is the one to survive, and anything or anyone you find to help you do that is what you look for, so there’s very few things out-of-bounds. Stealing certainly wasn’t, but stealing isn’t as easy as you’d think when you live in the alternate universe, and you look like you’ve just stepped out of a dumpster. Trying to move around without drawing suspicion was like trying to walk on water. It couldn’t be done. Ever wonder why the worst of things happen at night? Simply because the odds of success go up under cover of darkness.
There were other ways to survive and less risky. Most times, if you hit the dumpster behind any McDonald’s or any restaurant you could find something. Shelters more often than not offered something, and sometimes churches had outreach programs for the homeless. Life is anything but easy on the streets, and moment by moment is what it is. Still, as in anyplace, live there long enough and you get to know your surroundings, and the people who live there. There’s a certain communication that exists between the animal and human kingdoms no matter what level it’s members may be on, and its no different among societies lowest members. Word gets around, and people of like circumstance tend to congregate, and even on the streets there’s a hierarchy among it’s members . As I said word gets around when anything that can be of benefit is found, and that’s how I found out about a place run by a kind-hearted woman who distributed coats to the homeless for free.
It’s not often you hear about people that are almost universally loved among any group of people but Judy was. She lived in a dilapidated 2 story house that had seen it’s beginning at the turn of the century, and had since lost much of its’ old world charm and elegance, but was still impressive in it’s own way. Judy had turned the first floor into a thrift store, and she and her son, David, lived above. It was well known that Judy had a heart for the less fortunate, and would help anyone who asked for it, but it was also known and understood that anyone who messed with her wouldn’t do so again.
I found out why when I entered her place for the first time. If there was more than an inch of unoccupied space in the store I don’t know where it was, but a big chunk of it was taken up by about as big a man as I’ve ever seen. Maybe Andre the Giant’s twin brother, if he were colored. He sat on the stairs near the top with a full view of all that went on below, and he had a way of looking at you that made your innards curl. It was then I understood why nobody messed with this woman, but it turned out that he was only a part of it.
When I entered that store for the first time, I didn’t know it, but I was about to find the key to getting out of the alternate universe, and it came in the form of an eight year old boy named David.