Johnny tried to open the Gospel Mission’s door from the inside. After the first try, he gripped the handle with both hands and pulled. Imogene whistled, holding the other door open. Johnny put his foot against the wall and pulled harder “Hey, honey,” Imogene said, “how about you come through the door I’m clearly holding open for you?” Johnny strained himself. His hands slipped off the handle. He fell onto his back. Imogene grabbed Johnny’s arm. “Not every door is going to respond to your will, John.” She led Johnny outside. He immediately crossed his arms. “I want my jacket,” Johnny said. “Your jacket’s back at Diogenes Collective,” Imogene replied. The wind whipped at them. Johnny frantically scratched himself. “I had it on my bed. Go get it.” “There wasn’t anything of yours on the bed they gave you, John.” “My backpacks underneath the fucking bed,” Johnny pointed at the door. “Go get it!” “I looked all around your area when you were pissing. I also asked one of the clerks if you checked in any baggage. They said you came in with the clothes on your back.” Johnny looked around. He walked over to a group of people who were standing in a doorway. “Hey, guys,” Johnny said. The group stopped talking and looked at him. “I have to trek to the Vine Neighborhood to get some stuff.” Johnny extended his arms. “I just have this thin-ass sweatshirt. Can anyone lend me a jacket for, like, half an hour?” Imogene face palmed herself. The group stared at Johnny. Johnny put his arms down. He spotted a pile of clothing in the corner of the doorway. He noticed a long sleeve sticking out. “Hey, is that a sweater?” he asked, pointing at it. He looked back at Imogene. Imogene shrugged her shoulders. “I don’t know. Let’s just go.” Johnny walked between the people and bent down in front of the pile. “Did someone just leave this here?” The group continued to stare at him. Johnny looked at Imogene again. She shook her head, mouthing ‘No’. He pulled out a sweater, shook it, and put it on. He swaggered over to Imogene and presented himself, slowly spinning himself around. “Yeah, getting a ripped-up, vomit colored sweater was worth getting your ass kicked,” Imogene said “I’ll return it.” Imogene pointed behind him. Johnny turned around. The group now stood up and was glaring at him. “The fuck are they mad about?” Johnny asked. “I asked about it!” Imogene grabbed his hand. “We’re going back to our hood.” Johnny yanked his hand away. “Don’t touch me!” he said, walking ahead. Imogene followed him. She looked behind her. One of the members of the group was trailing them. “Walk faster!” Imogene said, slapping Johnny on the back as she ran past him. He looked back, cursed, and ran up beside her as they crossed East Kalamazoo Avenue
Johnny had fallen asleep. Imogene shook her head as she finished her cigarette. The wind blew right into her face. She flicked away her stub, zipped up her Carhartt, and put up her hood. Imogene’s elbow bumped into Johnny’s shoulder. He dropped down onto the bench’s armrest. Johnny turned his body around and curled more into himself. “Hey, we need to get going,” Imogene said, shaking Johnny’s arm. Johnny growled. Imogene shook his arm faster. “If you wanna freeze, you can sleep in the basement tonight.” Johnny’s flung his arm back, smacking Imogene in the face. Imogene stood up as Johnny tried kicking her. She watched as he took hold of the snow that was piled on the arm rest, molded it into a pile, and plopped his head down on it. “Oh, fuck you!” Imogene said, bending down and scooping up the some snow into her arms. She whipped it at Johnny. “Get up!” Johnny sat up. He stared at the ground, and then glared at Imogene. He bared his teeth. “You seriously don’t want to fuck with me now, John,” Imogene pointed towards the street. Johnny got up, dusted the snow off his head and back, and went back to glaring at Imogene. Imogene kicked him in the leg. “You fucking cunt!” Johnny yelled, getting up and hobbling away. Imogene kicked the snow, sending some of flying at Johnny’s back.
Imogene tried to walk next to Johnny. Johnny walked faster. Imogene took his hand and pulled him back. “Hey, let me go,” Johnny said, staring at the sidewalk. “I did that last week,” Imogene said, “then I got you calling me up with this shit.” “I didn’t know it was you.” “Who’s the ‘Gene’ you were trying to contact then?” “I know a lot of Gene’s.” Johnny scratched his hip. “We’re crossing.” Imogene said. She gripped Johnny’s hand and stepped onto Westnedge. Johnny squeezed Imogene’s hand until he felt her fingers mash together. He yanked her back onto the sidewalk. “We’re stopping at the Station first,” Johnny said, pulling her forward and scratching his hip frantically. Imogene yanked her hand away. “John, no!” “Let me get some beer to take back to the house.” They stood outside of the Westnedge Station. Johnny put his hand underneath his clothes and scratched his chest. He cursed, and tried to put his other hand inside. Imogene grabbed both his hand and pressed them against his skin. “Stop that!” she said. “Scratching the shit out of yourself isn’t going to make you warmer.” “But I’m itchy!” “Let’s get the beer and go.” Imogene went in and held the door open. Johnny shot past her and went to the freezer. The clerk glared at him and Imogene. Imogene greeted him, and asked for a pack of American Spirits. Johnny took a forty, and went over to the snack aisle. He grabbed a package of M&M’s, and went over to the personals items section. The hydrocortisone was being sold for $3.99. He set the forty and M&M’s on the shelf and took out his wallet. Imogene walked up. “I got what I wanted. You ready?” “Move closer,” Johnny whispered. “Okay…” Imogene did so. Johnny put away his wallet. He huddled closer to the shelf. He unzipped his sweatshirt a little, looked past Imogene, and gripped the hydrocortisone and M&M’s. Imogene swiped his hand with her nails. “You fucking tard! I thought you had money!” “Yeah, enough for the forty,” Johnny examined the scratches on his hand, “but I really need the itch cream.” “No, you don’t,” Imogene threw the candy and cream to the back of the shelf and shoved the forty into Johnny’s hand. “Go pay.” Johnny bumped Imogene’s shoulder. He put down on the counter. The clerk asked for I.D., rang Johnny up, and put the forty in a plastic bag. “Don’t you have any paper bags?” Johnny asked. The clerk shook his head. “No paper, only plastic.” Johnny took the bag off the counter. “If the pigs arrest me for having an open container, I’ll come back later and bomb the fuck out of this place.” Imogene grabbed Johnny by the hair. She apologized to the clerk, and led Johnny outside. Johnny pushed Imogene away, and screamed. He took a deep breath and screamed again. Imogene looked across the street at the people smoking out in front of Third Wave café. She smiled and waved. Johnny bent over, put his hands on knees, and remained still. “No more stops,” Imogene said. “We’re heading home.” Johnny shook his head. Imogene bent down, and snatched away the forty from him. “Hey!” Johnny said, standing up. Imogene walked way. She held the forty by the plastic bags handles behind her back. She turned left onto Vine. She stopped at Oakes Street and turned around, seeing Johnny power walking towards her. Should have treated him more like a dog earlier, she thought, crossing the street.
Misty saw Imogene and Johnny come down Locust. “YO!” she yelled, waving. “YO!” Imogene yelled back. “Was he at the homeless shelter?” “Yep!” Misty stubbed her cigarette on the porch railing. “You guys go to the back.” “Why?” “Decontamination,” Misty entered the front door. Imogene heard her call their housemates. Imogene and Johnny walked down the drive-way. Misty, along with Zachary, Patrick, Pete, and Andy were there to meet them. “What’s up with the bouncer-vibe, guys?” Imogene asked. She scraped her lips with her teeth. She turned to Johnny. “Did you steal any of their shit?” Johnny looked disgusted. “FUCK NO!” “No, he just needs to strip before he can come inside,” Misty said. Imogene sighed. “Okay, why Mist?” Misty’s eyed widened. “Duh, bed bugs! You just got him out of the homeless shelter.” “Oh shit, I didn’t think of that,” Imogene pointed at Johnny. “Strip.” Johnny shook his head. “Fuck that, I’m going home. Give me my forty.” “No, babe, you’re coming inside and cleaning up.” “Just let him go,” Pete said. Johnny made a grab for the forty. Imogene swung it way. “Do you want to infest your house?” she asked. “I don’t have bed bugs!” “It would explain why you’ve been scratching like mad.” Imogene walked back and held up the forty. “You want this? Then strip.” Johnny made exaggerated growling noises as he took off his clothes. Andy picked up the shovel and, pretending he was a bank intercom, told Johnny to put all his belongings on the tray. Johnny put his wallet, jackknife, and loose change onto the shovel, and took off his pants. “Show us your arms,” Imogene said. Johnny extended his arms into the light. “See, bug bites!” Misty said, pointing at the inflamed skin. “That’s just a rash,” Johnny flexed his hand. “Give me my beer.” “Socks and boxers, too,” Imogene said. “NO!” Johnny looked around. He nodded. “Let me pound it first, and then I’ll finish stripping. I’ll even dance for you all!” Imogene looked at the others. They nodded. Imogene shook her head, and handed Johnny the forty. Johnny spread his legs, took a deep breath, tipped his head back and started chugging. Patrick mumbled “chug” a few times, but stopped when he noticed that it was not catching on. Johnny finished, coughed violently, and whipped the forty behind him. The bottle bounced off the fence and sunk into the snow. Johnny then took off his socks and boxers. “Go take a shower,” Imogene said. “I’ll gather the clothes you’ve left here.” Misty, Zachary, Patrick, Pete, and Andy parted, letting Johnny enter the house. Imogene held the plastic bag open. Andy dumped Johnny’s stuff in the bag, and they went inside. “So, have you considered my suggestion?” Misty asked. “Which one?” Imogene tied up the plastic bag. “You have a lot of them when a crisis like this occurs.” “Hey, guys!” Zachary yelled from the living room. “Why is my old-timey picture of a lighthouse smashed to pieces?” Imogene and Misty entered the living room. Zachary stood next to his picture, fists clenched. Imogene looked up the stairs. The posters that lined the walls were either ripped or torn off completely. Imogene hung up her Carhartt, growled, and headed up the stairs. Imogene heard Misty yell “Just end it!” as she crushed the glass shards stuck in the carpet. She reached the top, seeing where Zachary’s picture was ripped from the wall. Imogene heard Johnny scream from the bathroom. She heard the shower began to run, and Johnny began to sing Leftover Crack’s “Atheist Anthem”. Imogene went into her room, gathered up whatever clothes of Johnny’s she could find, and dumped them in front of the bathroom door. “Your clothes are outside the door!” Imogene yelled. She heard Johnny continue singing. She banged on the door. “OKAY, BITCH!” Johnny yelled. Imogene went down the stairs. Misty, Patrick, Pete, and Andy were sitting around the coffee table, packing the bong. Zachery was in the kitchen, taking his picture out of the busted frame. Imogene took out the vacuum and began to suck up the glass. She went up the stairs, vacuuming each step. Johnny, fully clothes, appeared. He glared at Imogene, tapping his foot rapidly. Imogene shut off the vacuum. “What?” “I’m leaving. Get out of my way.” Imogene moved to the side. “Good, get the fuck out of here.” Johnny walked past. Imogene turned on the vacuum and finished cleaning. She heard Johnny and Zachery arguing as she came down. “My Grandfather framed this for my Dad back when he when he went to college!” Zachery yelled, jabbing Johnny in the chest with the screwdriver. “This isn’t some cheap Wal-Mart shit!” Imogene looked at the others. She could sense the anger emitting from them. “You think I give a fuck?!” Johnny said. Imogene noticed Johnny holding her Carhartt underneath his arm. She leaned the vacuum against the wall, walked up behind Johnny, and snatched her jacket away. “I NEED THIS!” Johnny yelled, grabbing one of the jacket’s sleeves. He yanked it, pulling Imogene towards him. She kicked him the shin, and pulled back. Zachery put Johnny in a headlock. Imogene saw her sleeve rip as she yanked it out of Johnny’s hands. Johnny struggled as Zachery dragged him outside. Patrick, Pete, and Andy followed them outside. Imogene examined the tear. Misty whistled to her. “I can fix that, easy!” She yelled, holding up the bong. “Come here! Imogene stared at her. Misty patted the space next to her. Imogene stomped up the stairs. She noticed a CrimethInc poster was left untouched. She tore it off wall and ripped it up. Imogene entered her room and threw her Carhartt onto her bed. Out her window, she saw a figure walk down the middle of the street. She slammed her door and went back downstairs.
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