He grabbed my wrist and led me down the long, dark alley, well beyond the street noise. Even the glow of the street lights could no longer bend enough to find this place. The only light came from a distant moon, further away than usual on this bitter night. He told me not to worry. He said he had done this before. He unbuckled his belt and took off his jacket. He told me to lie down. Don’t worry. He placed his jacket around me and secured it with the belt. You should be warm here, protected from the wind. He gave a half-smile as if to say sorry, this is all I can do. I half-smiled back to let him know it was OK. The pine needles insulated my body from the cold of the cement, at least a little. I slept through the night and never saw him again.
New Carrollton, Maryland, United States of America