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Sera walked into Circle K on fifth st. without noticing it had not been remodeled since 1986, and that someone from another, more financially kept city might actually find the convenience store to be disgusting, the dirt being so thick on the windows that you could only see blurry faces on the inside. Inside she saw five people in the store and believed that all of them were staring at her, looking through her like they knew more about herself than she did. The clerk, she thought, had even looked up from her monotonous duties at the cash register to glance her wrinkled leathery face in Sera's direction.
An ugly bum in the beer section reached into the cooler with a calloused black hand as Sera walked through the candy aisle to pick up a case of Budweiser.
"Ah yes, forty ounces to freedom." The black skinned bum grabbed a forty of old English malt liquor while he turned a decrepit smile toward Sera. She smiled back sheepishly without knowing why and took the Budweiser out of the fridge that Liza had sent for her to get. She thought of Liza as she stood in line behind the old bum. Her face, an illusion in her mind, made out of the back of the bums scraggily black afro.
When she walked out the door the bum stood outside with his paper bagged forty in his hand. "Need any help with that tonight?" He grinned with a yellow and half tooth full mouth. "I tend to get pretty thirsty." He held up his forty as if to clarify his thought to Sera.
Sera looked at the black man and saw how gross he looked, and then thought why not bring someone back to the apartment for Liza to fuck with.
"Sure. I'm walking. It's just a couple of blocks down in the Kohler building." Her voice was firm but also curious.
"Lets doer little woman." Sera rolled her eyes, turned around, and started walking.
* * *
When they passed the third floor on the way up to the Landlady's apartment Sera had glanced down the hall and seen that Luther's door lay wide open, and that some of his books had spilled out into the hallway toppled on top of each other.
On the fourth floor, Liza's door lay open and Sera could hear her washing clothes while talking to Luther.
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"Johnny Walker." 123HelpMe.com. 21 Jul 2018
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Luther stood in the doorway looking very old and ragged. His beard unshaven and his hair uncut, sticking out from his head like half was windblown and half wasn't. His eyes droopy and his cheeks sagging.
"Hello Luther." Sera put a hand on his shoulder as she passed by him into the apartment.
"I will have the rent. My check from the Government will have come by then," Luther said.
Liza stopped beating a pair of Levis against her wall and walked heavily back to her wash bucket by the window. Sera glanced nonchalantly at the silent children sleeping on the floor next to the wall, their bones poking through their skin and their cheeks sunken into their skulls. They were cuddled together against the wall as if it might provide them warmth.
Sera set the beer on a small round table that sat near the wall with the window. She noticed the dirty bum had followed her inside and was looking at the children and the drooping water stains that fell down every wall in the apartment, giving a stench of mildew to the air.
"I need to borrow the white truck that sits below my apartment." Said Luther.
"White Truck?" Liza stopped her incessant washing. "That truck? It doesn't run. You can't borrow it." She stared at the old man with her beady black eyes and then went back to washing a small T-shirt.
Luther mumbled something about getting rid of all of his books and needing the white truck to do this and then turned around so quickly to walk out the door that one of his books fell out of his coat pocket and hit the floor. Sera watched it drop to the bare floor. Luther did not come back to get it.
* * *
"Who's your friend hon?" Liza said to Sera while still washing clothes and looking up at the black bum with a wide grin that showed her crooked teeth.
"Oh, that's old Johnny. Don't you remember him?" Sera looked at the old bum, who stared back at her. His forty empty and clutched in his large black hand.
"Oh, you be Johnny Walker?"
"He, he." The bum replied.
Sera cracked open a beer and pounded the whole thing in a couple of gulps. "You want some meth Johnny?" Sera said as she walked toward him. She put her fat pale hand on his chest. "We got some you know."
"Well, I don't think I've ever been able to pass anything up, much less drugs."
"Good. That's real good Johnny." Said Sera.
"Hey you know Johnny, I bet you'd like to fuck one of those kids over there huh?" Said Liza.
Sera smiled as she opened another beer.
"Well, uh, I don't know." The bum looked at the sleeping kids, toppled on top of one another as if they had been fed some codeine to put them to sleep.
"Ah come on now Johnny. Why not have a little tight poke before moving on to the big stuff." Sera slammed her half-guzzled beer on the table and began to feel herself up, pushing her fat breasts together. She could see the black bum get an erection. She then grabbed her ass with one hand while the other played with her tits. Liza looked up and smiled with her big crooked teeth. The old black bum looked back at the children and then walked toward them, crouching down beside them.
"Hey there little fellas. He, he." He petted them like a dog while Sera pounded the rest of her beer and saw Luther standing in the doorway again, another one of his books coming out of his left pant leg and onto the floor.
"I have too many books Mrs. Liza. I need that truck to get rid of all of them." He stared at the old woman looking frantic and angry. His eyes wild and his whole body trembling.
"You can't have the damn truck Luther." Liza looked back at him in disgust. Sera noticed another book fall to the floor when Luther's hand shot out of his pocket revealing a ten-inch long knife with an old ivory handle.
"I can't handle so many books Mrs. Liza. I don't have time to read all of them, and now that I've gotten so many I want to burn all of them." He held the knife out in front of him. He no longer shook, but his eyes shone cold and placid. "I need your truck Mrs. Liza, to pack all of them books in."
"Now put that knife down Luther." Yelled Liza. She, Sera, and the old bum had now backed into the corner of the room by the window. "We can work out a deal with the truck, now put the damn knife down." She yelled again.
Luther advanced toward the window, packing the three of them tightly together. Five feet away he began slashing with the blade, cutting it through the air. Sera panicked and screamed. Liza kept yelling at him and scolding him. The old bum smiled for the first time that day.