It’s Christmas and office worker Neil is wandering around Manchester, contemplating spending the holidays alone. In the last-minute shopping crush, he sees homeless Kai soliciting for money. Buying him a sandwich turns to something more, and Neil’s grateful to find himself with company. Perhaps his Christmas might not be so lonely after all…
Homeless at Christmas
Author: Scarlet Blackwell
Release Date: December 21, 2015
Format: ePub, Mobi, PDF
Cover Artist: Aria Tan
Word Count: 6600*
Sex Content: Explicit
Homeless at Christmas
Scarlet Blackwell © 2015
All rights reserved
It was bitterly cold that night. Nonetheless, the streets heaved with last-minute Christmas shoppers who slipped and slid on the icy, treacherous pavements. The big wheel was lit up gloriously; the fragrances of mulled wine and hot dogs drifted over from the German market.
Manchester was the loneliest of places when you had no one. I wandered aimlessly among the stalls looking at overpriced gifts. Since my mother had died six months before, there was no one to buy presents for. Forty and less than fabulous, I was isolated and friendless in a big city.
I’d just finished at the office and not gone on to the Christmas party because I hadn’t technically been invited. Clearly, no one was interested in whether I lived or died, so I sloped off, intent on buying a microwave meal from Marks and Sparks and a bottle of wine to celebrate my three days off work.
But instead, I’d got caught up in the lights and the smells. Even if the crowds were unpleasant, I guess they made me feel a little less lonely for a time.
I walked down to Deansgate, crossed on the green man, and decided on Tesco for my meal. As I approached the automatic doors, I saw a scruffy man sitting on a blanket outside. Maybe twenty-five with a couple of days’ beard growth, he had closely cropped black hair and delicate features. He held a plastic cup and turned large, expressive eyes up to mine. So dark, they reflected the Christmas lights hung above him, lustrous and velvet.
“Spare some change, please?”
I got it every time I walked around the city centre. Beggars seemed to target me, maybe because I was alone. Sometimes I gave, especially if the person had a dog with them. Sometimes I didn’t. This guy held my gaze directly. His eyes were beautiful. I nodded to the shop.
“I’ll buy you a sandwich.” I hated giving these blokes money for their drink and drug habits.
“Oh okay, thanks, man,” he said, accent local and broad.
I nodded, hurried into the warmth, and then realised I hadn’t asked him what he liked. I studied the rows of pre-packaged sandwiches in the fridge. Perhaps he was a vegetarian. Egg or cheese would be safer. There was a meal deal for two pound fifty, so I picked egg mayo and cress on wholemeal and a Diet Coke with a bag of grapes. Healthy enough for someone who might live out of bins. I went back to the door to belatedly collect a basket and caught sight of him still there, petitioning passers-by.
He had probably forgotten that I had even asked him if he wanted food. I sighed, scanned the cold meals distractedly, but kept thinking about his lustrous eyes. Eventually I plucked a meal-for-one from the fridge, followed it with two half ciabattas, a chocolate mousse and a bottle of wine, and went to the till to pay.
Outside on the street, the homeless guy was just thanking someone for a few coins dropped into his cup. He looked up as I rooted in my bag, presented him with the sandwich, drink, and grapes.
“Thanks,” he said, juggling them.
“No problem,” I replied. “Happy Christmas.”