The Irish Santa


Mike Feeney threw a lighted match into the rusted half-barrel of firewood he had scrounged from nearby abandoned buildings and watched as the flames grew. He settled beneath the concrete bridge that had become home, and tightened a tattered blanket around his emaciated frame. He knew the fire would attract other hapless vagrants, but he didn’t mind. Numbers brought safety, company and conversation. They could share a bottle of whiskey or the stale bread he had pulled from a dumpster earlier that day.With any luck somebody would have a gram or two of cut cocaine, enough to fight the withdrawal symptoms that had begun to gnaw at him and make him shiver. With New York temperatures set to plummet to minus five this Christmas Eve, Mike needed all the help he could muster to make it to Christmas Day.

Twenty minutes later, as darkness fell, an old African American gentleman approached. “Mind if I share?” he said, pointing at the fire. “I won’t be no trouble, no trouble at all, sir.”

“Be my guest,” Mike replied, gesturing to a spot beside him.

The old man dropped his two stuffed trash bags and held his hands over the flames. He shuddered, tightened the rope securing his ragged coat and looked to where Mike sat. “Gonna be a cold one, my friend.”

“Sure is. Don’t suppose you have anything could warm us up? I’ve a bit of bread and a whack of cheese myself. Maybe we could share?”

“Cheese! Now there’s a delicacy I haven’t tasted in a while. I’ve a drop of watered-down whiskey. I reckon we could have ourselves a right good dinner after a while.”





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