Woody woke with a headache and dressed.  He left the hotel  and wandered the streets until the hollow feeling in his stomach pushed him toward one of the fast food restaurant.  The coffee warmed him and the breakfast sandwich landed in his empty gut like a hoskey puck.  He lingered until the manager began stare at him.  He overstayed his visit.  Back on the street he wandered to Asylum Street.  He found a spot outside the XL Center near the loading dock.  There were others huddling against the wind that blew down the streets.  A bottle was passed.  Woody took a hit and passed it on.  Before he could stop he was on a bottle run.  He pitched in for a gallon jug of red.  The crowd moved to a a more private place.  Woody stayed until he was buzzed.  By four he was swaying on Asylum waiting for the next best thing.  He watched as an official type was heading toward the knot of winos who were holding up the XL Center walls.  The suit was talking to the fringe of the crowd as he wotked his way toward Woody.  When he pulled up he started his spiel.

        “Hello, I’m Paul Santos from the Mayor’s Comission on the Homeless.  I’m taking a survey.  It’s strictly voluntary.  Just a few questions to help us find people who need help and whatever we can do for them.”

        “Okay whatcha need?”


        “Woodrow Hawes”

        “Present address?”

        “Right now?”

        “Yep as of today.”

         “Hotel Armstrong”

          “Place of birth?”

           “New Britain, Connecticut”

           “Date of birth?”

           “August 14th 1949”

           “Social Security?”


           “Any issues you’d like to have the comission do to improve your lifestyle?”

           “No, maybe a better place to stay.”

           “Thanks for the time.”  He shifted the clipboard from his right to left hand and extended it to shake.  When he shook he felt a bill being passed to him.  He didn’t look.  The suit walked away and headed toward Main.  Woody checked the bill it was a ten spot.  Not bad with the cash left over from yesterday he had enough for a meal and a room for the night.  Not bad money without panhandling.

        He spent the afternoon sobering up and hoping for another buzz.  The temperature was dropping and the wind was picking up.  Pretty soon he’d grab a burger and a half pint and check in at the Armstrong.

       By eight o’ clock the burger joined half the bottle in his belly.  Woody was showered and between the covers and asleep by eleven.  He had a nightmare that brought him awake in a cold sweat.  It took him a half hour to fall back to sleep.  When the sun woke him he was shaking.  The combination of the booze and the snake the nightmare put in his head he needed a drink.  He fumbled for the bottle on the nightstand and let it burn out his dry throat and steady his hands.  He climbed out of bed and pulled his pants on.  He was crawling on the floor looking for his socks and shoes.  His shirt and coat was a twisted pile on the chair in the corner.  He combed his hair and hurried down the stairs and out the door.  The cold slapped him when he opened the hotel door but it didn’t prepare him for the wind.  It whipped down the canyon of buildings bringing on shakes again.  He turned the corner and headed for the diner.  Maybe there would a job for the day.