Indigent – Edited by Louis J. Harris and Kimi D. Saunders
Our nature is to live and let live.Often disregarding the plight of our homeless, our sick, our aged and our handicapped LGBT fellow beings. It gives us great pleasure in presenting this volume of short stories to assist our community members wherever they may be. Many of our community members have nowhere to sleep, nothing to eat, and have no work. The proceeds collected from this book will go to rewarding several charities across the globe. These charities are passionate about what they do. Some take in the homeless and others provide a home for the aged and the handicapped. The charities we will be assisting are:
Gala, South Africa
Youth off the Streets, Australia
The Albert Kennedy Trust, UK
GALA is a centre for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) culture and education in Africa. Our mission is, first and foremost, to act as a catalyst for the production, preservation and dissemination of knowledge on the history, culture and contemporary experiences of LGBTI people.
Lost-n-Found is Atlanta’s only non-profit organization dedicated to taking homeless lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth off the street and into more permanent housing, Lost-n-Found Youth is dedicated to the advocacy and service of youth from 13 to 25 years old.
Youth Off The Streets is a non-denominational community organisation working for young people aged 12-25 who are facing challenges of homelessness, drug and alcohol dependency, exclusion from school, neglect and abuse. We support these young people as they work to turn their lives around and overcome immense personal traumas such as neglect and physical, psychological and emotional abuse.
The Albert Kennedy Trust supports lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans homeless young people in crisis. Every day they deal with the the effects homelessness can have on young people’s lives.
These charities require funding to assist desperate, needy members of our community and this book is a mere drop in the ocean of how we can reach out socially to them.
Indigent has been produced to entertain and delight and all the stories leave the reader with a “feel good” state of mind.
Frederick Eugene Feeley Jr’s “Indigent”, after which the anthology takes it’s name, brings the reader to witness an apocalyptic war between the good and evil that rages in one man’s mind. Soon he will know that his problems are insignificant compared to those of others.
Mari Evans’ “Stumbling into Forever”, involves a handsome young vampire who will learn that just a sip of blood is the difference between love and freezing to death.
Leona Windwalker’s “If Only the World”, takes rejection to another level. A heartbreaking story that is turned on it’s head by the kindness of strangers.
Shaye Evans’ “Rescued”, is a contemporary social statement about the aftermath of a young man’s life after his drink has been spiked at a bar.
M. LeAnne Phoenix’s “Higher Love”, takes us on an almost spiritual journey through the minds of two people who have never met, but have spoken on a telepathic level. When they do come together, that bond is already cemented but there is a price to pay.
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Extract from Frederick Eugene Feeley Jr story “Indigent”
Hot didn’t even begin to describe the way he felt right now. Sitting in the middle of Friday afternoon rush hour traffic down Eleventh Street in Beaumont, Texas is how he felt. Because only people who lived here would understand southeast Texas heat in the middle of August.
Air-conditioning broken, rolling both windows down provided little relief in the granite-gray Dodge Neon Bobby had bought several years earlier. He was a kid then and the world seemed to be one giant road map. Now, he was tired of driving it, weary at twenty-seven years old, the charm of the road seeping out of him like sweat from his pores. To say he was anything short of miserable would be a terrible understatement.
Traffic was bumper to bumper as everyone made their way home for the weekend. Waiting at a red traffic light, Bobby threw his head back against the seat with a groan as he sat in the parking lot of cars outside Cristus St. Elizabeth, one of the city’s two hospitals. Baptist hospital, across town, catered for the insured only while the massive St. Elizabeth catered for indigent patients.
He snorted a laugh as he raised his hand off the steering wheel to look at the temperature gauge of the car.
“Indigent,” he muttered. The engine temp hovered in the red zone. Sweat rolled down his back and his shirt stuck to his skin like cling wrap.
Bobby and his ex-fiancé, Steven, had both racked up several visits to the hospital for indigents. Money was scarce; Bobby being a veteran working on his college degree through his Montgomery G.I. Bill and Steven waiting tables to help make ends meet. After the meeting of the ends, no funds remained for health care at all. No Blue Cross Blue Shield, no Tri-Care, no nothing but arriving at the E.R. in the middle of the night because a fever burned out of control.
They had tried for so long, but the world didn’t want them together and they split up two months ago. Looking back, Bobby wanted to blame Steven. But that was just the hurt talking. It hadn’t been Steven’s fault. Gay couples who seek love must climb mountains to just go to the grocery store, an appliance store or a church together without creating a storm in a teacup. People stared. People whispered. Add into the mix that they couldn’t marry. Their first kiss had been their first kiss goodbye and it made Bobby sick. They had had a shelf life, and when they tried to stay beyond their expiration date. Well….
Steven had been raised Catholic. Bobby Baptist. The subtle differences in the newness of their relationship seemed so engaging, but really did nothing more than add to fuel conflict at the end.
The semester was coming to a close, and that meant money was going to be scarce. Living off the G.I. Bill and student loans wasn’t easy. The thought of mounting debt made Bobby’s stomach cramp.
He was smart; Steven had always said so. He knew it, but the economy was bad. It had been for years. And although he soared in his studies, he worried it would all fade away as soon as he tried to enter the job market. He worried he’d crash and burn like he did after he’d left the Army.
“All these skills, all this knowledge, with a strong back and a strong mind, and…nothing. There’s nothing for me.” He remembered sobbing as the doctor looked at him coolly from his place next to the bed. He’d landed up in hospital the day he’d taken a knife to his arm in a desperate attempt to relieve the pressure in his soul.
His parents’ rejection when they found out he was gay had gutted him. They’d pulled all financial support. He couldn’t afford insurance. He’d wound up in a hospital like St. Elizabeth, as an indigent. High on the medicine they gave him, and lower than he’d ever felt in his life.
Afterward, he’d hit the road, needing a new place, a new start, and new faces around him. His family had turned their back on him and he’d returned the gesture in kind. He rubbed the spot on his arm as he waited for the traffic to inch up again.
The scar on his left forearm was covered with a tattoo that said, “What goes around comes around.” The thoughts weren’t original, and actually he’d seen it on the wrist of his favorite singer, Pink. The black ink covered the scar, at least on the surface. But the ink didn’t go deep and could not hide the indelible mark his night as an indigent had left on his soul.
“Major depression and coping problems,” the doctor had said as he stared at Bobby like he was yesterday’s trash. His dark skin on a European face indicated Indian origins, but his voice was void of the lilt associated with that region. As Bobby watched, he was speechless thanks to the medication deadening his tongue and preventing his thoughts from travelling from his brain to his mouth. The man handed him a script for more of the good stuff and walked out with his entourage in tow.
Major depression and coping problems? No shit, Sherlock. You needed an M.D. for that? Perhaps you could have told me the sky was blue, grass was green, and the Detroit Lions sucked. But he wouldn’t. Of course not. Why waste time on the indigent? The doctor had more patients to see and Bobby had been just one of many.
He’d lowered his standards right at that moment.
His mantra, which had always begged him to reach for the stars, whispered a new theme. Just…don’t…die. He teamed up with his biology against his mind from that point, even though his mind laughed at their feebleness.
He looked up in the rearview mirror. A black, Lincoln Navigator crept closer and stopped behind him. He could just make out the silhouette of a woman in the driver’s seat, possibly a man beside her on the passenger seat. The sun glistened off the windshield, but he knew whoever was behind the wheel was cool in their seventy thousand dollar machine. The leather interior would be cold to the touch, and perhaps they were listening to NPR on their way home. Bobby wondered if it was a doctor. Or maybe one of Beaumont’s many successful lawyers.
“Louisiana lawyers do well whether they want to or not,” he quoted from his favorite movie, Steel Magnolias, as he tore his eyes away from the mirror and reached for a pack of Marlboros. This wasn’t Louisiana but they were only thirty minutes away from the border here where he sat in the sweltering heat. He lit up and took a deep drag. The burn in his chest satisfied him as he held it there before exhaling. A bad habit, sure, but between the cigarettes and the caffeine in the Mountain Dew in his center console, it worked to curb the hunger that gnawed at his insides.
He exhaled the blue smoke upward and outward as the final cars in front of him passed through the yellow light. He stopped at the red again and watched the turn left and right in front of him.
“Hey, Buddy, can I get one of those cigarettes?”
Bobby whipped his head around with a startled gasp and locked onto the most beautiful shade of blue eyes he’d ever seen. He stared speechless as they gazed at him, alert, wide, and curious and cool, like water beneath a frozen lake in the heart of February, and Bobby couldn’t help but tremble.
The man was dirty. His long blond hair wild and unkempt, glowing in contrast to his deeply tanned skin. His angular face adorned with a beard a week or two from a trim.
The eyes changed from curiosity and edged toward mirth before Bobby realized he was staring. Those eyes struck a chord deep inside him; a reminder of something. No. Somewhere. Or some time. A familiarity that shouldn’t be there, but was.
“Like a rose,” he murmured.
“Excuse me?” the man asked.
“I…uh….I’m sorry. It’s been a long day,” Bobby said and reached for the pack of cigarettes once more.
The man laughed. “It’s okay. It’s been a long couple of years here.”
Bobby felt pinpricks behind his eyes, threatening tears. He bit his lip to try and keep himself and his emotions steady.
“Yeah. I know what you mean.” He tapped out a smoke and handed it over.
The man’s dirty fingers enclosed the pristine whiteness of the paper surrounding the tobacco, his fingernails chewed down to nubs.
“Light?” the man asked, kneeling to bring his head level with the window.
“Oh…yeah, of course.” Bobby handed him a lighter and the man cupped his cigarette, snapped the flame on, and inhaled. His face became a picture of intense pleasure as he placed his hand, which held the lighter, on the windowsill to maintain balance. Bobby couldn’t help but stare at him in wonder again.
Like a rose.