All he had left was a dirty spoon, burned black on the bottom. He’d lost his other gear in the downpour, and now he huddled in a doorway near the corner of Post and Leavenworth, looking out at the dark forms marching by. It was already starting, of course—the ache in his teeth, the itch across his chest, the feeling of his blood thick and stale in his veins—but there wasn’t much he could do about it. None of the men he knew would sling in the rain.

A bus hissed by, its tires trailing spray, and he inched backwards into the entryway, pressed himself up against the locked door. He was wearing torn jeans and a thin flannel shirt, the right wrist stiff from where he’d wiped his nose last time he was on the nod. He pulled up a sleeve absentmindedly, and ran his fingernails over the bruises that marked where his veins had been.

It was growing worse, the hunger and pain. The ache in his teeth had deepened, had flooded into his jaw, spread to his throat and up behind his eyes. The itch all over him, like a layer of ants. His scalp stinging, his joints swelling. Suddenly he became aware of his own stink—not the rich smell of sweat, but an awful must and mildew that roiled his stomach.

He looked down at his right hand, and saw the spoon clenched within it. “Oh, God,” he said. He put the spoon in his mouth, and bit down hard, sobbing.

Another bus hissed up the street, and just as it came near, he lurched forward, and dove in front of its wheels.

Marcos Soriano has recently published work in Quick Fiction and has additional pieces forthcoming in Instant City and Cooweescoowee. He lives in San Francisco, and is currently writing a memoir.