Chlorine and Sea Spray

A four-star hotel had its foundation near where the Pacific laps the mainland with a ravenous host of frothy tongues.

Two skinny hoods skated past on splintered boards with rusted bearings that squealed, hungry for replacement or grease whatever remedy would silence their pangs. Their hunger was osmosed through the feet of their riders. The youths, in their early-if-that-twenties, gracefully dismounted and stashed the boards among a bundle of laundry bags adjacent to a brown dumpster on the far side of the hotel property.

They walked through the lobby of that polished palace as if they owned the place. They peeled off their clothes in the lavatory and emerged wearing the bathing suits that’d concealed underneath. They swam in the million dollar pool. They ordered drinks from waiters in white tuxedos, convincing them with their poise that they were the offspring of wealthy tenants, emaciated by choice. As if being bony was a fashion statement. They tired of the pool and found their way to the sun deck and sipped their dry martinis. They let the warm air remove the moisture from their skin and bathing garments. They re-dressed, carrying a buzz from the gin under their torn tees. They rode the glass elevator to the top floor of the hotel. They picked through a discarded food tray left outside a door. The reflections of florescent fish behind a glass aquarium flashed in the lenses of their eyes.

On their way back to their current squat they asked strangers if they might spare a cigarette, even those who were not smoking because they still had hope. When one finally consented, they waited until they got back to the ramshackle building before they sat on the cement stoop and shared it puff for puff until the filter was afire. They watched the thirsty sea absorb the sun and denied their minds thoughts of hunger by setting the words of folk songs free in the tepid breeze.


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