“Streetwise” by Tyler Dempsey


Mind empty, body fit, currency. Kicking out“gypsying,” the term parents use. Street-people are harmless. Ditched Trinity two days back, peachy escape. San Diridon Station. Gus claims to have DMT. I figure, what the hell?

“Spread those legs a little,” he says. A cockroach. My practiced-look, “What’ll you do about it?” I get this feeling but the acid sets in.

Hike my skirt, skootch in. Gus peeks, and others. Crystal dissolves, herb crackles, eyes rotate in keep-hitting-it colors. A ninja rips the wall, does a stance at me.

I ask Uncle Mom and Satan about their greatest-most time, out there. I point out there.

“Salinas. Carton of cigarettes. Cop didn’t see us, them cigarettes’s talismans. The greatest. Cig-a-rettes night an day.”

“The worst?”



“Ran out.”

I ask Trainer.

“Asheville. Anabelle. Steam risin from everything. Felt good, be moving. Hunnerd n two west of Memphis. Hotter-n-hell. Night, east of Dallas, round Tyler. Drippin with crickets. Cold. But Anabelle.”

I take two Dexedrine, three Gradumets, fourteen Adderall. Still, I’m high as fuck. And sad. Satan notices, “Round Salinas, cigarettes”Trainer, “Asheville, Anabelle.” They crowd trash-fires, drinking, yelling where they’ll go, whatta bunch of girls’ll be there.

I ask this stranger if he has anything to get a girl up?

“Everybody’s papers. Canada, quoted wrecks on the highway. Things cleared, back to California. Did time, t’ween missions, wait in lines. Uncle Sam, goddammit!” His chin lurches, slides in his coat. “Was a Church-man. She said, GET OUT! That’s not all you can do! Said, bitch, I’m HUGE!”

“I’m gonna go,” I say. “Get out.” I look out there.

“You go . . .” he falls silent.


“Comb this, brush that.” He burps. “Much work.” (He’d screamed at a woman on a bus, but she didn’t listen.)

My body’s arousedworked up. I think, what the hell?  

“You want me?”

He snores, violently.


Tyler Dempsey was a finalist in Glimmer Train and New Millennium Writings competitions. His work is forthcoming in Soft Cartel Magazine and appears in X-RAY Literary Magazine, Five:2:One Magazine, Buck Off Magazine, Wilderness House Literary Review, and The 3288 Review, amongst others. Find him on Twitter @tylercdempsey or at:http://tylerdempseywriting.com.

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