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Homeless In Seattle This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

As we step over a crack in the sidewalk, we can tilt our backs toward the ground, raise our eyes to the sky, and see the skyscrapers on high. They rise above everything else in this overpopulated wasteland. As we look for room in the crowded market, we hear a low boom boom from the side streets; the rumble of vehicles looms heavily in the air. We choke on the foul combination of gas fumes and smoke as we walk quickly through the city, heading for one of our various sanctuaries, somewhere to free us from this twisted collage of people and animals. The line between person and animal blurs at times, as hobos grasp for change that they can spend on drugs and alcohol. This is not a good part of Seattle.
Upon viewing other locations within the city, we can discern that not all of the grand seaport is corrupted. We may come across unpleasant circumstances within the poorer regions of the polis, but when we are in the fortunate position of predetermination, the witnessing of lesser civil acts tends to be ephemeral, if not altogether absent. Let us now traverse from one of these areas of darkness into somewhere more joyful.
Seattle’s boardwalk seems significantly more uplifting. As we walk silently down the street, we pass by assorted establishments selling comestibles and novelties. We can taste the salt in the air and feel the wind whip sand at us, as if playing a strange game of baseball in which we cannot return the ball to the field. As we breathe in the wet sea breeze, we also take in the aromas of seafood and other edible items normally reserved for fairgrounds, all of this covering up the city’s natural scent of decay.
We look out over the ocean and can see the sharp gleam of the sun upon the cool depths of the water. It is summer and there are people swimming, boating, and taking part in other festivities such as beach bonfires and aquatic sports. Up above, sea gulls squawk giddily as a small child drops his soft pink ice cream cone; the kid begins to cry as the gulls begin to celebrate. They dive in and fight over the strawberry goo, all the while being watched by a city cat, mewing complacently. While the birds find the ice cream a delicious treat, the cat has its eyes upon the winged beasts themselves.
There is a flurry of white as the sea gulls take to the sky, revealing a spotless sidewalk where the ice cream had been moments earlier. The cat slides back into the shadows, lost within its own dreams, only to reappear in the market district we spoke of earlier. The cat is midnight black—perfectly suited to the stark shadows of the city—save one small area between its shoulders, which is as white as the gulls’ feathers. It slinks slowly past all of the rushing citizens of Seattle, hissing sharply as it encounters a homeless person’s pet dog. “Hey, Goose!” barks the hobo, reining in his dog and giving the cat a respectful look, as if he and the cat are brethren within the surreal realms of the city; two lone desperados in a town the size of Heaven.
However, this city is anything but Heaven. As we observe the cat—now perched upon a windowsill, soon to be shooed away—we can feel the oppressive nature of the air. The oxygen runs from our mouth as we try to take it in. The carbon gases stick to our tongue, wishing not to become part of the plant life, but to incorporate itself into our very system. The toxic air chokes everything in this city down to its most basic form. With an atmosphere like sandpaper, individuals go to and from their places of occupation without making side-trips. If another outing is necessary, they attempt to bring all of their errands in line by distance, thereby making the journey as short as possible.
We’re walking along a street with personal services lining both sides. On our immediate right, there is a laundromat, a dry cleaning service, and a slightly out-of-place Chinese take-out. As we pass the alleyway next to the Chinese restaurant, we notice the cat flit inside and begin searching for scraps among the heap of rotting leftovers thrown out by the eatery; they have slightly missed the green, industrial-sized dumpster. The small animal eventually finds an even smaller animal also hoping to find reserve within the trash-meat: a mouse.
The cat darts after the mouse, running over pieces of chicken and broccoli. The mouse rounds the corner of the dumpster and makes a break for its crack-in-the-wall home. Just before it can make it into the hole, the cat catches it by the tail and begins to chow down on its well-earned prize. We must be like the cat if we want to live within a big house in Montlake, one of Seattle’s richest neighborhoods. We must take advantage of those weaker than us, such as the mouse, and strive to become the best we can be.
“Feed thyself before feeding the needy,” says a homeless man from behind us, perhaps the same as earlier. He is looking into the alley after the cat, and slowly scratching his asphaltic beard. If this is the same one, he would now likely believe himself closer kin to the mouse than to the cat—the bringer of the mouse’s harsh and untimely execution. The cat turns its knowing eyes to the hobo’s own sorrowful orbs, and then runs off to find more food, albeit content for the moment with its visceral appetizer.





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