The chubby brown eyed baby stuck out a once bitten chicken finger. He stuck his thumb swiftly in his mouth as he jabbed the chunk of mushy meat once more toward my face.

“Eat!” he chewed out with his grubby thumb still firmly in his mouth.

I felt the backs of my ribs against the chain restaurant’s stucco walls pressing on me.

“No, thank you”

I squeezed out a smile. I shook my head and slowly reached down to my trashed bag and hefted it onto my shoulder. As I stepped into my hunched trudge I heard a yelp as if in pain behind me.

“Don’t you need food?” He blurted out his question in confusion. Wondering why I wouldn’t take his unwanted extra crispy.

When kids ask what that tired eyed man is doing just sitting on the curb, why he smells, parents try their best to answer with kindness. Homeless people happen.  He’s homeless, they will say.  He doesn’t have a job or a family to take care of him like you; making the kid feel an inherent superiority.

I could see the uncertainty in the child’s eyes as he held out the bit of food. He felt his greater wealth and wanted to share it, but I just couldn’t take it. Taking food from a baby is easy, but not particularly empowering.

I made my slow way towards the concrete river at the bottom of LA. The sun warmed my back as I walked. It felt good, like a hand reaching towards me, but all I wanted was a corner to lean into.


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