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Pen Your Pride

Seven

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Lester got up from his chair and stretched his arms over his head. He wasn't sure what he expected to get out of coming to this group but he didn't feel any different. He walked out of the community center into the cool night air. There were no clouds tonight so the crescent moon shone brightly in the sky. He walked passed a young man leaning against a car directly in front of the building where a clearly visible No Parking sign stood right were he parked the fancy sedan. He caught a whiff of the distinct small of marijuana lingering around the kid. He paid it little mind, however, since it was a common scent here in the city.

He walked three blocks to the bus stop that would eventually take him home. While he waited he noticed a pair of group members happily discussing a third group member and what he revealed tonight as they passed him by. He wondered if they met in the group or if thy were friends before they started coming in. A few minutes later Jackie entered the shelter and stood to his side.

He felt it appropriate to acknowledge her presence. "Hey." He said.

"Hi." She replied.

"I uh... I know you've probably heard this a lot over the past few days, but I'm sorry for your loss."

"You're right. I have heard that a lot. Thank you though."

"What did you think of the group?"

"It was...interesting. I'll give it that."

The stood there in silence without mustering any further small talk. A few minutes later the bus arrived and they boarded. Once they embarked they sat separately putting a definitive end to any further discussion. Lester wedged himself in between a large intimidating man and an old woman with a walker at the back of the bus. When the bus got to his stop twenty minutes later he noticed Jackie had already gotten off at an earlier stop. He walked two blocks to his apartment and turned in for the night.

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Jackie got up from her chair and gathered up her purse. The group members made their way out of the room and so did she. When she reached the entry way she saw the young man from Elijah's funeral leaning against his expensive car. She turned sharply and pretended to look at the community center bulletin board while watching him out the side of her eye. Emma walked out of the building a moment later and exchanged words with him before they both got in the car and pulled away.

Interesting.She thought as she watched them pull away into the night. With them gone she made her way down the street to the bus stop where she found Lester waiting for the same bus. They spoke briefly then the bus came. Sh boarded the bus and took a seat near the middle. Ten minutes later the bus pulled up to her stop and she disembarked. She then made the short walk to her apartment.

Inside she finally relaxed and decompressed. She tossed her purse and jacket on the couch and went to the kitchen to make herself a snack. She returned to the couch with a bowl full of chips and flipped on the TV. The chips were polished off in short order and before long she fell asleep in front of the screen.

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Emma spoke briefly with Father Bishop who approached hr after the group ended. He went to start stacking chairs and she walked outside to find Spoony waiting by his care for her. "Hey babe." She said to him. "Did you miss me?"

"About as much as I miss the clap." He replied casually.

Emma frowned."Don't be gross. You know you missed me."

"Sure, whatever. Get in the car already."

Emma did as she was told, slid into the passenger seat, and buckled her seat belt. Spoony slipped into the drivers seat and fired up the car.

"You get your shit straightened out?"

"Of course not. You don't fix years of abuse in a single group session. It takes way more than that to get help with your issues."

"Sounds like some bullshit to me." Spoony pushed in the cigarette lighter and produced a joint from his pocket. A second later the lighter popped and he blazed up. "You going to keep going to that crap?"

"I haven't decided yet."

"I wouldn't. Just a waste of time in my opinion."

"I kinda liked it." Emma admitted. "The people were nice."

"Bunch of losers looking for someone to listen to their whining."

"That's not fair.You know nothing about the people I met tonight and the things they shared. That takes bravery."

"I don't need to know them. Only a bunch of whiny bitches would hang out in a place like that."

"Is that what you think of me?" Emma questioned in a defeated tone.

"Depends. You going to keep going?"

"I told you already. I haven't decided."

"Then I guess it depends whether or not you're a loser too." Spoony stated matter of factly. "The choice is yours."

"Gee, thanks."Emma turned and stared out the window at the lights as they streaked by. Spoony remained quit the rest of the way home so Emma chose to keep her mouth shut as well. When they got back to the apartment an unkempt man sat with his back against their door. She didn't recognize him, but he stood as soon as he saw them coming.

"Hey Spoony where you been man?" The mystery man asked.

"What did I tell you about coming here Jory?" Spoony hissed.

"I know bro but you weren't at any of the usual spots and I need my fix bad man. I'm dying here."

"I was busy. That doesn't mean you get to come to my place."

"I won't do it again bro. I swear. But you gotta hook me up."

"I don't have to do anything. You're lucky I'm feeling generous. Come in."

Emma unlocked the door and they went into the living room. Jory fidgeted like a child while Spoony produced a small bag of white powder. Hey took a wad of crumpled singles from Jory and handed him the bag.

"Now get the hell out and don't let me catch you around here again." Spoony ordered.

Jory tucked the drugs into his pocket and hastened out the door. Emma also left the room so she could change out of her work clothes and into something comfortable before coming back out and sitting on the couch beside Spoony. Spoony tossed the wad of singles onto the coffee table then pulled out a money clip holding another wad of neatly folded over cash which he also tossed on the table.

"I don't like you doing business in our home." Emma stated.

"I told him not to come here. I can't help it if the little junkie doesn't listen and shows up on our doorstep so quit your bitching." He turned on the TV and tuned her out. Emma watched silently lest a huge argument erupt over Jory's little visit.

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