Second Hand

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As His shoes slipped in a mix of damp grass and soppy mud as he reached the base of the slope. He swore and stepped carefully over the draining water in the concrete dip. He tried to shake the mud from his shoes, satisfied as bits of mud fell off.

Why are we coming down here, Miroslav?” the other man complained, slipping in the same slick place but was less fortunate about not stepping in the recent rain water run off. He swore and stepped out, but his shoes made a wet squish.

You know why Shurik,” Miroslav sighed, pulling the small school picture from the breast of his suit. “The woman at the shelter said a lot of homeless and runaways live down here, so…

We can’t really be checking every homeless hang out until we find him?” Shurik griped. “My shoes are ruined now, and my socks are soaked through.

A lot more than just your shoes will be ruined if Yakov finds out we skipped a place looking for his kid,” Miroslav threatened. “Now come on.”

The second man groaned and they walked towards the bridge. The late evening traffic passed over it, loud with speeding cars and horns. They went over onto the old train tracks—dryer than the ground. They stepped carefully on the wood ties as they neared the old train cars. A damp gust of wind blew past them, creating a small chill.

A few make shift tents already spotted the area as they went under the bridge. More tents were cluttered between the abandoned train cars. Miroslav presented the picture to the first person he could find—an old woman. At least, by length of hair, he figured they were a woman. “Have you seen this boy around here?” His Russian accent came out through his words, though it was minor.

She just gave him a long blank stare for a few seconds, so he moved on. They both had a picture that they showed to the stragglers and showing it to every person. Finally, someone pointed to a rusted, red train car with graffiti scrawled over the outside.

“You’ve seen him there?” Miroslav questioned more pointedly.

They just kept pointing at the train car. He nodded and went towards it, but the door to the car was closed. Before he could get to it and get it open, someone stopped him. “Hey, hold up there,” the man said, giving Miroslav a light shove. “It’s closed at the moment, don’t you see?”

“I see it’s closed. That’s why intend to open it,” Miroslav answered curtly. He brought up the picture. “He in there?”

The man eyed the picture. “And so what if he is?”

“Then I need to speak with him,” Miroslav snapped.

“Then you’ll wait your turn, and it’ll be two hundred,” the man demanded.

“Excuse me?” Miroslav continued, crossing his arms over his chest.

“What? He’s young—you know, one of those twink types. Underage, too. And he’s actually got good looks, so yeah, he’s more expensive.” The man shrugged as if it all made sense.

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