Today, he has encountered no southerners and only a few tourists from elsewhere, and he’d be okay with that if it weren’t for the rain. It comes fast. One minute it’s sunny and lovely and easy pickings, and the next the sky’s gone black and people are running from the park with street-vendor umbrellas popping open over their heads or shopping bags held up as makeshift shields. Trip switches to catchy pop numbers and more recent music, but it’s no use.
Some days this works. People take pity on a not-quite-twenty-something singing in the rain. Older women especially seem to take in the auburn hair stuck to his forehead and his relatively petite stature and read hungry young desperation in him. They offer him sympathetic smiles and a few soggy dollars.
Other times, playing in the rain has the opposite of his intended effect—strange boy with strange eyes playing his guitar as if he doesn’t know the rain is there. Those people see the darkness in him: a boy with a chip on his shoulder that makes them nervous. Those people give him wary looks and a wide berth. Trip’s not sure he blames them.
He’s a little put out and a lot cold, so he sells his umbrella for a few dollars before shouldering his guitar and closing the lid on his coffee can to set to work at his other favorite occupation.
He’d been a decent pickpocket in his younger years, but now, after a lot of practice, he’s a better thief and a good runner when he needs to be. Not that he steals anything of particular worth. He finds value in treasures scrounged from the bottoms of pockets.
Loose change, hair binders, halves of Vicodin, broken cigarettes, crumpled matchbooks. All of it has a purpose, a certain sense of importance. He envies women and their big purses. They’ve got whole bags of riches waiting to be exhumed. Though, more likely than not, those little trinkets will remain forgotten and neglected in the bottoms of Marc Jacobs clutches and Target sale hobo bags.
Other people don’t see it—the value in these things. Maybe that’s why he steals from them. Nothing they’d miss: a worn dollar here, a business card there. He keeps it all close and works out a life he could have if he could ever let someone keep him long enough for him to build up a treasure trove of small wonders all his own.
For now, he will live with worn shopping lists, broken crayons and ticket stubs he lifts off of others. He keeps them in a beaten-up bag that is more duct tape than canvas and lets them build up stardust. Then, in those lonely hours of the night, he scatters them across the floor and works them into constellations to which he assigns stories. Some he writes down; others, he forgets before the next day. It’s not a financially savvy task, but it’s his favorite, and it passes the time as well as anything else.
Buy the book:
About the author:
Courtney Lux is a Minnesotan-turned-New Yorker whose love for the city is rivaled only by her love for wide, open spaces. She is a graduate of University of Wisconsin-Madison and a soon-to-be graduate of New York University. When not playing writer, Courtney is an avid reader, constant dreamer, and lover of dogs, wine and being barefoot. Small Wonders is her first novel, and is the recipient of a Publishers Weekly starred review.
Where to find the author:
Facebook Author Page: http://www.facebook.com/CourtneyLLux
Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25837112-small-wonders
Publisher: Interlude Press
Cover Artist: Cover and Interior Illustrations by Elizabeth Vest