It was a back alley somewhere near the bus station. I feel that’s how a story should start when it takes place in Los Angeles. Byron and I were cold and sober, we had just taken an overnight bus from Nevada and where dying for a bite to eat. And this back alley smelled like freshly baked bread, we followed it like soldier ants. The bakery was still closed so we waited. Other early morning zombies stumbled towards us and waited patiently. We all stared with hatred and the jogger’s enthusiast greeted us.
“That tramp is staring holes in your jumper.” Byron says nodding towards the back of the line. I turn to look, but he already had his back to me.
“Probably likes my jacket,” I flash a sleepy smile at Byron before peering through the window again. I can see a light shining under the kitchen door, turning to my fellow zombies I yell, “The Bread is nearly here mates, I can almost taste it.”
“Shut the fuck up,” an annoyed voice yells back.
“Are they all this friendly here, Solace?” Byron says with a laugh.
“Yes, the whole lot of them.”
After a few more minutes of waiting the doors are unlocked and we are let in to the precious warmth of the bakery. Walking up to the counter I greet backer “bonjour homme bon, je peux avoir un croissant”
“I think he speaks Spanish,” Byron says over my shoulder.
“I’m sorry, it’s just all the bakeries I went to in Europa were run by French men.”
“No, aqui no servimos Fren’Fries, puro pan.”
“Si, dos conchas, please.”
“Pardon me, is e soliciting us?” Byron says, a bit rattled.
“No, he just told me the price.” I say handing the man his money. We bid Farwell to our fellow zombies, and walk out of the door. The first thing I see is the bum from earlier standing across the street staring at me. He is holding a piece of paper in his hand, he follows us as we walk down the street, I can see him looking down at the paper repeatedly.
“He’s back,” I say to Byron.
“What should we do?”
“Let’s head into that park, if he follows we’ll confront him.”
“And what then?”
“I guess we’ll find out.”
Sure enough the man followed us, he didn’t even try to hide. We walked around the part twice and he was still on our tail. I turned to face him, thinking this would scare him off, but it didn’t. He walked right up to me and held his little piece of paper. It was a photocopy of two birth certificates. Marvin and Peter Esparza.
“Is this supposed to mean something to me?” I do a terrible job of hiding my annoyance.
“You are my brother. Peter it’s me Marvin.”
“You have me confused with someone else, I don’t have a brother.” I turn to walk away, but the man puts his hand on my shoulder to stop me. I never meant to hurt him, he must have been weaker then he appeared. I wrenched his hand and I could feel his little finger dislocate.
He fell to the floor and roared in agony, asking through tears why I would hurt my own brother. I felt terrible for this man, who knows how long he’s been looking for his lost brother. I knelt down and tried to help him up, he threw his arms around me and cried out for forgiveness.
“Peter please, I know I never made any good choices. I fucked up, but please forgive me.”
“Look, Marvin is it, I’m not the guy you’re looking for.”
“Honestly, do you think this man would have a vagrant like you as a brother?” Byron spits, pushing Marvin off of me.
“Byron, shut it.”
“Oh, is this charity work, allowing the filth of society to slobber all over the jumper I bought you? For all you know, he’s just going to rob us.”
“Byron, I said shut the fuck up!”
“You should really listen to your friend, kid.” Marvin says, the fake sobbing is replaced by a well-aimed gun. He nodes his head towards the dilapidated building to the left. We walk in silence, Byron walks behind me and Marvin behind him. A couple of the bums nod at Marvin and follow us to a graffiti ridden metal door.
Marvin shoves his gun into my back, I open the door only to find a stairwell leading under the building. “Get going brother of mine.”