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Goodnight, Sister

Goodnight, Sister

A Story by R.Guy Behringer

A scene in the life of one of our visible invisible and a cold night by the river.


    “God bless you and goodnight, sister.” the tall gray haired man said to her as he closed the doors at Loaves and Fishes. She looked up at him through her stringy brown bangs and gave him a smile as she scratched at her head through a knit cap before walking away. She knew where she was headed, though her mind soon drifted to this thought and others as it sometimes did and even more these days. It was cold tonight, even for January in California. She made her way past Goldie's and up North 12th street.

    A man with a red beard and kind eyes had given her a warm coat a while back but it was stolen along with her cart by a bad lady that screamed at her over at the R.T. station a few days ago. Now she had nothing. Last night she wrapped herself up in an old sheepskin seat cover she found in a dumpster over on Richards boulevard, but that was stolen too. Tonight she was heading down to the river over-cross. She heard there was a blue tarp stashed under a Sharmin box. Darla usually avoided the river and especially at night. She had heard women screaming down there and no one around to help them. But tonight she had no choice.

    This evening a really large black lady with a high squeaky voice and bright red lipstick and fingernails gave her a stocking cap at dinner. She then laid hands on her after smearing oil on her already oily forehead and prayed to her ever-loving god for Darla’s salvation and safety. ‘That was fine.’ Darla thought

    There were ice crystals in a ring around the moon tonight, she noticed as she poked her head out from under her thin blue plastic blanket. Darla hadn’t had a cigarette in years but she pretended she was blowing smoke after mimicking a drag on one. She chuckled to herself as her Barley soup scented breath dissipated above her head. 'It was so cold tonight.' she thought, and tried her best to snuggle deeper into her tarp. It smelled like piss.

     Darla lay there staring alternately at the cloudless star filled sky and the dirty gray underside of the Highway 160 river over-cross where she had tucked herself up as far as she could go. She then dug a shallow nest into the soft dry dirt for warmth. Darla had drug the Charmin box up with her and weighted it down with a few medium sized river rocks so that it would act as a wind block when the cold north wind would race by like the Sacramento river below her. Her mind drifted again. She was on a picnic with her little girls and husband Roy. She was running from the surf, jogging around Sutter’s Fort, laughing with Roy when a seal stole her bologna sandwich at Bodega Bay, she was being held down by a fat man with bad breath in a hospital, she was sweating her butt off sitting in traffic on the north 99 in August, burying her precious Cocker Spaniel in their backyard, restraints dizziness bright lights injections numbness, shopping for King salmon, extended family all dressed in black.

    Darla rolled over in place and realized she wasn’t cold anymore. Through the tule fog, that seemed to sleep down on the riverbank, she saw them. Her heart jumped in her chest. ‘They found me!’ she thought. Roy and her twin girls. They came running toward her in their pretty yellow sun dresses. Roy had a great big forgiving smile on his face. Darla was going home. They really found her.

    They found her the next morning hugging a blue tarp. Frozen. With a beautiful smile on her face.

© 2016 R.Guy Behringer

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I think you have a unique gift for getting inside people's heads and painting a picture of the world from their point of view. We know what her life is like though her wanderings and her memories that night.

Extremely evocative.

Posted 3 Years Ago

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1 Review
Added on August 20, 2016
Last Updated on August 20, 2016
Tags: Homelessness, Insanity, Family


R.Guy Behringer
R.Guy Behringer

Lincoln, CA

I'm a retired truck driver, married and a father of three grown sons, two pit bulls and one red heeler. I like to play guitar, build and rebuild rifles, hunt wild boar, Fishing, camping, gardening and.. more..