Straight To The Top

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Flash Fiction  |  No Houses

If you ain't never been homeless, you remain clueless ...

Straight To The Top

Written By Marvin Thomas Cox Flynn

Copyright © 2019 Marvin Thomas Cox

DBA: Marvin Thomas Cox Flynn

All Rights Reserved


Sunshine wickedly drove its pointy fingers into his eyes … Eyes that truly wished to not awaken … Not this morning … Not any morning for that matter, but then what did it matter anyway? What did anything matter — anymore?

Martin O'Shea rolled away from the onset of another day, covering himself with tattered newspapers as best he could. Thoughts of all the yesterdays, hopes and dreams dashed to bits, racing ever so wildly through his mind ...

To the top … Straight to the top, that had been where he was going, or so he had thought, when he was a much younger man. Hard work and determination was all it would take … Well, that was what he had believed ... Back then ...

Martin was ignorantly unaware in those days that a strategically placed nose would take a man much farther than any amount of hard work and determination. This was a lesson hard learned … One which Martin refused to learn ...

“If a man doesn't stay busy he doesn't stay around,” echoed the words of his Dad in his mind. “If it is not worth doing right, it is not worth doing at all,” words Martin had lived by all his life …

So, Martin had worked, and worked damn hard to have all the things everyone seems to think a man and his family are supposed to have. Climbing the ladder of success seemed easy at first, with each new and successive job change bringing an increase in wages and benefits. It just never seemed to be enough … Never enough to pay all the bills … Never enough to make ends meet … Never enough to make his wife happy … But, then again, was that possible?

Martin had asked himself this question countless times over the years. He was all too aware that there was a limit to just how successful a simple high school graduate from Smalltown, Texas could be … You gave it your best shot, and that's all she wrote … Somehow Martin felt that his best had never been enough … Would never be enough! When, after so many years, had he ever heard her say the words, “I am proud of you?” Things like that are important to a man, more so than a woman ever realizes.

Jobs got harder to find … He found a new friend … The bottle … The bottle got easier to spend time with — once opened, arms he could crawl into … Martin found himself seeking out a new career, that of a professional alcoholic … A profession at which he truly excelled … A lover who never said no, if you had the money to buy her … And if you didn't, oh well … At least you could cuddle with her cold empty body, without any complaints … And if you weren't up to conversation, all you had to do was screw the cap back on her mouth …

“Success at last! … I finally made it straight to the top! ... Livin' it up in Big D,” he, quietly, chuckled to himself this chilly, wintry, morning, while he groped at the tattered newspapers that served as covers with which he struggled to stay warm … The battle to fight off the rising sun had become a lost cause this day as it had finally made its way above the rooftops of the buildings nearby.

Martin cursed to himself in complaint of facing yet another day, stretching as he opened the door to his home. The building where he had hidden his home was a successful bar at night … Depending upon what you called successful … Lots of drinking … Lots of drunks … Lots of fights …

He frequented the bar as often as he had money, and the drunken inclination to venture inside, which was not often. Otherwise, Martin hung around outside watching for folks who might help him out with a dollar or two to buy himself a Bud 40oz. at the convenience store down the street. This routine was his life from opening until closing time each day.

Then, after the bar's employees locked up and left for the night, Martin would climb the fence next to the building and up onto the roof … Straight to the top … To the conglomeration of cardboard boxes he treasured as his home, and if all had gone well, to enjoy a Bud 40oz. before passing out for the night … Praying that the damn sun would not wake him, too early, the next morning … But … It always did … And this thought always made him smile … For there was one thing he knew he could depend upon, one thing that was for sure and certain: There would eventually come a morning, when he would not rise to greet the morning sun … The sun, on the other hand, would continue its incessant rising, with, or without — Martin O'Shea …

(Written February 4th, 2011)

Author's Note: Years ago, long before I ever imagined that I might end up homeless, one day, myself (I now live with my ex-wife, but the home is technically hers), I was working on a job-site in Abilene, Texas. While conducting my daily duties, I chanced to inadvertently overhear a conversation between a couple of employees of a local heating/air-conditioning repair company. What caught my attention was something very unusual, as one employee was telling his coworker that, in inspecting their customer's rooftop AC unit, he had discovered a cardboard box home carefully built and well hidden between all the various units of equipment mounted upon the building's roof.

The two employees left their customer's location that day, having completed their given work assignment, determined to not report the presence of that secretly hidden cardboard box home. Neither of the two wished to have any part in seeing a homeless person expelled from the only physical possession they thought to own.

I don't believe in handouts to those too lazy to work. At the same time, I know, from experience, what it is like to have life push you so far down, that it seems as though you shall never be able to get up, ever, again. So, you acclimatize and desensitize yourself to your meager existence. Everyone, at that right time in life, if afforded, can get back up (maybe not to meet fame nor riches) and resume living a simple life of maintaining their own livelihood as someone no longer homeless — if but given a helping hand's chance bit of moral and, at times, physical and monetary support, as compassion is that express attribute that, literally, defines Mankind as being Human.

My late friend Malcolm Scott Kill lived his life as testimony that people who desire to help themselves can be helped, as he lived his righteously UN-religious life helping others who were down and out and in need … I was blessed to have him for the finest friend I have ever known, as one of those people that he helped to lift up and set back upon my own two feet of self respect and dignity (see my article: When Barely Turns To Corn & Life Tends To Suck) ...

This story, above, was inspired by real life people I came to know during my days of living, totally, homeless, and in never allowing myself to forget that conversation I was never intended to hear — but I did hear it, though I shall never forget it in envisioning that cardboard home upon that local Abilene, Tx business' rooftop that I, actually, never saw with my own eyes, but see clearly within my heart ...

Submitted: October 26, 2020

© Copyright 2020 Marvin Thomas Cox-Flynn. All rights reserved.

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Add Your Comments:


Serge Wlodarski

I knew a guy who worked construction and slept in storage containers on the job sites. Good story.

Mon, October 26th, 2020 8:10pm


Thank you for reading, and for the very kind words ...


Mon, October 26th, 2020 2:30pm

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