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Invocation
"As we rise we move towards twin corners of the same building.
That which we remember will be part of yesterday.
That which we hope to pass will be our passage to ecstasy.
Failure is a concept.
Everything is success.
Go forth and humanize your lesser sides."

There was a motorcycle parked on the side of the road. The man who rode it through the city had recently died of a drug overdose. The drug's name was random handfuls of barbituates. The man's name was Leon Birdfinder.

Not far from the motorcycle was an empty crate. It had been built by poorly paid Hondurans and at one time housed oranges. Now it was the hiding place where Kenny Nightshade put his sunglasses and Rustoleum™ when he was trying to get lucky with the prostitutes over on Pine Street. They would surely steal such items if he were to leave them out in the open.

Looking up at the stars at night, one could always see the clouds. Smoke rose like the call of a nightingale and it brought peace to those huddled around the 5th Street gymnasium waiting to see the boxers emerge with a glimmer of hope still in their eye. Most of them would eventually come down from their lofty perch amongst goals and dreams and settle in with the locals hoping to get close enough to the fire to warm their frostbitten digits.

"Love? Why would anyone talk about love?
Look in the windows sometimes and you'll see the lovers parting their thighs.
Roll out the barrel and find out what's inside tonight.
Gettin' married is for the archaically stupid."

They called him Lorne Greene because he wanted them to. He was a preacher who spoke his own version of the truth. They said he had been in prison for suffocating his own two month old baby. No one knew for sure. They only listened to him because it was hard to tune in any stations on the battered transisitor radio Kenny Nightshade always brought to the group meetings. Lorne was not long for this world. His skin was pale and turning yellow. There would be no fancy funeral. The cops would come around and scrape him off the pavement and drop him in the meat wagon.

Not far from the death resisting fire of everyone's favorite fifty-five gallon drum was the alley Timmy Goodheart occupied. There was a time when Timmy enjoyed algebra and a three piece chicken combo meal after school. Now he was lucky to find discarded bones with a little bit of meat still on them. He didn't know what happened. All he remembered was the day his father started hitting him.

Anyone who thinks they know how to be a casanova has to remember that Vernon Dresser spent a lot of time romancing beautiful women in the 1970s. Now he gives oral pleasure to any man who can help him get his next fix. He did not like it at first, but Vern has adjusted. It became a cause, and the end eventually justified the means.

Pauline Schwitzer won a prize in a contest once upon a time. It was just after she got divorced and she figured it would help rebuild her self-image. It was the kind of thing where you drew a picture and showed it to the produce manager at the supermarket. They liked her picture, but eventually the supermarket closed because the produce manager liked Pauline more than he had a right to. Like many of the other female entrants in the art contest, Pauline ended up tied up in a back room and spent forty-eight hours exposed to trials and forced behaviors. When the produce manager let her go, she couldn't go home again. Nothing felt the same and the world became a blur of anger. The others always let her cut the line and warm her hands by the fire.

Jimmy falls down more than most people. He always did. In school the other kids picked on him incessantly. When Jimmy's parents couldn't pay a neurologist to examine Jimmy after a steel-toed boot became highly familiar with Jimmy's skull, everything began to change. Jimmy tried to gnaw off his own foot, and talked incoherently about "the big pay day" for hours. His parents couldn't afford a psychiatrist either, so one day they drove out to another city and left Jimmy there. His mother cried for six hours when she returned home without her only son.

Doctor Brenner locks the door to his free downtown health clinic at 7pm every night. He was once a man with a dream, fresh out of medical school and wanting to make a difference in the world. It was his dream to provide medicine and health care to those who would not otherwise be able to afford it. Then the government stepped in. Doctor Brenner was required to have documentation from his patients showing why they could not afford standard health care. The people who most needed his help didn't have paperwork or records of any kind. He was not allowed to treat them at the clinic until they completed the necessary forms. They never did. Little Mary Trashbag died on the steps of the clinic at midnight the night Doctor Brenner was presented with a plaque commemorating his devotion to community service. Her baby was stillborn. Doctor Brenner hung himself in his coat closet three days later. No one really remembers him, but the building remains vacant.

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