Piddling pearls of yellowish spittle speckled and slithered a muculent trail down the left expanse of the slumbering vagrant’s jowly jaw. Children approached, giddy and shaking because they were cold and indestructible and unafraid of night’s wounded shadow, pierced, punctured and pricked through and through by myriad stars, oozing grisly light into hungry mouths and shining eyes. They were drawn to the sprawled, raggedy mass pasted belly-first to the fragrant pavement, lightly perfumed by the distinct alleyway aroma: a potent blend of fresh urine, blackened bananas and some poor long-dead creature nestled in among the rubbish. With clumsy stealth, they snuck on sneakered feet up to the sleeping man who remained pitifully unconscious of the young figures crouching and gasping and sniggling nearby. As they drew closer, one child grew so bold as to skillfully project a sugar-sapped wad of bubblegum through smirking lips and to land it with Olympic precision between the parched, parted perimeters of the sighing maw, slightly downturned, even in slumber.
And suddenly, with a broken gasp – eyes round, mouth wide and yawning – the slumberer was conscious, the bedraggled heap now animated with life, now flailing bruised limbs, now gripping stopped up throat. Eyes bulging, lips wordlessly wriggling out stifled vowels, he reached blindly towards smooth, pale faces that were no longer laughing. Fleeting and ephemeral beings, the children flitted away as suddenly as if they’d never been there; fearful laugher, fluttering footsteps, a giggle, gone. And now only silence. The overturned man, breathlessly beached on the pavement, became still, his hurting heart growing sluggish. Final wisps of thought drifted to good dreams that he could no longer remember. His eyes were wide and filled with stars.
In six words: Wounded eyes wept stars; goodnight, children.