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Waking Up Cold

The Legend of Elric the Squatter...

Dedicated to "Jawbreaker Savior"...

By Punkerslut

Click to Enlarge
Image: "Squatter" -- Artist Unknown, Found in a squat
on Gov. Nicholls street in New Orleans, LA.
(Click picture for high-resolution version.)

Start Date: Monday, March 10, 2003
Finish Date: Monday, March 10, 2003

     Elric lived in Suburbia for the most part of his life. His parents were, like many other parents, drunken and abusive. Still, like other parents, they desired that their son fulfill a certain position of meaning in society. They valued his success in life a thousand times more than they valued his happiness, and no amount of tears would convince them to reevaluate their beliefs. These parents wanted him to be a doctor, to study medicine or a science. They wanted to be able to go to parties and drop the name of a famous college that their son is going to, and one day on their death beds to be able to say that their son had helped the world. To reach these ends, they employed every cruelty and every malicious action available to them. Punishment, as it exists in our very human language, is but a word meaning to inflict an injury to someone because of their actions. To Elric, it was a reality; it was bruised legs; it was having to sleep on your stomach for the first time in a life of sleeping on your back, just because the belt rendered the back to tendered flesh; it was hopelessness written on every school paper and the flower of desire being hacked in every dream... Punishment existed for Elric, but one day came where he was not going to put up with it. He gathered some belongings, some food, some drink, and walked out of the house. He was only 14 years young, and ready to see what the world had to offer him.

     Street life turned out to be his style. Though only 14 years old, the years of abuse and punishment gave him the ability to be sneaky and covert when needed. His Street Sense soon developed well. Thanks to it, he had avoided the grasp of several vicious pedophiles, several brutal cops, several armed muggers. His first night concluded with his sleep on the sidewalk. The next morning, several squatters offered him a place to sleep, in a squat. They felt sympathy for the young tyke, being that he was so new to the world, and of course that he slept on sidewalk the previous night. Weeks turned to months, and he became an expert squatter. He had obtained a Squatter's Key -- a crowbar -- and learned to squat. After two months of being on the street, he learned how to hotwire cars. His life was going quite fine. For food, he became a thief. When he couldn't steal from a store, he knew people who would steal for him. Even when there was no way to get the food on the inside of the store, there were feedings for the homeless, and dumpsters abound. A friend of his commented to him, "I've been inside the dumpster near Mike's Grocery. That's how I get most of my food. So one day, I decided to go inside the actual store. Everything was organized a little better and cost money, but it was the same as the dumpster!"

     Time went by. He had met friends he felt were better than any family. And one day, he woke up on the hillside in a rural town. Just as he woke up, the sun was rising, providing light to the crop fields, a barn, and a dirt road. Elric threw the blanket aside, tossing it on to the squatter next to him. He stood up, stretched, and just gazed into the horizon. Another day of freedom, as no day held any obligation. But more than that, as he saw this sun, it was his second birthday on the street. He was now a 16 year old, as tough as you'll ever meet. As his face felt the warmth of the sun, he scratched his back, massaging his muscles because of the night they went through, sleeping on hard ground. Elric was pleased. Most of all, he was pleased with the dream he had.

     For the time of his dream, he was back home. Not with his parents, but with his sister, Megghann. Of all the people on this planet, she was the only one he cared for. At the tender age of five, he tried to be there for her for everything. Elric even cooked for her at certain times when the parents were too lazy. When the father was drunk, he tried to attack Megghann, and the only shield between her and his bludgeons was the body of Elric. He remember that week of life when he was a tender 11 year old, she only 2. After the beating, he spent days in his room, in the dark. He didn't want to look at what had been done to him. He didn't want anyone to see it. At night, he could roll up the shades and look out the window, sitting on his bed, hunched over, and ponder what he would be doing if his life weren't so harsh. He remembered waking up those mornings, with the distinct taste of blood in his mouth. He remembered.... How much he loved Megghann, how much he would do for her, and how much he sympathized with her. His life, a 16 year old squatter boy, and her life, a 7 year old housed child. He missed her. Taking a look at his friends one last time, he thought. And then he was gone. He left on a gust of wind, the best way to leave, to find his sister.

     He arrived at his house after a week of traveling, of hopping trains, of hitching. When his folks opened the door, they gave a slight look of shock, but no happiness that he was back. "Where's Megghann?" he asked.

     "What makes you think you are welcome back here?" his father asked.

     Elric ignored his father and asked again. "Where's Megghann?"

     "She's dead," his mother said, "She died last year."

     "And where were you, my son?" his father asked, "Where were you when the words were being spoken at the funeral? Where were you? You never cared about her."

     "How did she die?" Elric asked.

     "She attacked me, so I fought back," the father said, "The doctor said there was nothing they could do for her."

     "A six year old attacked you?" Elric asked.

     "Yep," the father said, belching.

     Elric turned around, and just left. He didn't want to deal with his parents, or what had happened. Sort of in a state of shock, he became reckless and thoughtless in his journeys. Several weeks passed by before the night came to him. He looked for a squat, but could not find any. He looked for a Squatter's Key in the tool boxes of pickup trucks, but was unsuccessful. He had no squat, no place to sleep, so he found a piece of pavement, and laid there. He slept. Hours passed. Then he sat up with a bolt of energy. Elric looked around, then he wrapped his arms around himself. He woke up cold, the worst part of squatting. The cold front had moved in. When he touched his skin, he felt bitter coldness. When he touched his feet, he felt nothing. He shivered with the world's empathy. Understanding that suffering must come with street life, he laid back down, trying to sleep still. Slowly, but surely, he fell back into the abyss of sleep.

     And he dreamed of Megghann.

     And he never woke again.


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