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Authors: Ceri Grenelle

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Food for the Soul

BOOK: Food for the Soul
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Table of Contents

Title Page

Copyright

Dedication

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Epilogue

Loose Id Titles by Ceri Grenelle

Ceri Grenelle

FOOD FOR THE SOUL

 

Ceri Grenelle

 

 

www.loose-id.com

Food for the Soul

Copyright © May 2016 by Ceri Grenelle

All rights reserved. This copy is intended for the original purchaser of this e-book ONLY. No part of this e-book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without prior written permission from Loose Id LLC. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author's rights. Purchase only authorized editions.

 

Image/art disclaimer: Licensed material is being used for illustrative purposes only. Any person depicted in the licensed material is a model.

 

eISBN 9781682521083

Editor: Kerry Genova

Cover Artist: Scott Carpenter

Published in the United States of America

 

Loose Id LLC

PO Box 170549

San Francisco CA 941117-0549

www.loose-id.com

 

This e-book is a work of fiction. While reference might be made to actual historical events or existing locations, the names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

Warning

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* * * *

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Dedication

I’m from New York City, and regrettably grew up in a culture that was desensitized to the plight of those less fortunate. But moving to the Bay Area has really forced me to face the homeless epidemic in the United States. If you see someone who is homeless, all I ask is that you are not quick to judge. We don’t know what circumstances led them to a life on the street. No matter their history, a person can only benefit when a stranger is kind to them. Give to shelters, donate to those in need, and love one another.

Chapter One

“This old building is like your chicken soup, Harper. It warms the soul and keeps it cozy till the next bowl is filled. Can’t find that anywhere else in this city.”

Greg’s words from that afternoon echoed in Harper’s mind. His near-toothless smile of gratitude had kept her stress and exhaustion at bay, similar to what the large bowl of homemade chicken soup could do for him. But where Greg was homeless and depended on Harper for a solid meal and a place to rest, Harper had a home and a bed to call her own. Though for how much longer she couldn’t guess.

Dragging herself up from the unbalanced wooden chair she used at her old beat-up desk, Harper began to pile up the measly donations. Dollars and change, that’s all there was to put in the bank tonight.

“This week was terrible,” she mumbled into the quiet, reaching for a paperclip to keep the tiny stack of dollars together. There were so few bills she didn’t need a rubber band. “Hell, this month was terrible. This fucking year, even.” The helplessness she’d come to associate with this time of night—money-counting time when the reality of her situation was nailed home with a vicious hammer—was pushed aside by a short and unusual burst of anger. She wrenched open the sticky desk drawer so hard it came flying out, raining thumbtacks and other office supplies onto the floor.

“What the hell?” Harper exclaimed, dropping the drawer with a loud bang and grabbing the bank bag she’d been searching for. Not that she needed it. She might as well donate the measly amount to some other charity, for all the good it would do her.

When the Full Spoon soup kitchen first opened five years ago, the city had banded together to support her efforts. Donations poured in from across the country, and she’d had more than enough funds to feed the many downtrodden and homeless of the city in addition to helping those who wished to better themselves. The run-down building wasn’t just a temporary haven for the less fortunate; it was a space she could host daycares and group tutor sessions. She taught people how to read, a basic human right that had been denied them due to circumstance.

America was known as the land of opportunity, but it also had a reputation for dismissing or willingly forgetting its poor, no matter what the Statue of Liberty claimed.

Nowadays, folks didn’t have time for the poor that were right in front of their faces. Sure, they donated thousands of dollars to the destitute across the oceans, but they were blind to the ones begging on their street corners or in their subways. Harper would never say those people across the oceans didn’t deserve the care and donations, but she often wondered why Americans were so steadfast in their ignorance of poverty in their own backyard. Were the Americans who couldn’t hack it not good enough to be mentioned? Perhaps they couldn’t comprehend how a person could be poor or homeless in one of the most powerful countries in the world.

Well, that was nice for them, but Harper understood the barbarity of reality. She shook her head as flashes of memory attempted to break into her mind. Alone in the large building without the sounds and smells of a busy kitchen to distract her, the age and darkness of the space sometimes had a strength she couldn’t defend against. Nighttime was the worst. The floorboards creaked as if someone were there with her, and the doors rattled on their hinges, but she knew it was only the ghosts of her past talking. Taking a deep breath, Harper centered her focus on the simple chore of zipping up the money bag and walking over to the safe. Mundane, everyday tasks helped her remember that she lived in the present, a good present. And not all things in her life had been bad. Lately, the bad had started to creep up on her again. She needed to remind herself of the good more often.

Thanks to a gift she’d received from the city for her Good Samaritan efforts, she never had to worry about the gas or electric bill. But the mortgage was another thing entirely. Until the bank stopped sending her those due dates, she would never have true ownership. That was why she needed a constant revenue of donations. Despite the building appearing to be a grand establishment, hers was a small-time soup kitchen. The second floor was where she slept, as she couldn’t afford her own place, and the two upper floors had been deemed unsafe by the city. As long as the main recreational area, kitchen, and back offices were kept up to code, she was good.

There was no Red Cross or Salvation Army that funded her needs. Harper depended on the goodwill of those who lived in this city and were smart enough to recognize what being homeless could do to a person. She knew better than anyone what it could do—she’d lived that reality through her teenage years.

Harper knelt by the safe in the corner of her closet-sized office, intending to take the rest of the donations to the bank. It may have been a paltry amount, but it was enough to make that month’s payment. At this rate, she’d have the place paid off in about seventy years. Yeah, she could still run the joint when she was one hundred and five years old. No biggie. The old safe cranked open, the hinges squeaking in protest as she disturbed its rusty slumber. She reached for the rest of the donations.

A heavy scuff behind her was the only warning she had before a hand covered her mouth. She struggled, tried to push herself back to dislodge the assailant, but a thickly muscled black sleeve wrapped around her arms, pinning them to her sides. She screamed, but the hand pressed tighter against her mouth, pushing her lips painfully against her teeth. She whimpered at the sharp bite.

“You scream, and I’ll gut you,” a gravelly voice grunted behind her. When she didn’t respond or continue to struggle, he unwrapped his arm from around her waist and pushed her onto all fours. His groin pressed against her backside in an equally violent and sexual manner. “Reach in there to the money. Take it out and put it at your side.”

This wasn’t the first time Harper had come up against those who thought they could do what they wanted with her based purely on the fact that she was a single woman living alone in a crime-ridden city. They thought she was vulnerable. Weak. She’d straightened out those delinquents before, and she wasn’t afraid to do it with this one. But she also wasn’t an idiot. When it came down to a choice between her life and money, she would gladly hand over the money and live to fight another day. She did what the man told her to do.

The moment the money pouch rested at her side, the asshole shoved her forward hard enough that her cheek collided with the edge of the safe. Lights flashed, and there was a distinct ringing in her ears. She pushed away, wanting to see who her attacker was. He stood above her, facing the opposite way and blocking her view of his front. He was counting the money.

“What,” she said groggily. “Don’t like to look the women you hurt in the eye?”

Now, why had she said that? Taunting them only made it worse.

“You’ve got balls for a low-class bitch. I’ll give you that.” He walked out of her field of vision.

A harsh pain. Cold cement underneath her pounding cheek. Lights out.

* * * *

“Hey, Harper?” Flynn called as he pushed through the swinging doors and into the stainless-steel kitchen. It was eerie seeing the Full Spoon empty. Flynn was used to the front room packed with visitors, chewing on Harper’s good cooking or chatting with the other regulars. Now it was empty, save for the chairs and colorful round tables. Before pushing back into the kitchen, he’d stopped a moment to take it in, knowing he would probably never get to experience the room in such a peaceful state. No wonder Harper stayed late getting work done. The room held a Zen-like calm, as if the positive energy they’d created by doing good deeds had sunk into the worn furniture and graffiti-covered walls.

The space itself was the size of a small gymnasium. It had been a boxing ring in the fifties until the owners had gone out of business and closed up shop. Harper had left the old boxing posters on the wall as an homage to the previous owners, claiming she used to know them. But when the young men and women began to graffiti the walls, saying they wanted a safe space to practice their art, Harper hadn’t said a word of protest as the old posters were spray-painted over and warped to become something original. Knowing she’d liked those posters, Flynn had heard one of the volunteers ask Harper if she cared that the young thugs had tarnished them with their paint.

Harper’s full mouth had tightened, but she’d smiled at the old woman and said, “They’re not tarnished; they’ve evolved and become something new. The posters and what they represent have been absorbed into the history of this building, as those spray-painted works of art will one day be.” Flynn had thought she’d leave it at that, but Harper then went on to give the old lady a piece of her mind about the word
thug
and why she didn’t let people use that phrase in her kitchen. The old lady never returned, but Flynn didn’t think Harper cared much. There was never a need for volunteers. It was money the place was desperate for.

BOOK: Food for the Soul
13.22Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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