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  • In an alley between two tall, antiquated buildings, Adam Coy hunched over the meal he had stolen from Raven Crook’s finest restaurant, The Mayberry Café. He found nothing humorous about the name or the show that it referenced. However, he was quite fond of the steak, cooked carrots, and Budweiser before him.

    Masked by the buildings that overshadowed the pastel moonlight, Coy sat alone, cutting his rare steak with a switchblade. Before the blood from the steak could run off of the knife, Coy ran his tongue along the smooth side of the blade, savoring the fantastic, salty taste.

    Two, three pieces at a time, Coy devoured his meal as if he had not eaten in weeks. Just as he finished the steak, he heard ruffling from the dumpster at the end of the alley. Coy was positive no one else was with him. When he’d entered the alley, he’d gazed around and noticed the overstuffed dumpster before a weathered wooden fence.

    A few rats, some cockroaches, and maybe at cat resided in the alley. No one else. Nevertheless, the sound continued. Coy could distinguish it. It was the sound of someone digging through trash, a sound which he remembered from many years before, when he was just an ex-con running around the desolate streets of Raven’s Crook. Finding food out of trashcans and dumpsters was the only way he could eat.

    “Glad I’m past that,” Coy muttered as he stabbed a carrot with his knife. He heard the sound again. This is why I began robbing people after I burned them to death, he thought.

    Having enough of the disturbance, Coy left his plate for a moment and meandered towards the back of the alley. In his hand was the switchblade, ready for use. His blood boiled and his adrenaline pumped like oil out of a drilling site as he drew closer to the dumpster.

    There was a silhouette of a frail man, leaning over the trash unit, searching for gold. Coy’s body began to shake, but out of excitement rather than fear. Just as he was ready to strike, the shadow turned around.
    Underneath the few beams of moonlight that sprinkled the alley, Coy could see whom he was about to kill. A little boy, dirty and thin.

    The young boy looked at the blade without worry. He walked up to Coy and muttered, “I think maybe you should. I’m alone and hungry. I think I’d like to die.” Each word spoken by the boy seem forced, as though he choked on air.

    Coy flipped the blade closed and shoved it into his pocket before he grabbed for the boy’s shirt collar. He pulled the kid up and dragged him to the middle of the alley. Coy’s dinner lied on a paper plate on the ground. He looked at it and then the boy.

    He allowed the boy to slip from his grip and fall to the ground. While the boy was helping himself up, Coy headed out of the alleyway. Before he traveled the barren streets of Raven’s Crook, Coy said, “Take what’s left. I’m having way better luck than you, kid.”

    At the very end of his sentence, Coy vanished into the jungle that was Raven’s Crook, Chase County. The boy watched him go. Once
    Coy was gone, the boy looked up. Somehow, through the concrete wasteland of ominous skyscrapers, light pollution, and toxic sky, moonlight managed to peek into the alley, directly around the boy.

    Adam Coy is from the novel Excluded.
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