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  • Chango chewed on soggy cardboard, squeezing out its last drops of wine. Close to daybreak, the tips of clouds began pinkening.

    Boots scuffed the pavement close by and he jolted awake.

    The morning spat at his eyes with its blinding venom. A thick atmosphere of vaporized alcohol protected him from the harsh rays of unfiltered reality. He squinted to peer through it.

    - Fuck -
    . . . that's a cop.

    Vulnerability vanished the surrealism. On sea legs he rose and scurried away.

    Neighbors came out with buckets of water to help drown the fire. Within minutes it was subdued to a pile of wet ashes. Those who came out to help thanked each other and went back to their morning routines.

    "No, I don't think anyone lit this on purpose," the cop told me, half intrigued by the melted dumpster. "It was probably a cigarette someone tossed in drunk."

    I didn't disagree, though I knew he was wrong. Behind him was a trash bag I had watched burn half an hour before.

    When the cops left, I approached Chango to see why he started them. I never got a straight answer. Our conversation twisted and turned and left me feeling shitty that he's younger and more intelligent than me, yet stuck in an alcohol addiction. But we didn't talk about that. In reality it's the country's inflation that rips up his dreams, throws 'em away and sets 'em ablaze.
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