It was another Austin night of gobbling garbage out of trash cans. Sucking down burritos, beer, and half-bit pizza pieces. I walked the overfull streets, powered by energy drawn from the city. It was just one of those nights to feel alive. My eyes alight with whiskey. The smeary, blurred out vision of swill shot down the gullet. I didn’t even think of sex or other pleasures. I was too piqued by all the food in trash cans. Such a good night for scores. Dip paws down bins and nab shit off sidewalks.
The world roared all around me. EDM blared from rooftops. Bikini-clad gals danced in street side windows to lure you to the bar they worked for. Folks roamed in groups so thick I couldn’t squeeze through. Each pack held its own conversation, the mix of words a din of different languages. The streets were blocked off so cars and people couldn’t commingle. A hot pile of vomit sat between two dumpsters. I used them for cover then salted the puke in piss. After that I enacted my search for food. I roamed alone through thousands of partiers, all out with friends for the weekend. They stumbled ’round and filled the streets with treasure.
Drunk people have a bad habit of buying food then setting it down before getting to it. So each weekend I’d walk these streets in search of scores. This night the bounty was overflowing. I ate pizza, beer, and random bits of everything. Found so many food cart boxes I started leaving them behind. I’d pound a few bites then put it back where I found it. Then I spotted a bag of chips and burritos left on the ground beside a trash can. The police stood at the exact corner of my score. I walked past it many times, eyeing the lode of gold. Some angel had left a gift from god.
Drunk college kids don’t have the eye for such things. It takes years of inhaling trash to earn this second sight. I knew there was no worry over one of them contesting my rightful claim to these burritos. So I kept an eye on the prize, waiting for my shot. On my fourth or fifth pass the cops were busy talking to a drunken dork. I fake looked at my phone then did a walk and grab, never looking back. The stakes sat lower than an old ass nutsack yet still I felt the thrill of a heist.
My bag carried heavy with five or six big burritos. I didn’t touch them as they’d feed me in the coming days. All night I scarfed pizza and sucked down half-swilled beers. Fuck if I had my fill. It feels nice to be full. But I filled to overflow. Unable to pass on any pleasure. Still, I was giddy with all the scores both in the bag and swirling through me. I decided to call it a night. To carry myself back across the river and to the car I lived in. After a few miles of walking I was once more to the parking lot I called home. My body spun with a dizzy head and overstuffed tummy. I felt the need to empty myself of every indulgence.
My stomach felt thick and full of glue. Fuck, I can’t afford all these calories. I’d been hiking almost every day, acquiring enough miles to blow holes in the sole of a shoe. I used a flattened McDonald’s fry box to patch the unwanted openings. It’d taken lots of work to put those miles under my belt. After all that I couldn’t regress. Needed to get this shit out of me. So I popped two digits down my throat and finger fucked my esophagus. Fast and pounding sentries screeching to the void.
The food came out in the opposite order I ate it. Burritos. Beer. Pizza. Chips. The chunks ripped through my throat. Eyes watered and snot sluiced past my lips. It hung in long tendrils off my nostrils. With a puke-fucked finger I closed a hole and blew clean the whistle. I looked down to a muted blob of indiscernible foods and felt proud. The world’s worst pot of oatmeal. Fuck that shit. I wanted it out of me. As I did this I was on my hands and knees beneath bleachers. Between retches I rested. When I jammed my fingers back in they coated my mouth with the dirt stuck to them. The earth nestled in gritty blobs impossible to spit out.
I felt I was empty but kept plunging, thinking odd thoughts as I endured the pain of fingers in throat. I thought of girls I’d fucked and funny scenes in movies. The disassociation made it so I wouldn’t focus on discomfort. The acidic lava pumping up through me. I was not a puker, only having done this a few times in my life, almost always after getting drunk and eating garbage. Each lesson seemed one never learned.
It wasn’t great but did the trick. I now felt lighter but still had shit in me. So I squeezed blood from the stone and solicited more. When it finally turned to empty retches I waved a white flag. I’d been at this for twenty minutes. I made so much noise I felt surprised the other bums who live in this lot hadn’t come for me.
I crawled in my car and swished Listerine. Spit the debris collected in its tide. I wiped snot from my nose and unpopped my contacts. Cleansed my face of vomit and earth. The little thrills of drunk still coursed my brain but now my body felt clean. Ah, the night was over. Not what I expected but then again exactly what I expected. I crawled to the trunk and passed out.
The next morning I woke to the sound of families gathering for weekend fun. Jogs, walks, and baseball at the field I slept by. Nestled beside me was my bag of burritos. Even in this puke-laden aftermath I felt proud of the score. I ran hands over the foil of each, thinking of how I hadn’t paid a cent for this shit. But what I hadn’t proffered in cash I more than made up for in retches.
I lay in the heat, fan blowing, waiting for my moment. A speck of silence. A safe moment to crawl out unseen. My car is nice and brings no suspicion. You’d have to look long and hard to know someone lives in there. So I waited. Then in a quick thrust I launched from trunk to seat. I made it unseen. I looked in the mirror and was greeted with red eyes, unkempt hair, and traces of dirt ringing my skin. I popped on a podcast and tended to hygiene.
The place I puked was fifteen feet in front of my car. I knew the exact spot as a pipe rose from the ground there. I used it to hold steady as I fertilized earth. Now all around the pipe stood a group of birds. Three, four, five of them. They pecked the ground. Feeding. Eating. I realized they were after the satchels of food I yacked. Junkyard scavengers sifting through shit.
In youth I sucked juice from the hummingbird feeder in our rock garden aside the garage. It was just sugar water. When no one was around I’d go and have my fill. Little hits and highs. I don’t know if I drank to get a treat or just because it was something to do. From youth I was a strange kid and little aberrations were common. These aberrations rearranged but carried on two decades later. It’s how I came to eat garbage. How I found myself watching a bunch of birds slurp down my vomit. I peered out my windshield to see their Sunday feast.
The birds ate greedily off the ground, unbothered by bile stitched in with nutrition. I felt bad for the dumb things but it seemed they paid no mind. As a kid I stole shit from them. Filled my gut with junk. Now I’d emptied it of the same. A mother feeding her chicks. I hoped they appreciated the feast. I know I had as I scarfed it down from sidewalks and silos. As I stuffed my throat with the never-ending need to fill. To overflow. To suck the world down then spit it back up.