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but this guy named Nails put it into perspective for me by saying that she was nothing more than a whore, and how many other whores would be around every minute of the day for as long as Li was? In that light, I guess I got a good deal.

That's something you might find interesting. It seems that everyone on the streets has a nickname except the Twinkies, who are the kids who come down to act cool on the weekend. The idea of nicknames isn't all that uncommon, but the striking thing is how it seems like white guys need to choose the worst possible nicknames, like Tank, Wolf, Nails, Tex, and the like. I think deep down that the guys are just hung up on their old GI Joe comics or something, and think that those names inspire fear. If you want a name that inspires fear, try Tipper.

Anyway, Li was gone and I was hungry. I took a quick trip to the soup kitchen for breakfast, and then found myself a chunk of street to beg from. I guess I was expecting it to be easy. I mean, how difficult is it to ask someone for some spare change? I don't think I've ever actually felt worse about anything in my life. Imagine if you will walking up to every person you see all day and starting every conversation with, "I'm a pathetic, unfortunate sack of shit that can't afford to pay his own way through life. I'm probably addicted to drugs or drinking gasoline, and if it were night time, I would probably have a knife to your throat for your purse." Until you've done that, you can't imagine what it was like for me. That was the lesson of humility.

Contempt came later that day, as I got more and more accustomed to the feelings I was going through. I felt like I was putting my heart and my humanity in my hand every time I stretched it out and asked for change. Every single person who pretended not to hear, that looked at me like I wasn't human, told me where a soup kitchen was, or told me they didn't have any money in their Armani suit took a little chunk out of my hand with them. I learned to hate them, and they were almost everyone. Granted, there were a few people who would apologize and say that they couldn't help me, and there were plenty that gave, but there were so many more who just didn't want to notice me. I found within my heart an overwhelming disgust and loathing for those people, which really is just the only way that a person can handle the sort of rejection that you feel. Without that contempt, I would have never been able to do the things I have to now.

That night was terrible. I didn't have Li to talk to, which felt pretty terrible given the short relationship we had. I had quite a bit of money in my pocket, but I had a whole lot of pain in my heart from having to do what I did to get that money. Fortunately, I soon met a new girl who showed me just how to deal with both having money and pain in one fell swoop.

Shell wasn't really all that attractive, but there was an incredible aura of sexiness that surrounded her that I don't know if I can define. She was short, a little bit on the pudgy side without being really fat, and had a face that was more masculine than feminine. Nonetheless, she had a quality about her that made her incredibly desirable. It was in her walk, in her smile, and on her face when she slept. I don't think I can really explain it better than that, except to remind you of that friend you had so long ago who was really not that attractive, but as you got to know her, you started to fall in love with her just because of who she was. The longer you knew her, the better looking she seemed. I guess it was sort of like that.

Shell found me just sort of sitting outside this lousy restaurant nursing a coffee. I'd met her briefly with Li, and hadn't really had the chance to talk to her at the time. This time, however, she just sort of sat down next to me and started talking about her day like I had known her for years. She had this sort of blanket honesty about her where you always knew what she was thinking, and she treated everyone that way. It was a real benefit for her, because it made it nearly impossible to lie to her. She bought herself a coffee and we started talking. I don't even know how much time had passed, but pretty soon I knew that I wanted to go home with her, whatever home might be.

Finally, she got up, paid for our coffees, took my hand, and led me on a really long walk to her place. Along the way we talked about my day. She was really kind and told me all about how it was normal to feel the way I did, and how she survived her first week by having to have sex with this really nasty native guy who used to beat her up. She left him when he tried to make her whore for him, and fortunately she had made enough friends that he couldn't do anything about her leaving. Have you ever known someone and everything just sort of seemed right and made sense? That was how it felt that day with Shell. She was everything that Li wasn't, but that was all right.
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