I could hear Arnie rustling under the dashboard, and I hoped he’d be starting the car. He touched the wires together, the car groaned ominously then roared to life. Thank God! Soon we’d have some heat again. I wasn’t going to freeze to death tonight. The old Pontiac had no transmission, so we weren’t about to go anywhere, but it had a roof, doors, windows and an engine that still ran. It was a sometimes-home for the five of us. It would keep us alive until the malls, libraries and public buildings opened for the day.

Arnie and Duff were in the front seats. In the backseat, it was all girls, I was squeezed between my mom and an old drunk named Winnie. I called her Winnie the Poo privately to my mom because that’s what she smelled like, poo! Speaking of stink, whenever someone farted in the car it was awful because opening windows for air meant we’d have to choose between food and gas the next day. Farts got groans of complaint but not opened windows.

I guess there’s no such thing as comfort for people who are homeless. Mom lets me lean into her, but Winnie kicks me if I touch her at all. I don’t know why we let her stay with us. She ruined our last car by just peeing where she sat. I hope she doesn’t ruin this car. I hope we can live in Pontiac for awhile.

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