Unbelievably, I had survived almost four days without food. Despite the pride of a man fervently pulsing within my chest, I only had one source of food out here on these streets. My only option for surviving was to scavenge through the scattered garbage bins of the slums. I had to suck it up, and just do it. I had to find a meal in much the same way a stray cat had to. But repulsively, the garbage dumpsters provided little to eat, and no matter how much willpower I put into forcing myself to eat the shit inside there, I vomited most of the scum before it was halfway down my throat. I kept telling myself with stubborn growls, "If you don't eat this, you will die! Now eat!!!" but I could not convince the opposing reflexes of my body to do as I said.
I realize now that the opposing force which I came to loathe was telling me something in defiance. It was saying, "Real food will come soon. Wait, be patient, save your energy." I was too deaf with hunger to hear it's calming words. Inside, I was constantly in a state of panic and fear. I had never lived out on the streets, I was no beggar. This was not the lifestyle I was used to. I couldn't adapt properly. I couldn't cope emotionally. Not after all I had lost. Eventually I gave up eating from the dumpsters and decided to move on through the alleys, weakly dragging myself along at night and resting in little nooks I was lucky to find in daylight.
Gangs were a frequent threat, but that was no surprise. They infested this city like ants. There were a couple of incidents on those first two hellish nights where I was almost beat to death for money, and left in a pathetic heap of bleeding flesh in a corner of an alley after I was searched of anything valuable. I was thankful for my wounds. They provided me with something to take my mind off my inner anger. Healing was my specialty. Healing was something that I had always been at ease whilst doing. My father encouraged me to become a surgeon when I was invited into Gotham University. Unfortunately, I turned my head and stupidly went down the path of a soldier.
My wounds healed. I had experienced much worse. Although I was not prepared for the agony of starvation. On the fourth night on the streets, just as the gaping, aching, starving, empty hole within my stomach began to collapse and erode my physical body from within, I saw a light flicker on a little ways down the current alley I was huddled in. The light illuminated the wooden rain-washed sign of a restaurant. A restaurant. A restaurant!!! Thank you, Father in Heaven!
I sat up with shaky, bruised, dirty arms and pulled myself to a stand, gripping the fire hydrant beside me and leaning on it as I looked up to the light of salvation. I prayed that they would help me, clean me up, feed me! I begged to God that this little restaurant was going to save my pitiful life.
I pressed up to the door and smelled a faint scent of bread from within. Bread, oh how my heart pulsed with love! I called in a hoarse voice and weakly knocked on the faded blue door. I wasn't met with an answer immediately. I kept trying, and after ten minutes, I still didn't give up. I was going to die trying to live. Even when my legs had given up on trying to support my weight and I was on my knees, lying against the door, I called and coughed and scraped my gritty nails on the door. I wasn't giving up. Eventually someone would hear me, right? The light wouldn't have turned on if someone wasn't inside.
Speak of the devil. The orange light above me disappeared without a sound. I stared up at the dark bulb, a flimsy metal wire holding it to the side of the building. I was in shock. How could it just turn off!? Without any reason to turn off, why would that little bastard just click off like it was the most casual gesture in the world!? I hated that light with a fiery vengeance. The sign next to it was no longer illuminated, but it was still readable, even through all the streaks of aged paint that had been pulled down and distorted by rain.
"Harvest Gomell's Inn and..." The last word was faded out, but it was unimportant. The words below it, however is what interested me the most. "Serving since 1958, from the--" The writing was suddenly painted over with red lettering, not necessarily vandalism or graffiti. It was official lettering, but colored red so it caught your attention. "CLOSED"
Closed? Closed? The hell!? I grimaced in agony. Was the light an illusion in my head? Like a mirage of an oasis in a desert!? It couldn't be! No, no it was real, I know it was! "Clo...closed...?" I whispered with a burning throat. At that moment the door opened with a harsh swing and I collapsed halfway inside the door with a startled gasp. Okay...not closed. That was a good thing. Right?
A pair of black boots were in front of my nose. They were feminine. My hopes escalated as I rolled onto my back, looking up at the woman who would save my life. The boots stretched up over the knees of black tights crafted from some heavy, leather-looking fabric for durability. A red corset enclosed her torso, holding her chest in a subtle heart shape. Her face was painted and her pigtails were stained with red and black dye.
My heart leapt into my throat, dying to pop out of my mouth and run for it's life. I had fallen into the midst of Gotham's most dangerous woman. Harley Quinn. Joker's girlfriend.
"Well look what the cat dragged in." She muttered, kneeling down beside me with curiosity. My muscles failed to execute my will to get up and retreat from this doorway of hell. With her childish face closer to my weary eyes, I could see the bolded paint clearer. A red smile curved slightly from the corners of her lips, as thin as thread, appearing like a finely carved paper cut. Her eyes were framed by dark grey diamonds, not as pitch as her boyfriend's eye decor. A blush of pink was blossomed on her snow-white cheeks, and her sky-blue eyes seemed to be perfectly saturated and Photoshopped with the brilliance of a sapphire stone as they darted over my body, witnessing my sorry state.
"What's a fella like you doing out here?" She lifted my arm by pinching my tattered sleeve, examining its weakness and letting it drop limply to the ground. The collision with the concrete ground sent pulses of electricity through my arm, an inner protest at being so roughly handled in this feeble state. At that point, I faced the facts and gave up on trying to salvage my life and better my body's condition. It didn't matter now. Even if I was as healthy as a horse, this crazy bitch would slaughter me. "...Starving to death." I whispered carelessly.
She grinned, humored. "Starving to death?" She repeated with a small snort of a laugh. "Sure seems like it, Twiggers!" Her finger poked my ribs, like a little kid poking the rotting carcass of a cat on the side of the road. I closed my eyes as my searing headache strengthened into a dull numbness throughout my whole body. I just couldn't go on breathing anymore. It was too painful, and too pointless.
Mia... I love you. I'm sorry I failed you. I'm sorry I could not save you.