It was a cold and snowy eve: certainly no night for a man without a home to be walking these grey and endless streets.
Inside the pizza parlor, George Reed spun a lively tun on his harmonica. The local children giggled and pointed excitedly at the "harmonica man" as their parents glowed with approval.
His reward would be all the pizza he could eat - six pies, at least and a warm bed in one of these folks' homes. He knew they were good for it.
But when he tucked in for the night, George had not had his fill.
As the years and calories stacked up, most men would have gotten older and fatter. Yet for all he consumed, George only got thinner as he washed from town to town.
Tonight he plied his trade with some grannies and orderlies in a nursing home. Hooveewaaah! His harmonica filled the room with joy.
After devouring three helpings of pork chops and mashed potatoes, he eyed the plate of the old woman next to him. Juice dribbled down his chin.
"Go ahead, Georgie," she said.
"You're such a good boy; you shouldn't have to starve."
But George had not had his fill.
Early the next morning, he was already on the freeway with his thumb in the air.
"Where ya headed?" said the man in the truck.
"Nowhere," said George.
It was a new decade, and tonight George played to an all-but-empty bar in the city. He had lost a lot of weight.
Afterwards, the only woman in the joint took the stool next to him and asked him his name.
The bartender leaned over the counter. "You don't know this guy, Mary? George is famous. Been all over the Tri-State area."
With a wink, he added, "Man's insatiable."
And that night, George proved it as he buried his face in Mary's beaver.
"Play that harmonica," she purred. but even after five trips to heaven and back, he had not had his fill.
The morning after was an awkward affair, as they stared at each other over coffee. One wanted to feel more; the other just wanted to feel.
In his final days, George was all skin and bones.
His... last meal had been a mistake.
It was on a sidewalk one night in a small suburban town that he came across the boy. Hungrily, and with an agonized grimace, he opened his mouth to beg for help.
Hooveewaaah! Ooveezah! Out came a cacophony of wheezes and toots. But the boy understood.
Once he was alone, George Reed looked at the candy bar he held in one hand, and began to cry. Hoo... Hoo...
They found George's half-eaten body in a market the next town over.
In one hand he held a knife; in the other, a fork. Chunks of flesh had been torn from his chest and his arms... Blood framed an eerie smile.
The wind that morning blew fierce, and as it whistled through the hole he'd carved out of his own neck, the harmonica man played his last song in this world.
There were gawkers, and many knew him. They shared stories of how he had filled them with hope, filled them with life. They, at least, had had their fill.