Sunday, December 1, 2013

Just Cold

by Mickey Hunt
     When the doorbell rang, Mr. Reynolds went to answer. The young man on the front steps popped open a beer can he had pulled from his ragged, oversized coat. “Are you on the wagon?” he asked, and offered Mr. Reynolds the first slug.
     “Lee,” Mrs. Reynolds called from behind her husband. “It’s freezing outside. The chowder? The children are hungry.”
     “We’re sitting down for supper,” Mr. Reynolds said to the boy. “What, what’s your name?”
     “Jeffrey. I’ve got some peanuts. Give them to your kids.” He set the beer down and fumbled at his coat. “That’s a nice manger scene in your yard. It’s like real.”

"Just Cold" (1000 words) has been accepted for a December, 2016 release by an online magazine with an improbable name.

The story of the real Jeffrey (as shown on a WLOS Television News story).

UPDATE 10/24/16: Read "Just Cold" HERE.


  1. The nativity scene in the photo inspired the setting for the story. This display was in my neighborhood.

  2. I now have a longer version that I submitted for a newspaper contest. It contains an additional 170 words that give a longer introduction and set the scene more.

  3. I gave away about a dozen copies on Christmas Eve last year (2014) on a street corner and was offered $30 total by several people, only $10 of which I kept. Some I gave to a homeless woman.

  4. I enjoyed 'Homesick' immensely and hope to read more stories asap. Best wishes Mr. Hunt! Susan

  5. I wrote this on Facebook on November 21, 2012: Three Saturday mornings ago I was outside the abortion place in Asheville as usual, appealing to moms to let their children live. A dozen of us were there. A young homeless man was there also, talking with everyone. Eventually the only two people left on the sidewalk were me and the young man. Initially I felt trapped because I wanted to leave, but the young man wanted to talk—he just wanted company. So, I stayed. I learned something of his background, his history, his troubles. An Asheville doctor let him live in his house once for a while. The young man was always losing things, but he said they were stolen. He was a little manic and held a large can of beer. We attended to the birds around us—we thought we saw a hawk but when I got out my binoculars, it was only a blue jay. He told me that he had been in a psych ward in southern California. When I said that the food in the Buncombe jail was bad, he said it was good. He was a bright and sensitive person and I told him so. He thanked me and asked why I thought that. I said, “Your vocabulary, your interests.” I said, “I don’t know what I’d do in your circumstances” but told him to find a purpose for his life and that would help him be disciplined. After an hour it was time for me to go. I thought that was all I could give him, an hour of companionship. I invited him to come back the following week, but he didn’t show. This morning I read in the paper that his body was found on Friday behind an abandoned building in Asheville. Jeffrey Reynolds, age 23. Police are investigating.