Scavengers by Tyler King

You see? They’re always watching and always listening, just out of the corner of your eye, hungrily waiting for some stray quirk to fall off your body like sloughed-off dead skin.

They are solitary scavengers.

Your favorite café you go to on Sundays before church? The park where you walk your dog? The lobby of the hotel you stayed at during your honeymoon in Maui? They’re everywhere.

One heard you tell your best friend about your problems with intimacy. One saw you pick out a color for the baby’s bedroom. One even took your tall caramel macchiato when you weren’t looking.

"india calcutta scavengers" (photo by Flickr user Carl Parkes)

They love taking things. They’ll snatch the hair right off your head if you’re not careful. You’re not alone either; one of them might sit in that café (they love cafés) for hours, hoarding hair and eye colors and twitches and shoes and obsessively-pressed shirts and tattoos and patched jeans and the way you say, “I’m leaving you.” Then they scurry back to their poorly-lit nests and pour out the contents onto a desk, spending hours smacking their lips and arranging their treasures into some ungodly chimera, bastardizing behaviors and feelings in the search for something “real” or “natural.”

Most of them remain hidden, performing these rites of collection and collage in secret. Your very own friends and family could be practitioners! But don’t panic; a single question will reveal these demons for what they really are.

Are they writers?

Tyler King is currently working toward his BA in English at Whitman College. His work has been published in The Binnacle, the December 2009 and 2010 issues of Quarterlife, and featured online at and More of his writing can be found at (where he is a member and frequent contributor) or on his blog: