The Other

An ancient man just barely stands on the corner of a street. He wears a red checkered picnic table like shirt while a cane dangles from his arm. Standing like a withered wingless pelican, knees bent peculiarly. His facial expression makes him look inexplicably satisfied even though walking is no longer an option for the man.

This man is wearing boots made of human flesh, scarred deeply, reminiscent of a shrapnel victim. The not too faded tattoo on his forearm implies that he is a relic of the last world war.

Beside his soft but vacant eyes lie large brown birth marks which match his many liver spots. His wispy gray hair falls down to the checkered collar.

This man is waiting to die on this corner. An anonymous man, on a named corner. Leaning back, as if forced into a perpetual limbo contest. Using all of the strength he has left just trying to stand.

In the span of ten minutes he is able to shuffle about three feet in order to lean against a trash can.

A young man sits on a concrete slab just a few feet away and observes all of this, methodically sketching figures and settings. The young man has a cigarette sticking out of his mouth, he is constantly looking up and down, drawing. Another man, middle aged, walks up to the artist and asks if he has a cigarette for sale. The young one doesn’t say anything, but pulls out a pack while keeping an eye on the ancient man.

“How much?”

“Fifty cents.”

The former’s long yellow finger nails poke at the latter’s outstretched palm as they make the exchange. The middle aged man trots away, stops, looks at the disintegrating figure, and says “old man” in a deadpan, meaningless way.

The situation reverts back to how it was ten minutes before with the artist watching the old man unaware of any other pedestrian’s presence.

All of a sudden a woman takes the old man by the hand with lightning speed, intertwining fingers and all. She leads a bulldog by a leash, and they all make it for the stoplight in order to cross the busy street.

And yet they remain there for hours. The artist does not lose interest, but leaves eventually. The stoplights blink by at light speed.

There is the angel clad in pink polyester. She is accompanied by a fat little slobbering cherub. They hover by the ancient man, he looks up and smiles. This is the first time he has noticed another being’s presence since his day began.

When the streets are vacant they venture into the darkness.

4 replies on “The Other”

Yes, they can be interpreted as surrealist, or as metaphorical. It’s the first “short story” I’ve written in awhile, even though it hasn’t much in a sense of plot besides literal movement and death.

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