Excerpt from my book, ‘Fragments of Fear, Collection‘.
“Spare change mister? Got a quarter ma’am? Hey kid, gimme
No one pays attention. Not even a glance in his direction.
Occasionally someone drops a coin or two, more out of habit than wanting to help. He is one of the invisible. They hide in plain sight. No one knows their name, and no one cares. They are an inconvenience at best.
He walks out of the terminal after a day of begging and vanishes. No one notices because they didn’t see him in the first place. He walks down a filthy alleyway and stops at a graffiti covered door. He opens it into an immaculate room in contrast to the alley and quickly closes the door. It is a room that only ‘they’ know about.
“How was your day?” he is greeted.
“Successful!” is his somewhat surprising response. He holds out his hand to show $1.55 in coins.
“That’s wonderful,” the other says sincerely.
He closes his eyes, grips the money tight, and speaks so low it’s almost inaudible. Yet some of the words can be heard through the fervent whispers. “Bless”, “Help”, “Protect”, “Giver”, are a few. His counterpart also closes his eyes and whispers. When they are done, they end with a single word.
He opens his hand, and the money is glowing, as though it is made of light. The other smiles at him as he gently even reverently places the glowing coins into a large bowl that is full of glowing coins.
“Come,” the other said. “We have much to do.”
Hector Jimenez has stood in the same spot every day for the last five years, waiting for the bus. It’s become such a habit that it’s a comfort thing now, just part of his daily routine. If he isn’t in that spot when the bus comes, he just doesn’t feel right. He’s been the same for five years. Same wife, same job, same kids, the sameness is both a blessing and a curse. He wants to try something different.
There have been attractive women on the bus for five years, but he’s always ignored them. He’s happy at home. Lately, the women seem to be much more attractive, and he’s starting to notice. He’s slowly making his way closer to a gorgeous blonde when some Jamaican, Rastafarian, wannabe steps in between them. He has the multi colored hat, and dreadlocks, complete with lice that Hector could see. He doesn’t seem to care much for personal hygiene either.
This is the first time in five years that Hector is tempted to move from his spot. Instead, he takes a step back and reads his newspaper, trying to ignore him. In fact, he’s so involved in reading his paper that he doesn’t see the out of control car, careening toward the bus stop. The other people scatter, but Hector is a split second too late. As realization dawns on him, he tries to get out of the way but knows it’s futile, the car is mere feet from him. Suddenly, he feels a strong hand push him clear of the careening car. He lands on the sidewalk several feet away. The car strikes a building and stops its unintentional rampage. Lots of damage is done, but it seems that no one is hurt, except …
Hector looks back to where he had just been standing and there lays the Jamaican wannabe, his unmoving body was twisted and bleeding. Five people already had their cell phones out, calling 911. An ambulance arrives in seven minutes, and the Jamaican is taken away. Hector tries to say something, tries to thank him, but he‘s unconscious. Hector watches as the ambulance speeds away, he doesn’t know that it will not arrive at any hospital.
Several blocks over from where Hector is reevaluating his life stands fifteen-year-old Alan Decker. Alan isn’t a bad kid or a stupid kid, he just isn’t very popular. He fell in with some kids that took advantage of him, but he allowed it because he wanted to belong. Now here he is, standing in the corner store on 23rd street, trying to build up the nerve to rob the place, about to make the worst mistake of his young life. He doesn’t need the money, (not that he’ll get much here anyway). He isn’t interested in the thrill of it, (he’s nearly peeing his pants in fear now). So why is he doing this? Because his so-called friends dared him to.
They gave him a gun and sent him off to the store. He walks toward the register, knowing if he doesn’t do this now, he might not build up the nerve at all. Just before he gets to the counter, a man in a ski mask runs in, points a gun at the clerk, and screams, “Money! Now!” Alan stops short. The robber turns and looks at him.
“What are you doing? Get on the floor!”
When the robber turns back, he’s looking down the barrel of a sawed off shotgun. He tries to pull his gun up first but is too slow. The shotgun goes off, unloading both barrels of buckshot into the robber’s chest, and throwing him backward. The robber lands in a bloody heap, right beside Alan. He watches as the life fades from the man’s eyes. The ambulance driver doesn’t bother with CPR, it’s already too late. Alan watches the EMT cover the robber’s face and load him in the ambulance, knowing full well that it could be his face being covered right now. He throws the gun in the river, and never talks to those ‘friends’ again. The ambulance drives by, reminding him that he has made the right decision. This ambulance, also, never reaches any hospital.
A little while later the Jamaican and the robber quietly sneak into the same, well-kept room they left that very morning. Their bodies begin to glow so brightly as to blind anyone who might happen across them. When the glow faded, the two are once again dressed as beggars.
They smile at each other, and close the door behind them, on their way back to the terminal.
As the woman finished the story, she noticed the conductor did not seem happy. In fact, he seemed downright irritated.
“Whatever is wrong?” she said. “Didn’t you like the story?”
The conductor turned slowly and glared at her with a fire of rage in his eyes. His look chilled her to the bone. Then suddenly, he seemed to regain his composure.
“My apologies,” he said. “Your story was … nice. It just reminded me of a time when someone took something from me.”
“Oh dear,” she said. “I didn’t mean to upset you.”
His face softened, and he smiled in spite of himself.
“Dear soul,” he said. “No need to fret. Thank you for being willing to tell me your story.”
Then he quickly moved on to the other passengers.