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Rated: E · Short Story · Relationship · #2141805
A young man poses a question that would revolutionize negative online interactions.
Keith worked six-hour days as a financial advisor;
Larry worked twelve-hour days as a stonecutter.

Keith, 28, had a girlfriend and a dog;
Larry, 43, had a wife, an ex-wife, a teenage girl and a baby boy. And he called pets “pests”.

Keith liked to smoke cigars;
Larry liked to smoke meat.

Keith suffered from anxiety as he constantly analyzed his actions and motives, as well as those of the people around him;
Larry took less into consideration and simply lived care-free in the moment.

Keith didn’t know if God existed, but he prayed when he needed something just in case;
Larry preached atheism devoutly.

Keith leaned left politically, though he refrained from voting because he detested both parties;
Larry was staunchly as conservative as they came.

Keith boasted an IQ of one-hundred-and-eighty and could solve complex calculus and physics problems without pen, paper, or calculator;
Larry, whose IQ barely squeaked over one hundred, tried to compensate for his intellectual deficit with his incredible memory for detail and his subsequent knowledge of facts and opinions alike.

Keith enjoyed the river of civil discussion;
Larry, however, wallowed in the mire of argument.

Keith cared deeply about Larry even though the two had only crossed paths briefly in their high school days, and the remainder of the friendship, if you could call it that, was built on news feeds and online forums;
Larry, on the other hand, thought little of their interactions and was openly critical of Keith because they disagreed on various issues.

In fact, seldom did the two agree on anything.

Larry every so often sarcastically mocked Keith and questioned his intelligence and morality due to certain positions that Keith upheld. Consequently, Keith would avoid responding to him. Larry read that as a sign that his claims were somehow more valid than Keith’s, therefore formulating a belief that Keith wasn’t really as smart or good as he proclaimed to be.

Despite not having seen his virtual assailant’s face for more than a decade, Keith surely recognized the smugness in Larry’s visage and decided that he had a choice to make: should he sever ties with Larry and leave him alone to deride other, less capable victims in similar fashion? Or should he discover what made Larry so cynical and attack the belligerent beast in its very lair?

And “attack” is the perfect word for what Keith’s question seemed to Larry. Never before had a question screamed so loudly at his eyes, for it explicitly suggested that Larry’s debates and logical traps didn’t even matter. Could he have been wrong? Perhaps there was more to life than being right or “winning” arguments on the Internet. Perhaps his incessant degradation of others had in reality halted the development of his own self-esteem more that it had hindered the well-being of his intended targets, though the damage he inflicted on others was great and terrible. Perhaps there was a path out of the stony prison holding him behind his fragile facade, and a way to breach the spiny armor of his delicate, hunger-wearied soul…

“Larry, when was the last time someone was kind to you?”
© Copyright 2017 Lisztgrieg (lisztgrieg at Writing.Com). All rights reserved.
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Printed from https://www.Writing.Com/view/2141805