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Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/2204180-Ironic-Despair
Rated: 13+ · Short Story · Mystery · #2204180
A vagrant sees the light of day from within the darkness of his irony.
Today was the day. He was going to do it this time. He never understood the phrase ‘enough is enough’ until today. He lies on his back in a soggy cardboard box, scanning his thoughts as he contemplated this kind of lifestyle. There was no way he was going to suffer any longer. His worries now consisted of thinking about whether or not he should take any of his belongings, what very little there were. He assumed he wouldn’t need them where he was going, any-damn-way. Exhaling loudly through his nose, he struggled to crawl out of the container. Blissful thoughts of no longer being poor, no more begging on the street, or scavenging a stranger’s barn for bits of grain the farm animals may have overlooked. (It was an anomaly if it did happen). No, today, he would bury his woes head-first into the Earth, throwing himself from a cliff and plummetting directly down through the gates of Hell. Hell was something that worried him before, but no longer.

Reaching his destination would be arduous, as he would have to walk. With his furry companion lagging, they traversed by foot through the concrete jungle that was the city. Stomach rumbling, his tired body, shivered from the brisk evening mist. His pace became slower as he grabbed his grumbling midsection in an attempt to ease the pain. As he hiked through the dark streets of the city, he heard a bell chime only a few seconds before a bicycle whizzed right by him, pushing him out of the way and down to the ground; a little terrier who was his company began yapping incessantly. Suddenly, the bicyclist slammed on the brakes and turned back toward him. He fumbled to gain a sure foot, but panic set in as the rider got closer and at an increasingly fast rate. As the psycho on the bike came towards him, the little dog turned tail and ran away as far as he could. Distracted by his little friend disappearing forever, he was not prepared for the sharp pain accompanied by the breaking of several bones in his left hand that had just occurred. The stranger on that bicycle had assaulted him.

White light was all he could see for several moments. When his vision finally returned, the crazy idiot on the bike had disappeared. The excruciating pain in his hand had not, however. Screaming out, he burst into tears, staring at his wounded and now bloody hand. Thinking to himself, he decided that the end had to be today; his lack of insurance and overall appearance would guarantee rejection at any local clinics. He began walking again, alone now and stumbling from starvation and shock. He looked up ahead and kept his mind on the task at hand. He wasn’t too far from his final destination, he thought, and soon it would all be over.

Hobbling down the street, he clutched his intensely throbbing and broken hand, passing by a late-night convenience store.

A dim light shone through dirty glass windows. The homeless man turned towards the door, taking a long pause before opening it. A foul and powerful, musty odor, that smelled worse than him on a good day, wafted into his nostrils as he made his way inside. He wondered why he had even come in here. What was the point if he couldn’t afford anything? Maybe it was just to get out of the cold, he thought. The cashier eyed him carefully as he made his way down the aisles. Everything looked delicious, and it was all so inviting as if it was calling his name. Deciding that he had nothing to lose, he slipped a bag of chips into his pants.
Immediately the cashier barked at him.
“Hey, asshole, what the hell do you think you’re doing?”
The cashier pulled a shotgun from under the counter, cocking and pointing it directly at the poor gentleman, who, despite the throbbing sensation in his hand, was now terrified. Slowly the vagrant put his hands in the air, locking eyes with the cashier, revealing the pain behind lifeless his eyes. A bead of sweat dripped from the cashier's forehead, and he breathed slowly as seconds began to feel like hours, sweeping away any feelings of pity or mercy from his mind. At that moment, a man charged in wearing an old rubber batman mask from the early ’90s, wielding a .45 caliber pistol. The cashier had no time to react before the gunman fired two shots at him. The first bullet missed, embedding itself into a pack of Kools cigarettes. The other had gone clean through his skull. The vagrant held his breath, pondering as he watched. It seemed as though it had never occurred to the gunman as to why the cashier had already been pointing a gun before he even entered the store.

Hiding behind a shelf and observing without a blink, the beggar's eyes followed the gunman, witnessing him rush behind the counter, stepping over the dead cashier and the pool of blood oozing from his bullet wound in his head. Magically, a crowbar materialized from the gunman's pants, which he used to pry open the register as if it were a treasure chest, hoarding all the bills inside. He gave a quick glimpse behind his right shoulder, then grabbed the only pack of Kools that had a large bullet jammed in it. Just as quickly as the gunman had entered, he tore through the doorway and faded into the shadows. Unbroken silence lingered only for a moment before the tramp began stuffing as much food as he could, along with a bottle of potent aspirin and a fifth of whiskey, into the pockets of his ragged clothing. Very faintly, he thought he heard that chime of that bicycle again, then considered for a moment the irony as well as the possibility that the man who hurt him may have just saved him. Only a few seconds had passed before he brushed the thought away as he left the store and started down the street, now walking the opposite direction of the cliff and back to his spongy cardboard box.
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