Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Nick - A Cold Gust Of Futility

I was sitting underneath the bridge on the North side when I found it. I was drinking a half-empty flask of gin I had found in a dumpster when it came flying off the overpass, hurtling through the cold winter air.

It fell to the ground in front of me with a beautiful 'thunk'. Its metal casing gleamed in the sun. It was calling to me. The greatest opportunity a desperate, angry, and drunk homeless man could ever hope for. This was my moment.

It was a gun.

I walked over to it and picked it up. The cold steel felt somehow reassuring in my hand. I tried to check the ammunition, but I couldn't figure out how. I don't know much about guns. Probably somebody used it in a murder and tossed it off the overpass to hide the evidence. And now it was all mine.

A cheerful spring in my step, I stuffed it into my pants pocket and walked out onto the downtown streets, passing the other homeless on my way out. I briefly surveyed the crowd. I didn't exactly like any of them, but I had no hatred for them either. I expected that I can take out one person before the cops come or I run out of ammo, assuming I have any. No, my one chance would be wasted here. I have to take as much evil out of the world as I can. I look for other targets.

In front of me on the sidewalk is a businessman on his cell phone. He was wearing a nice suit; it probably cost more than I've ever owned at one time. He's talking away on his cell phone, something about cost efficiency of hiring a second editor.

Is he the one? I run my hand absent-mindedly over the weapon in my pocket. He finishes his call, and slows his walking pace. He heaves a heavy sigh, and for a brief moment the pain in his heart shines through his eyes.

No; he is not one.

My stomach is queasy from the gin; I stumble into a diner to sit down. The waitress is cheerful and polite. She asks if there is anything she can get me, but I can see that she detests the way I look and the way I smell. She thinks that I'm useless, that just because I don't have a home I also don't have a soul.

My hand instinctively reaches into my pocket again; could she be the one? Surely she's done something to deserve it. Her mere contempt for me and my situation should earn her this, at least.

I say nothing to her, but her cheerful demeanor doesn't break. She waits through my silence and then tells me to let her know if she can get me anything.

She isn't the one, either.

Somewhere out there, somebody deserves this. I have to make it count. I have to take as much evil out of the world as I can.

I walk out of the diner, and down a couple of blocks to the capitol building, where a politician (I do not know his title) is giving a speech outside, in front of a crowd of maybe a hundred people. He talks about the destruction of our neighborhoods; he says that the expansion of the homeless are ruining property value on the North side. He talks about the need for more homeless shelters.

The way he speaks makes me enraged. He wants to tuck me away in a shelter; to pretend that I don't exist. He is the one.

My dizziness escalating, I begin to push my way through the crowd to him. I push over a young journalist, I shove past a middle-aged woman, and I push over a little boy in my haste to break through the crowd.

For some reason, I turn back and happen to make eye contact with the boy. His eyes are full of tears because I have pushed him, and full of fear because of my appearance. We stare at each other for a second, and I realize: to him, I am the one. I am the worst possible person. I stop and think to myself.

I have to take as much evil out of the world as I can.

I stumble back out of the crowd, and mumble an apology to the boy. (The first thing I've said aloud all day.) I walk back to the overpass where I found the gun. I point it at myself, and pull the trigger.

It turns out there were never any bullets in it.



  1. Awesome ending, but I urge you to reassess your gun's ability to hurdle.

  2. (that was aimed at Robert's comment, obviously)

  3. I now know the difference between "hurdle" and "hurtle," and it's all Robert's fault.