“Got any change ma’am?” The grubby hand went out, the woman dressed in the pinstriped business suit recoiled away in horror.
“Get a job you freak!” Joe Guggins sighed as the well dressed woman stalked away, casting a scorchingly dark look in his direction as parts of
her lunch fell to the ground, being trampled by the masses passing Joe.
So it had been for four long years now. Every day he sat here on this corner, begging for loose change, just for something to eat. He wasn’t a
drunk, was nor a junkie, like many others that found themselves on the streets, but struggled to maintain himself.
It hadn’t always been this way. Once he had been at the top of his game, a corporate hotshot, wife, kids, two storey mansion, sports cars in the
drive way, a weekend home in the hills. Then the government shut him down. All because of an imbezzling crook of an employee. He lost everything.
First the business. Then the home and all his possessions. Finally his wife walked out, taking his children with her. Depression hit hard, and the
stress of trying to maintain his life took everything, including most of his sanity. Six months later, he was destitute and living in an abandoned
warehouse, shivering against the cold of the winters, sweltering in the heat of the summers, drowning in the wet of the springs. Days melded into
weeks, then months, then finally years.
Somewhere in there he had lost the use of one of his eyes also, after a drug-crazed junkie had attacked him over a turf dispute. The
meds had patched him up as best they could, but as some homeless street urchin with no money and no insurance, the scar that was once his eye socket
was malformed and hideous to behold, giving him an even more decrepit look along with the nickname “One Eye” Guggins. Had he been anyone else he
may have worn the name with pride, but all it did was add to his sense of hopelessness, not to mention giving him a repulsiveness the general public
could not see past.
This eve the clouds passed quick and menacing across the sky, Joe gave up his corner to the masses now passing him in a mad rush to return to their
homes before the approaching storms washed this world with their fury. Seeking the shelter of a nearby alleyway, Joe found the limited protection of
an awning as the heavens opened up, the old man buried his face in his hands as he contemplated both his past and now his future. Was this it for him?
A hopeless case, another lost person slipped between the cracks of the world, left to die with nothing to mourn his passing? As he sat, getting quite
wet despite the cover, he pondered what it would be like if he alone ruled over this world. A small smile played over his lips. There’d be a lot of
dead people, he mused. Especially the government beaurecrats who shut him down. Especially the embezzling fraud who caused him this misery. His hands
closed into fists as he shook with rage at the injustice of the world, a world that would allow one of it’s brightest sparks to wither and die,
while those who rort the system time and time again lived upon high, never being judged for their crimes. Yes, if I ruled the world, things would be
different. Very, very different.
“Would seem you have a bit on your mind friend.” The voice, smooth and quiet startled Joe. Nobody had been there moments ago. Slowly he turned,
the stranger regarding him with kind grey eyes. He looked like a typical white-collar worker, a long beige trench coat draped over his loose white
shirt and black tie. A salt-and-pepper grey goatee rounded his face, his black hair streaked with steel grey. Joe noticed his shoes by comparison were
highly polished. Comfortably perched next to him atop a stack of boxes, the man turned to him with a smile.
“Take this my friend,” the stranger offered, holding out a plastic bag with what loked like a generously filled sandwich. In his other hand a
steaming cup of coffee was held forth. Joe looked at the offer with silenced awe, waiting for the punch line.
“No catch,” the stranger offered, seemingly reading his thoughts, “I decided I didn’t want this. Don’t consider it a charity friend,
consider it an offer of friendship.”
Slowly Joe took the hot coffee and the fresh sandwich in his unwashed hands. They both smelled so good, like a gift from God himself. Joe muttered a
thankyou before sinking his teeth into the sandwich. Never had he tasted anything so good.
“Quite an evening,” the stranger commented, as Joe wolfed down the sandwich, drinking the coffee with one long gulp. He nodded, wiping the last
of the crumbs from his unkempt beard with a satisfaction he had never known.
“Wet,” Joe managed. The stranger smiled again, a warm feeling came over Joe.
“See here’s the thing friend,” the stranger pressed on, “The food and drink I have just gifted to you has made you feel like a King, yes?”
Joe nodded in reply.
“When we are starving to death, whether it be literally or metaphorically, even the simplest feast can turn the lowliest pauper into the greatest
king. Such is the human condition.”
“I was just thinking,” Joe offered, “that if I was ruler, things would be different.”
“How so?” the stranger asked.
“Well. What if all were equal? What if all men and women, child and adult, old and young were struck equal? You survived by your wits alone, none
of this inside track crap.”
“What about you? How would you fare in such a world?” Joe snorted a sarcastic laugh.
“I have sunk about as low as I could in this world. I fail to see how I could be any worse given they,” he motioned to the huddled masses
travesing the streets, “were to be suddenly equal to me.”
“But what of the good in the world?” the stranger asked, “surely there must be some reward?” Again Joe snorted.
“The only reward is this,” he spread his arms to the filthy alley he called home, “there is no pot of gold. Surely you can see that.” The
stranger seemed to contemplate this for several moments, stroking his goatee thoughtfully.
“Very well Joe Guggins. From this day all shall be equal to you. You shall be their Ruler.” Joe did a double-take as he realised this stranger
knew his name. It was too late to reply as he realised the stranger was gone, too late did he realise the whole time they had talked not a single drop
of rain had fallen upon the mysterious stranger. Joe stood, feeling a sense of strangeness.
Then, like the renting of air, several crashes, horrible booming shrieks resounded from the street, as cars met cars, met walls.
People suddenly screamed and cried out as one, as Joe ran to the edge of the alleyway, seeing the carnage first hand. Cars were piled in the street
like the set of a disaster movie, people had been struck down by the metal missiles. Several were smashed awkwardly in the front of shops, everywhere
bodies of the fallen lay strewn in the street, gruesomely twisted and broken. Joe took in the scene with horror, as people began to shuffle forth,
their eyes burned and useless, their hands out before them, seeking each other out, their cries echoing up and down the street.
edit on 3-4-2012 by 74Templar because: no reason given