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Excerpted from a longer short story which no longer exists. A humorous look at a derelict (aka hobo, aka wino).


Submitted:Dec 24, 2010    Reads: 39    Comments: 0    Likes: 0   


Stumbling through the peak hour traffic in the Swanston Walk, the derelict ,was a conspicuous sight. He was dressed in baggy, tattered trousers, a dirty grey flannel shirt, and unmatched footwear -- an ancient brown suede shoe on his left foot, a near new Nike gym shoe, which he had stolen from a display stand, on his right. On his head he wore a tatty Collingwood Balaclava. From the left hand pocket of his filthy burlap greatcoat protruded the uncorked snout of a nearly empty bottle of third-rate claret -- January, a bad month for wine. Occasionally people would shake their heads in passing; point and stare at the funny, stooped little man, who looked as old as Methuselah, although only in his early forties.
Not that it worried the derelict how much people laughed at him. Just so long as they continued to throw out perfectly good food for him to find, or occasionally throw a stray coin or two in his direction. Even though more often than not they did so from contempt, to watch him grovel, rather than from any genuine compassion.
Normally the derelict was a cheerful enough soul. Yet for some reason he was in a foul mood that day, though even he could not say why. He'd had a good morning, having managed to cadge two large handfuls of coins; enough to buy two bottles of cheap red wine. The first bottle had been emptied and discarded long ago. The second bottle was well on the way also. Perhaps that was the reason for his bad mood, the disappearance of his wine. He was heard to say later someone had stolen his wine, although no one had gone near enough to him from the time he had purchased the two bottles in the South Melbourne market, until the time the last of the wine had trickled down his ever thirsty throat, in the Swanston Walk.
Staggering past the display front of a shop in the Walk, the derelict collided heavily with a tall, lanky, deathly-pale skinned youth, whose long, stringy, blond hair seemed strangely out of place against the flashy, up-to-the-minute dress suit he wore.
Knocked off his feet the derelict landed heavily on his backside.
Climbing slowly to his feet again, without assistance, the derelict began abusing the youth: "Hey you young bastard, think you own the footpath or something? Think you've got your name etched on it or something? Think you can get away with knocking a bloke down, do you? Well who the hell do you think you are anyway, the Prime Minister or something?"
The lanky youth was unmoved by the outburst, which he met with silence.
The derelict was furious: "Well what's the matter with you anyway? The cat got your tongue or something? Don't you even have the decency to say you're sorry?"
Clearly there was no apology forthcoming, so the derelict continued, "I don't know what's wrong with young people today. They go around bashing a poor bloke about, then don't even have the decency to help him back to his feet again. Let alone offer up a word of apology. It couldn't hurt to say you're sorry, you know. Why when I was a boy your age, we looked up to our elders, treated them with the respect they deserved. We didn't go round beating them up mercilessly every time the poor bastards had the bad luck to cross our paths."
Still the tall, blond youth remained unmoved.
"Well then, what have you got to say for yourself? Gonna try and make amends?
"Look all you gotta say is, 'Excuse me, I'm terribly sorry for not looking where I was going.' That's all. I'm not asking you to humble yourself, or go down on your knees and beg for forgiveness. Just say you're sorry."
Nothing, not a word from the youth. Not even a shake of the head, or a bat of the eyelid to even show he was alive.
"So Mr. Smarty Pants, think you're too good to say sorry to a bloke after flattening him, do you? Think you're special, do you? A red hot ladies' man by the looks of your fancy duds. Or at least you think you are.
"Hey Mr. Ladies' Man, is that your racket is it: beating up on blokes then strutting round in front of the chicks like you're real hot stuff?"
Still only silence. The older man might just as well have not even been there, for all the attention he received from the younger man.
"I wonder what the little ladies would think, if they could see the way you spend your spare time? Hey Mr. Hot Stuff, do the sheilas know you spend half your time punching blokes up?"
The continuing silence was beginning to really have an effect on the derelict.
"Listen here you young hooligan, either I hear the word 'sorry' in the next few seconds, or else I'll knock your bloody block off! I don't care if you are as tall as a bloody lamppost, you're such a weedy looking bugger, I reckon I could tear you limb from limb!"
The derelict did just that. First he grabbed the youth in a half-nelson and ripped his head clean away from his shoulders. Then he tore off both the youth's arms, before finally pulling both of his legs straight out of their sockets.
That was how the store manager found the derelict, sitting on the pavement, with his head in his hands, muttering between sobs, "I didn't mean to kill him, I only wanted to teach the bastard some manners." Around him lay the mangled remains of the menswear store dummy.
END
© Copyright 2010
Philip Roberts




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