What do you hide underneath your sharp wardrobe? How many secrets do you stuff under your expensive suits?
An insane man walks down the road balancing on the curb as if he were on a high-wire. A snowcap covers his greasy matted hair. A frayed trench coat that has become stiff from whiskey and coffee stains loosens in the rain and releases the smell of decay.
You mask your scent with designer cologne.
When you pass him on the street and look down at your polished leather shoes, he is looking right in your face. He has become accustomed and numb to his fat lip and bruised cheek. He gave into his alcoholism and freed his mind. He rants about the second coming of Christ when he is sober. His high-wire act is the line he walks between reality and his delusion. He rambles through the street until settling beside you. You try to ignore him and check your silver watch.
“Lovely day we’re having, aye?”
Again, you check your watch.
“They say the rain will wash all of this away one day. I imagine it won’t be long now. Hah!”
The traffic signal seems to be taking much longer than you are willing to wait. Your blood pressure is rising. You register your own fear of the man beside you. Your impulse control checks in. You grasp your keys between your knuckles and wait for the traffic light to change. You cannot help but turn and look as the vagrant reaches for his breast pocket.
Insanity and self-reliance is not mutually exclusive. All one needs in fact, to be insane, is their own whiskey and bible. The drunkard produces a fifth of whiskey from his jacket and lets his bible fall to the ground. He takes a short pause before he draws from the small bottle to see if there is any compassion in this world. But there is no compassion to be found and the bible absorbs the puddle like a sponge.
You wish you could take a nip of whiskey. But you cannot. You have a wife and small child. Your employer pays you well since you have stopped drinking. Your wife has dinner ready when you get home most nights. Your daughter recites her math facts before you tuck her in at night. You join your wife in bed and read under the light of your separate lamps before rolling over to sleep each night. Sex is not really important anyways. You convinced yourself of this shortly after you stopped drinking. Things are just dandy for you.
“Are you a believer mister? Hey mister? I said, are you a true believer? You know what I mean; a man of God?”
The traffic light finally changes and for a moment you are a believer. But the buggery continues. The insane hands follow the impulse to grab your shoulder. You consider yourself a victim.
“Take your hand off of me” you desire to scream, but only in a whisper do your words escape.
“I’m sorry” the man replies. “I only wanted to know if you are a true believer. You see, I used to not be a believer myself. I had nice clothes and a good job too. I got my hair cut every Tuesday and sold ad space for the telephone book. When I got laid off, I started drinking. One morning I woke up on a pew in St. John’s Cathedral. There were angels hovering above me. They were welcoming me into the house of God. That’s why I’m a true believer. I might not have much anymore, but I have my faith. The angels told me that Jesus was soon to wash this all away.”
You walk faster but are unable to avoid the drunken zealot. This man is your perfect storm; religious, drunk, and inflammatory. You are disgusted by his abandonment of social mores and impulse control. A nervous rage bellows from your loins to your tense neck. You walk faster.
“Say friend? Have you accepted Jesus Christ as your savior? Some say it’s never too late, but I don’t know about that. The angels told me it won’t be long now.”
“To Hell with your angels!” Your voice is no longer a whisper. As you approach the next crosswalk, your control lets go. “Why don’t you take your whiskey and your bible and stick it up your…”
As you finish the sentence, your arms follow their impulse for violence and push the man directly into traffic. The man is swept away by the front of a bus and quickly tossed into a puddle ten yards away. The first thing you notice after the man is hit are the angel wings graffitiedon the side of the bus.
You thank God for angels and that you will not be late for your meeting.
© Copyright 2016 Kyle Stead. All rights reserved.
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