The Most Guilt-Ridden Man in the World

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Humor  |  No Houses

A character inspired by me!

The Most Guilt-Ridden Man In the World

By Mike Stevens

Danny Pretest noticed his good friend Ken walking out of his house one morning. Both were following their usual pattern of leaving for work at the same time each weekday morning. They exchanged good mornings, and then Danny asked his neighbor,

“Hey Ken, how’s it going this morning?”

His neighbor replied, “Oh, not so good. I must have rats in my attic, and they make so much noise I find it impossible to sleep. This is the 3rd night in a row I haven’t got much sleep, and I’m irritated and exhausted. But the exterminator’s coming over tonight, so hopefully he or she will solve the problem, and I’ll be able to get a full night’s sleep.”

“Oh, I’m sorry to hear that, Ken. Hopefully you’re right about that solving the problem. There’s nothing like trying to function without a good night’s sleep. Good luck with that, and try to have a good day.”

“Thanks Danny and I’ll sure try.”

That night, as he tossed and turned, trying to get to sleep, Danny found his mind wandering back to his conversation with his neighbor Ken that morning. The poor guy. How awful to have to lay there and have to listen to a rat, or rats, as they scurried back and forth in the attic, right above your head. That would drive him nuts! Suddenly, when he tried to recall their conversation, he sat up in a panic. Had he said anything to make Ken worry even more? He couldn’t remember his words; what if he had said,

“That’s too bad Ken, and hopefully it’s just rats and not some thief in your attic, just waiting for you to fall asleep so he can climb down and slit you throat! But I’m sure it’s only rats.”

No, he hadn’t said that. He would never say that; he would have tried to soothe Ken, wouldn’t he? But the harder he tried remembering, the more horrifying the possible conversation became.

“I’m sure it’s only rats, but I just read a story in the local newspaper about a guy in town here who assumed he had rats in his attic, and when he climbed up to take a look, a ghost attacked him and sucked out his brain!”

“Oh my god, I never would have thought of that, but thanks to you, I can survive. Thanks for the heads up.”

He stained to recall their conversation. What had he said exactly? He didn’t think he had said any of the last two statements, but what if he had? No, he wouldn’t have said those things. Then he laid there thinking; what if he had told the poor guy one of those things, and the guy was lying there in a pool of cold sweat afraid to close his eyes for fear he’d fall asleep and have his throat slit or his brains sucked out? Danny tried and tried to drift off to sleep, but the image of poor Ken lying there petrified filled his thoughts. After another half hour of unsuccessfully telling himself he was worried about nothing, he felt the guilt wash over him. He had to tell Ken that anything he might have told him was a fabrication. He glanced at his bedside clock, and noted it was 2am. Well, what if Ken was lying there, unable to sleep because of worry; worry that he had caused? He had to call, no matter the time, so he grabbed the phone on his night table and dialed the number. After what seemed like a lot of rings, a sleepy voice answered,


“Ken, this is your neighbor Danny calling. Listen; don’t be alarmed by an anything I might have told you. The stories are just that; stories.”

Danny heard a sigh, and Ken’s angry voice, “What in the hell are you talking about?”

“What I’m calling you about is that I’m afraid you’ve been unable to sleep due to something I said; that noise in you attic is probably just rats, like you said.”

“I’m having trouble sleeping because my loony-tunes neighbor is calling me at 2am to tell me what I already know. The exterminator told me it was rats and that the problem was taken care of. I was sawing zee’s for the first time in the last 4 days when I was jolted out of a sound sleep by you. Thanks for nothing!”

The line went dead in Danny’s hand. Well, he’d had to make sure he hadn’t anything to feel guilty about. He was satisfied, and he turned off his light and was soon sound asleep.

The End

Submitted: April 22, 2012

© Copyright 2022 Mike Stevens. All rights reserved.

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Add Your Comments:


Jean Lagace

Nice little short story. Could be developped into something bigger though, but still, as it is, it do the job. I hope there will be others.

Sun, April 22nd, 2012 1:52pm


Thank you, Jean; I've got a couple more, so the guilt lives on!

Sun, April 22nd, 2012 8:13am


good one mikey! i wish you would have taken it one conversation further. like danny gets hung up on, and lies there for another two hours wondering if he reacted properly, or if he lost his temper a little bit with ken's rudeness, and now ken was really pissed off at him. just a thought. hey! come on by and read my writer's block thing. it's stupid, but it's kind of funny. i liked this one mike. the writing was smooth and well put together!

Sun, April 22nd, 2012 2:17pm


Thanks Bruce, and his guilt could go on forever. I had to end it, or my hand would have cramped up from typing!

Sun, April 22nd, 2012 8:18am


Oh leave it be, Jean and brucek - could've figured that's exactly what danny would be doing - forever! His every word a reason to doubt its merit or kindness or accuracy or meaning or or or or or .......... Talk about not sleeping! Nice, Mike - just the right bite size. Might be a series of these, even.
Kindest regards, Connie
PS your dialogues are always well done

Sun, April 22nd, 2012 3:11pm


Thanks Connie; stay tuned!

Sun, April 22nd, 2012 8:15am


I guy who worries that her might have said the wrong thing? How did you ever dream that one up?

I'm with Connie, just the right length any more and it would just be repeating the theme. I like it just fine. A reflection of the doubts we all have from time to time. Well, us guys anyway. The fairer sex never seam to have trouble remembering what was said and when, even after several years!


Sun, April 22nd, 2012 5:17pm


Thanks Dibs; I modeled this guy on myself, some what, although much more extreme, though (hopefully!) There's a couple more stories with this guy, so hopefully his neurosis won't get tiresome!

Sun, April 22nd, 2012 10:39am


I liked it and thought it was just perfect. But, then again i am a little prejudiced. Keep up the excellent work. :) Sherry

Mon, April 23rd, 2012 6:04am


Thanks Sherry, and in this case, you can be a little prejudiced!

Mon, April 23rd, 2012 6:25am

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