Victory Halov stumbled down the steps of HealTech in a funk. It had been a long day for him. He’d been working for about 12 hours, since 6:00 am, and he was exhausted. What he wanted was simple. He wanted to get to his car, see his girlfriend and drop her off at her house, then have a peaceful drive home, order a pizza, and sleep. It was Friday. He planned to sleep until Saturday afternoon. Unfortunately, as often happens in life, even simple wishes are interrupted by harsh reality.
“Got some change, sir?”
The man was filthy and disgusting. He had a thick, greasy, crusty beard. He wore ancient, grubby, hole-filled clothes. And he was extending one dirty hand, palm upwards, towards Victory.
“Go away,” Victory muttered.
“Please, sir, I beg of you…” Ronnie said.
“Get a job, you bum,” Victory said, and tried to hurry past him.
“Sir, I can’t get a job.”
That was the last straw for Victory. Something in him just snapped.
“Can’t get a job?” he asked in a low, predatory voice, turning back to Ronnie.
“Can’t get a job!” Victory nearly screamed.
Ronnie was flustered. This man was starting to scare him. He was genuinely afraid that Victory would attack him – something which had never happened to him before.
“I…I…” Ronnie said, groping for words.
“Have you ever tried to get a job? Have you ever gone to an interview? No, of course you haven’t, because if you had, you’d be working now instead of bothering me. Even if you don’t have one ounce of skill in your whole worthless body, you could still work as a janitor, or in a fast food joint. Your problem, you little son of a bitch, is that you’re lazy. You don’t want to work. You’d rather stand here and beg other people for their hard-earned money.”
“I…I do want to work, but…” Ronnie said.
“But what? But what? You’ve got two good arms, two good legs, and a head on your shoulders. What more do you need to work? But, no, you’d rather take money from real people, decent people. You’d rather accost them in the street. All I wanted was to get from my office – where I work for a living – to my car, in peace. But, no, I have to be bothered by this worthless parasite.”
By now a fairly large crowd had gathered around the two men. About a dozen people were intently watching their every move. Then, something in Ronnie snapped. He couldn’t take the hateful glare of each person in the crowd, or the angry yelling of this man. He took off, pushing people away, and ran down the street. He ran away as fast as he possibly could. He was scared and hurt. Tears drew streaks of cleanliness down his muddy face.
“There is no reason why we should have to put up with that,” Victory exclaimed.
The crowd of people which had gathered began applauding. Victory’s passion had died out. After that brief, fiery outburst, even the embers were growing cold. He was unbelievably tired once again. The crowd broke up, and he took off for his car.
“Hey, wait, sir!”
Victory turned around. A man was there in coveralls. His hands were greasy and he was sweaty. Probably a ship worker, Victory reflected. He was a black man, about middle aged. He had probably been a real lady magnet when he had been in his prime, but time and hard work had worn away at his appearance. He was still quite dignified and handsome.
“My name’s Greg Barlow,” the worker said, thrusting out his hand.
Victory took it, despite the fact that it was covered with axle grease, and said his name in kind.
“Well, Mr. Halov, I was real impressed by how you handled that bum, there, sir. There are a lot of folks I know who think the same as you. Personally, I think that bums are what’s wrong with this country.”
Victory grunted in agreement.
“I’d appreciate it, sir, if you could come down to my factory one day, and meet my foreman. His name’s Adrian Cain. He’s the best damned speechmaker I’ve ever heard. I think with your guts and his words working together, well, who knows what you can achieve?”
Greg wrote the address of his shipyard, near Penn's Landing, and the name Adrian Cain, capitalized and underlined, on the back of a grocery receipt he found in his pocket. He handed the piece of paper to Victory.
“I'll think about it,” Victory said, “Thanks.”
“No, thank you, sir. And have a good night.”
"Manuscripts don't burn"
- Mikhail Bulgakov
Hi, I'm horror and science fiction author Steve Kozeniewski (pronounced: "causin' ooze key.") Welcome to my blog! You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Amazon. You can e-mail me here, join my mailing list here, or request an e-autograph here. Free on this site you can listen to me recite one of my own short works, "The Thing Under the Bed."
Enter your e-mail address in the box below and click "Subscribe" to join Stephen Kozeniewski's Mailing List for Fun and Sexy People. (Why the hell would anyone ever want to join a mailing list?)