"Excuse me, sirs," Ronnie coughed out, "Could you spare a bit of change. I just need a little. Whatever you have loose on you, I'd appreciate, if you please, sirs."
The taller man struck him. Hard. It didn't really hurt Ronnie very much (he hardly felt pain at all anymore) but it stunned him. He was quite dumbfounded as a matter of fact. The poor old bum fell backwards onto his rear. He imagined his eyes were as wide as saucers.
"Out of my way, you pathetic little..."
Ronnie clasped his hands over his ears. He rocked back and forth, slowly humming an old tune his mother had sung to him when he was in his cradle. The man was cursing him. He didn't like that. Ronnie understood if they didn't want to give him any change, but they didn't have to insult him, and they certainly didn't have to curse him.
"I'm talking to you, bum!"
The man who had pummeled Ronnie had grabbed him roughly and pulled him up somewhat. He involuntarily dropped his hands from his ears, and stared forward at the tall man. He was paying careful attention, the kind of attention that can only be gained when someone has rudely shattered your thoughts.
"Are you listening to me?"
The man started shaking Ronnie hard. It was uncomfortable. He wriggled a little in a futile attempt to escape the man's grasp, but the man was too forceful. Ronnie noticed that the man was wearing a light blue tunic, as was his friend. It seemed to be a uniform of some sort. Ronnie recognized it a moment later as the uniform of that big new organization, the Fellowship.
Ronnie felt another blow fall down on him. He wondered first if he had been hit with a hammer. Then he realized it was, in fact, divine retribution. A hand from heaven had reached down to smite him.
It had been in fact, neither. It was the taller man. He was enraged like a bull. His counterpart now took to kicking Ronnie, first in the ribs, then in the shins, then in the head. He felt each blow, but not the agony he should have been feeling. The wiring in his brain and nerves were dulled and crossed.
"Why don't you answer him, bum?" the smaller man was yelling in rough cadence with his kicks.
Ronnie didn't answer. He couldn't answer. He was deeply immersed in thought. Today was a special day, for some reason. The date stood out in his mind. But why?
"I'll teach you to show respect for members of the Fellowship, bum!"
Ronnie noticed a flash of light out of the corner of his eye. As the stabbing commenced, it suddenly struck him what day it was. The switchblade wove it's way sickeningly in and out of his chest.
"It's my birthday," Ronnie murmured.
No one heard him. He didn't even hear himself. The two men had taken off like spooked deer. Ronnie could feel himself sinking into darkness. It seemed so nice, so calm, so relaxed. It would be nice to be overcome, overwhelmed, surrounded, with darkness. So he let himself go. What happened to him after that is a matter for theologians and philosophers.
"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?)