Around The Corner (short story)

Authors note: This short story was created from a writing prompt on twitter. I can’t remember who posted it, but the first paragraph here was the prompt. The rest of the story is mine, inspired by it. Hope you enjoy it.

Around The Corner

The old homeless man didn’t talk to people. He was dead silent on the church steps, while the other street people pushed raucous carts and screamed obscenities. “You,” he said, lifting a gnarled finger, his eyes milky. “I see death around the corner.”

The woman with the baby carriage looked at him in shock, then horror. Quickly she pushed it in the other direction, hushing the baby within the whole way.

The homeless man put his hands in his lap and was silent again. A young couple, holding hands and giggling, crossed the street not far from where he was. Once again he lifted his gnarled finger and pointed. “You,” he intoned. “I see death around the corner.”

Very quickly, the couple hurried down the sidewalk, casting furtive glances back at him. Their hushed voices revealed to any passerby their uneasiness at being spoken to by this ancient, dirty faced wretch. Once gone however, they didnt think of him again, and the old man placed his hands in his lap in again.

Another old man, this one better dressed and groomed, hobbled down the walk with the use of a cane. Despite his limp, he seemed accustomed to it, and moved briskly on shaky, spindly legs. The homeless man pointed at him and gave his usual proclamation. “You. I see death around the corner.”

The old man stopped briefly, wobbling on his cane. He didn’t look at the homeless man, but just shook his head. Then he resumed his unsteady, but sure walk. He didn’t even see the man lower his hands back to his lap. Just another beggar, he reasoned.

On the church steps the homeless man remained, quiet and reserved between the occasional finger pointing and warning. Everyone either ignored or avoided his judgements as they went about their day.
A cab pulled up to the curb on the opposite side of the street. The old man watched its rear door open and a very well fashioned figure emerged. Dressed to the nines in a pressed formal tuxedo and top hat, sporting a polished silver tipped cane, the passenger paid the driver. The cab moved on and the smartly dressed gentleman stood on the opposite sidewalk. He pulled a pocket watch from inside his waist coat and looked at it. He nodded and smiled, looking up at the church building.

The homeless man sat undisturbed and watched the figure cross the street. Slowly, he lifted his finger and pointed at the stranger. “You,” he said, as the man stopped at the steps, and leaned nonchalantly on his cane. “I see death around the corner.”

The stranger smiled. “Of course you do,” he replied in a deep monotone voice. He looked at the homeless man who just stared back, neither one wavering from their half smiles. For the stranger, his smile seemed to suck the very joy from the surrounding air. For the homeless man, his smile was one of a person who had ran a race aimlessly only to find himself at the finishing line among friends.

The stranger held out a black gloved hand. “Shall we?”

The homeless man lifted his hand, his finger no longer pointing outward, and took the stranger’s gentle grasp. Allowing the stranger to help him stand, he got up. He slipped his arm inside the stranger’s and looked up into his dark eyes. “Thank you,” he said.

“My pleasure,” the stranger replied, and the two began to walk together down the walk. No one paid them any attention. The world went about its business. And the two figures disappeared around the corner.

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5 thoughts on “Around The Corner (short story)”

  1. I really liked the understated Twilight Zone feeling to this one – understated in a good way. You don’t flat out say that the stranger is death. You just leave it open for the reader to figure out. I like that.

    “For the homeless man, his smile was one of a person who had ran a race aimlessly only to find himself at the finishing line among friends.” I love this line!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much. Glad you liked this piece. And yes i think the understatement works better than if i just came out with detailed explanation. Actually, this originally had a mention of death at the end but I cut it out. I think its best left to interpretation. πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You’re totally welcome! πŸ™‚ It’s definitely a better story without the explanation. It makes it much more intriguing.

        On a completely unrelated note, I’m very happy over here. I just finished writing a whole eight chapter arc with Barbara and another character. It’s something that I’ve wanted to resolve before Barbara and Ambrose got married and I’m just really happy with how it turned out.

        Liked by 1 person

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