Play Nice

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Little bit of fiction. The first piece I've posted to the blog in a very long time.
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Boiling Point

“You ever think you could hurt somebody? Like really hurt ‘em I mean?” he asks me, his teeth and lips working around a worn out looking cigarette.

I watch the cigarette jump around for a few seconds, giving his question due consideration. I look away, to my right, down the empty, dirty street. At the end of the block is an old Cadillac with no wheels that the kids use as a playground. I shrug. “I don’t know. I guess I could. If the hurt is big enough. Why you asking?”

“No reason. I was just sitting here thinking, wondering you know, what it would take for me to feel like I could kill a man.”

I turn back to him, take him in, his scraggly coat, how it’s coming undone at the seams, the way his pants have that shiny sheen on them that lets me know they’ve been washed one too many times. Despite all that, there’s something about him that’s respectable. Like you know he wakes up every day at 5 am on the dot to pull in an honest day’s work. All things being equal, he was a good man.

“Kill a man? That’s not idle conversation. You either did something to somebody or somebody done something to you that’s got you thinking that way. Which is it?”

“It ain’t nothing like that. A man’s mind wanders sometimes is all.”

I say nothing, looking down at my shoes, worn out just like his cigarette. I tilt my feet outward to check out the soles and grimace and sigh when I notice that the shoes aren’t gonna be of much use to me soon.

“I considered it once,” I tell him, the words slipping out the side of my mouth, low.

“You?” he asks with a note of surprise.

“Yeah. Long ago. This fool got to talking and meddling in things he had no business in and those were the days, remember, when I was nothing but anger on a stick. I was always ready to be hurt or cause hurt. It didn’t really matter which.”

“So what happened?”

“He got picked up for robbing old man Turner’s store and I never saw him again. Soon after that Momma died and I was angrier still. You woulda thought this might have made things worse but I was mostly scared of myself. I figured it was better to just keep it all in till I knew what to do with it all.”

“Did you ever figure it out?”

“Nah. It’s still there somedays but I got enough sense to let it be. I don’t know much most days but I know this: If you let something boil over, you’re bound to get scalded your damn self.”

“True. True. That’s something to think about. Yes sir,” he mumbles as he pulls the soggy cigarette from his lips and with a careless flick, sends it flying into the street. 

Published 11/15/05 in Writing • | Views: 2060 times | Print

5 Comments & Trackbacks

Oh, very dark, I like it.

Posted by maria  on  11/15  at  01:28 PM

before i was trying to decide what i thought, when i read it the first time, but its been stuck in my head since then… which i think is good.  i like how raw it is.

Posted by matt  on  11/15  at  10:26 PM

i love it.

Posted by romy  on  11/15  at  11:01 PM

Matt: i still don’t know what i think about it myself. grin

romy: thanks. ♥

Posted by Patricia  on  11/15  at  11:15 PM

See, now, it’s my turn to hate you for your writing skillz. This crap has to stop.


Posted by sawni  on  11/16  at  03:56 PM

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