The Pedestrian

“You think I don’t?! Really? Are you leaving again?!” His wife was crying at him as he rushed out of the house closing the door. Moving to the middle of the street he took a deep breath pushing his hands into the pockets of his long coat. The cold winter breeze ruffled his long greyish-brown hair as he gazed at the moonlit sky with his pale blue eyes. Looking towards his right with raised eyebrows he scratched his short beard and started walking slowly, tightening the muffler knot around his wrinkly neck. It was almost midnight, the street was quite as a grave and the sound of his footsteps echoed down the street. Now and then a dog barked or an owl hooted but the man was uncaring; he was too absorbed in himself.

After walking for a few moments the old man started to whisper to himself, “Never do I say the merry goodbye leaving home and I then ask for a blessing so joyous, oh God! Forgive me but I am in a deception, I hope to see a better tomorrow but then I am left with nothing and I hope again and again, but what can a poor man do to bring a change in his life?  Something…something could raise me up and show me a way that led to a change, something positive in my life. Living three scores of my life in an ordinary way was tough, but I do remember the few exceptional moments especially when I met my wife. She is an amazing woman, even when things are tough for us, she cares for me, she loses her nerve now and then but it’s not her fault. Ah! I guess she is just depressed; she will be fine, I know.  I wish I was good enough to give us a life, a good one, a happy one, indeed. Employers say I should retire, productivity matters to them, they don’t care about my age, maybe if we had adopted a child, today he would shoulder us, but it’s fate; I can’t change it.” His eyes glistened with tears, “I wish I could change my fate, I wish I had a chance to make our life better!”

The old man stopped under a street light to catch his breath. A small stick at his feet caught his eye, bending down slowly he picked it up and looked at it for a moment. Then closing his eyes, he swung it in the air like a magician and smiled, as if the magic had worked but opening his eyes he sighed, “Ah! I wish something would change, I wish I saw all that I have yearned to see in life, but I ask my fate to make magic for there is no better magician than it, it can twist your life in a moment. All I can do is hope, a hope that when I turn over to the next page of my life, I will see betterment, if not worldly then eternal, that’s enough magic for me.”

Then suddenly the old man heard a screeching sound and he ran over to the side of the street. The car skidded, its headlights flashed and eventually, it smashed into a street light with a deafening sound that echoed down the street for a while.

The old man’s hands were shaking, his eyes were closed and he had taken hold of the street wall. As his vision became clear, he could see a car, almost 20 feet away from where he stood, its headlights were flickering and smoke was rising from its misshapen bonnet, there was blood on the broken windshield. The old man gazing at the car in shock, walked towards the driver’s window. There was an unconscious old man in black suit whose forehead was resting on the steering wheel. Breath vapors were coming out of his mouth, and his shoulder was bleeding. The old man opened the door and quickly dragged the driver a few steps away from the car, then he undid his muffler knot and bandaged the driver’s wounded shoulder as best as he could and shouldering him he started to walk towards his house.

“Stop…” the old man heard a murmuring voice. It was the driver. “You shouldn’t help me, leave me here and…and go home,” the driver removed his hands from the old man’s shoulders and tried to move away but the old man was holding him tightly.

“Madness isn’t the solution to anything, you will die out here if you resist my help,” said the old man barely holding his breath.

“I am better dead, leave…leave me!” The driver pulled himself away and fell on his wounded shoulder.

“Don’t force death! You hear me? Stop being foolish!” Bending over the driver, the old man shook him. “You have got to live through life like a man, not die like a coward!”

The driver was quiet for a moment, and then he said, “There is a bag on the back seat of my car.”

The old man brought the bag from the car and shouldering the driver he started to walk again, he was unable to hold his breath but he struggled until they reached the old man’s house.

At the door, the old man thought, what am I to tell her, ah! Let’s just go inside, and knocked at the door. He could hear the footsteps of his wife, the door opened, there was an old lady, she had grey eyes and wrinkly face but she looked beautiful. She wore a purple frock and a white apron, her hair was nicely combed and pinioned behind her head.

“You are back; I knew you would—Frank?! What happened? Who is this wounded man?” said his wife in shock.

“I don’t know, he crashed his car into a street light.”

“You must have called an ambulance.”

“I don’t know, stop arguing with me, he is wounded badly.”

“Take him to the kitchen, I will bring the medical kit,” said his wife as she headed to the storeroom.

The old man took the driver to the kitchen and helped him lay on the table removing his shirt.

“There is a bullet in my shoulder,” winced the driver.

“You will be fine, don’t worry,” patted the old man.

The wife came back carrying the medical kit and took out the bandage and forceps.

“Just hold him tightly, it’s going to hurt…” said the wife as she was about to take out the bullet.

The driver screamed, his body shivered.

“I got it,” said the wife as she took the bullet out.

The driver had fallen unconscious.

“Check his pulse!” said the old man.

“Don’t worry, he will be awake in a few minutes,” said the wife as she bandaged the drivers shoulder and forehead.

“Let’s wait for him to wake up then,” said the old man sitting on the kitchen chair.

“He seems to be a fine old gentleman.”

“Yes, almost of my age I guess.”

“Sorry, I acted in a childish way at the door, I hope he didn’t hear anything.”

“It’s alright, no matter who he is, we are supposed to help him, maybe he is a good man.”

“I hope so,” said the wife.

The old man’s wife washed her hands and was making coffee when the driver woke up.

“Thank you…” said the driver coughing.

“It was our duty, anyways how are you feeling?” said the old man.

“My head is paining but I am fine,” told the driver.

“I will give you some medicine,” said the wife.

“Yes, you should take some,” said the old man.

“He should rest now,” said the wife after giving the driver some medicine.

The old man nodded and they took the driver to their bedroom. Laying him on the bed, the old man sat down on the bedroom chair as his wife went back to the kitchen.

“You are good people, too good for this dark soul that clouds me. I was better dead,” said the driver.

“Mind what you say, even the darkest souls can be lightened and there is no better in death, it is the coward’s way,” replied the old man.

“What did I better in the sixty years of my life? Nothing, I guess. Tell me what do you see in my hands?” The driver showed his weathered hands to the old man and continued. “Indeed, nothing but weakness, when I was a small boy, my parents sent me to a boarding school, after a year they were murdered and I was unable to pay the dues. Hence, the school sent me to an orphanage. I was only 8 then. The next two years went by quickly but then one day a man, around thirty, came with his wife. They took me in as a foster child. In the beginning everything was great, they loved me to the fullest but after a year they had their own baby; a boy. We were all very happy until I started to feel distanced. My foster mother started to treat me as a servant and bullied me, until one-day, while being bullied I injured her arm with a knife. Her anger was horrifying and she was yelling at me while beating me with a cane. I ran out of the house and the last thing I heard was, “Never come back you animal!!! I never had the—

“Coffee…” interrupted the wife and served coffee to the driver and the old man.

“Thank you for your kindness, you have an amazing wife, Frank,” said the driver.

“And beautiful,” the old man looked at his wife smiling.

“Don’t gossip all night, okay? He needs rest,” said the wife as she left the room.

And the driver continued, “Amazing woman. Anyways, where was I? Ah! Yes, I never had the courage to go back, I spent the night outside in a garbage can and the next day I was wandering in the streets when I found a boy, his name was Patrick. After knowing what had happened he told me that he knew a place where I could stay and took me there. It was an old house and I found 3 boys and an older guy there, around 25 I guess. Living there with them I learned that the boys were homeless too like me and this guy had given them a place to live and taught them how to become pickpockets, they told me how interesting it was to steal and so my unlawful life began. From a small pickpocket slowly I became a thief and a killer. I fell in love with a lady when I was 25, I still remember her eyes.” The driver’s eyes were full of tears and he was whispering. Wiping his tears with the palm of his hand he continued, “I was never satisfied with how I explained her beauty though she always said I overly exaggerated her beauty, but you don’t know, when you love a person how undefinable they become. I knew how heartbreaking it would be for her, once she found out what I was, hence, I stopped walking on the unlawful path, but my people, with whom I had lived for 14 years were unhappy, and so my love, whom I loved sincerely with all my heart was murdered too. See how my past abandoned my future!” and the driver cried for a moment and then continued. “The killing began again afterwards, I wish they killed me along with my wife, but they knew it was better to leave me suffering than to kill me. I have killed people with these hands, these hands are as dark as weak they look, I have killed my own love, life has made me cruel and uncaring over the years and here I am in your house, shot in my left shoulder and slowly dying. I fear that if I live more, life will make my soul even darker than it is now.”

“Your story is as true as it is soulful…life is all you talked about…and life molds a man into nothing or something, but it is the man who chooses to accept what he is molded into. You were molded into something, something evil, indeed, but did you accept it? Did it make you happy? I can see it in your eyes, and through your eyes I see your heart, it yearns to do good, to help a man, to grow a plant, to happy the unhappy, to drive out the darkness in your soul, and in that madness you are now of the will to drive your soul out of the molding. Life molded me into nothing, and I have been nothing my whole life, I accepted the situations that chanced upon me because my heart did not yearn to change them, it is as dark as your soul, devoid of light. And remember, a heart devoid of light cannot enlighten a soul but a heart with even a small speck of light can.”

“Hmm…if your heart is devoid of any light, then how are you able to enlighten me? And if you are able to enlighten me then how can you not enlighten your own self?”

“Love, my friend, love; my heart is devoid of light but the light of my love’s heart has always been there trying to evoke my soul, my sluggish attitude towards life has led me to darkness. She has always been unaccepting to what we faced, always trying to better our lives or at least tensed about it, and it is because of her I have been thinking about “change” even today until I met you. You are good at heart, you can still make a positive change in yourself, just keep living and don’t give up on life. Today when you sleep, be remorseful of what wrong you did in life and vow to do good deeds as the new day rises.”

The driver was quite for a few moments as if he was thinking of “change” in life. While the old man was looking down, he stared at him thinking and then said, “Thank you for your kindness. I will never be able to repay you.”

“It’s the least I could do for you,” the old man got up. “It’s late, I should leave now and…call me if you need anything…I am leaving the door open, Goodnight.”

“Goodnight,” replied the driver.

While the old man went to sleep, the driver sat thinking of what the old man had said. After a few moments he took out a piece of paper from his pocket and wrote this:

“The bag is yours, it’s the least I could do for you, or it is the least good I can do at the moment.”

It was 8 O’clock in the morning, the old man woke up and went to his bedroom. Entering the room, he was surprised to see no sign of the driver, he was long gone. All he could find was the note that the driver had left on the side table.


The Author: Ammar Jin

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Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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