(I’ve been yelled at before because of this soooo)
Trigger warning: this story contains violence.
Timmy stopped scrolling through headlines long enough to wave off the beggar. He didn’t move though, instead holding his sign at eye level for Timmy.
Timmy pulled out his earbuds and waved again. “Sorry man, I don’t carry any cash on me.” He looked at the cardboard sign. Homeless vet, anything helps. God bless. The adorning grease spots made it more endearing to Timmy, almost worth digging his wallet out for.
The beggar hocked a glob of phlegm to the right of his cardboard mat. His dog lifted an interested head and quickly set it back down. “God bless you, bastard.”
Timmy stopped, and removed the other ear bud. “Excuse me? What the fuck did you just say to me?” He instinctively inhaled and puffed out his chest.
The beggar seemed uninterested and showed Timmy a grimey incomplete smile. Timmy suddenly got a whiff of hot rot. “The end is nigh, bastard. Those who have, will not have the scales tipped in their favor on judgement day. You must repent.” He chuckled. “The meek will inherit the earth.”
Timmy backed up, and the skinny mutt began to growl, low and throaty.
“The meek.” The beggar said again. His eyes had somehow grown it seemed. The beggar collapsed to the ground and hugged his knees into his chest, rocking back and forth. “The meek. The meek. Bastard. The meek.”
Timmy turned and hustled away maintaining eye contact with the long winding cracks in the sidewalk. The rot seemed to follow him for the next block or so. He pulled his phone back out for more headlines, and to push the encounter to the back of his mind. Probably strung out on something, Timmy thought dismissively.
North Korea promises to carry out attack on Guam by Mid-August.
Scientists say that world’s oceans will swallow most of Florida by 2080.
Trump lashes out against NK on Twitter.
World temperature on track to increase 2C by the end of the century.
There’ll be no world for the meek to inherit, Timmy thought. The sun had dipped below the tree line and the sky blazed brilliant shades of pink. Timmy turned to look at the park he passed everyday. It was still alive and buzzing with people, children playing on the old structure, joggers keeping pace with their partners, and the sound of crickets floated across the pond.
Timmy felt hollow. For them. For the meek. He knew what he had to do now. He turned back the way he’d came and headed for the 7/11.
7/11’s lights sent a trickle down Timmy’s spine; they were cold and unnatural and he could feel the fluorescent hum in the back of his throat. In the back he found the cans of tuna fish and piled as many as he could into the pouch he’d made with his shirt. He walked back to the register and unloaded his haul, careful not to let any roll away.
The cashier counted the cans and blinked. “17 cans of tuna fish,” He paused to punch it in the register. “That’ll be…. $15.44.” Timmy reached for a utility knife and dropped it next to the cans.
The cashier arched an eyebrow, sighed, and turned back to his screen. “Okay, that’ll be $19.73.” Timmy produced a card from his wallet. “It’s gonna ask you if you want cash or credit.” Timmy nodded and paid.
The cashier unfolded a plastic bag from under the counter and waved it open. “Uh, do you have any paper bags?” Timmy said, eyeing the flailing plastic. The cashier shook his head apologetically.
Timmy grabbed the bag and stepped out into the dusk. The sky was bleeding now. Pinks had given way to scarlet and purple-ish colors of healing bruises. Timmy walked faster now, feeling the urgency of the night.
The gray of the sidewalk under his feet had traded in it’s gray for new city neon’s. Red and blue at the liquor store, and an unhealthy green under the next 7/11 sign. Cars roared by, ever-alert, never blinking their headlights.
The dog was the first to notice Timmy’s return. It sounded another warning. The beggar turned his head, and chuckled. “So you’re back bastard. Have you come to repent?”
Tim shook his head. “No. Not yet at least. I’ve come back for your dog.”
The beggar wrapped a hand under the mutt’s ear and scratched. “Charlie? He’s not for sale.” Timmy sighed, making his annoyance obvious. “Charlie’s been with me four years now. I wouldn’t be alive with this dog. No.”
Tim dug into his back pocket for his wallet, unfolded it, produced three crisp twenties. “How about now?”
“I thought you didn’t carry any cash, bastard.”
Timmy smirked. “I went and got some.”
“Oh yeah.” The beggar turned his nose up. “And what else did you get, huh?”
Timmy looked down to the bag in his left hand. “This? Tuna fish to feed this obviously under-cared-for dog.” In his right hand, Timmy continued to fan and wave the money. The beggar looked at the money and then back to Charlie.
“I really…” The beggar choked on his words. “I can’t mister.”
Timmy pulled two more twenties from his pocket and added it to his fan. “Now?” He wondered how fast he could pocket the money and unfold the knife.
The beggar watched, sparks of hope glittering in his eyes. A few tears ran down the wrinkles of his old face. He cupped the Charlie’s muzzle in his hands and brought its snout to his own nose. “Hey bud,” he whispered. “Hey Charlie, listen bud. This man’s gonna take you to a new home. Better than here bud. Way better.” Charlie’s head knocked to the side, his tail slowly waving in the neon green night light. “You’ve been such a good boy Charlie.” He stretched a hand in Timmy’s direction and closed his fingers around the five $20 notes.
Timmy reached for the dog’s leash and it whimpered as Timmy dragged him away. Timmy looked back to the beggar, his face engulfed in tears and the beginning burnings of regret. “Seems even the meek have their price, huh?” The beggar either didn’t hear or didn’t care as he buried his face into his dirty hands.
Around the corner in the darkness of an alley, Timmy pulled Charlie close and opened two cans of tuna. “Eat. Go on.” Timmy said, pushing the cans closer.
The mutt sniffed and looked up again and whined. Timmy grabbed the cans and upturned them onto the ground. Charlie sniffed again and began to eat. Timmy winced at every slopping bite.
One after one he opened the cans and spilled them onto the ground, and Charlie feasted. Soon a pile of empty tin cans sat discarded on the ground and Charlie laid on his side, breathing heavily. Timmy ran his fingers through the mutt’s tangled hair. He pulled back and wiped a greasy hand on his jeans. Timmy looked down the alley and then back to the street, watching the occasional headlights pass by and briefly illuminate he and Charlie. Above, the sky stayed suspended in a state of purple. The city was too bright to allow anything else.
Timmy leaned back against the brick wall wondering whether it was actually red brick or just brick veneer. He shook his head and wiped his eyes.
“You’re too good for this world Charlie.” He said scratching the dog’s muzzle. “Humans are killing this planet, will kill this planet and all its goodness. All this…” Timmy looked to the sky again and sighed. “All this is gonna burn, Charlie. Either tomorrow with nukes or in 50 years when the earth is too hot to live on.”
Timmy dug into the plastic bag again. The flimsy crinkly made Charlie pick up his head. He cocked his head and panted as Timmy unfolded the utility knife.
“I’m sorry, Charlie.” He grabbed the Charlie’s collar and dragged him closer. Charlie let out a choked gurgle and whined. Timmy’s twisted the collar to turn Charlie’s cries into high-pitched wheezes. He began to paw Timmy’s legs. “But the meek are going to burn with the rest of us.”
Timmy brought the utility knife down and sunk it into Charlie’s jaw. A whine, and Charlie writhed wildly. Timmy panicked, pulled, and slashed down and again, and again.
Timmy came to a little while later, his hands crusted over with dark brown blood stains. His jeans were nearly brown. Beside him lay the empty cans of tuna and the Charlies limp body, his eyes forever fixed in a confused snarl. Timmy stood and threw up; the splattering sound carried down the alley. Above the sky’s suspended purple began to crack and give way to lighter indigos. Timmy wiped his chin and walked into the muggy morning, ready for his judgement day.