Turn back | Keep Walking

It wasn't a large car, nor was it new. It didn't look particularly cared for - there were candy wrappers and burger boxes littering the floor. It was simply some red compact, parked, unlocked on the empty street at 3 o'clock on a chilly November morning. It was just big enough for the Walking Man to lie down along its back bench seat and get a couple of hours shut-eye before sunrise. He was tired of being moved along in bus stations, and sleeping in a doorway always made him feel like some useless kind of vagrant, not a man with a place to go.

He opened the back door cautiously, ready to run if an electronic scream echoed off the tall buildings, but all he heard was a clunk and a sullen squeak as the door swung open.

The Walking Man slid along to the middle of the seat, and stowed his bag on the floor. He pulled his flask from his pocket and took a nip of the Wild Turkey he'd filled it with that afternoon, courtesy of a half day's work spent unloading boxes of snapper at the market. It was an extravagance, but it kept the winter cold out of his bones, and he had enough cash left to feed himself for near on two weeks if he was frugal, by which time he'd have found more work.

Warmed by the whiskey, he was just lying down and tucking up his feet, when he spotted the keys in the ignition. They swung a little as he moved, and caught the light from a streetlamp. The little spark glinted. Temptation gripped the Walking Man like a hungry beggar.

If I turned those keys and drove away, he thought, I could be where I'm going in three days, tops. He could smell the ozone and the ocean in his nostrils, feel the sting of salt on the skin of his face already. Three days. Tops.

He sat up. Opened the door. Slid out of the car.

Tears welled up, but he sniffed and swallowed, forcing them back.

CRASH. He slammed the door. The sound of it filled the night, and a dog started barking.

"I ain't never been no fuckin' thief," the Walking Man muttered aloud. "Damned if I'll start now."

The sound of his feet was fast on the concrete.

Thump
Thump
Thump-thump-thump.

He turned the corner.

Turn back | Keep Walking

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