Old Man never smiled.

Old Man never wept.

Old Man never spoke a single kind word to The Boy.

If Old Man spoke to The Boy at all it was to shout orders and to curse his name.

Old Man always demanded that The Boy take care of Old Man and Old Man’s home.

Old Man expected The Boy to keep the house and to do the chores and to cook the meals but never explained the standards by which he expected these tasks to be done.

Old Man never thanked or praised The Boy whose efforts were only rewarded with the back of The Old Man’s hand.

Old Man would frequently fly into a rage and beat The Boy mercilessly without a word of explanation.

The Boy grew up without a Mother.

Old Man’s home over the years played host to a parade of calloused Old Women who alternatively ignored or abused The Boy.

The Boy grew up bitter.

The Boy grew up mean.

The Boy came to age never knowing anything but pain and neglect.

The Boy came to age with nothing in his heart but a cold and murderous hatred for Old Man.

The Boy obsessed about the day when he would grow strong and The Old Man would grow feeble.

The Boy never smiled,

And The Boy never wept,

And The Boy looked into the mirror and Old Man stared back at him.

Old Man called out from his bed, “Boy come here! Help me from my bed!”

The Boy did not come to Old Man’s side but continued to stare into his reflection.

Old Man called out again from his bed, “Curse you, Boy ! Come here and help me from my bed, Damn you”!

But The Boy still would not come to Old Man’s side.

Once more, Old Man called out from his Bed, this time with fear in his voice, “Boy! … I…I am sick and cannot rise from my bed! Boy…Please come help me! I am afraid for my life!”

The Boy grinned and Old Man grinned back from inside the mirror.

“Now is the moment that I have been waiting for all of my life,” The Boy spoke to the reflection.

“Now is the moment which I shall collect my dividends of suffering,” the reflection replied.

The Boy bade himself into Old Man’s room and saw that the Old Man was on his deathbed.

Old Man was faint and pale.

A sheen of sweat shone on Old Man’s skin.

The room was filled with the musk of fear.

The Boy reached out to put his hands around Old Man’s throat, but felt that all the hate and pain had left his heart.

The Boy lifted Old Man’s body into his arms and felt how frail it was.

As frail as that of a child’s.

The Boy held Old Man closely and let his tears roll down his face.

And listened,

As The Old Man, too, cried at last.

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