Thursday, June 10, 2010

A Noble Profession

For Three Word Wednesday. This week’s prompt: roam, noble, hidden.
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“I chose this life,” he said.

I was checking email on my Blackberry, waiting for the bus. The growing reek of sweat and smoke preceded him as he scooted closer.

“I don’t have to be a tramp. I want to be one. It’s a noble profession,” he said.

I cocked an eyebrow. Greasy wisps of hair spilled from a black stocking cap set high on his head. His face was pock-marked and gritty, as if scrubbed by the pavement. He wore a tattered USC sweatshirt and an unbuttoned trench coat. Despite his layers, he looked comfortable in the 80 degree heat.

“Profession?” I said.

His eyes bulged.

“Oh yes. We’re the sages of the 21st century. The tramp scorns the very tenet upon which modern society thrives, the notion that a prosperous life is built on the rubble of friends and co-workers sacrificed in the unholy pursuit of the corner office. I roam the streets, observing the shameful state of humanity and offering a chance at redemption. I give reprieve from greed, an opportunity to rediscover human kindness through the smallest token: the gift of a dollar, perhaps.”

“So you want a dollar?” I said.

“But that’s not the point,” he said. “I want you to rediscover the joy of helping a fellow man. Mencius once said, ‘He who attends to his greater self becomes a great man, and he who attends to his smaller self becomes a small man.’ I want to make you a great man.”

I pulled out my wallet. “I can spare a buck.”

He smiled as I held out the dollar.

“Or you could just give me all of it,” he said.

“All of it? I don’t think –” He had a pistol hidden in the pocket of his trench coat; the barrel protruded from a hole in the lining.

“And the Blackberry,” he said.

16 comments:

  1. Whoa, great ending! He sold the prophet bit flawlessly. Nice one Matt!

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  2. Fantastic! Loved the whole thing, especially the ending.

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  3. Wow. Didn't see that one coming! Nice twist at the end and good use of the prompt words.

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  4. The nobel profession of spinning a line then backing it up with force. Nice stuff.

    marc nash

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  5. That was good. Loved the twisted ending. A noble thief in any century.

    -Tim

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  6. Tight and with a twist - excellent!

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  7. I'd almost feel honoured to be mugged by this fellow!
    Great ending, especially the last line

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  8. Thanks everyone for taking the time to read and comment. I really appreciate it.

    I didn't think I had time for a piece this week, but I just kind of hammered this one out, and I am really happy with the result.

    As always, thanks for sharing your own stories as well. I learn so much from everyone.

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  9. Ha! Good one. You pulled me in and then ended with a sucker punch. Great writing!

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  10. Lol, Matt - I love it - he's got his routine down pat. Nice surprise ending :-)

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  11. And here I was, so impressed with the tramp, and then he resorted to... inspiration!

    Great read, and tight writing.

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  12. A nice curve at the end! Well done. I liked the eloquence of the bum too; a good characterization job. Nicely done!

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  13. The last line makes it. Well done!

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