Thursday, June 10, 2010

A Noble Profession

For Three Word Wednesday. This week’s prompt: roam, noble, hidden.
“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.


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

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

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

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

    marc nash

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


  6. Tight and with a twist - excellent!

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

  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.

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

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

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

    Great read, and tight writing.

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