I remember the first time I saw him. He was an old man, though he could have just seemed old by the way he stood with his shoulders hunched over and his face covered with a beard. He was the type of man who looked as though life had not treated him the kindest, and had regretted his life because of it. He was sitting at the edge of an alleyway, and when I saw him I knew that from that moment on, my life was to be far different, and not for the better.
I was ten when I first saw him. I was still naïve, still unaware of what was happening, yet I believed that I knew everything. But, when I saw him, I felt as though my balloon of false pride and self-righteousness had been stabbed with a knife. I felt as though suddenly, I was hopeless, unable to go on. My life was literally meaningless. I swore I would never be like that, but try as I might, there were much more powerful forces at play here.
As I grew older I continued to see the man, next to a dumpster, laying on a park bench. I saw him much more than one would usually see of your normal homeless man. Everywhere I seemed to go, he was there. Soon, he started showing up at places where he had no place being. I would see him looking through windows at me, he would appear at my school, wondering the halls, but when I asked my friends if they saw him, they would stare at me and ask if I was crazy. Slowly his constant appearances started to gnaw at me mind. I started to question everything I saw, wondering if they were also strange apparitions that my mind had made up. I grew into a deep depression, and as my mood grew darker, my friends left me. Soon I started paying less and less attention to my school work and to social activities. By the end of my junior year of high school, I had become a recluse, hardly even daring to look others in the eye. I spent my days in my house lying to my parents that I was sick and unable to attend school. I hoped that if I locked myself up, I wouldn’t see the man. But even then he haunted me. I would see him outside my window, standing across the street. Sometimes I thought I saw him move as to try and get into my house. It was during this time that I made the first realization that he was saying something. I don’t know what, and even to this day I wonder what he was trying to tell me, but his lips would move and he would cup his hands to yell, but yet nothing came out.
When I eventually dropped out of high school at 17, my parents told me that I either needed to get a job or they would kick me out of the house. Eventually, I picked up a job flipping burgers at a nearby fast food restaurant. The 5 minutes it took me to drive from my house to work were the worst 5 minutes of my day. Each day I was scared, scared I would see him, and on most days, my fears came true. On one occasion, he darted out into the street in front of my car. I can dully remember speeding up, hoping to hit him, to end this man who was causing me so much pain. I felt the impact of my car hitting him, crushing him. And I remember thinking finally, it’s over. I stopped the car and got out. I walked to the back, looking for his broken body. When I found nothing, I looked beneath my car. Yet, the body had strangely disappeared. As I slowly got back into the car, I remember wondering to myself why this demonic creature had chosen me to ruin, why it had made me his choice to shower pain upon.
When I turned 21, I started binge drinking. I had gotten drunk often enough before, drowning out the thoughts of him, but this when I started to do it on a consistent basis. My parents, finally sick of my self-destructive nature, kicked me out of the house and onto the streets to live. My life only deteriorated from there. Soon I found myself waking up drunk in the backs of alleys. I had to dumpster dive for food and the only place that was left for me sleep on were park benches. I had long ago been fired from my job, and I now spent my days begging for money, which I would then turn around and use to buy more alcohol. I allowed my appearance to decay and became a sight terrifying to children and even some weaker adults. And yet, through it all, the man haunted me, even though he had reduced my life down to nothing but rubble and ashes.
One night, in a drunken stupor, the pain finally overtook me. I committed suicide by drowning myself in a puddle in some forgotten alleyway. I thought that would be the end, and it was, at least for my visions of the man.
I reawakened, sitting at the end of an alleyway. My thoughts cried with despair, thinking I had even failed in taking my life. It was then that I realized that no one was looking at me in disgust. They were passing by, as though I didn’t even exist. It was then that I caught sight of young boy; he couldn’t have been more than ten years old. He was staring at me, and he was the only one doing so. He reminded me strangely of myself when I was his age. While I looked back at him, I remembered what I had though years before while I had looked at a man much similar to myself. I would never be like that, I had sworn. Looking at him I whispered, “Don’t you ever become like me, kid.”
I watched him but he made no motion to act as if he had heard me. Raising my voice, I repeated “Don’t you ever become like me, ya’ hear me boy?”
As I watched he turned away, and yet I just felt he hadn’t heard me. Suddenly, a panic bloomed inside of me. I had to tell him. He had to know, he couldn’t live like me, I had to follow him, stop him before his life was like mine…….
Credit To – Mars Ulta