Friday, November 18, 2011
Posted by Jonathan Martin
The Pennyman sat. For the first time since the fire, the explosions, he had no place to be, so he sat. He was not tired, he did not get tired, nor was he bored. He remembered a time when he would sit for hours without a soul to talk to. There were other days though that he would talk to many, too many. It did not matter who, or what they believed in, it was just his job to make sure that they made it to their next destination.
He heard the child’s approach from within the hardware store he sat in front of.
“Excuse me, umm, sir, do you have any food?”
The Pennyman turned, and his gaze fell upon a young girl, approximately eight, with curly red hair and a freckled face. Her cheeks were sunken, and her arms were thin. He smiled at her, remembering the dark haired children of his time, but shook his head. He did not need food, so carried none with him.
She sniffed, but did not start to cry. “Thanks anyways mister.” She said and turned to leave.
The Pennyman grabbed her arm and she resisted, struggling against him.
“Let me go,” she screamed, and it was followed by men off in the distance shouting
“This way!” and “She’s over there!”
She wriggled free of the Pennyman’s grasp and ran back into the hardware store, a look of panic upon her face.
As the door swung silently shut, three men brandishing guns rounded a corner down the street, running at full tilt.
“Hey, did you see a little girl? She’s been stealing food from us!” The one in the lead, wearing a read checkered shirt, and a grizzly expression, asked.
The Pennyman continued to look towards the ground, refusing to meet the man’s gaze.
“Hey, look at John-John when he talks to you.” One of the other men growled.
The Pennyman continued to stare at the ground in front of him, counting the pebbles on the street.
“Look at me!” Shouted the one referred to as John-John, or JJ to his close friends, who currently only consisted of the two men with him.
Finally, the Pennyman raised his gaze up to meet John-John’s, and he watched as the expressions of anger on the men turned to that of fear, and the blood drained from their faces. JJ fired first, and the bullet hit the Pennyyman square in the chest, but the next shot, fired by his companion as he turned to see where the shriek emanated from, caught JJ in the leg, nicking his artery. The third shot was a result of an argument between JJ’s companions, and left JJ’s shooter lying on the ground beside him, the third man running away from his recent companions. He never bothered to look for the girl, who had been the cause of their hunt, had been the one that had screamed when bullets started to fly.
The Pennyman sat for a few more minutes, waiting for JJ’s blood to stop spilling, for his breathing to stop, and when it had, he placed an obol in both men’s mouth, then stood up and turned toward the shop that still held the terrified girl. She was not hard to find, her sobs giving her away the moment he opened the door. Slowly, he walked to where she hid underneath the paint departments desk. He knelt down near her and extended his hand, smiling at her. He remained the for nearly five minutes before she finally held out her hand and took his. Gently he pulled her out from the desk and started walking towards the front door. They never reached the door, at least not the door of the hardware store.
“He’s back,” someone nearby exclaimed, as a pair of electric sliding doors opened before the pair. His sack in one hand, and the girl’s hand in his other, he walked through what had once been a Wal-mart, back towards the last row of occupied cubicles, a crowd assembling behind him as he walked.
He finally reached his destination and turned to the girl and nodded, then looked at the clean shaven man in front of him, just standing up from the blankets that he called a bed. “Sam, this is Evelyn,” he said, and his vocal chords groaned as they were stretched for the first time in months, but his voice came out deep. “She will help you, as you once helped me…” With that said, the Pennyman turned and walked back towards the gathering of people, disappearing before he reached them, and before he heard Sam’s stunned question.