The Weight of Death

Down on the scene and it was in his head. His hoodie didn’t quite cover his face enough where his hair was slicked onto his face and she walked up and hit his shoulder as he passed, his eyes on the cracks in the sidewalk and avoiding them . step on a crack, step on a crack, step on a crack

She turned around, her afro swaying as she turned, her face contorted as she began her neck gyrations, but he didn’t hear any of this. He looked back as she put her hand on her hip and waved a finger at him, her fluffy collar silhouetted against the streetlight.

He steeped into the street and his splashed ankle-deep into a puddle but kept going, not seeming to notice.

The whore’s perfume was strong and the scent lingered like an obese woman that tries to cover up the stink of her fat with gallons of eau de toilette. He clenched his fist in his pocket and the muscles on his jaw flexed, the vein on his temple throbbed.

“Don’t turn around,” he thought and marched on to the other side of the street, back up onto the sidewalk. step on a crack, step on a crack, step on a crack

Two black boys were arguing in a covered bus stop as the sprinkles started back up. He glanced up and made eye contact.

The first kid put his hand on the other kid’s chest as he looked at the hooded figure.

“Hey, what you lookin’ at, white boy?” His voice rough and indignant.

The man shook his head under the hood and kept going, fingering the shard in his pocket, his hand still clenched strong around it.

“Don’t turn around,” He repeated and shook his head again. step on a crack, step on a crack, step on a crack

“I’m talkin’ to you, boy!” The boys put their hoods up and came out of the bus stop.

“I don’t want no trouble,” he said with his head half turned, never breaking his stride. Step on a crack. The vein throbbed harder and he closed his eyes and sighed, continued his pace.

“Nobody eyes me, punk,” the same black kid said and picked up the pace, splashing and echoing in the night.

He heard the steps getting closer and tried to ignore it. “Please, I don’t want any trouble; I wasn’t eyeing anyone.” step on a crack, step on a crack, step on a crack

“Oh, so now I’m not anyone? You got a problem, white boy?” he said, intent on starting trouble.

The kid caught up to him and put a hand on the man’s shoulder and pushed.

He stumbled, caught himself, stopped, and turned around. Keeping his head down, he said, “Go home, kid, you don’t want any of this.”

“Ha! We got ourselves a hero,” he laughed, stretching the word out to ‘hee-roe.’ “You’re a big man, aren’t ya? We’ll see how big you are.”

The black kid pulled back to punch the hooded man. He pulled his hood back and the black boy startled and stepped back. His eyes were glowing yellow with red irises and he was sweating through his shirt. His hand was clenched into a fist and his other hand was pointing at the kid, who collapsed to his knees.

“I curse you with the weight of death,” the man said.

The kid put his hands on his head and started yelling, started to press his eyes closed and then to scratch at them, gouging them, blood coming out from the scratches, coating the underside of his fingernails. Screams turned to shrill screeches as he writhed on the ground.

His friend caught up, glanced at the man with strange eyes, looked at his friend, who lashed out at him with terror in his eyes, and started to bang his head on the ground, scratching up the side of his face, pulling skin off and his hands dug deeper.

His friend looked back up at the stranger, who slowly turned to him and moved his finger over. He started to run away without turning his eyes from the man, he ran into a parked car, turned and ran, his coat flying back; he didn’t dare turn around.

The stranger put his finger down and felt for the item in his clenched fist, and, reassured, put his clenched fist back in his pocket, used his free hand to pull his hood back over his face. He looked at the kid on the ground, who trailed blood to the side of the street, where he found a bottle, shattered it, and gouged his own eyes out before carving up his neck. He was bleeding out into the gutter, his blood black in the dark night, draining into the sewer like all the other filth.

The man walked over to the boy, pulled his clenched fist out of his pocket, a glow escaping from between his fingers, reached towards the prostrated figure, who glowed briefly as a bolt of light drew out of him and joined with the glow in the hooded man’s fist.



Author’s notes

The idea from this story came to me on my commute in the morning. I was listening to the radio, listening more intently than I normally do, and “The Impression That I Get” by the Mighty Mighty Bosstones came on.

“Have you ever been close to tragedy
Or been close to folks who have
Have you ever felt a pain so powerful
So heavy you collapse”

I thought to myself, “Self, I HAVE felt a pain so powerful that I collapsed.” I was on a short trip when I learned of my dad’s death, and I did collapse, or more of a squatting down, putting my hands on my head and just feel the terrible weight of death force me down.

So I thought it would be quite evil to be able to force that feeling on someone else, perhaps with an inner struggle, a sort of neutral-evil that the person, so-empowered, has to resist. He doesn’t want to inflict this pain on others, but he’s tempted, and sometimes trouble finds him and he breaks.

In the name of keeping you on your toes, I added in the tension of “step on a crack” to make you wonder, to make you think that this guy’s not right in the head.

The soul stealing part at the end was inspired by a conversation about Pulp Fiction (the mysterious glowing something inside the briefcase). I like to add some mystery to my stories to engage, to make it feel like there’s an entire story you’re not getting but want to know more about.