Ecce Homo: A Calling
Author’s Note: This short story was written in 2010 or 2011, and is dedicated to my friend F.S.B. The story is titled “Ecce Homo: A Calling.” This is the second of six parts, which will be posted each Monday of Lent. You can read the first part here.
(from Part 1) The student put his hands on his face and pulled them down his cheeks. He began swearing, but the man stopped him thus:
“Excuse me, son. Can I help you?”
PART 2 BEGINS HERE
The student rubbed the snot away from his nose, and replied, “Not unless you got some wheels.” He said this in a mean, sarcastic way as he looked the man up-and-down.
“So, you’re waiting for a bus, then,” the man asked him. “May I ask which one?”
“It’s like the Number-3 bus or something. Whichever one stops near 9th and Ohio. I can walk to my dorm from there.”
“That would be the Number-6 bus. It should be here in about ten minutes.”
“You sure,” the student asked.
The man nodded his head as he pulled out his umbrella. It was beginning to sprinkle, and while the weather had been nice earlier that the evening, the forecast had called for rain later that night. As the man unfurled and opened his umbrella, the rain picked up.
“You’re welcome to come and sit under the umbrella. It’s big enough for two.”
The man was right, as his umbrella was one of those that they use on golf courses. It probably would have been big enough for three.
The student was resolved he would do no such thing. He looked around for an awning, or some overhang he could stand under, but there was none nearby. The last thing he wanted to do was sit next to a man he didn’t know, even if he had an adequate shelter from the downpour. A few moments, it began to rain harder.
After a minute or so of persistent showering, the man insisted again. The boy finally swallowed his pride and ran to the other end of the bench. The man was perfectly dry under his umbrella, and the boy was reluctant to admit that he had been wrong to reject such an offer. Even though his pride could not overcome his sense of self-preservation, he felt humiliated sitting there.
This situation, awkward as it was for the college student, initiated a very interesting conversation that lasted the whole ten minutes or so until the Number-6 bus arrived. The conversation must be modified slightly as there was some cursing on the account of the college student, but was much to this effect:
“Why do these buses have to take so long,” the student said in a very impatient and frustrated manner.
“Will you please not talk so loud?”
“What? You got a problem with me,” he said.
“No,” the man said in a kind voice. “I said nothing of the kind. I merely have a problem with the smell of your breath,” as they were sitting unavoidably close to each other beneath the umbrella. “You had too much to drink.”
“You sound like my father.”
“Perhaps both he and I have your best interests at heart,” the man said.
“You don’t know anything about me!”
The man merely smiled and said, “I know that you like Jack Daniels.”
At this, the student began chuckling and told the man, “Yeah, man! Of course I do.” He smiled and nodded his head, as if to say, “Good times…Good times.”
“But, son, haven’t you ever wondered,” the man asked, “if you were making the wrong decision? Don’t you ever regret it?”
“No! This is the life, man. For sure.”
The boy thought he was fooling him, but really, his inebriated state made it even easier to see right through him.
“Really,” the man asked. “Then why are you sitting out here with me, and not in there partying with your friends?”
End of Part 2. Check back next Monday for Part 3. (Keep reading the blog in the meantime, though.)