Thursday, May 21, 2015

he walked with death

by manfred skyline

illustrated by konrad kraus

sometimes he walked in the daylight.

when he did, it was usually just before nightfall, when his restlessness would not let him wait for the darkness, or just after dawn, if his footsteps had taken him farther afield than usual.

but mostly he walked at night.

and death was everywhere with him, in front of him, at his back, at his fingertips.

most commonly in the speeding cars and trucks which filled the roads at all hours.

whizz. whizz. whizz. speeding by.

and only a step, it would only take a step - a matter of an instant - to step in front of one and be obliterated.

and there were the bridges and overpasses and elevated tracks everywhere - some not so high as to ensure death if he jumped from them - but many that surely were.

and even surer than the cars and bridges - the subways with their screaming black juggernauts that nothing could hope to survive.

and that could be stood inches away from!

compared to these, hardly worth mentioning were the dark streets filled with dark desperate people - men but also women - “armed to the teeth” with guns and knives - suspicious, hostile - so easily insulted and provoked if one cared to do so.

but these - presented as so terrifying in the newspapers and films and television shows - were as nothing compared to the roaring death all around one in the streets and bridges and subways.

and how strange - that the millions of people he walked through hardly seemed to notice.

were they really unaware that death was all around them - a step away, a split second of an impulse away?

and so he walked with death, night after night.

he usually timed his walks so that he returned to his room just before dawn.

he would stop at the little convenience store beside his apartment building for his daily sustenance.

he would buy a can of diet pepsi, or yoo-hoo chocolate drink.

he liked the little plastic wrapped sandwiches which had been delivered from exotic locations.

a ham and cheese sandwich from akron ohio, or an egg salad sandwich from fort worth texas.

he knew he should buy an apple or a banana for health treasons, but rarely did.

he would take his humble purchases and enter the apartment building and get into the old whining elevator up to his solitary lair.

having walked through the valley of death.

for one more night.


  1. He tried that walk once, why not save time?

    He knew he had to use what was at hand, he couldn't walk into a gun shop and exit
    with a bobbed-hammer Smith J-Frame, tuned like a pitch-fork. he'd been convicted
    and didn't like the outcome, a record hanging over his head like the sword of Damocles.
    Suddenly Lawrence of Arabia jumped into his head like a cat burglar sliding down a rope.
    So easy to twist the grip, throttle-up into never-never nomad land on a blind curve smooth
    as a babe's razor-honed calf, dark as the fender on a Vincent Black Shadow on a moonless

    He would ride the curves until head-lights came at him through the middle of a dead-end point,
    then stand on the pegs until he heard his head-light burst.

    He woke under starched sheets, tubes in his body, time on his hands, trussed-up like a
    Thanksgiving turkey, ready for the holiday oven. He chalked it up to another point of no-return.

  2. mr anonymous, thank you for your input