Long Beard

The rain subsided though water still covered the road, washing in to the gutters. Jemmie and I were looking to make shenanigans, since the pub had forced its lights and air-conditioning on before slamming the door behind us.

In the dark, there stood a man, in ragged clothes, with a beard for days, his palm held out and face-up. “Come, love,” Long Beard begged. Not for food or money, but for a chance to touch another’s warm skin, to connect with a fellow human, and rid the loneliness. Still, I pushed Jemmie forward. “Oh, love, I see your lifeline’s short,” he said to her.

I wanted to laugh it off, declare him a freak and run, but the headlights stunned us. Then we heard the screech of tyres trying to clutch the road, like Long Beard’s palm, trying to reach out and clutch another human soul.

The rain never did subside.