A Prophet and a Penthouse Suite by Martin Brick

“Don’t miss the bus,” the man growled. Stephen just walked past, but the man followed. “Talking to you.”

Stephen looked back, wavering between threatening and dismissive. Usually he ignored the homeless, but this guy taunted for weeks.

“There’s a bus for you. Be on it.”

Hours later he stepped onto the balcony. Too cold really, but he admired the December air. The lights. The half-silence of height.

His grandfather owned 40 acres in Ohio and was a humble, poor man. Stephen owned a fraction of that, but in Manhattan, and was decadently rich.

His grandfather had disputes over stray cows. Stephen – insider trading. The feds were interested.

“Thinking of jumping?” Helen pulled on the fur as she stepped out. Nothing on underneath but black lace, looking like his Jack Vettriano painting. She said he lived a Vettriano-painted life.

He bought the coat to distract her from the federal investigation and from his secretary.

“Not that bad. I’ll pull through.”

She looked out. “You think jumpers ever hurt others? Hit a person? Hit a cab?”

The man came to mind. “Hit a bus?” Even transients wanted him to take a flying leap.

“My grandpa… with a shotgun,” he told Helen. “Because he lost the farm.”

The next morning, again: “Don’t miss the bus.”

Stephen snapped, grabbed the man’s coat. “Stop harassing me! You want a bus?” And pushed him into the street.

He had time to reconsider. As the bus approached he leapt, pushed the man back. Saved his life.


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Filed under Martin Brick

7 responses to “A Prophet and a Penthouse Suite by Martin Brick

  1. I like this. I’m all set to hate the guy, and then he gets this moment of redemption when he changes his mind at the end, though even that’s ambiguous.

  2. Nice back and forth, of lives, of moments, the finale us just what power he has.

  3. Kim Hutchinson

    Phew! Glad he had time to reconsider.

  4. And so its a self fulfilling prophecy? The homeless man goaded him into what he’d been saying all along…

    I disliked the main character (as a person, not the way he was written), but I’m glad he had a chance to redeem himself in the end. Well done.

  5. The ending, so not an ending, and yet…Really enjoyed that, great details throughout. You really know how to create a very non-sympathetic protagonist that leaves me wondering, even in “saving” this man’s life at the end, do I like him? Find him someone I would want to read more about? I think the length of this is perfect.

  6. Al McDermid

    “Thinking of jumping?” Helen pulled on the fur as she stepped out. Not only is this a perfect line, it’s perfectly timed. Guess I’m supposed to dislike the guy, but I don’t. He’s just a guy and I’ve dealt with worse. Anyway, well done, all around.

  7. Pingback: Week #31 – Missed the bus | 52|250 A Year of Flash

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