Coward

Last night comprised a flurry of ugly dreams, all tangled in a ball of razor wire twine amid constraints as confining as a straight-jacket. I remember the fuzzy details of only one of the night’s experiential horrors. I was walking along a city street behind a couple of guys who, when accosted by a small group of men, shouted loudly and pointed to me before they ran away. Their attackers then turned their attention to me; they demanded my money, without showing weapons or otherwise demonstrating their intent to do me harm if I did not comply; but it was evident to me they would kill me if I did not give them my money.

“How much?” I asked.

“Everything,” one of them responded.

“I need some just to get home.”

“Everything, if you want to get home.”

I considered fighting, but was too afraid. So I gave them everything. And then they let me walk away. I did not know where I was, nor how to get home. As I came upon a bus stop, I found a sack—filled with quarters and half-dollars—in a muddy gutter. As I fumbled through the coins to count bus fare, a feeling of utter failure swept over me. I hadn’t even attempted to fight; I sense that everyone standing around me at the bus stop knew I was a coward, an irredeemable coward.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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