by Denny E. Marshall
Every working day Jack would see the old street beggar on the way to get coffee from the Coffee-For-Fee shop
before heading to the office. He would always be on the same corner,
either begging for change, or holding up a sign that said, The End Is Near.
clothes were dirty, worn, with rips and small holes in them, his shoes
in the same condition. The man himself had a grandfatherly appearance,
with white hair, blue eyes, a wrinkled face, and a slight bend in his
At first, Jack did not pay attention to him, but over time he
would stop and give the man a couple of dollars and a friendly word.
Others would make fun of the man, and this bothered Jack. If you don’t
have anything good to say, why not say nothing? We have all have been
down on our luck before, at least Jack had, and knew what the feeling
was like. After stopping by a few times, he found out that the old
man’s name was Hank.
As the weeks pass, Jack started to notice small changes in Hank. He was still begging for money and holding up his The End Is Near sign, but his clothes seemed less worn, and his appearance more youthful.
time passed, Jack noticed that Hank’s clothes and shoes were even
newer, and he had lost some of the wrinkles in his face. There seemed
to be more zip in his step. He did not look like an old man anymore.
Jack could swear he was getting younger, not older. Hank’s routine did
not change though, still asking for change, and holding up the sign.
Jack gave him a five once in a while.
The changes in Hank gradually continued, so one day Jack decided to stop and ask him about it.
“Looks like things are looking up for you Hank, why do you still stand out here and beg and hold up that The End Is Near sign? Your appearance has really changed.” Jack inquired. Hank replied
“Next Friday” Then he adds, “Don’t have to wear the uniform anymore.”
Jack was puzzled, “Friday? Uniform?”
“Yes next Friday is the last time I will be standing on this corner.” Hank answered.
“What happens on Friday?” Jack asked curiously.
“That’s when I receive my final payment.” Hank responded.
“Payment?” Jack said.
continued, “Yes I will board the ship on Friday afternoon and the world
will be destroyed Friday night. They told me I do not have to wear the
beggar’s uniform anymore. I held up that The End Is Near sign
for four years, and one of my payments is a slot aboard the spaceship.
They did not want to destroy the planet without giving everyone ample
warning, so they hired about two hundred of us to get the word out. Not
my fault if no one listens! The pay is good and the health plan
Jack was about to dismiss the story. Then he looked up at Hank
and noticed that he was not an old man anymore. There were no wrinkles
in his face, his teeth were even and white, and his body was now
straight. There was something about his aura and being in his presence
this close that made Jack believe the story.
Jack asked him, “Any extra tickets available?”
“You know, I have been standing on this corner for four years,
and you are the first person to ask. Only one ticket per person.” Hank
pulled an envelope out of his pocket, removed a ticket and handed it to
“It pays to be nice to everyone.” Hank remarked, with a smile and a wink.
© 2017 Denny E. Marshall
Denny E. Marshall has had art, poetry, and fiction
published. One recent credit is fiction at Stinkwaves
Fall 2017. See more at www.dennymarshall.com.
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