King of the Road

“I,m out of here”. Now there was a hollow ring to these words,spoken in anger and frustration not two days since in yet another clash of wills with his father. He now sat beside the river watching the dark water ebb around the concrete pillars, which formed a base for the road above. Dark storm clouds were gathering and moved swiftly in the half dark sky and the wind moaned fretfully as it picked up the dead leaves which had fallen from a tree nearby. The boy pulled his thin coat more closely about him. Had it really been two days since he had left the warmth and security of the only home he had known for the last seventeen years? Half formed ideas about leaving home had been whirling around in his brain for months now, and the argument with his father had been the last straw as far as he was concerned, making the decision to leave easier. The only drawback so far had been that in his hasteto be away, he had only the clothes he was wearing and a few shillings left over from his Saturday job. Most of this had already been spent on a meagre sandwich meal and some luke-warm tea in a plastic cup.
As he sat and wondered at his plight, he noticed out of the corner of his eye, a scruffy figure approaching. He could see as it got nearer, that it was a man with long matted hair and a beard of the same calibre. The figure shuffled towards him and sat down, rubbing together grubby hands in an effort to bring some warmth to them.
" Evenin’ boy", he said. “What’re you doin’ out so late”? There was a tense silence while the boy wondered if he should tell the truth about his situation, or make up a story to satisfy the curiosity of this stranger. There was something about this care
worn figure in the battered raincoat that appealed to him and so he decided upon telling the truth. After all as they would probably never meet again, so it didn’t really matter and after some hesitation the truth came tumbling out, making him feel better at having relieved himself of the burden he had been carrying since he left home.
The old man listened intently for a while and after a somewhat long silence he spoke. " I’ve been on the road for the past forty years. I started out in much the same way as you and for the same reasons. I thought I knew better than those who had lived most of a life time, and for that foolishness and arrogance I paid a heavy price as you can see. What I did learn over the years is that you can never recapture all that lost time and you’ll always regret throwing away the love of all those who had your welfare at heart. Go home boy! Put your pride in your pocket and listen to your dad. He knows what’s best for you".
The boy thought long and hard in silence, finally deciding to take the strangers advice, galling though it would be to have to admit that he was wrong. He looked up to tell of his decision, only to find to his surprise that he was alone. Gathering himself together, he stood up and made towards the lights of the nearby town.On a newspaper stand, it was reported by the Evening Echo that the body of an old man had been washed up beside the river that morning. There was an appeal to relatives to come forward to identify the body. Had the boy not been so lost in his own thoughts,he would have realised that he would be the only one to know that the appeal would be in vain

King of the Road

Flavia

Joined December 2008

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