They were full gusto this evening, harsh winds flood in howling its way down the street. However, it's bark was far worse than its bite. It’ s mid-October and autumn is in full sway. Orange leaves blanket the ground with sprinkles if red, yellow, and brown between them.
A man walks down from the subway onto the street. A taxi is waiting for him at the end of the block. “ Where to Dr. Hearth?”
“I just came back from my family's annual gathering.”
“Right the noodle shop on 4th.” He starts the car then turns on the meter. A formality for this particular passenger. We’ll be there in three-bite of a donut and five sips if Joe.
A small smile finally made its appearance on the doctor's face. He adjusts his glasses. “Mike, you never seem to change.”
“Not true. The wife popped out three more since I last saw you.”
“See? I have changed. I’ m the father of triplets now.” He grins. His eyes are full of pride.
“ There you sit full of pride. Why do I feel it’ s Megan who deserves the award and accolades.”
“ No doubt. My precious Megan did a great job, but I deserve some marks of valor too.”
“That's right. It was a miracle I made it out alive.”
“ Yeah.” He chuckles, pulling up to the sidewalk. “ I was trying to give her a pep talk. ‘ You can do it, Meg. It’s a walk in the park super easy for you. Your the best.’. I think I said something wrong because the next thing I know she is trying to strangle me with an oxygen mask.”
Dr. Hearth laugh. “ I’ m not sure if I should pin you for valor, stupidity, or both.”
After the two men share a few more laughs, Dr. Hearth enters the small noodle shop. (A year has passed this place still hasn't changed much.)
The batman rock scribble, he wrote on the wall when he was ten can be seen over the right corner of the two seated table next to it. A little radio, that replaced the old one three years ago, played ransom hit songs from a familiar oldies station. An old woman was out from the back.
The old woman smiles. “ You're here.” She chimes. “Rayne! Jared is here.”
“Jared!” Squeals the young woman running from the backroom. “ How was it. Did it go better this?”
“ Sadly it is more of the same. I don’t think they will change. It's is too much fun. They get to hurt others and feel god Like powers.” Jared numb now to the.pain his relative causes. “ I still have you guys as my surrogate family. I’m happy.”
They share a meal before making a small prayer to the old man in the frame on the shelf. Jared's grandfather was a remarkable man in his time. He
was happy loving his family, friends, and employees. Sadly, as he aged his family changes little by little becoming more greedy for his fortune day by day. (It's nine at night. The time you left and date, you left us. I bid farewell again hoping your spirit is peaceful. Your thought refresh and your soul to travel well wrapped in love and harmony. I miss you, Gramps, the world is so cold without you. )
He kisses them goodbye. Just as in opens the door an ambulance rushes waking its siren as it makes its way towards the traffic up ahead. (Too many people are hurt every day.) “Mike let's head home," Jared calls out, once he was seated.
“ No problem. It looks like there may be traffic up ahead do you want to listen to some music?”
“Let’s try some news instead.”
“Okay, here we go.”
[ The tragically young Artist Kile Steel has been rushed to the hospital. This would be his third suicide attempt in the last five years. There will be more updates as information comes in. He is only twenty-two years old. ]
“ Turn it off that is just too depressing.”
“You got it friend.”
(I wonder why he does it.)
Kile opens his eyes finding himself in the middle of a meadow. “Where am I?”
“You are at chance crossings.”
Kile turns around to see an old man standing behind him. “ Who are you? Why am I here?”
“ I am here to give you a choice. Work to live or release your grip on life.”
“ Grip of life? What are you talking about.” Flashes of him falling to the ground rose up in his mind and a shadow of a person looming over him before he passes out. He slowly steps back away from the old man. “ Wait a minute. Are you telling me that I'm-”
“ No. Not yet.” The old man quickly assures him. “ But the road back will not be easy. Child, are you willing?”
Something in this man's expression gave him a sense of hope. “Do I really have a chance?”
“I brought you back from the edge. There are no more ways back. The only path left is this one.” He points to an old bridge.
“Where does this go?”
“This is called the smiling path.”