The Bully

I can see him there in his leather jacket, leaning with one foot against the wall, flipping a coin in his right hand.

I don’t like him.

I used to have friends who protected me from him, but they have died and gone away; he is the only one who is left. I try to avoid him, but he knows my habits and he seems to be everywhere I go. He stares at me as I try to walk past him nonchalantly, but I know he can see my fear.

He is stalking me.

He is a werewolf or maybe something worse, because at night he turns into a fearsome beast. I cannot see him in the darkness because his fur is black. I know he is near when the hair on the back of my neck suddenly stands on end and I can smell his rancid breath. He is bigger than me, he is stronger than me, I beg him to let me go, to leave me alone, but he tackles me hard and he slams me down. I wail, Why does he do this? I have never done him any harm. He slashes my flesh with his claws, tearing my clothes, beating me mercilessly, until I lay on the ground, sobbing and bleeding, screaming for help that never comes.

I slip into unconsciousness from the pain, sleeping a fitful, dreamless sleep.

I awake with the sun, and I find that my clothes are not torn, that my wounds have healed, and that there are no scars, just dimples in my face from sleeping on the gravel. My muscles are sore and my mouth is paste.

I get up.

As I walk out the limp, I take a different route this time, but it doesn’t matter. I see him there in his leather jacket, leaning with one foot against the wall, flipping a coin in his right hand.

I don’t like him.

He stares at me as I try to walk past him nonchalantly, but I know he can see my fear. He checks his watch, not to find out the time, but to intimidate me. He looks up from his watch as if to say, we have an appointment, and I dread the fall of night.

I cannot shake him.

I do not know why he pursues me.

He stalks me everywhere I go.

At least I know his name:

Loneliness