The visitor

- By BlueMage

A dark alley, seemingly forgotten by all but him. Snow felt on his hair, and made it seem white. His breath was visible, and he was breathing heavily. Tonight, he hoped to be able to sleep.

He cursed, as memories of a forgotten romance flooded his mind. They mattered little, yet somehow they stuck to his brain like glue. He took a sib from the bottle he always carried, and then he sighed. Life was a bitch.

His hands, almost destroyed be the cold winter, opened the door, and he entered his home. It was a public bathroom. If he turned out lucky, nobody would force him out until the sun came up.

He kneeled in front of the toilet, and placed his head on its lid. Experience had shown him that this was the best position for sleeping, given the limited space. When he woke up, he would have a headache, and his neck would be as stiff as the drinks he'd used to drink. Better than the alternative of being dead, lying frozen in some container. Or was it, really?

He continued kneeling, until he heard somebody knocking on the door.

"Hey, mister! Get out of there," a young female said.

He tried staying silent, but when he heard the girl unlocking the door, he gave up. "Please," he said. "I just want to sleep."

The girl outside stopped fiddling with her keys. "I need to talk to you," she said.

He got up from his kneeling position. He hesitated before answering. "I'm not coming out!"

"Can I come in, then?"

He paused. Had no idea what to answer. "Yeah, I suppose so," he mumbled.

The door opened, and the most beautiful creature he'd ever seen entered. When you walk the streets, begging for quarters, you see a lot of women. They all look at you in pure disgust, but you can still tell which are pretty. Even if you have no chance of ever having sex again.

But this girl was different. She couldn't be more than fifteen, yet she was still able to make him forget everything but her. For a moment, he forgot breathing. He forgot the fact that he hadn't eaten all day, and he forgot about his left foot turning blue. He tried getting a grip, but found it impossible. This girl could ask him to rip his lungs out, and he wouldn't hesitate the slightest.

And finally she giggled. Heavenly music and childish charm seemed a perfect match. At that point, he wanted to hug her. He wanted to place his stinking, unshowered arms around her, and squeeze her, until she was out of breath.

"You live here?" she asked.

He started breathing again. "Yes, I suppose so."

She sat down next to him. The limited room made her touch him, and he shivered.

"You know," she said. "I don't have a home either."

He nodded. "You ran away from home?"

She shook her head. "No. My father threw me out."

"And your mother?"

She giggled, making him loose his breath again. How could anybody throw this beauty out?!

"I don't have a mother," she finally said.

"She's dead or something?"

"Nope. I just don't have one. Never did."

He accepted it as the truth. She could've told him that planes had crashed into the World trade Center, and he would still believe her.

None of them said anything for a while. The man tried understanding just how beautiful she was, but to no avail. This girl was more than beautiful, she was…

An angel

Yes, an angel. There was no way around it, this girl had a beauty so divine, so pure, so heavenly beautiful, that she could not be human. He tried looking at her, without her discovering it.

"By the way," he broke the silence. "My name is Gerhard Pauper."

She smiled, letting him see the most perfectly white teeth to have ever existed. "My name is," she paused, as if unsure what to answer. "Lucy. My name is Lucy."

"So, Lucy, where did you live, before you ran away?"

She sighed, her face instantly going sad. For a moment, he wanted to kill himself. He'd made her sad! Finally she answered. "Up north."

He accepted the answer. Obviously, she didn't want to talk about it.

"My father," she said. "He treated us like dirt. Every day, we should do what he told us to. Not once were we allowed to do as we pleased. I didn't even get any toys when I grew up. When I was born, he told me to work, just like he did with my sisters."

He had a hard time accepting what she was saying, but decided to let her finish her story, before judging. At least it would give him an opportunity to hear her enchanting voice.

"Every day, lights out, lights on. No exceptions. Me and some of my sisters tried arguing, and as a result, he threw us out."

"Just like that?"

"Yup. I'm just as homeless as you are." She giggled, made him close his eyes in disbelief.

She continued. "I've never slept. Do you believe that? I've been working my whole life. Light on, lights off, lights on, lights off. The whole time."

The girl understood nothing. "I would like to find some work," he said. "You know, earn some real money some day."

She smiled. "Yeah, I suppose you could put it that way. But nobody paid me for what I did. I just had to turn the lights on and off, every single day."

"That doesn't sound too tough."

"Well, it was some big lights."

He nodded, not really understanding what the heck she was saying.

She starred at him, her eyelids narrowed and her smile reappearing. She looked as if she'd just solved some sort of puzzle. "Hey, you're poor aren't you?"

He nodded, surprised that she hadn't noticed sooner.

"So, why are you poor?"

Unwanted memories flooded his mind. Memories of a wife, a child and countless money, seemed flooding his mind. A newborn child, the true enchantment of them all. A woman saying that she would stay with him forever.

And money. Lots of them.

She placed her hand on his shoulder, causing his sadness to instantly disappear. "I'm sorry, I shouldn't have asked that."

He nodded. "Yeah, I suppose," he smiled and looked at her. "Thank you. You're a good kid."

This made her laugh. "Most people think me evil."

"Yeah, most people are full of shit."

She shook her head. "No, not really. I may be evil, but compared to humans… No, not a chance. I mean, how much do people give you, when you beg? A dollar? Two?"

"Something like that, yeah."

"And they could spare so much more! Yet, they choose to ignore you, choose to walk past you and they choose cursing you when you can't hear it. People think themselves better than you, even if you're only divided by money."

How did she know that?

She coughed. "You know, I must go now. Throwing me out wasn't his only punishment."

"You're leaving?"

"He threw me out, and he'll soon change my body. Beauty doesn't last forever."

He nodded, accepting that the young beauty would leave. "Where are you headed?"

"Down south."

"How far down south?"

She laughed. "Really far."

"Yeah, at least it isn't as cold down there."

Hearing that, she stopped smiling. "No, it really isn't."

Then she left.

He immediately felt the cold returning. He got up and looked at himself in the mirror. He was no longer the rich man he'd been. He was a poor little piece of garbage, and now he realized something: That girl had been the only person in the universe who would ever see him as an equal. Everywhere he went, people would continue to think him inferior. They would call him names, and he would never have the slightest hope of escaping from the world of insults.

He smashed the mirror with his bare hands, ignoring the pain that soared through them. He cried, screamed and wanted out of it. He wanted to wake up, and realize that it had all been a dream. That his wife hadn't left him, and taken his money. That people wouldn't hate him, and tell him to get a job.

He took a piece of the shattered mirror, and held it towards his throat. No reason to postpone it any more. What had to be done had to be done. Besides, were there any reasons not to do this?

Blood filled the floor, as the poor man gasped for air. None came. He soon found himself being suffocated by his blood, and he felt the world disappear around him.

Separated from the world by money, he clutched the toiletseat. The lack of blood and air made everything blurry, and he couldn't think straight. He started visioning himself in the grand hall of what had once been his house. In front of him sat the woman who had been his wife. Till death do you part.

I'm sleepy he thought, and placed his head on the seat. Experience had taught him that this was the most comfortable position.

The next day, when people would find him, nobody would wonder why he'd killed himself. Hobos did that from time to time, and in the city of Angels, it was no rare sight.

Instead, they'd wonder about the markings outside the toilet. Somebody had walked away from this place. Not unusual, considering that it was a bathroom, yet these footmarks were different.

They were those of a goat.