The Old Beggar, 1916 by Louis Dewis

I had an hour to kill, so I watched him.

From the very back of the Walmart parking lot.

I had a date in the next county over that evening, and an appointment that afternoon that I had just come from. I really didn’t want to drive back and forth, so I parked my reasonably expensive brand new car at the back of the lot and cranked the Mumford and Sons Pandora station via Bluetooth to my 12 different surround-sound car speakers.

I leaned the seat back to get more comfortable. I cranked up the air. I diddled on my phone. I checked my Facebook. I played some games.

Besides some old abandoned boat several stalls over, the lot was empty.

Until he showed up.

An old car slowly wheeled in and came to a loud and squeaky halt six or so empty rows in front of mine. It had nothing but a cracked windshield for windows. The back window and every side window had long ago been replaced by thick, and now rotting, cardboard. Dents lined all sides of it. The paint was chipped beyond recognition. One taillight was non-existent. I couldn’t tell the make or model because the emblems had at some point fallen off.

The tires of this unmarked vehicle were worn so thin that they would blow at any moment. A loud explosion from the tailpipe was the perfect final proof that this car belonged in an abandoned field, not in an abandoned parking lot.

The car was directly in front of me. Facing me. For the longest time I couldn’t make out any movement. The windshield was so dirty I could only make out the silhouette of a man, sitting so still, seemingly watching me in return.

And then his figure moved slightly.

And I watched him.

His car, which is a title I give loosely to his rolling junk pile, was parked close to the parking lot exit.

His door opened. Or I should say, after some considerable effort it was opened. It see-sawed back and forth several times as if it was stuck before it finally sprang forward.

Again, there was no movement for some time.

Eventually one foot stepped out to the pavement.

And then eventually another.

Why was this man moving so slowly? Something about it didn’t seem right.

It took him at least two minutes to pull himself up out of his car. And another fifteen to walk around to the passenger side door.

With each eternal step he took, it seemed like hours passed.

He was an old man. Mid sixties, maybe. Perhaps older. And he was hurting.

Every move he made was hurting him.

Every step he took.

Every turn. Every twist. Every breath of air.

He was moving so slowly because it hurt him so much to move.

I know this because I sat and watched him.


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Dan Pearce is an American-born author, app developer, photographer, and artist. This blog, Single Dad Laughing, is what he’s most known for, with more than 2 million daily subscribers as of 2017. Pearce writes mostly humorous and introspective works, as well as his musings which span from fatherhood, to dating, to life, to the people and dynamics of society. Single Dad Laughing is much more than a blog. It’s an incredible community of people just being real and awesome together!