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Shades of Tomorrow
by Nick Tyler
“Harrow! Harrow! Here comes tomorrow.” My words carry through the polluted air, whizzing by
others’ uninterested ears. Their pace is fast and their time for dirty-clothed men speaking strange words is nil. But
I continue my efforts. Persistence is the key in life. That’s how I ended up here. “Tomorrow is tomorrow. The
end is near.”
, and I’ve already received several responses:
“Get a life.”
“Find a job.”
“Take a shower.”
mumbo jumbo somewhere else, loser.”
These are the people
of NYC. I can’t help but wonder if the responses would be different if I stood on the streets of Omaha.
But I might get arrested there. At least I’m a part of the furniture here.
People!” I throw my hands high in the air, desperately trying to get their attention. “Tomorrow is near. Feel
good today. There isn’t much to pay.”
Finally, a familiar
man wearing a business suit stops. After placing his briefcase on the ground, he licks his finger and pats down the one loose
thread of his parted hair.
“Do you want
to know about tomorrow?” I ask as I scratch my dirty blue jeans just above my crotch.
do you want to know?”
“As you know,
I usually pay $200, but today I offer you a trade instead.”
about tomorrow is more right than you know.” He bends down, opens his briefcase, and takes out a pair of black sunglasses.
“I offer you these.”
I trust you?”
any reason not to? I’ve been nothing but honorable in the past. Plus, these sunglasses are much more valuable than what
you’re giving me.”
I sense he’s
telling the truth. I reach deep into my trench coat pocket and remove a Ziploc bag filled with marijuana.
We make the trade.
him leave, I put the sunglasses on.
The woman approaching
no longer resembles a woman, but the soul within her – a wiggly, shadowy figure with only the features of eyes and a
mouth. The figure whispers to me: “Cancer. July 10, 2010.”
I take the sunglasses
off and look at the woman. She hasn’t said a word and walks by as if nothing has happened.
I put the sunglasses
back on and stare at a young man passing by on a bicycle. I see a similar, but broader, shadowy figure within him. “AIDS,”
the figure whispers. “June
I turn to look
at the overweight hot dog vendor across the street. His back is to me, but the wiggly, shadowy figure within him turns to
face me and whispers, “Heart Attack. December 9, 2012.”
I turn to look
down the block and find my friend Gus approaching. His dirty, cut-off jean shorts, unbuttoned Hawaiian shirt, and unshaven
frail face, make him look like the most pathetic man in the city.But I know
I don’t look much better. We have a lot in common, including very similar habits. We’ve ruined our lives together,
and being that misery loves company, we’ve formed a strong bond.
he shouts as he waves at me.
I want to take
the glasses off. I don’t want to know. How could I tell him if it was bad news? How could I tell him even if it was
good news? But the temptation is too strong. I stare at him and watch his soul reveal itself to me.
the shadowy figure whispers. “January 22, 2040.”
2040? How could that be? This guy has the worst lifestyle I know of. He makes love to a bottle and pipe
on a daily basis.
Before I have a
chance to react, Gus grabs the sunglasses from my face. “What are these?”
put those on.” I shake my head.
He puts them on
anyway, then pauses and studies me. I know he’s not seeing the real me, but my whispering soul.
After a few seconds,
he takes the sunglasses off and hands them back.
with the blank stare?” I ask.
“I have to
just got here. You don’t want to get high today? Where are you gonna go, anyway?”
He sighs. “You should too.”
haven’t been home in years.” I pause as I realize what he’s getting at. “Wait. What did you see when
you put those sunglasses on?”
“That I need
to change my lifestyle.” He places his hand on my shoulder and looks me in the eye.“I’m sorry, but I’d like to make it past tomorrow.”
Tyler has been published in Muse Marquee, Perceptions Magazine, Legend Press, Flashes in the Dark, and Carolina Country.