Strength in Numbers

A Five Sentence Fiction

(Warning: This story contains strong language.)

Stooped with pain, the old man strained to lift his two plastic grocery bags upon the bus stop bench next to a drowsy young man whose heavily muscled arms bore the illustrated truth and imaginings of a life spent in Darwinian street survival.

“Say, old dude, gimme dollar, a’ight?” the young man said in a tone and posture that carried more threatening certainty than a questioning request.

“I have no dollars to give you, young man, but I can give you some of my food, an apple or bagel perhaps, because that’s how I was taught and because you remind me of someone who would always pet my dog Misty when we walked through the old neighborhood,” the old man thinly smiled and said in a hoarse whisper.

Another young man, not so big as the first, but with a sure look of malevolent resolve in his eyes, entered the bus stop and laughed when he jostled the old man, spilling his hat and groceries on the ground.

“Hey, motherfucker,” Randall Jenkins, late of lower Livingston Avenue in Arbor Hill, stood and said with the cool confidence of the power of memory, “you’d best pick that shit up for my man Mr. Malowicz and get the fuck outta here before we kick your narrow, stringy ass way the fuck over to Madison Avenue.”

A lunch-break Five Sentence Fiction based upon Lillie McFerrin’s prompt word STRENGTH. I put a bunch of what I thought were instances of that word in this piece. Can you find them?

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