Under the Bridge is a short story that I entered into a Summer Fiction contest run by a local newspaper in Victoria called Monday Magazine in 2009.
I left my place, put a hard look on my face, and wandered into Beacon Hill tent town like I owned it. It would be enough to keep most of the tent folk from giving me any trouble, all but the most far gone brain-burnt nut jobs. I spotted someone familiar in a tight crowd around a camp stove and changed my course to chat him up.
“Hey Rickard,” I hailed him. “How’s tricks?”
The greying tent dweller roused himself from his inspection of the carcass of a desktop computer he had in front of him and squinted up at me through the haze of the morning sun.
“Jack,” he grunted in greeting, “Shouldn’t you be in school?”
“Yeah right. Shouldn’t you be busting out code for the man?”
“Absolutely not. I guess I got my answer as well. What brings you to this neck of the woods? You’re not thinking of tagging trees now are you?”
“Pfft. Only paint-huffing wannabes do that retardedness. My graf goes on walls exclusively, preferably gallery walls. Expensive gallery walls. No, I’m looking for Peter the Geek. You seen him?”
“Not today, my friend. Have you checked the blue bridge?”
“Not yet.” I sighed, “But I guess I’m on my way there.”
“Don’t despair, Jack. There are worse places he could be. A soulless office cubicle comes to mind.”
I looked at him curiously, “Was it really that bad? Not that I’m looking to sign up or anything.” I added quickly.
Rickard stopped his fiddling and looked me square. Then he spoke with a gravity that made me uncomfortable.
“Remember this if nothing else. The worst thing that you can do to yourself is to allow someone else to hold the reins to your destiny.”
“Yeah, sure,” I said, backing away nervously, “Okay, man. I’ll keep that in mind. See you later, Rickard.”