‘Outta My Way’ – a Short Story by Justin Sheedy
This one won a commendation in the NSW Writers’ Centre ‘Inner City Life’ Short Story competition 2006. It’s entitled…
‘OUTTA MY WAY!’
It was peak-hour, Monday morning, in the Central Station pedestrian thoroughfare, the bottleneck past the ticket boxes where two streams of humanity charge head-on through each other, no concept of left or right, just straight ahead.
The guy had clearly snapped. Either that or he was high on Crystal Meth. I think he may have spent some time in prison, judging by the tattooed tear-drop I’d glimpsed on his cheek, then by the tattoos on the back of his calves which, quite obviously, had not been professionally done. Maybe he’d done a lifetime of hard manual labour or just worked out a lot, in any case, he had a ‘mullet’ haircut, was built like a brick shithouse, and was bowling people out of his way as he went. This guy was ‘Physics in Action’: The merest contact with the huge force his mass exerted was enough to send people flying.
Do you ever consider Heaven’s First Law? The Path of Least Resistance. I never thought about it until it dawned on me as a service I seem to provide to other commuters: Those millions desperate to save the Planet yet unable to move down the back of the bus every morning… I had recently become aware not only of my own habit of subtly side-stepping out of everyone else’s way to avoid collision with them as they head directly towards me, but that it seemed unilateral. I doubted myself, yet suspected that if I didn’t get out of the way, we would hit, as if they either aren’t looking or simply expect someone else to take the initiative. On this morning, this guy was holding a dead straight line and proving my theory correct: Secretary. Bang. Student. Bang. Businessman. Bang. Anybody in his path. Bang.
What could I possibly do about him? He looked, as Rodney Rude once put it, the type to rip off your head and take a shit in your neck. It’s not like I needed to do anything for his victims, they weren’t quite being bowled over, just smacked soundly out of the way before they knew what had happened, about one every three seconds.
I saw my once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and took it. Bodily, I became as one with Central Station’s First Law. The Path of Least Resistance. Approximately five fast paces behind him, I strode down the swathe Mr Crystal Meth cut through the startled masses. His victims never noticed me: They were too busy being knocked sideways, and everyone who wasn’t just kept on with their inexorable blinkered march straight ahead. Losing sight of him, I’m not sure what happened at the traffic lights outside the station, yet imagined any cars would have come off second best for hitting him.
Arriving at work, I sat down at my desk. A moment later, a colleague appeared, sat down at theirs, and shot me a quizzical look.
‘Early for once,’ they said.
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Click on the link below to read another short story by Justin Sheedy…