Bad Man

Gravel Magazine 2015

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Bad Man
Paul Beckman



I am running away from the Bad Man. He’s threatened my knees and eyes and it’s all over a misunderstanding. His dog followed me, I didn’t dognap him. I’m out of shape and I stop
and look around for a place to hide and spot an alley. I sit on a garbage can lying on its side trying to catch my breath but the smell of garbage is overpowering.

Suddenly a cab slows down for a yellow traffic light and I run out to the street and lift my hand. The driver nods me over and I heft myself up after I open the door.

I freeze. Bad Man is sitting on the far side and reaches over, grabs my shirt and pulls me into the cab with him.

“Why are you chasing me?” I ask, pretending I don’t know.

He pulls me closer—we’re staring at each other and he coughs in my face and his putrid garlic, cigar and anchovy breath almost knock me out. He coughs again and starts laughing and lets me go and I jump out of the cab just as it starts to move through the green light. I roll over and over and am stopped by the curb.

I get up from the road and run across the street. I sneak a peek and see the cab continue on. I walk over to the dog bowl in front of a dress shop and kneel down and wipe my face and neck with the dog water and feel good about replacing Bad Man’s smell with dog odor.

Years later enough time has passed so I don’t think about Bad Man anymore and I’m in
my “I Chocolate Cover Everything!” kiosk dipping Peep bunnies into the milk chocolate when I hear, “You got enough dark chocolate to dip these?” I look up and it’s him--large unlit stogie in the corner of his mouth and he’s holding out a wooden fruit crate filled with anchovies and garlic cloves”

I knock over the drying Peeps getting out the door and start running. I hear heavy
footsteps behind me and I trip over a Schnauzer and land on my head.

The last thing I remember is Bad Man kneeling by me. I smell his once familiar deadly
odor wafting over me as he asks if I can have his order ready by the weekend.

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