April 9, 2014 at 4:26 PM

Short Fiction: Untitled

'He is confused, surprised, stunned that he should have become this all powerful supplier of food...'

By Arthur Panaro

Sinuhe Speaks

Arthur Panaro is a psychotherapist, teacher and writer. He did 7 years of hard time on fantasy island, Manhattan, NYC, before making the jump to hyper-space in New Mexico.


A railroad station somewhere in vast India.  His backpack is stowed next to a passenger bench.  There is hardly anybody there besides himself and a few station workers.  He is pacing, waiting for the train that will take him on the next leg of his travels, to begin sometime just after 12 am.  Train tracks, station, land and the clammy monsoon night air blankets all.

Then appears a small boy, bare footed and in unkempt shorts and t-shirt.  The boy approaches rather confidently with open hand stretched toward him, for baksheesh. He responds and buys a small portion of food wrapped in paper from an all-night vendor who is illuminated by a casually swinging bare light bulb that is surrounded by a cloud of insects.

He hands it down to the little boy. Soon another couple of children approach. He repeats the charity.

Now a few more children are there gathered around him, looking up with outstretched hands, speaking their particular dialect, which he does not understand except for the universal wordless hand gesture of asking.

OK, why not?  Again the purchase and the gift.  Before he knows it there are eight, ten, fifteen maybe 25 or more boys, now some taller than the rest, swirling around him and he is turning in their midst, mixed up, like a top.   Again the universal language of the outstretched hand and the chatter of their dialect . . .

He is confused, surprised, stunned that he should have become this all powerful supplier of food . . . The thought invades him that he can in no way manage so many supplicants. . . and before he can attempt to figure out how to communicate his helplessness (he does not know their language), a station guard appears and loudly scolds the children, who, surprised, turn on their heels and fly away in all directions into the darkness.

He stands there alone, bewildered, chapfallen, a little stunned, but guiltily relieved.