Sawyer was tired. He rubbed his eyes and finished his drink. The music, smoke and the babble of his friends was just too much tonight. He appreciated the fact that they’d been trying for so long to cheer him up, but tonight he just felt like being alone. Somewhere quiet.
Despite the loud protests from his group, he called for the tab as the exhausted bartender whizzed past with another of those seemingly endless orders.
“Sal! Will a C-note cover this one?” yelled Sawyer.
“And then some. Thanks for the generous tip!” replied Sal.
“Ah, no worries. It’s the right thing to do.” said Sawyer with a glint in his eye.
“Fuck you, Mr Charity” laughed Sal. Sawyer punched him playfully.
“Hey listen buddy, you take care a’right? It’s good to see you back.” said Sal.
Sawyer smiled weakly and nodded in gratitude. He said goodbye to his friends and stepped out into the cool night air, away from the incessant, deafening thump of the music. He took a deep breath and filled his lungs with the crisp air. Hopefully it would help lighten his head too, which was knocking around like a hammer.
It was a few blocks over to his apartment so he decided to walk home. As he rounded the corner he saw a man hunched over a garbage bag, rummaging furiously. Sawyer wrinkled his nose in disgust at the sight but couldn’t help but feel pity. Maybe a little helplessness too. He quickened his pace to put some distance between the man and himself.
He heard a ragged voice. “Turn around. Slowly.”
Sawyer did. It was the man. He had one hand in the pocket of his tattered coat and it looked like there was something pointed at him.
“Give me your money. Now.”
There was a feral look in his eyes, which were blood-red. The man looked like he hadn’t eaten or slept in days.
Sawyer knew he had to be careful. “Take it easy man. You got a gun there?”
“Yeah, I’ve got a gun. And I’ll blow your fucking head off if you don’t gimme your WALLET! NOW!”
Sawyer looked at him right in the eyes and said “It’s cool. Tell me, you hungry?” The man flinched momentarily but recovered and stared back in anger. “What do you think asshole?!”
A few seconds of silence passed uncomfortably before Sawyer quietly said “Come on, let’s get something to eat.”
The man froze, unsure of how to react. “What?”
“Come on, I’m hungry too. Let’s get something to eat. There’s a McDonald’s just round the corner and I know it’ll be open. I’ll buy you whatever you want. Come on.”
The man relaxed visibly and in a crumbling, shaky voice replied “OK.”
Sawyer led the man to the McDonald’s and opened the door. As the man entered he seemed blinded by the bright lights. The manager on duty stepped out to shoo away what clearly looked like a hobo but Sawyer intervened.
Then he turned to the man and said “Choose what you want. As much as you want. Pack it, eat it, take it away. Whatever.”
The man was in a frenzy of hunger as the smell of the burgers made him salivate. He ordered three Big Macs, two large Cokes, ice-cream, coffee and lots of fries. Sawyer paid and helped the man carry the colossal order over to a table. Then they ate.
The man’s bony fingers quivered in delight as they tore through the first burger in a matter of minutes. There was silence at the table as Sawyer watched the man devour his enormous meal.
When he was done, the man had tears in his eyes. “Dunno what to say man. Thanks. I hadn’t eaten for a week!”
“It’s OK. I understand. You running from something or just a bum?” asked Sawyer.
The man stiffened “How do you care? Let’s just finish and forget this happened, OK? You go your way and I’ll go mine.”
“Sure, sure. Just curious.” replied Sawyer.
They stepped out and started walking down the back-alley. It was shorter to Sawyer’s house from there. The man looked up at him and asked “aren’t you gonna go?”
“In a minute.” said Sawyer. “I wanted to ask you something first. Did you enjoy the meal?”
“Hell yeah, felt like the best food I’ve eaten in my life. Thanks man.”
“No problem, buddy. It’s the right thing to do.”
Then Sawyer took out his gun and shot the man. The man who had raped and killed his fiance a few weeks ago.
He looked at the crumpled heap on the ground, put the gun back and walked away with tears streaming down his face.
It seemed like the right thing to do.