#1 – For want of money

This is a short piece I wrote to increase my flash fiction writing skills. I’m going to be doing this regularly in order to help build them up and to learn to get inspired from the tiniest of thoughts.

“What do you mean by that?” I asked

“Exactly what I said,” was his reply.

I looked at the scene in front of me. From the beggar and her baby, both covered with filth to the man standing beside me. I was meeting him after a few years. Back then, when we had hung out together, we used to be inseparable. We’d go out for movies together, go out and pick up chicks, act as each other’s wingmen, you name it, we’d done it. Then I’d gone to the US. I’d received an offer I couldn’t refuse while he had decided to stay on in India. I’d been gone seven years.

Things had changed since then. He’d greeted me like the old friend I was at the airport, but everything since then had been different. He’d tried to make sure that things remained jovial and normal, but somewhere, somehow I had noticed a tension. My friend had changed. And I wasn’t sure that it was for the better.

He’d been reluctant to tell me what he did for a living. I hadn’t known why then, but I knew now.

“You’ve injected the baby with heroin?” I asked again, to confirm. My brain was certain that my ears had failed it.

“I haven’t done it myself, but that’s what’s been done,” he explained quietly. “That or the baby’s been fed some alcohol.”

“Why?” I asked. Somehow, curiosity overrode revulsion.

“To keep him quiet, of course. She’s not his mother, and what do you think will happen once he wakes? He’ll be screaming and kicking. She won’t be able to beg properly if that happens.”

There was a pause.

“Do you also maim beggars in your jurisdiction?” I asked, my pitch increasing.

“Of course,” he shrugged, turning around, his leather boots clacking on the pavement. “You need an element of pathos for men to care.”

“They’re humans as well,” I said, the disgust finally welling up.

He stopped and turned me around. His eyes were calm, his gaze steady. “Tell that to the next whore begging me to buy her child.”


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