A Pinch of Happiness

In response to M’s writing prompt “A pinch of happiness”.


Harley was very much a man of habit.  Each morning he would wake up at 6.45, hit the snooze button three times and then promptly into the shower where he would always use an exfoliating scrub.  He liked the way it made his skin look.

He would then dress quite impeccably in a dark suit and pastel shirt, followed by a light breakfast of toast and orange marmalade whilst he checked his social media accounts and sent a good morning message to his partner who worked the early shift at the local hospital.  A quick wash and dry of the plate and knife later and he would set off for work at precisely 7.45 a.m.

Monday to Friday the short walk to the underground was always punctuated by a stop off at the ‘Roasted Bean’ where he would have his usual skinny latte.  He would smile at Rose, a pretty freckle faced girl, who would recognise him in the queue and ask how he was and he would always reply that he was fine thank you.

He was a good and kind man, loyal to his friends, faithful to his partner and wholly the sort of person you would very much like to live next to and he very much enjoyed his morning routine.  It made him feel safe and in control.  What he did not enjoy though was the short walk from the roasted Bean to the underground.

Every morning, stood on the corner just a short walk in the direction he was headed, stood a man who was very much everything that Harley was not.  Under the dirt and long matted beard he was probably in his mid-fifties, but his blackened teeth and dark sallow eyes made it hard to tell.  He would stand quite still holding a small polystyrene cup hoping for a few spare coins from the passers by, his clothes stained and torn and the stench of a lifetime of living on the streets filled the air around him.

As the morning masses streamed past with blank faces he watched them go by, mumbling to himself under his breath, only ever becoming animated at the sight of Harley.  His eyes wide, spittle rained  from his rancid mouth and he would spew a tirade of Old testament hate and bile as Harley approached, only stopping once Harley had crossed the busy road and disappeared down the tube station steps.

Harvey’s stomach lurched.  “Here we go” he thought to himself.

“The people of Samaria must bear the guilt because they have rebelled against God” he shouted, pointing at Harley, “they will fall by the sword and their little ones will be dashed to the ground and their pregnant women ripped open!”

An old woman in a brown coat crossed the street to avoid him.  Harley had tried that in the past but the man always followed him and he had given up.  He had even tried different routes but the man always seemed to be there waiting, no matter which way he went.

Harley kept his eyes down and continued walking.  The man seemed particularly vile today.

“See the day of the lord is coming” he continued as Harley drew close, his eyes wide and wild and a cruel smile spreading across his face “a day of wrath and anger and the infants will be dashed to pieces before their eyes and their wives will be violated!”

Harley was now directly opposite him.  The stench of piss filled his nostrils.

“Look at me boy” he snarled as Harley walked past, launching into another rant. “He will chastise you 7 times and you shall eat the flesh of you sons and daughters”  he screamed.

Harley’s heart raced, his fists clenched.  He never responded, ever, but today felt different.  He turned and look damn you”ed at the man, continuing to walk slowly backwards.

“Shut the hell up!” Harley shouted back, “leave me alone damn you.”

The man laughed loudly and took a step towards him. “Happy shall they be who take your little ones and dash them against the rock” he shouted grinning broadly and stabbing a filthy finger in Harley’s direction.

Harley continued moving backwards as the man sped up walking towards him.

“You’re mine boy” he yelled.

Harley was about to tell the man to go fuck himself but the words never got from his brain to his mouth.  He heard a scream as he stepped backwards from the step and fell  into the road.

The last thing that went through the mind of Harley Silver before his light was extinguished forever was the cackle of the man’s laughter.

It was different though, and for the briefest of moments he thought it sounded almost happy…


Photo courtesy of Leroy Skalstad @ Pixabay

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