Nick first noticed the old man, carrying a flat tire wrapped around a red-painted wheel, right outside of work one night.

When Nick saw him the next night, the graybeard was two blocks down the street and pushing a wheelbarrow with — yes — a red-painted wheel.

“Good for him!” Nick said to the upholstery in his car. It was nice to see someone catch a break.

That was a Friday, and the bum faded from Nick’s mind as he thought about the weekend.

It wasn’t until Nick stopped off to pick up a bucket of fried chicken on Monday night that he thought about the old man again, and only then because he almost hit the guy as he pulled out of Popeye’s.

The geezer was pushing his wheelbarrow again, but this time there was a large wooden cross hanging over the edges.

“Weird,” Nick shrugged. He pulled a U-turn and headed toward home — Popeye’s was off his normal route but worth the detour.

Tuesday was rough at work, and Nick headed straight home to stretch out in his recliner.

When he turned onto his street, though, something caught his eye.

It was the old man, standing outside the gates to the cemetery next to Nick’s neighborhood. He was holding the cross, something indecipherable written on it.

Nick stopped his car in mid-turn, opened the door, and walked toward the man.

There was no sidewalk, so Nick stepped into the thoroughfare.

Behind him, the car dinged a warning bell to remind him he had left the keys behind.

Nick paid no attention, gaze shifting between the old man’s steely eyes and the words carved into the cross.

It was his own name.

Nick never even heard the truck skidding out of control behind him.

(This post was written in response to a Daily Flash Fiction Challenge on


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