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By Max Frick

Copyright 2012 Maximilian Frick

Smashwords Edition

A fortuitous change for the worse in the weather seemed to have cleared the street – in the one direction, and in the other – of potentially meddlesome pedestrians. Old Mister Bitterman wipe-wiped his feet on the welcome mat and, bidding a bogus 'bye, then' over his shoulder, lest there were anyone watching, stepped outside into the drab twilight, closing the door behind him. Purporting to better brave the elements, he pulled low the brim of the trilby, upturned the collar of the overcoat and, keeping his head down, made briskly for the shelter of the underground.

He sidled onto the thoroughfare and merged seamlessly with the throng funneling into the station's main entrance: the bag-laden late shoppers (buy buy happiness, hello emptiness), the briefcase brigade (dull grey suits, dull grey minds) and sundry others, of every which rank and persuasion. He steadfastly refused, mind you, to emulate the few among them who dropped a coin or two into the outstretched cap of an ever-so-humble young beggar stationed on the threshold. He, Bitterman, had been forced to accept many a soul-sapping, pointless occupation over the years, just to make ends meet, and he'd be damned if he'd encourage the dissolute lifestyles of bone-idle ne'er-do-wells.

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