Shielded in his long coat that licked the ground. His untamed strands of black hair and a scruffy beard that duo-ed together to make a protective helmet. The outcast strode through the marketplace of a little town he forget the name of. The market roared with children rocking to and fro. The stalls piled with sweets, jewels and anything that could catch the eye. Hawkers dressed in their finest attire yelled with all the strength their lungs could muster adding to the already buzzing atmosphere of children running, parents discussing, lovers wooing and the general busyness you would expect to find in any fine market. The outcast however listened to this buzz in a muffled tint as the sound passed him and was quickly forgotten. He passed by stalls stacked high with thick carpet looking as if it was straight from a sultans palace, the finest of whiskeys from far Germany and jewelry seemingly snatched straight from the queen of Sheba. Men who saw the weary outcast tightened their fists while the women feebly ushered their children to safety. They didn't care where he came from and they cared even less where he was going, so long as he was gone.
A corner turned and the noise of the market dimmed away, the outcast traveled still through the town passing by an auld factory wall dressed in graffiti. A monument to a teenager's frustrations, a couples love and artists just trying to let loose their skill. The bricks had turned gray, they crumbled against a touch like decay; which didn't lend much to the comfort of an exhausted traveler resting the blistered feet foully protected by his worn out boots. He let out the first noise he had made in days as he sighed in his tired bleakness.
Two jesters dressed in police uniform cast their shadows over him and rattled their batons against the wall, breaking free some of the crumbling brick in a cloud of russet dust. They heaved him up off the ground, his moth bitten jumper almost pulled over his head. Each give him a stern look. He had seen more than one cop with a power complexion, it felt like he'd seen them all. However the outcast wanted a change, he wanted to stay and have a rest. Something which had not been wholly given to him for longer than he cared to remember.
Angered at being ignored by such a lowlife they bitterly shoved him back and forth between them until one gave a final heave and the outcast gracelessly crashed to the ground. He stood up again, silently and without a hint of emotion. Again he was pushed over onto the floor this time scraping his back. He got up calmly and quietly. The cops had now lost whatever mockery of patience they had and one kicked him to the ground, expecting the outcast to make a sound of fear or pain as he went. He did not. He tried to get up but a polished black boot swiftly made its way into his chest bringing pain. Pain wrenching the outcast's body. He did not cry out. He tried to get up again.
People were now leaving the market in flurries to head home. Some saw the abuse happening and did nothing. The outcast expected this and only saw them as blurred ghosts in his bleary eyesight as he tried again and again to get up. The pounding of the police boots were getting harder and harder until they were the only thing that could be heard by the outcast's ringing ears. He wished bitterly that he could just lay down on the ground and die. But he did not give up and he made one final stand, straight and purposeful, showing off all of the dirt clinging to his clothes and his face and the battered years in which time had weathered him.
The policemen were now animals, indistinguishable from each other as they prowled around him in their suits of blue. They came together to make one last attack against the outcast but a little girl, who couldn't be older than six, walked in front of the outcast like a free spirit and stood against the policemen. They made for the tramp again in a primal manner and the girl pushed at policeman and ran round the other as he tried to grab her. The Outcast was forgotten, allowing him, to walk away stiff from pain,with his head held high.
The edge of the town was just in sight and the outcast was bleakly ready to resume his life as a traveling tramp just as the girl appeared in front of him again. She took him gently by the hand leading him back into the town towards a dainty house sitting on the corner of the street.
* * *
Looking in the mirror another man stared back at the outcast, a clean shaven ghost if one ever existed, somebody he had tried to forget but auld memories always catch up. He had been given a fresh set of clothes that fitted nicely into the theme of the little town, he had a couch to sleep on and a family's trust. Nothing demanded in return.
The outcast had been determined to hide himself and keep to the shadows but soon a barrier broke and he was once again Dan Ryder the former police chief of the town.
He remembered how he had been unable to save his own little girl. How his bereavement had changed him. He was left a destroyed and empty man, left to travel and face the harsh life of an outcast.
Now he spoke of his gratitude and made his farewell to the family and strode away from the house making his way to the police station. Moving with determination as he now had meaning in his life again.
Arriving in the police station he stepped inside, his new boots clicking against the floor. The entire room stood to attention, some rubbed their eyes while others gasped 'ghost.' Dan made his way over to the bulletin board and pulled down a criminal poster with his face on it, or at least the face of his ragged former self. He held the poster in his hand in a way that allowed everyone to see who he was. Two of the policemen in the crowd of blue started quivering and he made his way over to them allowing the crowd to part before him. As he came to the two policemen their faces showed fear and false reverence while his gave nothing away. He stood before them once again, standing proud, remembering. They stood before him like naughty children and he slowly took a hold of each of their shining badges of the law and simultaneously ripped them off, he then ushered them to the door, allowing them to flee like the animals they had portrayed themselves to be. Dan then left the quiet room and made for the stairs, climbing them with just enough noise to let the entire building to know of his anger.
Reaching the second floor he walked slowly along the corridor allowing the trickster in his office wearing his uniform to build up fear before pushing the door slowly allowing it to creak as it opened. Standing in the doorway he set his gaze upon the trickster who sat in his chair, tapping his fingers nervously on the desk. Of course he could argue that Dan had no right to walk in here and demand his old job back, yet Dan had every right to take his job back from the acting police chief, especially after showing he how poor the trickster was at doing the job. He left the room without a word. He went to put his old uniform back on. Dan took his place shuffled the papers lying on a desk which seemed to stand as strong as Dan himself. Times were changing and what the town needed was real policemen to walk its streets. Through rain and frost and wind making this place a town once more. The outcast had been given a second chance at making things right, he smiled for the first time in years.