It wasn’t long before he was jogging and muttering curses under his breath, though, as he discovered just how out far of his way he’d gone. He was walking into a small industrial district, which seemed to be in the way of the familiar parts of the city. His jog quickly returned to a walk as his long wandering caught up with him and his legs began to ache. He walked slower through the dark buildings and empty warehouses a bit before he decided to sit down and catch his breath. He leaned up against the wall of a building and slowly slid down, letting his legs relax and his head thump against the wall.
“You look like you’re having a rough night.”
After being alone with his thoughts for so long, the sudden breaking of the silence, and the sudden realization that he was no longer alone, startled Joe badly enough that he choked on his breath as he scrambled to his feet and looked around wildly for the speaker. The voice was an odd mixture of high pitched and gravely, worn with age but also young sounding. The speaker, stranger yet, was a very small person piled high with shirts and coats and blankets, so much so that you couldn’t make out anything of the person buried beneath. The man shuffled around the corner and into the light and pulled down the hood that covered his head, revealing a stocking cap, which he also removed.
Joe regarded the small man cautiously, still edgy from the surprise of his arrival, and not exactly sure what to expect from him. The man took a few more tiny steps forward.
“The empty streets haven’t solved your problems for you, have they wanderer? Maybe you’ll allow me to help?” The man’s face, now visible through the light hood remaining on his head, was round, his skin leathery and wrinkled. But while his face seemed worn with age his eyes still had the twinkle of youthful mischief.
Joe relaxed just a bit, figuring he’d found a beggar hoping to talk money out of him. The man didn’t seem like much of a threat, but he still remained on his guard. Not that he could help it, with his heart still sounding in his ears and adrenaline racing through his blood after the shock of the mans appearance. “Oh, I doubt you could do much for me. Not unless you’re going to pay my bills.”
The little mans eyes twinkled. “Oh, I know, I know. But you know the obvious answer isn’t always the best. You think the solution to all your problems is money, but there’s other ways.”