Down beneath the stone bridge he sat, his head bowed against his chest. Mist rose from the water to lap at his boots in lazy curls. Three alcoves the bridge had underneath it, and he sat in the middle one, on a patch of dirt, just above the water line propped alongside the damp, mossy wall. For now the water was low and he was safe but when the high tide came he would be washed away by the currents.
Either alive or dead. For how long he had sat there he did not know, his body was bruised and broken. A great pain in his ribs made it difficult to breath and bubbles came out his mouth when he did. His knee was broken, he could tell that much and his right arm didn’t want to move, laying limp by his side. He watched the dark river water lap at his fingertips but he couldn’t feel it, his whole arm was numb, it felt strange, like he wasn’t his self and must’ve had an awful lot to drink, however he couldn’t remember doing anything of the sort.
A panic rose from his gut but its adrenalin couldn’t help, he lifted his left hand and with it, inspected his head. A lump the size of an egg grew out of the back of his bald noggin, covered in congealed blood. Lamenting at his situation as the acquiescence of death set in, an image of his wife appeared in his mind, he tried to cry but had forgotten how. He hadn’t cried for over fifteen years, not since his first day as a carpenter’s apprentice, when he hit a nail straight through his thumb, so he screwed up his face and wailed, silently. The pain in his chest soon stopped the wailing, fear gripped him like it never had before, and he could not compare it to anything he had feared before. This fear came from within, from somewhere deep down, from somewhere primal and animalistic, it was the fright of death.
Shock was beginning to set in, and mortality was not far behind. A man’s whistle cut clean through the mist, and suddenly someone jumped down into the alcove from the bridge.
“My my, what do we have here then, a right mess by the looks of it, they touched you up good and proper, my little pinchpenny” the stranger declared.
The dying man looked up groggily and tried to focus his eyes on the man who just jumped down, to join him by the water. Hope rose in his punctured chest, he was saved!
The stranger bent down, and with his hands went through the bewildered man’s pockets, which is not what our bridge dweller presumed, and not too kindly either. Pain shot everywhere. The stranger grabbed him by the collar and pulled him close, so close he was inside the brim of the stranger’s hat. He could see the man’s unkempt facial hair and rotting teeth, acidic breath filled his nostrils.
“What did you tell them?” The stranger shook him roughly.
The dying carpenter moaned in reply.
A gloved hand slapped his cheek, hard.
“What did you tell them?”
“You useless sack of shit, you can barely hear me I’m guessing, pain must be bad” The accoster sighed and continued
“It’s not your fault, mind, I’ve arrived too late to get what I need from you” he said as he shook his head.
“Bastards, probably didn’t think I would find you, either way, you’re fucked, and I need to take my leave” and with that, the hatted man took himself off, climbing back up to the bridge.
The water was rising, tide was coming in and within a matter of hours the tide would take him, his body food for the fishes. The only place that he would still live would be in his wife’s memory.