Brendan cycles home whistling happily, his thoughts on his wedding next day, when he notices the altercation.
He hesitates, slows.
He almost stops but doesn’t.
Thoughts ricochet through his head …it’s none of my business…but there’s nobody else around to help… and there’s three of them against one…
He turns the bike around, approaches them, shouting out.
You guys local?
His voice sounds strange to him, tinny, high-pitched, an unaccustomed fear rising to his throat to strangle his vocal cords as he inches closer and then closer still.
No reaction, the assault continues, until he locks eyes with the kid squirming on the ground, and suddenly there are 4 pairs of eyes meeting Brendan's.
"Move along, nothin' to see here mate".
The biggest one of them is getting to his feet, moving towards Brendan as he shouts at him.
Brendan instinctively backs up as the man approaches, one foot on the pedal one on the ground ready for a fast getaway.
"I’m not lookin’ for any trouble here mate," says Brendan quickly, "just lookin' for some directions, wonderin’ if maybe you guys can help me out"
"Can we help him out guys" the big one laughs, as the others release the kid and join their buddy.
Taking this as his cue to skedaddle, the kid takes off, running.
The three surround Brendan blocking his every avenue of escape.
They taunt him, pushing him this way and that, wresting the bike from his grasp, throwing it to the ground as he fights to keep his balance, losing it, falling.
He feels a sharp punch to his stomach. It's like a severe electric shock.
His nervous system screams that thousands of circuits have been cut, as his hand searches for the pain source.
He feels a sticky wetness, cries for help, but he’s alone.
He tries to raise his head but cannot as he hears the nee naw, nee naw of a siren, then nothing.
Drug deal gone wrong, scream the newspapers, male 20 stabbed, dead at the scene.
In the absence of any witnesses and evidence to the contrary, the police concur, the area being notorious for drug dealing and the crime scene a well-known CCTV blackspot.
No amount of protestations by his distraught parents as to the innocence of their boy can persuade the police to investigate the case any further; their son is dead after all.
There is no one to tell of his nobility, his selflessness in the face of the suffering of a stranger, and thus his bravery goes forever unsung.
He dies a villain.
The one for whom Brendan gave his life is fearful to speak in his hero's defence. But his path is irrevocably altered by Brendan's selfless sacrifice this fateful day.
Henceforth his life is dedicated to doing unto others as was fortunately done unto him.
Posted in response to tristancarax's 31sentence contest to write a story in 31 sentences, each of a specified length.
I missed the deadline by 24 hours because the dog ate my homework.
The image is my own