Aphelion Issue 293, Volume 28
September 2023
Long Fiction and Serials
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Flash Fiction
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On The Brighton Road

by Ron Larson
Adapted from a story by Richard Middleton

The old tramp awoke and struggled a moment
With the heavy snow that had covered him.
He stood, brushed himself, and looked at the vacant,
Two lane road that led to the town of Brighton.

He was weary and hadn’t eaten for a while.
While he was plodding along, he met a young man
Who was smoking a cigar and who gave him a smile.
It was returned, and so a conversation began.

They learned that they were both going to Brighton,
And as the two men chatted while walking together,
The lightly clad young man said that he wasn’t human,
And that’s why he’s not concerned about the weather.

The tramp was speechless, so the youth continued:
“When I was just seventeen, I drowned in a lake.
Yet here I am walking along this road with you.”
He threw down his cigar, as the tramp began to shake.

Finally the old man spoke: “You are a lunatic!”
The youth replied: “I am only your humble guide,
And now we’re going to a place that’s fantastic,
Because last night, in the ice and snow, you died.”

These words did resonate in the mind of the tramp.
“Then,” asked the tramp, “where are you taking me?”
“The lad: “Not to Brighton, so forget that crap.”
They walked silently, and the tramp was pondering.

Then he said: “You said ‘fantastic’ so it must be good.”
The lad replied: “‘Fantastic’ means not of this world.”
Then the tramp felt as if his brain had turned to wood.
Lad: “All end up here, both good and bad boys and girls.”

Later, the two figures found that the road was blocked.
The road diverged into two paths, left and right.
The youth: “One is heavenly, the other is not.
You must choose one,” then he vanished out of sight.

2017 Ron Larson

Ron Larson is a retired community college professor (Ph.D.), and one of his hobbies is writing all kinds of poetry. His poem above is from his self-published book, "79 More Strange Stories Outlined in Rhyme." The book is available online, and the poem has not been submitted elsewhere. His web site is: ronlarsonclassics.com. His email is: patronlarson@gmail.com.

Find more by Ron Larson in the Author Index.

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