*Wordcount: 796 words.
The park is filled by the languid shine of the falling sun, as children play and dogs frolic, and a family relaxes with a meticulously set-out afternoon picnic. Bees bumble from flower to flower, occasionally buzzing their way to the family’s picnic to investigate. A father lazily waves away these adventurous bees, and calms the children despite their presence. He lies back, wrapping his arm around the mother, and closes his eyes.
He didn’t see the man running up to them in a panic, who darted over their picnic (subsequently scattering various foodstuffs) and trod on one of the children.
“Sorry!” He shouted back, as the trodden child started to cry.
The man who had ruined the lazy afternoon picnic was Sean, a man who, at best, could be described as down on his luck. At worst, well, he’d heard enough of those if you don’t mind. Why Sean was running, however, is a trickier question to answer.
Why was he chuckling as he ran away? Well, you see, there was more than enough space to run around the picnic. And he wasn’t a big fan of kids. You didn’t know he was chuckling? You do now, and it ties into the previous question, smartass.
Sean was, if you took the time to ask some of his friends – or, rather, ‘associates’ – a “bit of a prick”. This was a quality that often bit him in the arse, and people had a certain dislike for him. His slicked-back hair, rough leather jacket, and penchant for the rougher words of our fine language had earned him his fair share of enemies (very judgemental enemies, Sean often thought).
He was also a con and a cheat, but he had to make a living somehow you see. Problem is, you con the wrong person and you end up in some unsavoury situations.
This winds us up at that earlier question of why, exactly, Sean was running.
You see, he was on the track team in high school and had become quite proficient at running, and- Wait, wrong time. The afternoon picnic thing, yes? Yes. Right.
You see, Sean had found himself conning a notorious gang member about a week ago. He had realised his mistake while inspecting the man’s wallet, and had promptly returned it with the explanation that the man had dropped it. Sean then, being a bit of a prick, stole it again and tried returning it a second time, asking for a reward. The gang member, being suspicious, had threatened Sean. So Sean stole the wallet once more (don’t ask me how), and left a note in its place. Did I mention he wasn’t terribly bright either? Then, a week later, the gang member spotted him by the park. One thing led to another, and there we are.
Sean sprinted, ducking beneath branches of trees and diving through bushes. He bumped and shoved people as he ran, shouting ‘heartfelt’ apologies and thinking heartfelt insults. After a while, he stopped behind a tree to catch his breath and scan behind him for his pursuer.
Nothing. He smiled a cocky smile, and started strolling forward towards the exit some distance away. Then he stopped, looking behind him again. Where was his pursuer? Seriously, Sean liked to think he left an impact in people’s lives; he should at least be worth the trouble of a light beating. This had barely been a chase! Sean had been chased better by wheelchair-bound old ladies (a mark he had learnt to avoid)!
Sean cautiously made his way back, muscles tense and ready to spring away at a moment’s notice. Still nothing. He picked up his pace to a run, he had places to be, but first he needed to satiate his curiosity.
He was greeted by a heart-chilling sight:
The gang member, and the family whose picnic he had ruined, embracing. He got close enough to listen.
As it turned out, the gang member had run away from home some time ago, resorting to living on the streets. This chance meeting had baffled the family and their long-lost son, and Sean was forgotten. Now it looked like the lost son would be returning to school, and while their re-forged relationship would take some time to heal, it looked promising.
However, this presented the lovable Sean with a unique opportunity. Seeing as how he was responsible for this meeting, perhaps all could be forgiven? He just wanted to wish them well after all, and wouldn’t accept the possibility of payment for his kind services. Uniquely kind, really. Payment should go without saying! He would still bring it up, just in case.
He approached the family, brushing off his jacket and smoothing his hair.
“Fuckin’ ingrates,” cursed Sean, as he sprinted through the park.