Rat City // Jess King

JOHN HAD FELT THE PAIN IN HIS SIDE before, but never this sharp and constant. It was not in his nature to rest, so he had carried on with his usual business. Walk, hide, forage.

He had been away from home a long time now, it was less of a inclination to feed a independent streak and more of natural instinct. If you asked him about his family, the long and short of it would be they raised me, and I left. When I think about Johns family, I can’t help but reflect on my own and make similar connections. Is it so wrong to be grateful for an upbringing and have no desire to design a relationship outside of that context? I digress. This is John's story, not mine.

This pain was no longer a pain but rather a great suffering that was no longer giving John the choice of rest but instead forcing him into it. He chose a soft patch of grass, near the main road he often spent his time in the spring and summer time. He felt the sun beat down against his face and his eyes began to naturally close. Small pleasures are few and far between when you’ve been alone for some time, and you learn to find immense joy and delight in the small gifts granted to you in your independent existence. His eyes fluttered opened and then immediately his breath quickened as the pain deepened and spread from his side to his chest, and he suddenly doubled over from pain.

It’s confusing, to have your body begin to attack you without warning. You think you’re on the same team, and suddenly it begins betraying you.

John had no fucking idea what was going on, but he knew it wasn’t good.

He drew on all the strength he had left to pull his lanky body to the middle of the road, praying to God that whatever this was would end quickly. He rolled his body so his back felt the hard pavement and his face was looking up towards the sky. A surge of endorphins hit his brain, strong enough to mask the impending death that certainly lay ahead of him, and in this drug-like state he smiled as he felt the sun kiss his face one last time.

I was the one who had the misfortune to find John dead in the road. No one cares when a rat dies in the city, but for some reason I did.


Jess King is a teacher in Boston.


"Untitled" by Steven Kennedy





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