The Guides, Billy

Billy Peterson has given up. A few years past his high school graduation, he finds himself without a job, with no prospects for further education, and hopelessly addicted to alcohol and pain killers. His parents had tolerated him staying at the house so long as he made an attempt at gaining employment, but once it became obvious he wasn’t really trying, they gave up on him as well. Which is why he now finds himself wandering the streets, occasionally begging, and suffering acute withdrawal symptoms. He has nowhere to turn, no place to sleep and he fears where he may end up if he continues on the streets much longer.

At length, he finds himself at the Parkway bridge, which goes over the river. Every now and then, Billy has seen a news report about some desperate soul who used it as a final answer to his or her problems and now, Billy hopes it will provide him with the peace he needs. He checks to be sure there’s no traffic, no meddling driver who’ll stop to try to convince him not to proceed, then he makes his way to the middle of the bridge and climbs over the railing. He pauses to say a quick prayer, then closes his eyes as he starts to let go.

Suddenly a pair of arms wrap around his waist and he feels himself being violently dragged back over the railing. Whoever has him carries him to a grassy spot just off the bridge and dumps him onto the ground. Before he can process any of this, the person rolls him over and leans into his face. Billy looks to see a bearded, dirty, disheveled, and angry face hovering just above his.

“Now you listen to me, Billy,” the man says, barely containing his emotions. “Normally, I’d just let you fall and end your ridiculous existence, but you have too much to accomplish, so you’re not checking out on my watch.”

Billy sees the man raise his fist and the next thing he remembers is waking up in a hospital, apparently the victim of a violent assault. No one knows who brought him in but he’s surprised to see his family is there to support him. He knows he has a long recovery ahead of him, but thanks to his mysterious benefactor, he’s finally getting the help he needs.

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