What A Strange Little Man (Chapter 1, page 1 of 3)

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Chapter 1

The air was thick with the dust kicked up by the Roman citizens that walked about our fair city. As I emerged from the inner chambers of the local prison, I noticed there were a lot more people roaming in the marketplace than usual. The mixture of the warm sun and the dust made it difficult to breathe, yet it was a refreshing difference to what I had been breathing in the prison. The sky was beautifully blue with just a few patchy white clouds floating along as if not having a care in the world. The noise from the people reverberated in my head, and is unlike the peace and quiet I experience while at my post in the prison.

My job was that of a guard. I kept the innermost part of the prison safe from would-be attackers, and stopped the occasional prisoner who would attempt escape. It would cost me more than my job if one ever got away, but I knew that going in. Nothing about my career made me stand out any more than any other guard doing his duty for Caesar. All this made me wonder why the lot fell to me to guard a man such as the prisoner I was guarding. Was it somehow in my destiny? How was I to know he would bring such a change in me?

He was a strange individual, not very tall, slightly bald and yet very confident. I found myself wondering if all the stories he'd been telling me were true. No matter, he would be dead by sundown tomorrow. If he had actually accomplished all he said he has, I can't imagine why anyone would want him dead. But these things were not for me to decide. The execution order came from much higher than my superior officer. Besides, I was a Roman soldier; what did it matter to me if they wanted to kill another prisoner? Yet I was definitely troubled about something. I just couldn't quite put my finger on it.

After a few stops in the marketplace, I headed for home. I knew my wife would be waiting for me. It was not a long walk to my house, just around the corner and up the street that was now covered with shadows from the setting sun. Thoughts of the man in the prison were still lingering. I was hoping my wife could ease my mind with a good supper and conversation. I knew he was not going home to a wife or a fine, hot supper. He would not experience the comfort of a soft bed and a soft wife beside him. Somehow, I was feeling pity for him.

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