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Young Old Man

Story ID:5957
Written by:Michael Timothy Smith (bio, link, contact, other stories)
Story type:Fiction
Location:None USA
Year:2010
Person:Jason
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I was entered in the Writers Weekly 24-Hour Short Story Contest again this weekend. Below is the
topic I received and my entry.
They like a surprise ending. I hope I gave them one.

TODAY'S TOPIC!

~~~~~

He'd had a lifelong weakness for football, golf,
and younger women but none of that mattered
anymore.

The vultures were just outside, already fighting
over the best morsels. He hadn't moved or spoken
in weeks but, as she reached over to touch the
thin vein slowly pulsating in his hand, his eyes
flashed open and he said...

~~~~~

WORD COUNT: Stories for today's topic must not exceed 900
words.


------------------------------------------------------------

~~And, again -- Very Important!~~

Your story must touch on this topic in some way to qualify.
During each contest, several writers ask if they must quote
from the topic directly. No, you don't. You are even
permitted to change the gender and age of the character(s),
as well as other minor details. However, it must be obvious
to us that the story was written specifically for this
assigned topic.

A Young Old Man

“Go!” Jason screamed at the TV. His favorite team, The Ohio State Buckeyes,
were playing their last game of the year. Like every year, the last game was against their
long-time rival, the Michigan Wolverines. For more than one hundred years these two
teams battled in the season ending game. The last three years, the Wolverines had won,
and they were on the verge of doing it again, up by seven points, but Ohio was making a
move down the field in their final drive. “Go, baby! Go!” he yelled again. “He’s going to do it!
Go baby! Touch down! Yes!”

He would have jumped in the air, but his ageing legs denied him that pleasure.
For the last few months, he’d been bed ridden. His days of running and playing were
over. His body wound down like an old clock. The last tick could come at any time.

He watched his team take a risk. Instead of kicking a point and sending the game
into overtime, the coach decided to go for two. “Are you nuts?” He screamed at the
TV. He slumped back against the pillow as Michigan made a stand and held Ohio off to win the game by a point.

He’d been a Buckeye fan since he could remember. His dad was a big fan, and
naturally a young boy wants to be like dad. If his father had been here, he probably would
have kicked the TV off the arm that supported it above his bed. He would have done the
same, but he had no strength. He settled for pushing the power button.

He was too upset to rest. At least he got to watch the cheerleaders. They were so
beautiful. Their legs long, smooth and well toned. Their bodies the picture of health and
vitality. Whenever he saw a young woman of beauty, he thought of Rosemary. They’d
gone to school together. When she wasn’t looking, he’d sneak glances in her direction.
Her short, black hair shone in the sunlight coming through the window. Her natural rosy
lips, dark eyes, and easy smile melted his young heart. He wanted to talk to her, but he
knew it wouldn’t do any good. She’d ignore him, like all the girls did. He was different
from the rest, always had been. If only they’d got to know him. He had a loving heart.
Given the chance, he would have made them very happy. He figured most girls that age
were too shallow to see inside a person’s heart. One day they’d wake beside their dream
man and realize there was no love in their relationship. They’d married the Ken of Barbie
fame. It’d be too late then. Jason would be long out of reach.

He knew he was being bitter and didn’t care. He was near the end. Didn’t he have
the right to be bitter? There was so much more he wanted to do in life. One day, long
after he was gone and buried, they’ll probably find a drug to prevent aging and people
will live forever. “It’ll be too late for me though.” he mumbled.

He turned the TV back on and tuned to a news program. After watching Ohio lose, his heart
wasn’t in the game, but it was only temporary. Tomorrow, if he was still
alive, he’d find a game and watch. He couldn’t
help it. Football was a drug to him.

On the screen, a local newscaster stood outside a hospital and tried to look solemn, but
inside he was probably smiling. The guy has to pretend he cares, but what he
really cares about is getting a good story and his handsome face on TV. “I’m standing
outside St, John’s Memorial Hospital, where we have reports Jason Smith is near death.”

“Dang it!” Jason turned the TV off again. “First my team loses and now these
vultures are talking about me. Do they think I can’t watch TV? Don’t they have any
compassion? I know I’m dying. I don’t need to see it on TV, reported by one of those
pretty boys who steal all the Rosemary’s of the world. What have I done to deserve so
much attention. I wish they’d leave me alone.”

In spite of his disappointment over the game and the rage for Ken the boy-toy
reporter, his aging body allowed him to sleep.

While he rested, she entered the room and sat in the chair by his bed. He hadn’t
been able to walk for weeks. Why did he have to leave her? It was too soon. He had so
much to accomplish. She reached over to touch the thin vein slowly pulsating in his hand.
His eyes flashed open and he said, “Mom, what’s going to happen to my baseball card
collection?”

She held him as he cried. “Shh! It’s OK, Jason.”

“But what about my CD’s?” He sobbed into her shoulder.

She held him until cried himself back to sleep.

Her young son would die of old age after only sixteen years of life. Born with
Progeria, the aging disease, he never had a chance. Doctors suspected something was
wrong by Jason’s a distinctive appearance (small face and jaw, pinched nose). Tests confirmed
Hutchinson-Gilford Progeria Syndrome (HGPS). She and his father watched
as their loving son passed them in age and died a
young, old man.

Michael T. Smith