‘THE ATHEIST’

‘THE ATHEIST’ – By Dean O. Arutoghor

On Monday morning, I was speaking to my new neighbour, Stuart, as we waited in line for the ATM outside our local mini market, when a voice called out: ‘It’s not your time yet! Fortune will bring you misfortune!’

I looked down to see a dishevelled beggar sitting cross-legged on the ground, just to the right of the ATM. He was looking up at me as he clutched onto an old, dog-eared bible.

‘Clearly a nutcase,’ I thought to myself.

“It’s not your time yet, young man. Fortune will bring you misfortune!” he repeated in a harsher tone, still staring straight at me.

Stuart nudged me and chuckled.

Now, that statement would probably have spooked your average bible basher but as a staunch atheist, I smiled patronizingly at the beggar and then ignored him.

After retrieving some cash, I went into the mini market, bought some groceries and a lottery ticket (same numbers I have been playing for the past eight years – without luck).

On my way to work later that morning, I narrowly escaped been run over by a bus when I almost walked into the road because I was distracted by a funny Whatsapp post.

At work, later on, that day, a colleague informed me that another colleague who had beat me to a managerial position we had both applied for had just died in a car crash over the weekend on his way to pick up his mother from the airport.

On Tuesday, my mother rang me from Ukraine to say that my childhood friend, Anatoliy, had passed away after a short battle with cancer. A cruel twist of fate as Anatoliy had just become a millionaire four months ago after years of building up his construction company from scratch.

On Wednesday morning, as I walked past a newsstand, I saw that a gush of wind had blown open a copy of the Daily Mail newspaper to page 6. The following headline stared back at me: ‘The curse continues: Lottery winner’s son hit and killed by a car just weeks after daughter-in-law drowns in the newly built pool.’

On Thursday night, I had a dream where I saw myself checking my phone to realise that I had won the lottery. As I was out drinking with friends at the time, I held up my lottery ticket for everyone to see as I hopped around with joy. I hopped out of the pub and straight into the path of a bus. Now spooked, I got out of bed and fished out my lottery ticket from my wallet and stared at it. My sleepy brain was playing tricks on me as all I could see were the words: ‘It is not your time yet. Fortune will bring you misfortune.’ When the rational side of my brain eventually woke up, I laughed at my silliness (only a fool believes in predictions made by madmen holding a bible), tucked my ticket back into my wallet and went back to sleep.

On Friday evening, on my way back home, some rude, hulking idiot badged me out of the way and took my spot close to the front of the bus queue. When the bus arrived, its large protruding side mirror slammed into the side of idiot’s head and knocked him out cold.

That night, I had another nightmare where I again won the lottery and another bus, this time veering off the street, crashed into the pub where I was drinking. There were ten people around me at the moment of impact but when the dust cleared, I was the only one trapped under the bus. When I woke up, as if possessed, I found myself hurriedly ripping my lottery tickets to shreds. I binned it and when I was sure my wife was not looking, I said a short prayer for the first time since I stopped believing in God at the age of 15.

On Saturday evening, I was numb with shock as I stared at the TV screen. My lottery numbers were flashing across the screen. I looked up and crossed myself several times.

That night, I slept very well.

On Sunday morning, my wife looked at me as if I had lost my mind when I said we should pop into the local Anglican church just around the corner.

Unable to convince her, I headed to the church by myself with a spring in my steps.

Walking past the mini market, I saw that the beggar was back beside the ATM. Instinctively, I reached into my wallet and fished out a twenty pounds note. As I crouched down to press the note into his dirty palm, the beggar looked up at me and again said: ‘It is not your time yet. Fortune will bring you misfortune!’

Storried THE ATHEIST

“Shut up, fool,” an unsympathetic voice standing in the queue barked out from behind me.

I looked back. A drunk, young man was sneering down at the beggar.

‘What did you say?’ I challenged.

In a mocking voice, the man slurred: “‘It is not your time yet. Fortune will bring you misfortune’. That’s all the madman has been saying for the past five years. Cross-eyed fool!” With this, he nudged and laughed heartily with his nodding friend who was standing beside him.

As if in slow motion, I turned to face the beggar.

“It is not your time yet. Fortune will bring you misfortune,” he repeated.

I took my glasses off and peered into his eyes. He was cross-eyed! So he wasn’t even looking at me when he ‘prophesied’ to me on Monday!

It took two drunk men, two sober men and a woman to drag me off the beggar when I tried to strangle him.

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‘THE ATHEIST’

By Dean O. Arutoghor

On Monday morning, I was speaking to my new neighbour, Stuart, as we waited in line for the ATM outside our local mini market, when a voice called out: ‘It’s not your time yet! Fortune will bring you misfortune!’

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