The Sticker Man- Part 1

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A man with no home stood in the middle of Times Square in New York City. The weary fellow had worn clothes with stains and frayed edges. He had a bushy beard, a few missing teeth and yellowish eyes. Under the buildings with giant screens and brightly lit signs, he faded into the concrete that he stood upon.

The man was panhandling. To each person that approached him, he reached out with a paper cup in one hand, hoping for help. His eager eyes displayed the desperation that churned inside him.

Rather than give him money, the pedestrians did something quite strange. Each person slapped a sticker on him as they walked by. The stickers said things like, “Bum”, “Homeless”, and “Wino.” Rather then each sticker being very light, each one of these stickers was incredibly heavy, as if each one weighed 20 lbs. Maybe these stickers were crafted by aliens from another plant, because they defied the laws of gravity on earth.

A child walked by and slapped a sticker on his forehead that said, “Beggar.” An old man moving by slowly with his walker, paused to put a sticker on him that read, “Criminal.” A businessman walking quickly, didn’t even slow his pace, but expertly slapped a sticker on his back that said, “Lazy.”

Each sticker that was placed on the man caused him to sink a little. His knees bent increasingly with each sticker, until eventually he was compacted down into the pavement. The transient man looked less like a person, and more like a cube of trash coming out of a trash compactor. His entire body appeared as if it were compressed into a small glass box. He was still alive, but it was as if his body was made of silly putty.

sticker 1At this point, only the man’s head looked normal, protruding from his compacted body. A woman jogging by stopped, and stooped down to slap the final sticker on the man’s forehead. It read, “Crazy.” As she bounced away to finish exercising, his head was slowly sucked down into the rest of the cuboid shape. It looked much like a victim descending into quicksand. All that was left of the man was what looked like a square box plastered with stickers.

A medium height, 30ish man, wearing an old tattered backpack, was strolling down 42nd street whistling. He wore a plaid shirt and had messy hair. The man saw this human box-shaped aberration in the middle of the sidewalk, and his eyes went wide with disbelief. This good Samaritan ran to the man, now in the shape of a 3 by 3 foot box and frantically began peeling off stickers. It wasn’t easy, because many were absorbed into this die-shaped human mass.

As he tugged at each sticker and it came off of the silly putty man, he saw a metamorphosis occur. Parts of the poor man’s body began to pop out of the cube shape. When one sticker was removed, it caused an arm to emerge. Another caused a leg to pop out. One by one, the guardian angel furiously peeled off the troublesome stickers. Finally, he got the last sticker off and the poor man’s head popped out with the sound of a bottle being uncorked.

Now freed, the man laid on the sidewalk, heaving from the traumatic experience. His rescuer slipped off his worn-out backpack and began rifling through it. The fellow looked on with horror as the man pulled out his own pack of stickers. His frenemy now peeled a sticker off of the new sheet and approached him. He trembled while crab-walking slowly backwards. The rescuer’s eyes were soft and his voice gentle as he explained, “You don’t have to worry. These are different.”

Each sticker brought a new wave of refreshment.

The man pressed a sticker onto the survivor’s chest that read, “Accepted.” Immediately, warmth rushed throughout his body. He put another sticker on that read, “Approved” and another, “Chosen.” Each sticker brought a new wave of refreshment. He was breathless with exhilaration and felt resurrected. Like a modern-day Lazarus, he rose from the ground with new energy and vigor. One at a time, the sticker man continued to coat him with stickers reading, “Gifted”, “Smart”, “Loyal”, “Generous” and a blue sticker that said, “Humble.” Finally the sticker man put a sticker on his new friend’s forehead that read, “Loved.” This one was so strong, that the man started to swoon from the force of sheer pleasure that nearly overwhelmed him.

After he recovered, the man was amazed to discover his hero slipping the beat-up backpack onto his own back. It felt very full. After all that had been done for him, he was grateful for the bag, but didn’t really see the point. At this moment, he didn’t feel that he lacked anything in life. He was on cloud 9, more alive than he had ever been. These stickers seemed to also defy the laws of gravity, but in reverse. He was walking on air and felt as if he could leap over a building.

Before he could thank the fellow for this backpack, the man was gone- swallowed up into the sea of humanity flowing down the sidewalk. He craned his neck, anxiously scanning the crowd for his benefactor, but to no avail.

The man pulled off the backpack and unzipped it to see what was inside. The bag was overflowing with new packs of stickers- the same exact ones that he now wore. He sank to his knees, dumbfounded. He shook his head in disbelief at the treasure now in front of him. He swallowed hard, overpowered by the weight of his new task. Destiny stirred deep within him. Nothing would ever be the same. He was now the sticker man.


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  1. Tim Delehanty Said,

    Beautiful Juan